‘They don’t have money to spend’: Brooklyn residents hungry for food, community this Thanksgiving

FLATBUSH, Brooklynn — When Kings Theater begin offering a Thanksgiving luncheon five years ago, it was a nice way to serve community, but it has transformed into a necessity in Flatbush.

Volunteers and students from the Academy of Hospitality and Tourism at Erasmus High school served up turkey and trimming to all comers.

“I thought that even though it’s Thanksgiving, I could help,” said sophomore Paris Butler.

The need for that helping hand is certainly there, according to Zina Best, a local resident who’s been coming for a few years.

“Before, when it first started, they were dragging people in,” Best said. “Now people are coming because they don’t have money to spend. So everybody’s coming.  It hasn’t really been this full before, but today a lot of people really need it.”

Frank Hislop has also been coming since the luncheon at the theater began five years ago. He has seen a change over not just the last two years, but also the last two months.

“I live alone,” Hislop said.  “Sometimes I have my own food, but sometimes I go to the church, so I’m not afraid to take food, food is very expensive.”

For many sitting down in the tent next to Kings, it will be their only Thanksgiving meal.

“Food insecurity is something that we’ve been tackling since the top of the pandemic, and even before the pandemic, and we’ve definitely noticed inflation at local grocery stores, everything is way more expensive,” said Brooklyn Councilwoman Farrah Lewis.

“Most of my constituents are rent burdened; therefore, if I can’t pay my rent, I can’t buy my food, those things go hand-in-hand,” said incoming Brooklyn Councilwoman Rita Joseph.

Lunch was served until 2 p.m. on Thanksgiving to more than 250 people.

“The need has definitely increased, and have the access to free food is just very crucial,” said Chole Smith with the Kings Theater.

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