NYCHA residents and migrants face grave food insecurity in Queens

Tammy Waters, a resident of the Queensbridge public housing development, enjoyed a Thanksgiving meal inside the nearby Jacob Riis Neighborhood Settlement on Saturday.  

"Be thankful, because I'm very thankful," Waters said.  

The free meal is a gift that has become a precious commodity in the Long Island City community, where 6,000 NYCHA residents and 8,000 migrants are competing for free hot meals.  

"Everyone looks out for each other, which I love," Waters said. " I don't know about [the] immigrants too much. I don't know."  

It's a tension that goes both ways. 

Mercedes, a Nicaraguan mother who, with her husband, brought their six young children to the country, tells FOX 5 NY she's aware some people in the community are more supportive than others. 

But they're hungry.  

Photographer: Bess Adler/Bloomberg via Getty Images

New York City Councilmember Julie Won said she needed to intervene after a fight between members of the two groups broke out at a food pantry, sending one person to the hospital. 

"Right here, you have the largest population of public housing in a single unit of the whole country who are living 200% below the poverty line," Won said.  

Won organized the Thanksgiving meal giveaway Waters attended. She said the bulk of her City Council office's funding goes toward food insecurity remedies. 

The food assistance stretches to feed two large groups who can’t work: the senior citizens living inside Queensbridge and now the thousands of migrants. 

"We're going to continue to do our best, but it's never enough," Won said.  

Won said she wants to swap out the food vendors that serve these shelters. 

She wants to put in vendors that will serve hot delicious meals. 

And maybe that will encourage the migrants to eat there – not at the Queensbridge Houses -- and that could help ease the tension.