Hundreds Wake Up Before Sunrise For Hot Meals And Free Turkeys

by Roxy Garrity
Roxy is a reporter and writer for LittleThings. Born in North Carolina, she graduated with a journalism degree from the University of Florida, and now lives in Manhattan. She's drawn to uplifting stories that inspire her audience, and she has interviewed a range of compelling public figures, such as President Obama and Taylor Swift. She loves live music, yoga, art, traveling, all animals, and meeting new people. Send her your story ideas or just say hi!

When expensive rents made it nearly impossible for food pantries to operate in the boroughs of New York City, the River Fund went mobile.

They created the concept of the “mobile food pantry,” which has since been copied all over the world, helping feed millions of people. The River Fund continues their mission of helping those living in poverty this Thanksgiving Holiday in Queens, New York.

Queens resident Adele Jakpa woke up at 4 a.m. to be the first in line to receive a warm meal and free turkey. “It’s a choice between paying your rent and eating, and you have to have a roof over your head, so food comes second.

So wherever you can get something to eat, you have to go get it,” said Jakpa.

Swami Durga Das, founder of the River Fund, told, “It’s amazing that we’re standing here and all these people are in need in New York City, it’s just bizarre to me. What is poverty, what are all the situations that you have a line on Tuesday in the park with 400 people lined up to get a meal and a turkey?”

Volunteers brought cooked turkeys, and chef Bhavani Jaroff of iEatGreen cooked 38 more turkeys over the past three days so people could enjoy a hot meal on this brisk November day.

Jakpa added, “I have a huge family. I have 14 nephews and nieces that are coming to eat, so I need a turkey.”

Organizers told LittleThings that while most of the people standing in line have jobs, it’s still not enough to feed their families. In addition to food, the River Fund gave out 600 coats, shoes, hats and gloves.

The River Fund is the largest food pantry in Queens, New York. They serve 800 households every Saturday and with their mobile operations, the River Fund serves an average of 28,000 people a month. Beyond hunger relief, the River Fund provides nutritional education, income support, and benefits-enrollment services.

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