Days before Thanksgiving, the Amazin’ Mets Foundation distributed 5,000 turkeys to New Yorkers in need at five pantries across all five boroughs on Friday, Nov. 19, including at The River Fund New York in Richmond Hill.
While Mrs. Met was at home taking care of the kids, Mr. Met, with the help of The River Fund and Amazin’ Mets members, handed out the Thanksgiving staple and canned goods to families who lined up down the block. In addition, they also received Mets ticket vouchers that can be redeemed for a game during the 2022 season.
Swami Durga Das, founder and executive director of The River Fund, explained that the foundation had already received 300 Amazin’ Mets turkeys on Tuesday.
“And then they’re bringing enough for today. We’re serving about 150 to 200 people, [and] each household gets a turkey,” Das said.
He shared how excited he was when the Amazin’ Mets wanted to become one of The River Fund’s partners.
“They are just brilliant on every level for us,” Das said. “It’s one of those magical partners.”
He added that The River Fund will give out about 4,000 turkeys in total as part of their regular food pantry program, which takes place every Wednesday and Saturday.
Das said that The River Fund distributes about 2 million pounds of food every month to individual households, seniors, homebound New Yorkers, churches, shelters and smaller organizations.
The number of households The River Fund serves quadrupled during the COVID-19 pandemic, Das said, and the number of those in need is increasing as food prices are surging.
“People are just finding that their money doesn’t go as far, like all of us,” Das said. “But when you’re in poverty, your money not going far is the bigger struggle. It’s like what little you have goes [for] even less.”
In addition to food, the organization also gives out clothing like coats, underwear, socks and kits with feminine hygiene products, as they are considered luxury items for people who can’t afford them. There’s a huge need for feminine hygiene products as the items are so costly.
“When you’re in poverty, it’s about balancing the limited money you have,” said Das, who added that ending hunger isn’t just about food, but also about education.
The Amazin’ Mets Foundation worked with St. Francis Food Pantry to purchase the turkeys for 11 community groups throughout New York City.
Julianna Sabra, co-head of community engagement and foundation at New York Mets, explained that they purchased the turkeys in advance this summer through the St. Francis Food Pantry because of the shortage in turkeys this year.
“Last year, we did 4,000 turkeys, so this year we did 5,000. We wanted to help as many people as possible, especially after the pandemic,” Sabra said.
She shared that this year felt extra special because the event was in person again following a hiatus last year.
“To make a difference for them to go home and enjoy that family meal during this crazy year that we’ve had, it just means a lot,” Sabra said. “And we’re just really grateful to be in this position to help others, especially all over the city, not just Queens.”
Talia picked up a turkey with her two children, 8-year-old Alan and her 2-month-old infant.
It meant a lot to her that the Amazin’ Mets Foundation was handing out turkeys that came in an Amazin’ Mets Foundation tote bag, since they didn’t have a turkey last year.
“We’re going to have turkey this year,” Talia said. “So, we’re going to share with family. It’s very exciting.”
Her son Alan had never been to a Mets game and was so thrilled about the ticket vouchers that he asked, “Are we going today?”