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Variety Boys & Girls Club Gets Funds for New Teaching Kitchen and Planetarium

State Sen. Mike Gianaris at the Variety Boys and Girls Club of Queens in Astoria Friday. He is allocating $1 million in state funds toward a planetarium in a new building going up on the club’s 21-12 30th Rd. site. (Photo courtesy of Sen. Mike Gianaris)

Sept. 28, 2022 By Christian Murray

The Variety Boys and Girls Club of Queens continues to get funding for its upcoming Astoria development with State Sen. Mike Gianaris allocating $1 million in state funds toward a planetarium in the new clubhouse–and GrubHub donating $500,000 toward a teaching kitchen in the facility.

The planetarium and the new teaching kitchen will be part of the Variety Boys and Girls Club’s new 5-story clubhouse that will be built at 21-12 30th Rd. by 2026. The clubhouse will replace the existing building at the site and will be part of a development owned by the club that will include 229 affordable units in a 14-story building next to the facility.

The planetarium will be part of the clubhouse and Gianaris anticipates that it will serve between 8,000 and 10,000 young people every year. The planetarium will include a 65-seat area for STEM, Earth and planetary programs.

“If we want our kids to reach for the stars, they must see them first,” Gianaris said Friday, when he announced the allocation. “This project will make science more accessible to the children of our neighborhoods and open their minds to exciting new possibilities for their futures. With this first-of-its kind planetarium, Queens will not only be the world’s borough but the universe’s.”

A rendering of the clubhouse and the 14-story apartment complex (Rendering provided by the VBGCQ)

On Monday, GrubHub announced that its Community Fund will be donating $1.25 million to the club, with $500,000 going toward a new teaching kitchen at the facility and $750,000 in program support for operations and educational programming for the kitchen.

The teaching kitchen will be about 1,000 square feet equipped with refrigerators, oven and all the accouterments needed to allow more than 10,000 students annually to learn about healthy food options and how to cook them.

“Thank you to Grubhub for making this critical $1.25 million investment in the future of our children,” said Costa Constantinides, CEO of the Variety Boys and Girls Club, in a statement. “Not far from our club is a food desert where access to healthy fruits and vegetables are limited. The Grubhub Community Fund grant will allow our children access to healthy foods and teach them how to prepare them at home in a state-of-the-art space.”

The new 5-story clubhouse will include a 1,000-seat basketball arena; a regulation size swimming pool; arts studios for visual arts, music, dance and audio production; a tech center for robotics, research and STEM training; the new planetarium; dozens of education rooms; a community theater space with 175 seats; the teaching kitchen; a rooftop with solar panels; and much more.

The club currently serves 4,000 children across several sites each year. The new building will enable the club to serve approximately 16,000 kids on an annual basis.

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