QUEENS, N.Y.—Nobody wants to see others suffer from hunger. Longtime Transportation Security Administration (TSA) lead officer Vince Reardon decided that he was going to volunteer his spare time during the pandemic to help feed the homeless in New York’s Tompkins Square Park by volunteering 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,” says Reardon, who has been volunteering three to four hours each Saturday during the pandemic 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, who has worked for TSA at LaGuardia Airport for 12 years, 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” because they do not always know where their next meal is coming from. He sees his work as helping reduce anxiety, while providing a healthy food option, the most popular being macaroni and chees and fried vegan alternative chicken on top of the mac ‘n cheese is also a popular choice, he says.
“We are very proud of Vince. His efforts to help others in need are inspiring and reflect on the quality of his character,” said Robert Duffy, TSA’s Federal Security Director for LaGuardia Airport. “His actions reflect the spirit of TSA in putting service to others before ourselves.”
On an average Saturday, Reardon helps feed about 100 people at the park. Afterward, he said that 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, NY. Plenty of volunteers were there to assist, he said.
“I see it as helping those in need, but doing so by opening people’s eyes to vegan cuisine. It’s a sustainable food option that not a lot of people consider at first,” he says. “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.