A High Holidays food drive aims to feed thousands of Philadelphians in need.
More than 11,000 Jewish families in Philadelphia don’t know where their next meal is coming from. But with the help of the Jewish Federation of Greater Philadelphia’s Mitzvah Food Project, many of those families won’t have to worry anymore.
The High Holiday Food Drive encourages people to donate several specific food items to the Mitzvah Food Project in order to reach its goal of raising 50,000 pounds of useable food this year.
Last year, it raised 42,000 pounds, which supplemented area food pantries for about four months. With the goal of an extra 8,000 pounds, that period would be extended to about five or six months.
The Mitzvah Food Project collects food all year long, but manager Deirdre Mulligan said they receive the most donations during the High Holidays.
The food drive is usually announced during Rosh Hashanah, and people return items before or on Yom Kippur.
This year, 56 synagogues and organizations are participating, which is an increase from last year’s tally of around 50 participants. Most of the food is brought to one central collection so it can be sorted and counted after the holidays; almost half of those synagogues are helping out even more by dropping off their donations there.
The Mitzvah Food Project has five pantry locations: Congregation Tifereth Israel in Bensalem; the Jewish Federation of Greater Philadelphia Community Services Building in Center City; Kaiserman JCC in Wynnewood; Kleinlife in Northeast Philadelphia; and Beth Sholom Congregation in Elkins Park.
At one point, the organization used to collect and accept all types of donations, but they received a lot of food that wasn’t very healthy or nutritious for their clients. Even pastas or cereals were unusable, Mulligan added, because they would often break and have to be thrown away.
As a result, she said, they are specifically collecting three strictly kosher protein items, including canned beans like legumes or chickpeas, nut butters like peanut or almond butter, and canned fish like tuna, salmon or sardines.
Brian Gralnick, director of the Center for Social Responsibility at the Jewish Federation of Greater Philadelphia, said this food drive is a great example of how the community comes together and celebrates the Jewish values of tikkun olam.
It is also a critical part of the project’s budget and mission because it is a lifeline for the Jewish community members in need.
“It’s about dollars and cents because it saves us $45,000 that we would otherwise have to raise,” he said. “It’s an opportunity for us to engage people in the community and educate them about hunger in our Jewish community, and hopefully get them passionate about helping other individuals on a more ongoing basis.”
Contact: [email protected]; 215-832-0737.