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Pols, Fresh Direct give turkeys to LIC pantry

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Western Queens elected officials handed out more than 400 turkeys donated by Astoria’s Fresh Direct to families in need last week from Long Island City’s Bread of Life Food Pantry, which has served thousands of hungry borough residents this month.

The food pantry, operated by Bishop Mitchell Taylor’s Center of Hope International in Long Island City, distributed the birds to needy western Queens residents from its site at 38-49 12th St. in Long Island City Dec. 23. The site is across the street from Queensbridge Houses, the nation’s largest housing project.

“As we continue to wrestle with unemployment and underemployment in public housing neighborhoods, this is a way not only to give people a little help and happiness during the biggest holiday of the year, but also to continue to raise awareness concerning an ever-growing need,” Taylor said.

Turkeys were supplied to the Bread of Life by Fresh Direct, an Astoria-based grocery home delivery service.

The pantry has served as many as 25,000 people this month, he said.

Elected officials from the borough joined Taylor to help feed the hungry.

“During these difficult economic times, more people than ever need a helping hand,” state Assemblyman Michael Gianaris (D-Astoria) said.

He said the event enabled “hundreds of local families [to] enjoy a traditional home-cooked meal.”

The New York Coalition Against Hunger’s 2009 report on hunger in the city found that 57 percent of surveyed agencies that distribute food in the borough were forced to turn people away due to diminished resources, cut portion sizes or decreased hours of operation.

“This time of the year can be tough on families and it’s heart-warming to see the community come together to help out the local food pantries,” state Assemblywoman Catherine Nolan (D-Ridgewood) said.

Councilman-elect Jimmy Van Bramer also distributed food during the event. Van Bramer will replace Councilman Eric Gioia (D-Sunnyside), who frequently collaborated with the Center of Hope International on programs for Queensbridge residents.

Reach reporter Nathan Duke by e-mail at nduke@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-229-0300, Ext. 156.

Updated 10:27 am, October 12, 2011
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