Cross-borough partnership launches summer youth employment initiative in SE Queens

Photos by Dean Moses

Acting Queens Borough President Sharon Lee and 100 Suits for 100 Men launched a summerlong program employing local teenagers to prepare freshly-made, nutritious meals for southeast Queens seniors.

The 100 Suits “Senior Deliveries and Culinary Program” youth initiative kicked off on July 1 and runs through the first week of September, and is designed to teach team building, culinary skills, financial literacy, time management, organizational and operations skills.

“This cross-borough partnership to provide employment opportunities and life lessons for our youth, while helping feed seniors in need, represents the best of Queens,” Lee said. “We are deeply grateful to all the partners responsible for bringing such a creative program to life.”

The partnership has provided paid employment opportunities to youth from across southeast Queens, ages 15 to 19, in the form of preparing 140 meals each Wednesday. The meals are then delivered by the participating youth on Thursdays to seniors throughout southeast Queens with more than 100 meals to seniors specifically in Rochdale Village.

“We are very excited to have this great partnership, but most of all provide opportunities for our young people in our community,” 100 Suits Founder Kevin Livingston said. “This is a clear example of the community creating its own opportunities, and that’s what we’ve done here with our partners. Teamwork makes the dream work.”

The participating youth and their parents also meet remotely every Friday to discuss the past and following work week, as well as engage with guest speakers about various topics such as financial literacy. Financial support for the program, which is at capacity, was provided by the Borough President, Patrick B. Jenkins & Associates and Feel Good Beauty Supply in Jamaica.

Colin Kaepernick’s Know Your Rights Camp provided financial support, as well as personal protective equipment.

“The importance of this partnership with 100 Suits and Kevin Livingston is in empowering our youth, enabling them to learn a great trade with stability,” Rochdale Village Board of Directors President Jean Randolph-Castro said. “Just as important and humbling rewarding is feeding Rochdale Village seniors during the COVID-19 crisis, ensuring their health and well-being through healthy eating and improving quality of life.”

Acting Borough President Sharon Lee helped bring together partners from across the borough to launch a summer youth employment initiative.

The fresh ingredients are entirely donated and delivered weekly by Long Island City-based kitchen Kommissary LIC: approximately 400 pounds of chicken, 250 pounds of rice, and 150 pounds of fresh vegetables throughout the duration of the program.

“We need to do our part in supporting the community and restoring confidence. Together with 100 Suits, we can create these opportunities to empower the youth to further their involvement in the community,” Commissary Chief Culture Officer Edward Song said. “Always improving and helping others is what we are all about.”

The meals are freshly made and prepared by the participating youth at the teaching kitchen at Forestdale, Inc. in Forest Hills, which opened just last year thanks in part to prior funding by then-Borough President Melinda Katz.

“Young people from one of the communities hardest hit by the pandemic were desperate for an opportunity to help their neighbors,” Forestdale, Inc. Executive Director Bill Weisberg said. “Making meals for hundreds of seniors who have been most vulnerable and isolated at this time was an inspired idea by 100 Suits. Pairing the young chefs with Forestdale’s state-of-the-art teaching kitchen, which was sponsored by the Borough President’s office and the City Council for just this sort of community-building activity, was perfect.”