The Chicago Sun-Times reported the former Illinois senator spent time volunteering at St. Columbanus Church after he announced additional members of his economic team.
"At Thanksgiving, it's important for us to remember people in need," Obama said. "They told me the number of people coming here is up 33 percent from last year."
About 600 families got food, said Kate Maehr, executive director of the Greater Chicago Food Depository. The Rev. Matt Eyerman said that is 270 more families than were helped last year.
"Happy Thanksgiving -- hey, don't forget your chicken," Obama said after hugging one woman who screamed when she saw him. Declining to give an autograph, he said, "If I sign autographs, I can't pass out my chickens."
The president-elect was joined by his wife Michelle and their daughters Malia, 10, and Sasha, 7.
Obama said it was important to bring his daughters because, "I want them to know how fortunate they are and that they have to give back."