A team of neighborhood nonprofits and businesses dished out a free and delicious Thanksgiving meal to hundreds of Coney Island residents at a holiday luncheon on Nov. 22.
Volunteers from The Alliance for Coney Island, Luna Park in Coney Island and Gargiulo’s Restaurant put on their aprons and gloves to prepare and serve Brooklyn families in need of a warm meal ahead of the big day. The orgs served over 1,000 traditional Thanksgiving meals with turkey, veggies and all the fixin’s — plus some sweet pies and treats to cap off the afternoon.
Volunteers from local Coney Island businesses and organizations dished out thousands of free Thanksgiving meals on Nov. 22. Volunteers from local Coney Island businesses and organizations dished out thousands of free Thanksgiving meals on Nov. 22.
Supporters and local businesses including Council Member Ari Kagan, the Brooklyn Cyclones, the Kings Highway Bakery, and the Verrazano Rotary Club helped fund the communal meal.
According to Cindy Vourderis, public relations manager for the Alliance for Coney, the event is all about making the neighborhood feel loved and helping those less fortunate.
“It is wonderful that we can help so many families and individuals from our community in need. We know that the holidays are a particularly tough time for many, and we want our neighbors to celebrate without worry,” Vourderis said. “Each year to see the community come together is a wonderful experience, and I’m glad we can be a part of it.”
More than 20% of Coney Island residents struggle with food insecurity, according to NYC Food Policy, and almost 40% of Coney households receive SNAP benefits. A 2022 study found that 30% of Brooklynites struggle to buy groceries or pay bills each month, and the holiday season can be particularly difficult for families struggling to afford food.
Alessandro Zamperla, president and CEO of Central Amusement International Inc. and head of Luna Park, said this year he’s grateful for the chance to serve his community. Zamperla’s wife and children also helped out in the kitchen, plating pies with big smiles.
“We are thankful that we can give back in this annual tradition that brings local organizations together in such an impactful way to help our neighbors celebrate the Thanksgiving holiday,” Zamperla said.
Members from Coney Island Gospel Assembly, the group who started the tradition a decade ago, entertained the guest with songs and concluded the night with a prayer.