During the week of April 27th, 2020 GatewayJFK, a business improvement district in Southeast Queens sent 745 meals from restaurants in their neighborhood to frontline workers at Jamaica Hospital, the MTA, DSNY, Wildcat Sanitation Services, and the NYPD.
In addition to donating meals as a way to say “thank you” to frontline workers, GatewayJFK launched their effort as a way to help keep local restaurants open and keep their staff working. To provide the meals, GatewayJFK partnered with 5 anchor restaurants in their neighborhood; Rockaway Plaza Delicatessen, New Castle Deli & Grocery, Boulevard Deli & Grill, Patriots Deli & Grill, and Jamaican Flavors Restaurant & Bakery.
“Before COVID-19 our neighborhood had 8,000 workers, but with the stay-at-home orders in effect we became concerned that our restaurants would have trouble staying in business until things got back to normal,” said Scott Grimm-Lyon, Executive Director of GatewayJFK “Having great places to go for lunch is key to attracting businesses to the area, and an important amenity for building community for both residents and workers.”
GatewayJFK got the idea after they saw similar efforts by the Sunnyside Shines BID and the Nassau County Chamber of Commerce. GatewayJFK is a public/private partnership that is dedicated to making a 215-acre commercial and industrial district along Rockaway Blvd. a clean and safe space to live in, work in, and invest in. “Donating meals seemed like a great way to make sure our local restaurants stayed in the black, and to offer gratitude to people putting their health at risk and working very hard through this crisis.” Grimm-Lyon said.
Over 400 of the meals went to workers at Jamaica Hospital, covering lunch on their Wednesday April 30th day shift and dinner on their Friday May 1st evening shift. In addition to hospital workers, GatewayJFK made a special effort to say thank you and donate a meal to frontline workers who have not taken center stage during this crisis. Superintendent John Addeo of the DSNY Queens 13 garage said “Our workers signed up to help the city, and we’re proud to serve so thanks are not necessary, but it’s nice to be seen and appreciated.”
In addition to sending meals to frontline workers, GatewayJFK has provided direct outreach to over 350 businesses in their district and offered assistance in navigating government grant and assistance programs. If you are a business located in Southeast Queens and you would like some assistance visit gatewayjfk.org for more information.