New York pizza shop owners feed asylum-seekers, receive honor from city official
New York City public advocate Jumaane Williams applauded their work.
When hungry asylum-seekers came knocking at the door of Verde's Pizza and Pasta House in Staten Island, the owners immediately sprung into action.
Sebastian Bongiovanni told ABC News that he and his wife began feeding dozens of Latin American migrants within weeks of opening their shop.
The Bongiovannis were applauded by city public advocate Jumaane Williams with an honorable citation for their work.
Sebastian said he and his wide saw pregnant women and children outside of their shop and had "no idea what was going on."
"There's a lot of people starving. That's not good. We need to do something about it," he said. "I just did what any normal person, any New Yorker, would really do."
When the Bongiovannis read the news about migrants being sent to New York City, they put the pieces together.
"I've really never seen somebody starving eat," Sebastian said. "At the end of their meal, the women turned around to the kids and said something and right when they got off the table, they came to the counter and said 'thank you.' So it was very humbling and a unique experience for us."
Their neighborhood of Travis has been supportive of their efforts, he said, with other business owners and residents coming to help.
Sebastian said he fears the migrants may not be getting the nutrition or the medical attention they need based on his conversations with them.
Some Democrat-led cities have seen massive waves of migrants being bused or flown in from states with Republican governors, including efforts from Texas Gov. Greg Abbott and Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis.
According to a spokesperson for New York City Mayor Eric Adams, more than 20,500 asylum-seekers have moved through the shelter system since spring, with a majority of them arriving on buses from Texas.
As for the politics, Bongiovanni, a Republican himself, said he's focused on the health and well-being of the migrants he's working with right now. He said his Catholic faith is what continues to motivate him.
"All we can do as human beings is do the right thing for what's right in front of us and I think a lot of this bigger picture stuff will get better," he said. "These people have been shipped around in political mumbo jumbo, from what I see, and nobody seems to give a s--- about the people themselves."
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