Residents come out for free activities and a food giveaway at Jackson Heights Block Party hosted by the local food pantry. (Photo by Adrian Childress)
About 150 people attended the Jackson Heights Block Party in Travers Park on Saturday, August 6 to celebrate a local food pantry that has helped feed the community for two years.
Residents enjoyed free mini-golf, live entertainment and more to honor the second anniversary of the Jackson Heights Community Refrigerator launch, which began amid the pandemic on August 8, 2020.
“We started this self-help project in the midst of a pandemic where our community was hardest hit and we needed each other the most,” said organizer Amy Pinilla. “The block party was also a reminder that the pandemic is not over and that we must continue to show up and care for each other as neighbors and community members.”
The block party started with a distribution of 300 hot meals, 10 boxes of PPE, 100 home COVID-19 tests and 100 free ice creams provided by a local street vendor. Next, a vendor popup was hosted by Kaleidospace and Street Vendor Project, two groups that provide support to local vendors.
Pinilla said the Jackson Heights Community Refrigerator is still running well and can feed about 25 people a week with the help of local volunteers. The refrigerator depends on food and monetary donations. Last year, the pantry received a generous grant from the New York Citizens Committee.
“We’re just a few kids from Jackson Heights who got together and put a public fridge in our hood, we don’t really get any other funding,” Pinilla said. “We started selling t-shirts to raise funds, and we have people who donate regularly. We rely on our community to keep the fridge running.
The Fridge hopes to make the block party an annual event for the community, but since they are unpaid volunteers, it could be difficult.