QUEENS — A nonprofit in Sunnyside will host free meals later this month to mark the start of Ramadan — and is raising funds to help offset the cost of the meals.
The Turkish Cultural Center of Queens has been organizing its annual "Ramadan Tent" gatherings for the last 10 years to mark the Muslim holiday, serving free food to the community at the end of the day's fasting during the monthlong holiday.
The center is running on online fundraiser to help offset the costs of this year's Ramadan Tent, which will take place at sundown on June 28 and 29 under the elevated 7 train tracks on Queens Boulevard, between 45th Street and 46th Street.
The free meals are open to anyone, regardless of their religious beliefs, and are intended to foster a sense of community and understanding, according to organizers.
"The Ramadan Tent is open to everybody, regardless of background, nationality, culture, denomination," said Anne Rosemary Mustafa, executive assistant at the Turkish Cultural Center of Queens.
"It's in the tradition of sharing food and sharing friendship with neighbors, friends and family."
In previous years, the Ramadan Tents were held at Thomas P. Noonan Jr. Playground and drew an estimated 1,000 people. This year, the event is being moved to the site under the 7 train as the playground undergoes renovations.
Mustafa says the gatherings will take place even if the online fundraiser fails to reach its $10,000 goal. The meals will feature traditional Turkish fare, she said.
"Local restaurants donate, local families cook at home, bring something along," she said. "It's really a huge, huge joint venture within the community."