Just past the annual “feast of the sacrifice,” members of the Turkish Cultural Center showed up at City Hall with a gift for New Haven’s hungry.
The gift: 160 pounds of ground beef, courtesy of the Turkish organization, which is headquartered in West Haven.
The gift was handed over to the Connecticut Food Bank on Thursday afternoon outside City Hall. The bank will immediately distribute the food to Christian Community Action and the Downtown Evening Soup Kitchen.
It’s the second year in a row that the Turkish Cultural Center has donated meat to the hungry. The donation coincides with the end of Eid al-Adha, the feast of the sacrifice. The holiday stretched from Oct. 15 to 18 this year.
It’s traditional to mark Eid al-Adha with the slaughter of a sheep, goat or cow, and to distribute two-thirds of the meat to people in need, according to Mehmet Erdogdu (at center in top photo), the head of the center. The ground beef the center handed over on Thursday didn’t come from a single cow, but from a halal meat company called Nema.
Erdogdu said Connecticut has about 10,000 Turkish-Americans. About half of them live in West Haven; about 2,000 live in New Haven, he said.
The 160 pounds of beef will stretch to about 192 meals, said the food bank’s Jennifer Thomas (at left in photo).
Mayor John DeStefano (at right in photo) hailed the gift as one of the “newer traditions in the city” marking the “commencement of the holiday season.”
“We are defined by our generosity,” he said.
Erdogdu said the gift is intended “to show our love and sympathy for our neighbors who are in need.”
Albert May (at left in top photo) of Christian Community Action said the donation comes at a good time. Before the holiday giving season sets in. “Right now our shelves are somewhat empty,” he said.
The scene in front of City Hall drew the attention of a passerby, a man toting an old plastic bag full of cans and bottles.
“You’re not just handing it out?” he asked as the press conference wrapped up.
“Not right now,” DeStefano said. “You have to go to the soup kitchen.”