NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — While many were off work Monday, a group of Long Island residents spent the day volunteering to feed our veterans.

The effort was started by a chef who lost his job in the pandemic, CBS2’s Jenna DeAngelis reported.

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This Labor Day, Ryan Carroll is working hard in the kitchen. But for him, it’s a labor of love.

“I just love to do this. I love to give back,” said Carroll.

That’s what he’s been doing for the past year and a half since losing his job as a chef in New York City.

“When the pandemic hit, it was like sink or swim. My back was against the wall and I just fought,” he said.

He started Carroll’s Kitchen, a nonprofit to feed Long Islanders in need.

On Monday, volunteers helped feed about 3,000 people, including domestic violence survivors, veterans and their families.

“It’s nice to help out the community and the veterans who are fighting,” said volunteer Anthony Pravata, from Massapequa.

“Especially with 9/11 coming up soon,” said Joe Pravata.

The Pravata family was among those spending the holiday packing up meals at Harleys American Grille.

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“It’s a good opportunity for us to teach our family how to give back to our community,” said Christine Pravata.

Army veteran Nathaniel Smith, who served in Afghanistan, also volunteered.

“I’m just honored to be a part of it, really,” Smith said.

Carroll’s future employees were there, too. He’s opening a new restaurant to bring his love for food and philanthropy to the area permanently.

“One thing I want to embed in the culture of Kick’n Chicken… is that we care not only about the customer, we care about the community,” Carroll said.

This effort is in honor of the service men and women killed in Afghanistan last month.

“I express myself through food. So I gathered an army of people and this is what I do,” said Carroll.

Carroll makes deliveries to those like 96-year-old William Brienza, a World War II veteran.

“I feel very good that they take care of veterans because they need it. They need it,” Brienza said.

The nonprofit has fed more than 180,000 families throughout the pandemic and the work will only continue.

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If you want to help Carroll’s Kitchen in its effort to fight food insecurity on Long Island, click here.

Jenna DeAngelis