BY THE VILLAGE SUN | Veselka restaurant has raised big bucks for Ukraine relief and is also sponsoring refugees from the war-torn Eastern European nation.
The iconic restaurant has been located in the heart of the East Village’s Little Ukraine for more than 70 years. The Ukrainian eatery has always been a place where culture and comfort foods intersect for customers who want to feel a connection to their homeland, something that has made it a particularly important hub since the start of the start of the Russia-Ukraine War two years ago.
That’s a responsibility the restaurant’s owner, Jason Birchard, takes very seriously. He is currently sponsoring six refugee women through the U.S. government-backed Uniting for Ukraine program, employing them at Veselka to make pierogis and helping them however they need it.
The restaurant, at First Avenue and Ninth Street, also offers “Stand with Ukraine” pierogi bowls, 100 percent of the proceeds from which are donated to nonprofit organizations to support humanitarian relief efforts in Ukraine, according to Birchard. He’s raised $400,000 so far.
NY1 reported that, according to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, nearly 440,000 Ukrainian immigrants have arrived in the U.S. since March 2022 — both through the Uniting for Ukraine program and outside of that initiative.
“People seek out comfort food in times of trouble,” Birchard said. “We’ve always been here from the likes of 9/11 and Superstorm Sandy. But this war that started almost two years ago now has been very personal to us. And people from near and far have come to support us.”
For a video of a NY1 news segment on how Veselka is sponsoring Ukrainian refugees and raising funds for Ukraine, click here.