By Celia Bernhardt | [email protected]
Stop & Shop’s Turkey Express project joined together with the nonprofit Food Bank for New York City to offload and distribute free turkeys to all who stopped by on Thursday, Nov. 16. Queens Deputy Borough President, Ebony Young, joined the gathering to show the office’s support.
In the back parking lot of Queens Borough Hall, around 20 Stop & Shop associates unloaded heaps of turkeys in reusable shopping bags from a truck, while Elmhurst Hospital workers set up a vaccine station closeby. Young explained that the Borough President’s office aimed to include vaccinations in as many of their events as possible.
“We’re in the midst of Fall, coming up on to Winter, we find a lot of colds and flus,” Young said. “So getting your COVID-19 vaccination shot is imperative.”
Stop & Shop donated a total of 2,500 turkeys to the New York City Food Bank, which will continue distributing them through local community partners. During Thursday’s give-out, 500 turkeys were up for grabs, though only 42 were snagged by 1:30 PM.
At least 10.9 percent of Queens residents are food insecure, according to the Food Bank for New York City.
“There’s pockets [of food insecurity] all over,” Young said of the borough. “Far Rockaway, Jamaica. We’ve got Queensbridge, which is the largest public housing in the United States of America. You’ve got pockets on Roosevelt Avenue, around Corona, Elmhurst area. There’s some areas in Flushing. So, I mean, there’s pockets all over. The borough president tried to look at having this in a central enough location where people could come and gather and join this year.”
Janais Robinson, Vice President of Institutional Giving and Partnerships at the Food Bank for New York City, said that the work of combating food insecurity in Queens is year-round.
“The Queens community is one of our communities where we distribute a lot of food throughout the course of the year,” Robinson said. “But we certainly wanted to make sure that we supported them during the holiday season.”
Young spoke to the small crowd about the event. “What’s so great about the Food Bank of New York City is that they don’t only give at this time, they give at all times. And we’re very excited that they’re out here to feed the people on an ongoing basis, 12 months throughout the year, but specifically at this time to give away turkeys so people feel appreciated.”
Robinson said she appreciates the experience of working events like this one.
“You see how grateful people are to get the support,” she said. “You really learn about the need when you’re out here at these events, and the gratitude is beyond.”
Ryan Rios, Compliance and Ethics Officer for Stop & Shop, was among those unpacking and handing out turkeys. He said he volunteers at the event every year.
“It’s a lot of behind the scenes work to get everything organized and everything set up,” Rios said. “But once we’re here, we’re 100 percent full steam ahead and just ready to serve the community.”