The effort to bring 500 meals last Friday to homeless veterans in Long lsland City had a lot of moving parts; but they all came together to serve those who served the country before falling on hard times.
The offices of Councilmembers Bob Holden (D-Maspeth) and Julie Won (D-Sunnyside), the famed O’Neill’s restaurant in Maspeth and Grubhub’s “Serving the City” program teamed up to deliver the meals to the Borden Avenue Veterans Residence run by the Institute for Community Living.
Holden, chairman of the Council’s Committee on Veterans, said in a press release that the genesis was his first visit to the residence.
“In my first visit to Borden Avenue, the residents asked that we improve the quality of the food they’re receiving,” he said. “While we work on a long-term solution, on this occasion I am proud to partner with Grubhub and ICL to deliver these delicious meals from one of my favorite local restaurants, O’Neill’s in Maspeth.”
Won said her office has heard numerous requests from those in her district who live in the shelter system.
“The least we could do to honor our veterans for serving our country is providing healthy, nourishing meals as they await permanent housing, ” Won said in the release.
She also touted the benefits of simultaneously supporting a local business.
Jody Rudin, president and CEO of the Institute for Community Living, thanked everyone who came together to help.
“ICL has long been an innovator in providing care to New York City’s veterans,” she said. “At Borden, we offer a whole-health approach to help veterans. That includes making sure they have nutritious food.”
Brett Swanson, Grubhub’s senior manager for community affairs and social impact, said it was just the start.
“This is a first of its kind program for Grubhub and launching in New York City — touching all five boroughs and partnering with every single City Council member — is the perfect way to leverage our resources and address food insecurity for those in need,” Swanson said.
“To have the greatest impact, we’re going hyper-local, working with the city council members to understand specific needs in the community and then partner to address them,” he added.
Deirdre O’Neill, the third-generation proprietor in the business founded by her grandfather, was present representing O’Neill’s. Her father, the late George O’Neill, first worked there in 1956 after getting out of the U.S. Army. He would expand and run the restaurant until his death in 2018.
Under his stewardship, the eatery always was ready to help the community in ways large and small, including making donations to or providing space for fundraisers and community groups and giving jobs to some down on their luck.
“O’Neill’s was established in 1933 and believes in always giving back to the community,” she said.” “My father, George O’Neill, served in the Army and was actually a cook during his time. I know that he would be very proud of what Grubhub and Bob Holden are doing for those that served our country.”
Holden, in a subsequent entry on his Twitter page, called the project a success.
“Our veterans served this country, and we must do everything to give them the services they desperately need,” the councilman said.
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