Hundreds of Brooklyn families ravaged by the impact of COVID-19 were provided free turkeys and many of the fixings on Saturday afternoon thanks to the Food Bank For New York City, Council Member Robert E. Cornegy Jr. and actor and Brooklyn’s native son Tracy Morgan.
Each year, Food Bank distributes Thanksgiving meals to the community, but this year is different as the COVID-19 pandemic has devastated the city’s economy and dramatically increased the need for food and resources. Scores of volunteers too part in this year’s distribution, one of many throughout the city to bring cheer to New Yorker’s in need by providing all of the items necessary for a holiday feast.
Morgan, Wakefern, and Stop & Shop Supermarket generously donated the turkeys.
With the economic fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic putting many people out of work and rapidly increasing the need for assistance, the demand on the emergency food network has surged. Food Bank For New York City reports that the vast majority of soup kitchens and food pantries have been serving more New Yorker’s during the pandemic than they were previously: many agencies have seen their number of visitors double.
Even before COVID-19, officials say the demand for food was already high – nearly 1.2 million New Yorker’s were already food insecure, and Brooklyn had one of the highest food insecurity rates in New York City.
Furthermore, Brooklyn’s unemployment rate is 14% – four times higher compared to September 2019 (3.9%) before the pandemic.
Morgan said he was happy to be giving back to his community — 1,000 turkeys in all — and never forgot his roots.
“I’m happy to be able to give something back to the community,” said Morgan, who noted that he was a resident of 77 Tompkins Ave. at one time. “I’m glad I can help these residents, and make life easier for the community knowing they have food.”
Cornegy worked with Morgan, distributing food to the many people waiting on line most of the morning.
“This means everything to have people from the communities that have that they were raised in, to come back an recommit themselves to families, friend and children, is the greatest inspiration we need,” said Cornegy. “During this very tough time, the pandemic has exacerbated every single inequity that we have, so having people ready willing and able to come back and commit themselves, through word and through deed, and to bring other people along is amazing.”
Cornegy also complimented the volunteers.
“We have enough volunteers and that is amazing.,” he said. “We have people willing to give back even if they are not stars, even if they are not politicians – the community is out here making sure that seniors get their baskets taken to their cars, making sure its well organized – the tenant association president and their whole group – it’s just a beautiful experience.”
Residents waiting on line were also equally pleased.
“I am thankful someone is providing us with turkeys. I am going to try and get someone to fry it for me. I’ve never had a fried turkey and I hear it is damn good,” said Sumner Houses resident Paula Young.
“I wasn’t sure what I was going to do for Thanksgiving, this changes my plans a little bit. I will have family over. I need some type of normality,” added resident Milton Hiller.