New Mitzvah Food Project Site Expected to Double Food Support for Area Families

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When Jewish Family and Children’s Service of Greater Philadelphia (JFCS) opens its doors to community members at its new building on Montgomery Avenue in Bala Cynwyd this winter, individuals and families will also be able to receive vital food assistance thanks to an on-site food pantry.

When Jewish Family and Children’s Service of Greater Philadelphia (JFCS) opens its doors to community members at its new building on Montgomery Avenue in Bala Cynwyd this winter, individuals and families will also be able to receive vital food assistance thanks to an on-site food pantry. The Jewish Federation of Greater Philadelphia’s Mitzvah Food Project will be moving its current food pantry in Wynnewood to JFCS’ 18,000-square-foot Barbara and Harvey Brodsky Enrichment Center.
Brian Gralnick, director of social responsibility at the Jewish Federation, highlighted the great importance of the outstanding support and partnership through the years of the Kaiserman JCC, the current site of the Wynnewood pantry, while noting that the move will free space for Kaiserman and very significantly enhance the Mitzvah Food Project’s ability to nourish Main Line-area individuals and families who cannot afford to purchase enough food on their own.
The new pantry will replicate the Mitzvah Food Project’s cutting-edge Digital Choice Food Program that serves families in Northeast Philadelphia. It will include proprietary touch-screen technology, enabling clients to choose their foods based on needs and preferences using a virtual dollar system that encourages healthier choices. Staff and volunteers will help both current and new clients learn this new way of selecting food.
I am really excited that we are going to have a space dedicated solely to the food pantry, and that we can bring this highly successful model from Northeast Philadelphia to the Main Line area,” Mitzvah Food Project Manager Deirdre Mulligan said.
The dedicated space will feature much-expanded refrigerator and freezer capabilities, which will translate into a much better selection of dairy, produce and proteins for clients. “This also will enable us to fully participate in the Philabundance Grocers Against Hunger program, which will donate a lot of kosher meat for our clients,” Gralnick said.
The new pantry will be open once a week  — twice as often as at the current location — with opportunities for individual appointments as well. “We will be using clients’ input to create a schedule that will be convenient for as many of them as possible,” Mulligan said.
The current pantry serves 175 families each month through pick-ups as well as bimonthly deliveries. Mulligan said she is “confident we can double that capacity.”
The new site will be fully accessible for people with disabilities and very convenient to multiple forms of public transportation. Additionally, clients will be able to benefit from the on-site programs of JFCS, such as a demo kitchen, and can more easily connect with care managers and other community services that will be housed in the same building.
This move will also enhance volunteer opportunities. With the increased capacity and operating hours, more volunteers will be welcomed to help nourish individuals and families.
Key to making the expansion possible was a $50,000 gift from the Jewish Federation Real Estate group (JFRE) for construction costs, as well as a multi-year gift from the Tuttleman Family Foundation. JFRE’s Allocations Chair Jake Reiter said: “JFRE has long believed in and participates in prioritizing critical needs locally and in Israel. This participation includes allocating capital expertise, which is core to our mission. The executive board and members of JFRE feel both privileged and humbled to contribute to housing the work of feeding the hungry.”
Approximately 11,300 Jewish individuals in the region live with the threat of hunger and/or malnutrition. The Mitzvah Food Project addresses this by providing nutritious food and basic staples in a caring and dignified manner to individuals and families in need through five Greater Philadelphia food pantries. It also coordinates education campaigns to increase awareness of poverty and hunger in the region, and advocates for more equitable city, state and federal policies and services. For more information, please contact Deirdre Mulligan at 215-832-0509 or dmulligan@jfgp.org, or visit jewishphilly.org/mfp.

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