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Grocery blitz to feed the needy
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Grocery blitz to feed the needy

On Sunday, March 3, a mighty force will invade ShopRite in Clark. Wielding shopping carts and armed with lists, people of all ages will charge the kosher food aisles, scooping up items, and strategizing to stretch their dollars as far as possible with coupons and special offers.

The food purchased will replenish the Kosher Food Pantry run by Jewish Family Service of Central NJ in Elizabeth and the Bobrow Kosher Food Pantry at Oheb Shalom Congregation in South Orange.

The fifth annual Supermarket Sweep “Foodraiser” is sponsored by Women’s Philanthropy of the Jewish Federation of Greater MetroWest NJ, with a growing number of synagogues and other community organizations cosponsoring the event.

Cochairs Elyse Deutsch and Janice Weinberg, both of Scotch Plains, came up with the idea, and —with various fellow volunteers — have run it ever since. The first four years, it was run under the auspices of what was the Jewish Federation of Central NJ. With that federation’s merger with United Jewish Communities of MetroWest NJ last year, the scope has been expanded, and the organizers are hoping to attract many more participants.

“We were thinking of ways to get people — especially families — to help,” Deutsch said. “We decided if we made it fun, like a game, the whole family could enjoy it while doing a mitzva for the community. With the economy being what it has been and Hurricane Sandy, more food is needed now than ever before.”

Between 2 and 4 p.m., using shopping lists provided when they register, participants will shop for the items requested by the two food pantries. They will then meet back at either JFS or Oheb Shalom at 4:30, to unload, stock, and celebrate with pizza, snacks (donated by ShopRite), and prizes.

Over the past 12 months, the two food pantries have served an unprecedented number of people — an average of 400-500 a month. The pantries have received and responded to over 1,000 requests for emergency food this past year. With emergency food requests increasing and government funding decreasing, they need additional donations to keep stocked.

There is a $5 entrance fee per team (families, individuals, or groups may register as a team). For contest rules, food items list, approved kosher symbols, and to register, visit jfedgmw.org/sweep or contact Debra Levenstein at dlevenstein@jjfedgmw.org or 908-288-2427 or Miriam Hirschheimer at mhirschheimer@jfedgmw.org or 973-929-3165.

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