Everything on the menu, from soup to crackers, was piling up in welcome abundance at Jewish Family Service headquarters in Elizabeth on Sunday afternoon, March 18.
The items — all ingredients for the monthly packages and emergency food aid the agency provides needy clients — were brought in by the carload by people — 119 in all — participating in the annual Supermarket Sweep Foodraiser organized by the Women’s Philanthropy social action committee of the Jewish Federation of Central New Jersey and JFS.
They had gathered at the ShopRite in Clark, in 22 teams or independently, armed with a list of the desired food items and another of accepted kosher symbols. The list also included some special Passover options.
Participants spent a total of $3,800.
As in the previous three events, participants were competing to see how far they could stretch their dollars, so the savviest came armed with coupons and flyers with the store’s weekly specials. Most families toted calculators, many of them manned by the kids.
In the JFS pantry, there was also a great mountain of cans, bags, and boxes of food collected by children at the Jewish Educational Center Yeshiva, as part of the annual 100th day celebration at the elementary school in Elizabeth. According to their coordinator, Elaine Bloomberg, they brought in a record amount.
Elyse Deutsch, who cochaired this fourth annual Foodraiser with Janice Weinberg and vice-chairs Illana Margolis and Melissa Hacker, watched as participants arrived at JFS. As they unloaded their bags, she kept asking, “Do you think it’s as much as last year?”
JFS executive director Tom Beck appeared delighted with the influx. With government funding halved, he said, the community support is all the more welcome. “We are so grateful for this help,” he said. “The Supermarket Sweep generally brings in enough for about two months of food packages.”
For the agency’s newly appointed volunteer coordinator, Elie Bodner, it was a first-time spectacle. He had enlisted the help of youngsters from the teen program he coordinates for the JEC, and he watched as they joined teams of parents and kids from other schools, shuls, and community centers. “This is really nice to see,” he said.