As JCC struggles, meals service finds a new home

As JCC struggles, meals service finds a new home

The Kosher Meals-on-Wheels service that delivers food to seniors throughout the county is continuing without interruption as it transfers from the financially strapped Ruth Hyman JCC to a new home.

On Dec. 12, Jewish Family & Children’s Service of Greater Monmouth County took ownership of the nutrition program from the JCC in Deal, which filed for bankruptcy on Dec. 5.

Discussions are under way with the Monmouth County Office on Aging to begin transferring its $30,000 quarterly grant for the meals delivery service from the JCC to JF&CS.

In the meantime, Jewish Federation of Monmouth County will provide emergency funding so that seniors throughout Monmouth County can continue to receive meals, said federation executive director Keith Krivitzky.

The transfer of Kosher Meals-on-Wheels to JF&CS marks a return to its roots, said JF&CS executive director Paul Freedman. The agency founded the program in 1999, partnering with the JCC to use the facility’s industrial kitchen for preparation of the meals. In 2009, while JF&CS was undergoing restructuring, it transferred the entire operation to the JCC.

“If you did a survey of Kosher Meals-on-Wheels programs throughout the U.S., the vast majority would be found under the management of Jewish Family & Children’s Services agencies,” Freedman said. “The primary reason is that we have the professional staff to provide other support services to the seniors, such as counseling, and assessments over whether they can age in place.”

Meals will continue to be prepared in the JCC kitchen, but arrangements have been made for a backup kosher kitchen in a local synagogue in the event a transfer is eventually needed, Krivitzky said. The twice weekly congregate meals for seniors will also continue at the JCC in Deal until further notice.

The seamless transition of the program’s ownership is the result of a team effort among federation, JF&CS, and JCC leadership, Krivitzky said. Federation also has been providing a $48,000 annual grant to the Kosher Meals-on-Wheels program. “One of our main priorities is ensuring the operation of programs we fund,” said Krivitzky. “We’ve been having conversations for months, together with the Office on Aging, and thankfully that preparation paid off.”

The announcement comes as a great relief to homebound seniors who have been following the JCC bankruptcy news with trepidation, said Kosher Meals-on-Wheels program director Joanne Glassoff of Toms River, who will continue to head the program under her new employer, JF&CS.

“In recent weeks, clients told me they were praying for the program to continue. I promised them we would do whatever it takes to ensure it continues,” Glassoff said. “I feel like the program is now in a safe, warm, and loving home.”

Sandy Oxman of Manalapan is one of more than 85 seniors currently receiving meals.

“After I paid off my late husband’s medical expenses, I didn’t have enough money for food,” she told NJJN. “The quality of the meals is very good, and I really appreciate that I can still receive them.”

For more information about Kosher Meals-on-Wheels, or to volunteer to deliver meals, contact JF&CS at 732-774-6886.

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