It’s been almost six months since Hurricane Sandy slammed into the East Coast and though the press coverage of the disaster may have long since waned, the effects of Sandy live on for the Rockaway residents who are rebuilding their lives.
The area is not close to calling itself fully recovered, which is why efforts to feed and warm the locals, especially during this tail end of East Coast winter, remain crucial. And for the residents who could use a helping hand, a particularly welcome sight has been an oddball lunch truck crew, including a Beastie Boy and a Top Chef contestant, who’ve banded together to help feed them.
Restaurateur Robert McKinley recently teamed up with his friends Mike D, also known as Mike Diamond, of Beastie Boys fame, and Top Chef’s Sam Talbot to start the Rockaway Plate Lunch Truck. Over the winter, the men spent five days a week serving area residents free, nutritious hot meals, and have so far served over 20,000 of them.
Mike D recently explained to GOOD that the impetus to get involved began the first time he saw Rockaway Beach post-Sandy.
“We saw right away all these people living without any power, without any businesses being open, and therefore, no food,” he said. “We saw the immediate need for warm food, but we didn’t have time to put together a long-term cohesive plan, we just had to react quickly.”
But the inclination to heal the neighborhood through food is about more than a kind gesture. Now that the weather is beginning to warm, Diamond wants to slowly transition the truck into a neighborhood business that would hopefully play a part in continued efforts to revitalize the local economy.
WSJ reports that the Rockaway lunch crew specifically wants to target local kids, teaching them the ins and outs of running a restaurant business, including marketing it through social media channels, as well as giving them a whole foods education that could include a community garden and information about nutrition.
“The best thing about this is that it lifts people’s mood,” Diamond told WSJ. “At times like these, a little bit of hope, a little bit of happiness, it goes a long way.”
If you’d like to donate to the cause, feel free to visit the Rockaway Plate Lunch Truck website.
Have you been affected by Hurricane Sandy? What other kinds of assistance do you think Sandy survivors could use right now? Let us know in the Comments.
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A Bay Area native, Andri Antoniades previously worked as a fashion industry journalist and medical writer. In addition to reporting the weekend news on TakePart, she volunteers as a webeditor for locally-based nonprofits and works as a freelance feature writer for TimeOutLA.com. Email Andri | @andritweets | TakePart.com