Nobody wants to see others suffer from hunger, and during the COVID-19 pandemic, Vince Reardon decided to help feed the homeless in New York’s Tompkins Square Park. He volunteers with Chilis on Wheels, a non-profit organization that shares meals, but not just any meals.
“Chilis on Wheels is dedicated to making veganism accessible to communities in need,” said Reardon, who volunteers three to four hours each Saturday to help provide free vegan food “to anyone in need of a warm meal. We offer a range of vegan meal options to the community.”
Reardon, a 12-year TSA officer at New York’s LaGuardia Airport, is one of many volunteers who purchases non-perishable vegan foods and helps cook the food for distribution.
“There are people who are food-insecure,” Reardon said. He said they don’t always know where their next meal is coming from. He sees his work as helping reduce that level of anxiety while providing a healthy food option, the most popular being macaroni and cheese. Reardon also said fried alternative vegan chicken on top of the mac ‘n cheese is a popular choice.
“We are very proud of Vince,” said LaGuardia Federal Security Director Robert Duffy. “His efforts to help others in need are inspiring and reflect on the quality of his character. His actions reflect the spirit of TSA in putting service to others before ourselves.”
On average each Saturday, Reardon helps feed about 100 people at the park. Afterward, he said he helps provide “mutual aid by delivering food” for 15 to 20 families using donated funds.
On Memorial Day, Reardon and his wife helped set up a food bank to distribute care packages of fruit and other food to the local day laborers who are known to congregate in an area in Flushing, New York. He said plenty of volunteers were there to help.
“I see it as helping those in need, but doing so by opening people’s eyes to vegan cuisine,” Reardon said. “It’s a sustainable food option that not a lot of people consider at first. Offering these meals, especially during the pandemic when even more people are experiencing financial difficulties, is important to me and even more important to the community.”
Reardon adopted a vegan lifestyle five years ago and has been actively promoting it to others.