Frontline Foods Queens has launched QueensGiving, a mutual aid project in which local restaurants will be paid to cook over 2,500 Thanksgiving meals to be served to families and individuals across Queens.
The grassroots organization, founded by Queens community members at the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, has partnered with restaurants from several neighborhoods in Queens, including Zenon Taverna, Sami’s Kabab House and La Vecina in Astoria; Barzola, Rincon Criollo and Luna’s Kitchen in Elmhurst and Jackson Heights; Goody’s and The Cradle in Far Rockaway; Maxi’s Noodles in Flushing; La Flor and Firefly in Sunnyside and Woodside; and Neir’s Tavern in Woodhaven.
In recognition of the rich diversity of traditions and cultures in Queens, each restaurant will do their own take on Thanksgiving meals. On Thursday, Nov. 26, a team of 60 volunteers will distribute the meals to Queens housing, churches and food pantries.
Frontline Foods Queens were able to partner with the restaurants through a GoFundMe fundraiser, which has garnered more than $10,000 in donations so far, and seed money from World Central Kitchen.
“QueensGiving is a community effort and we are grateful for the outpouring of support and donations we’ve received,” said Amanda Newman, Frontline Foods Queens’ co-founder.
Loycent Gordon, owner of Neir’s Tavern, will be preparing 150 turkeys.
“I believe we’re only as strong as those least fortunate in our community. Today, I’m grateful to partner with Frontline Foods to help strengthen those members in our community that has been deepest impacted by the effects of COVID-19 by providing a warm Thanksgiving meal,” said Gordon. “We all have a part to play to beat this pandemic. This is our part. I urge all New Yorkers to find something small or large to help strengthen our community during this time. The Neir’s 200 Group coming together for Neir’s Tavern to beat this pandemic is proof that as a community we can conquer all.”
Five hundred meals will go to Astoria Houses, where residents of an entire building have been without cooking gas for two months.
“We know a Thanksgiving meal is not the answer to the pattern of injustice our NYCHA neighbors have faced due to neglect and disinvestment,” said Evie Hantzopoulos, co-founder of Frontline Foods Queens. “But we hope this gesture will let them know the community supports them and cares for them.”
In addition to Astoria Houses, meals will be delivered to Ravenswood Houses, Queensbridge Houses, Astoria Food Pantry and Astoria Welfare Society in the Astoria and Long Island City area; Bay Towers, Solid Rock Church, Far Rock Greek Council and Rockaway Mutual Aid in Rockaway; Great Flushing Chamber of Commerce in Flushing; Mary’s Nativity Pantry in Ozone Park; Woodbine in Ridgewood: and for the Sunnyside and Woodside Mutual Aid.
Frontline Foods Queens has helped many local restaurants struggling to stay afloat during the pandemic, by partnering with them to feed frontline hospital staff (they were originally called Queens Feeds Hospitals), essential workers in NYCHA, food pantries, nursing homes and other families and individuals who are experiencing food insecurity.
More than $700,000 has been used to provide meals for more than 50,000 people.
“We are so thankful to have had the support of Frontline Foods Queens over the last six months,” said Elena Papageorgiou Ioannidis, owner of Zenon Taverna. “It has been invaluable.”