Residents living in food insecurity receive free Thanksgiving turkeys at Jamaica event

Photo courtesy of Food Bank For New York City

Queens was the third stop in Food Bank For New York City’s “5 Borough Turkey Tour” on Thursday.

During the Nov. 15 event, Food Bank and the Allen Outreach Ministry Feeding Program in Jamaica, located at 111-54 Merrick Blvd., gave out turkeys to 200 families, according to Janis Robinson, the director of Corporate Engagement for Food Bank For New York City.

“Our clients are very pleased to have the donation,” said Robinson. “We really want to make sure that people in our neediest communities have the opportunity to have a good healthy meal, particularly around Thanksgiving.”

There are approximately 250,000 Queens’ residents who are food insecure, according to the director. That represents 11 percent of the community, and that figure also includes approximately 78,000 children.

“There are many reasons that people have food insecurity,” said Robinson. “It is largely related to the cost of living in New York, and sometimes people have to make a decision between paying their rent and providing a meal for their families, so sometimes they go with the former. Food Bank For New York City opts to help them with the latter.”

Joanne Smalls, a Jamaica resident needed help for Thanksgiving this year for a different reason.

“I have not been working for a while,” said Small. “Its been about two years now.”

Smalls started working for a new company a few years ago and when the company fell apart because of underhanded business deals she was laid off, but she has not let the situation crush her spirit.

“Sometimes I do part-time work like babysitting my friends’ kids and picking them up from school,” said Small.

This year a friend of hers is hosting a Thanksgiving potluck with 30 to 40 acquaintances and family members, and despite being known for her signature corn soup, she’s helping to out with the turkey this year.

“The support of the Food Bank – I think it was great,” said Small. “Everybody got a turkey … I have a turkey and now I can get it ready and prepared for dinner with friends and family.”

Allen Outreach Ministry Feeding Program is one of 800 agencies that the Food Bank For New York City has worked with in providing food for the insecure.

“We made an effort to connect with at least one agency in each of the five boroughs,” said Robinson.

On Nov. 14, they gave out turkeys at the Bronx Bethany Community Corporation and Trinity’s Services in Manhattan, according to Robinson. The next stops are Reaching Out Community Service in Brooklyn and Project Hospitality in Staten Island, among others.

The agencies chosen were in communities with some of the most food insecure populations, according to Robinson.

“We want to ensure that those residents have the opportunity to have this meal,” said Robinson.

Overall, the organization will distribute 2,000 turkeys donated by Stop & Shop, according to Food Bank For New York City. To support the efforts of the non-profit go to foodbanknyc.org. A single dollar donated goes towards five meals.

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