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Hundreds in need get free meals at Brooklyn food truck

BROOKLYN — A 91-year-old Brooklyn woman is one of hundreds who line up for free meals each week in low income sections of the borough.

Thomastine Johnson, affectionately known as Granny, makes her way to Maujer Street for a meal from the North Brooklyn Angels Food Truck around 1 p.m. every Wednesday. For some in the rapidly gentrifying areas of North Brooklyn, it's the only meal they'll eat all day.

"No matter what, I haven't missed a day. Rain, sleet, snow, shine, I'm there," she said.

It isn't just the food, it's the experience.

"The guys are wonderful and they treat me like, I feel good," she said. "I feel like a queen when they meet me."

Many in the neighborhood are retired and don't have sources of income to pay for meals.

"You got quite a few people around here that are elderly and sometimes don't have money for food, so this is a good thing for them," Juan Comulada, a man who lives in the neighborhood, said.

But the need isn't exclusive to this one Williamsburg street.

"The average income in our community, especially in this part of the neighborhood is about $22,000 a year," Jason Taber, a pastor at St. John The Evangelist Church, said. "Poverty level, food insecurity is a real problem here."

There are pockets of poverty spread across North Brooklyn neighborhoods from Greenpoint to Bushwick. It's why the North Brooklyn Angels thought a food truck would be the perfect solution.

"The mobileness just allows you to actually address the need where it is. Kind of react immediately," Executive Director Ryan Kuonan said.

From driving the bus, to cooking the meals and packing them up, the North Brooklyn Angels are entirely volunteers, many of them just wanting to help out their fellow neighbors.

"We'll do anything for our neighbors, that's how we were taught, that's how we were born and raised," volunteer Theresa Middleton said.

The program is run entirely on donations. So far it's been enough to feed about a 1,000 people each week while feeding the soul of several neighborhoods in the process.

"You get a whole lot of people that don't hardly talk to each other, over here they talk about everything," Comulada said.

Although Johnson admits a lot of that conversation does revolve around the delicious meals.

"They put a little weight on me," SHE SAID.

It's what keeps her coming back week after week.