This release was submitted to Patch by the .
A sharp rise in the number of families accessing the JCC’s of the Greater Five Towns’ food pantry is stretching its ability to serve those in need, and the demand is growing as Passover nears.
The pantry, which faced a major increase over the last year in the number of families accessing the community resource, saw five new families last week looking for help. Many of those recently visiting the Kol Ditzrich kosher food pantry at 1012 Central Avenue in Woodmere were looking for the typical items needed for the traditional Passover Seder.
“Passover is a family-oriented holiday, a time of togetherness, and it’s heartbreaking to know that some of our neighbors may not even be able to afford to buy something as simple as matzot,” said Rina Shkolnik, executive director of the JCC of the Greater Five Towns. “We are seeing more families and seniors coming to our food pantry for help and their stories are similar and very sad.”
Some 267 Five Towns families seek aid from the JCC pantry. Many of those who rely on the pantry for food are not eligible for government assistance such as food stamps. A report by Feeding America and Island Harvest revealed that among 117,000 people in Nassau County identified at risk for hunger, 62 percent do not fall within the eligibility guidelines for help from programs such as the SNAP program (formerly food stamps).
Ellen Warshall, coordinator of the JCC’s kosher food pantry, tells the story of a family of five in which both parents, professionals with college degrees, lost their jobs. While they ended up eventually finding work, their debt had mounted and their new salaries were not nearly what they had been earning, putting them in a tight financial situation.
“They told us that the pantry had become not only a lifeline in providing much needed food for their families,” Warshall said, “but it was a blessing because of the kindness of the staff and volunteers who helped them cope with their new situation.”
The pantry receives support from UJA-Federation of NY and several community-based organizations such as the Five Towns Community Chest, local synagogues and schools, but is largely funded through the generosity of individual donations.
As a mitzvah to help those struggling enjoy a warm and blessed Passover holiday, the JCC of the Greater Five Towns is reaching out to the community for monetary gifts or donations of non-perishable kosher for Passover food items to help our less fortunate neighbors during this special time of year.
Among the kosher food items gratefully accepted are frozen kosher poultry and kosher for Passover food items. Personal care items, such as diapers, deodorant, toothpaste and shampoo are welcome too.
To drop off food or personal care items, call the Kol Ditzrich kosher food pantry at 295-5678. For monetary contributions, please make checks payable to the JCC of the Greater Five Towns Food Pantry, 207 Grove Avenue, Cedarhurst, NY, 11516.
Working together, your generous donations to the food pantry will allow our less fortunate neighbors enjoy the warmth, happiness and the spirit of Passover. The JCC wishes everyone in the community a Happy Passover and thanks you for your support of what has become a vital community resource for those facing difficult times.