A cadre of volunteers, including famed actor Tracy Morgan, gathered in Bedford-Stuyvesant on Saturday to give out free Thanksgiving meals to Brooklynites struggling amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
Morgan joined the non-profit Food Bank For New York City and Councilman Robert Cornegy outside the Sumner Houses at Myrtle Avenue and Marcus Garvey Boulevard, where they passed out around 1,000 turkeys and bags of side dishes ahead of Thursday’s holiday.
“I’m happy to be able to give something back to the community,” said Morgan, who grew up in the nearby Tompkins Houses NYCHA complex. “I’m glad I can help these residents, and make life easier for the community knowing they have food.”
Cornegy, the area’s rep in the city legislature who is running for borough president, helped shepherd hordes of Brooklynites waiting in line throughout the morning to receive their holiday care packages — and commended the Emmy-nominated actor for returning to his hometown and helping his old neighbors.
“This means everything to have people from the communities that they were raised in, to come back and recommit themselves to families, friends, and children, [that’s] 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, who weathered the cold out of the goodness of their hearts to help their fellow Brooklynites.
“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 it’s well organized. The tenant association president and their whole group — it’s just a beautiful experience.”
The food drive came amid a financially devastating time for the borough, where the unemployment rate has climbed to 14 percent — nearly four times higher than the 3.9 percent unemployment rate last year.
Making matters worse, the officials say the demand for food was already high — as 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.
Those who lined up to receive their free meals praised the effort, saying the giveaway helped restore a sense of festivity to the holiday season.
“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.
“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.