#Newsflash | Queens Together Joins Forces With Queens Economic Development Corporation
BY QEDC It's In Queens
It’s a match made in Nonprofit Heaven.
Queens Together, an agency that provides free-of-charge advocacy for restaurants while also feeding underserved communities, officially joined forces with the Queens Economic Development Corporation on Monday, Aug. 1.
QT Executive Director Jonathan Forgash described the new partnership as a “win-win” situation. QT will benefit from QEDC Executive Seth Bornstein’s years of nonprofit management experience, while QEDC will gain a department focused on the small business food industry and community-based relief efforts.
“This is a great opportunity to help local restaurants, especially the smaller ones that are the backbones of their neighborhoods,” stated Bornstein. “We’re excited to work with Queens Together and promote dining in our unique, authentic borough.”
Forgash, a chef who ran Star Struck Catering for more than 20 years, co-founded QT in March 2020, when New York City was shutting down due to COVID. Working with QEDC, the new organization raised money to hire local eateries to prepare thousands of ready-to-go meals for front-line health care professionals and neighbors facing hunger issues. Since then, QT has provided meals, groceries, and fresh produce to more than 275,000 individuals through food pantries and community-based alliances.
At the same time, Forgash built a de facto trade association that supports restaurants and other retail food operations with resources, promotion, and community engagement. One of his goals is to create a powerful voice, made up of member businesses from across the borough that will fight for the diverse community’s rights and needs.
For example, QT organized the East River International Food Festival in Long Island City on Sunday, May 22. Several thousand foodies enjoyed tastings from a few dozen restaurants at Sound River Studios that day. The agency also provided promotion and judges to the Grace Jamaica Jerk Festival New York in Roy Wilkins Park on Sunday, July 31. The next big event is the grand opening of a Fogo de Chão Brazilian steakhouse in Elmhurst in early August.
In the near future, expect the enhanced QEDC to present educational programming, jobs training, fun filled food events, curated resources, and advocacy for food businesses. If need be, this super group has a vast network of food makers, volunteers, and community groups that could help city, state, and federal agencies respond to future crises (i.e. extreme weather events) in the county.
Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney, Borough President Donovan Richards, City Council Member Julie Won, former City Council Member Costa Constantinides, and the New York Community Trust have allocated funds to QT. (Council Member Won even volunteered during distribution sessions before her election.)
“The Queens Economic Development Council and Queens Together have been two powerful forces for good that have helped lead the way in our efforts to spur Queens to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic and be more prosperous than it ever was before,” stated Borough President Donovan Richards Jr. “By joining forces, these two outstanding organizations will do an even better job of advocating for ‘The World’s Borough’ and all of its small businesses. I look forward to working with these new partners to further bolster our borough’s burgeoning restaurant industry and the entire Queens economy.”
“We now have one strong voice to represent, empower, and support the diverse food industry of our amazing borough,” Forgash stated. “We’re going to deliver resources, promotion and community engagement. Everything a business needs for success. And please don’t forget: Queens Together is free to join and there are no membership fees.”
Image: QT Executive Director Jonathan Forgash (middle, blue shirt, beard) and QEDC Executive Director Seth Bornstein (third from right, with protective mask) stand with stakeholders after providing meals to health care professionals at the frontline of the Covid pandemic.