2017-09-13 / Columns

Help remove hunger’s seat from the tables of area families

STRAIGHT FROM THE HEART
MARLA MEYERS
Executive Director, Jewish Family & Children’s Service

Remember when you were a child, and you looked forward to seeing what mom or dad packed in your lunch for school? Maybe it was the way they made the sandwich—extra mayo, a slice of yummy cheese, or a pickle? How about when you think back to special weekend dinners with the family—all the favorites, and the fixings, the feeling that you get when family unites around the table.

We all can probably recall sharing a snack with our brother or sister, or making a homemade cake or pie with our grandmom as well. Or, how about going to the store to splurge on that extra sweet treat you have been hankering for?

It seems food follows us through the years, through our memories, and is a large part of life’s events, big and small. Sometimes, you don’t even notice how much it is interwoven into our histories, until you look back on the happy moments around which food is created.

Now, try to imagine the opposite of all of that, where the lack of food is a constant reminder that there looms a seemingly insurmountable obstacle at every turn.

Try to imagine each moment, where there should or could be food, but there is none. There is not enough to fill the plate. There is no certainty that lunch will be available. The ingredients in grandmom’s pantry are just too few to spare for a day of baking. Imagine those “food moments” in your life—instead laced with stress, anxiety, and constant worry. You worry about your health, sustenance, nutrition, energy level, immunity issues, sickness, financial limits, and more when you don’t have nourishment.

When you are dealing with food insecurity, you face this struggle every day. You’ll ask yourself, “Will I pay for medications today, or buy food?” “How can I purchase food for the weekend, when I have my utility bill due and my daughter has to see the pediatrician?” You may consider things like, “I’ll skip this meal so that my children can eat dinner,” or “I worry that my mother is getting sick because she can’t afford healthy food.” One in four people, according to Feeding America, have to choose between food and other crucial care items or paying for things such as utilities and rent, each and every day because they are food insecure.

The three JFCS Betsy and Peter Fischer Pantries in Camden and Burlington counties last year alone provided food to over 5,582 individuals. Additionally, JFCS community cooking projects helped produce 2,700 meals for senior and homebound clients, in cooperation with area synagogues and organizations. In just the third quarter of fiscal year 2017 (April, May and June of 2017), our Family Assistance Program nourished 1,000 individuals, comprised of 525 adults, 306 children and 169 seniors.

We hope you will join us as we move into the fall and winter months, to help those who need us most, those who find food insecurity has marred many of life’s precious moments. We encourage you to join us for the upcoming JFCS Food Sort sponsored by WCRE, on Oct. 1 at 9 a.m. at The JFED Commons, 1721 Springdale Road, Cherry Hill.

We need the community’s help to sort and pack donated food so that it can be transported to our three pantries in order to fill our shelves, so that when someone reaches for a can or box of nourishment, it is there for them. Volunteers as young seven years old can help, and a special Sukkah decorating activity will be facilitated by the Moorestown Jewish Association teen organization.

Register your family to assist us on Oct. 1 at http://bit.ly/foodsort17.

For more information, call (856) 424-1333, ext. 1180 or email aloew@jfedsnj.org.

Together, we can make an amazing difference for so many who are in need!

 mmeyers@jfedsnj.org

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