‘Uh-Oh, SpaghettiOs’? Not With Restaurants and Food Trucks Dishing Out Free Grub

10th Street and Avenue DSuzanne Rozdeba Line for a food distribution center on Avenue C.

Immediately after superstorm Sandy passed, local businesses like Northern Spy Food Co. and 11B started doling out free food. The Museum of Reclaimed Urban Space began doing the same, and yesterday still more restaurants got out their ladles, with national companies and food trucks joining them.

Even as the city set up food distribution centers for those who hadn’t had a hot meal in a few days, local restaurants like The Cardinal continued to offer alternatives to canned goods and MREs. Leanne Hebert, a co-owner of the East Fourth Street restaurant, said, “When we saw people dumpster diving at Key Food and fighting over food, we thought, ‘This is insane.’ We needed to do something.”

Free food on Astor PlaceSuzanne Rozdeba Free food at Astor Place.

So Ms. Hebert and her partner, Curtis Brown, via a “bike messenger with a really big bag,” brought in 20 cans of tomato sauce, 20 boxes of pasta and 30 pounds of meat and whipped up some hot spaghetti, plus grilled cheese sandwiches. Thursday, they were able to serve about 70 people in 20 minutes before the free lunches ran out. “We doubled the portions today,” Ms. Hebert said Friday. The restaurant served about 200 people over the course of two days. East Village Finest Deli on Avenue B also donated bread. There were also free socks, underwear, T-shirts and even dog’s clothes donated by American Apparel.

“We know lots of people in this neighborhood, and we wanted to help them. A lot of people were coming in and bringing food to elderly people who haven’t been able to get food. One lady who came in said she had lived in the projects and had five kids to feed, and she took meals and bread home to her children,” said Ms. Hebert.

Avenue CSuzanne Rozdeba Avenue C bet 9th and 10th.

Over at Rai Rai Ken on East 10th Street, employees dished out steaming miso soup and vegetables for storm survivors. Since Tuesday, they had also been serving yakisoba, a fried noodles dish with vegetables and pork. They served up about 500 free meals over the last few days. “It’s really scary what people are going through. One girl was so happy when she got the food that she almost started crying,” Gerald Sanchez, the restaurant’s manager, told the Local. “People were really glad to be receiving some hot food.”

St. Mark’s Church-in-the-Bowery was also giving away milk and water yesterday afternoon on its front steps.

JetBlue pitched in Thursday and Friday from 12 p.m. to 4 p.m., and parked food trucks at Astor Place, Tompkins Square Park and East 14th Street. Among the vendors were Wafels & Dinges, Rickshaw Dumplings and Toum. “People seemed pretty happy and were smiling. We wanted to help the community,” said Marina Suberlyrak, who helped JetBlue distribute some of the goodies at Astor Place. The company gave away about 7,000 meals and 12,800 bottles of water, and served about 3,500 people.

Coffee and sweets on West 4th StreetSuzanne Rozdeba Coffee and sweets on W 4th.

Sager Panchal, an NYU freshman residing at a dorm on East 12th Street that had lost power, was happily digging into a dulce de leche and butter-dipped waffle. “It’s been good and bad. Some other dorms had to evacuate, but we didn’t have to. We just got hot water yesterday.” His friend, Shirley Shen, who also lives in the dorm, said she was satisfied with her “amazing free waffle.”

And over on East 14th Street, free samples of Castello Cheese were being distributed by Sweetery NYC. The Castello truck had been on a promotional tour for the last three weeks, and was giving away extra samples after the storm. Yesterday they distributed 3,500 cheese samples and 200 cheese wheels. And at Tompkins Square Park, Sweetery NYC also provided 1,000 free meals from Mexico Blvd. “It’s great to help out when people are in a time of doom and gloom,” Grant DiMille, owner of Sweetery NYC, told The Local. “We’ve had a cross section of people. Some people were saying they had no power but were holding up, and others who were much worse off. One gentleman was helping elderly people living on a high floor who couldn’t get to food,” he said.

“This is an emotional and gut-wrenching time,” he added. “But New Yorkers have really pulled together.”

Yesterday, powerwas restored to most of the East Village, but the city will continue to distribute food and water at East 10th Street between Avenues C and D, from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m., according to its Website.