High Holiday food drive critical for Jewish Food Pantry

BY SARAH WILSON, SPECIAL TO THE JEWISH LIGHT

The new year is here, and it is traditionally celebrated with a dinner table covered with apples, honey and all the fixings.

However, that is not the case for many.

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It is getting harder for the Harvey Kornblum Jewish Food Pantry to supply the necessary food items for its growing number of clients.

Food Pantry Coordinator Sue Rundblad said there has been a significant rise in demand for the overall year. The food pantry currently feeds roughly 2,400 children and adults each month, which is about a 35 percent increase compared to the past year.

Luckily, Rundblad said this is the food pantry’s busiest time of the year with donations. About 25 percent of the food pantry’s annual donations are raised during the High Holidays, and there is only a slight increase in demand during this time.

“People are thinking about stretching their dollars and lightening the mood to make people feel better,” Rundblad said. “They are thinking, ‘How can I share the good stuff that I have over the holidays.'”

The main reason for the slight increase, Rundblad said, is that they see clients they might not have seen for awhile.

Ellen Sabin is the food pantry assistant for Jewish Family & Children’s Service, where, in the basement, the food pantry collects their donations.

She said the food pantry is facing an incredible challenge to keep up with the rising demand.

“In other words, the food basically flies off the shelf as fast as we can get it,” Sabin said.

“In a few days, we’re like, ‘What has happened to all of the food?’ So it’s difficult.”

Rundblad and Sabin said the increase in demand is mainly due to the current status of the economy.

“It is a real sign of troubled times,” Sabin said. “What I’m noticing more and more than I ever have is the rise of new clients. So many of them are working full time and still can’t make ends meet. This is a new class of people called, ‘the working poor.’ This is a reality and it’s very sad and frightening.”

The food pantry also receives generous donations from local synagogues every year, but Sabin said she has noticed a decrease in the amount they have received over the past few years.

“We’re not seeing as much and that could be from a multitude of factors, even though it’s very generous what they give already,” Sabin said.

Anything the community can do is greatly appreciated, Rundblad said. They are always in need of volunteers to help out, especially during the High Holidays.

The foods in high demand right now are chicken, tuna, soup mixes, vegetables, canned pasta with meat, peanut butter and jelly, as well as healthy snacks. Personal care items are needed also.

The best and easiest thing to do to help, Rundblad said, is to contact her or the food pantry to see what they are in need of at the time.

Contact the Harvey Kornblum Food Pantry by calling (314) 812-9307.