Requests for help from the Kosher Food Pantry of Jewish Family Service of Central New Jersey have risen sharply over the past couple of years. Now, 200 people a month receive assistance from the pantry — a total of 135 food packages.
Another 900 people have received emergency help in the past 12 months.
“You can see how many people are needing help,” said Heidi Pekarsky, the agency’s director of communications. “Almost every day, we see people coming in, asking for assistance.”
Keeping up with that demand has become more and more of a challenge, but one that the Central community is taking on in all kinds of ways.
On Sunday, March 27, the Jewish Federation of Central New Jersey is organizing the third annual Supermarket Foodraiser Sweep.
Teams — families, groups from synagogues, or people on their own — will meet at the ShopRite in Clark from 2 to 4 p.m. to shop for kosher items listed by the agency.
After the shopping, participants will gather at JFS headquarters in Elizabeth at 4:30 p.m., for pizza and prizes.
“We hope that we will have as much community support as we have had in the past,” said Lisa Israel, who is cochairing the event with Elyse Deutsch and Janice Weinberg. “JFS relies on the support of our community to feed those in need. It is sometimes easy to forget, as we go about our daily lives, that there are people in our own community who rely on the Food Pantry for this most basic need.”
Israel urged those who can’t take part in person to donate a ShopRite gift card. “Someone else can do the shopping for you,” she said.
Meanwhile, students of the Jewish Educational Center in Elizabeth gathered food as part of the annual 100th day of school celebration in early March, and swimmers of the NJ JCC/YM-YWHA Swim League recently donated 500 pounds of food and $288 that they collected for the Food Pantry. The teams involved include those from the JCC of Central New Jersey, the YM-YWHA of Union County, and seven other teams.
The Manischewitz food company is donating 500 cans of beef and chicken broth to the pantry for every 500 people who register as fans on its Facebook site. Instructions can be found for the “Fans for Cans” program at www.facebook.com/pages/Man-O-Manischewitz/93903516168.