According to the UJA-Federation’s most recent study, more than 330,000 Jews in New York City are living below or slightly above the federal poverty level. When the Jewish High Holidays, Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, come around, many families struggle with providing the necessary dietary essentials their faith requires due to the costly expense of kosher food.
City Harvest the world's first food rescue organization, is distributing more than 400,000 pounds of produce and canned food to its network of more than 30 kosher food pantries and soup kitchens in the five boroughs of New York City. While City Harvest’s efforts are growing each year to support the Kosher Initiative, Jeanne Traugot, manager of food sourcing and food drives, and Rebecca Glass, manager, of the Kosher Initiative, say they could still use your support.
"There are plenty of ways the community can help," says Traugot. "Hosting a kosher restrictive food drive is definitely one of them."
But how do you host an effective drive for needy families? Traugot and Glass offer some great insider tips:
Where do I host a kosher food drive?
"Many people turn to their community centers or local synagogues as a collection point," explains Traugot. You want to be sure no matter where you go, your location is densely populated and highly visible. You also want to be sure you are operating in a secure area and lock down a specific date and time.
How do I get the word out?
"We encourage everyone to rely on social media," recommends Traugot. "While it is great to put up flyers around the collection site, making a Facebook page or sending out e-vites gives you an idea of what kind of crowd you can expect." Make sure that you post all of the details of the event and indicate that you are looking for very specific items.
What items do I ask for?
Most donation sites can only accept non-perishable items like canned goods. When you are collecting for the High Holidays, there are a few extra concerns. "For kosher-specific donations, you need to look out for the correct trademarks. We cannot accept anything that is not a registered trademark, like the plain "K" on the back of some canned products," says Glass.
I’ve collected the food! Now what?
Now it is time to get the food in the hands of those who need it most. Working with programs like City Harvest with Kosher Initiatives will help you get your foods right to the source. Many programs offer a pickup service for donations exceeding 100 pounds. You can rest assured that your loot will be spread across families who fall into the specific demographic and truly give someone a sweet new year.