New York Common Pantry had it’s annual turkey giveaway on Friday, November 18 at its Bronx location in Mott Haven.
The giveaway, which the pantry runs with the New York Mets, served about 100 residents.
Local families lined up and down East 138th Street as they were gradually let into the building to receive a Shoprite Frozen Young Turkey and tickets to an April 2017 Mets game.
Daniel Reyes, deputy executive director for New York Common Pantry, said distributing turkeys helps to relieve the stress some of the recipients have around Thanksgiving.
“Honestly the truth is that Thanksgiving is obviously a festive holiday but it’s also very stressful because it’s expensive,” said Reyes. “It’s a large meal that if you’re struggling to make ends meet that is something you have to think about.”
“One of the things we focus on is making sure we can provide as many folks as possible so that they’re not put in a position where they have to make difficult decisions such as, “Do I have Thanksgiving dinner or do I pay my cable bill or light bill,’” Reyes continued.
The organization had 200 people sign up at the Bronx location, which is geared towards serving local seniors.
Those people were entered into a raffle and 100 were selected to receive turkeys and Mets tickets.
The remaining 100 received their turkeys on Monday, November 21.
At the organization’s main office on East 109th Street in Harlem, New York Common Pantry expected to give away 2,500 turkeys.
This marked the third year the New York Mets organization handed out turkeys. The program is called ‘Metsgiving.’
The organization gives out 500 turkeys each year - 100 turkeys going to each borough - with the help of local organizations.
In addition, each person receiving a turkey gets six tickets to a Mets game.
“During the holiday season we’re very busy trying to make an effort to make sure every family enjoys the holidays like anyone else would,” said Julianna Sabra, coordinator for External Affairs and Community Outreach for the New York Mets. “So in this case at Thanksgiving it’s expensive to buy a turkey and it’s hard to buy a turkey so we bring the turkeys to them.”
“It’s important for us to allow them to bring their families together and be able to provide for them and celebrate the holiday together,” Sabra added.
New York Common Pantry opened up their Bronx location in late 2015, which houses the organization’s Senior Nourish Program.
Reyes said it was not only important to feed hungry seniors in the Bronx but also do it in a healthy way.
“Our mission is to obviously alleviate hunger across New York City but we really take a holistic approach,” said Reyes. “It’s really not just about providing whatever food comes through our doors.”
Reyes said a year into operations the Bronx location is fully up and running.
The organization expects to serve approximately 14,000 seniors by the end of next September.