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'Lunch' Is Served, Thanks to JRA

November 19, 2009
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During their "time off," students helped prepare food packages -- in this case, the couscous -- for seniors. Photo by Greg Bezanis

Needless to say, the lunchroom hasn't been a busy place this week at Jack M. Barrack Hebrew Academy, with the teachers on strike and the students out of school. But thanks to a project put together by Max & David's, which handles the school's dining needs, the Jewish Relief Agency and the Klein JCC's Cook for a Friend program, this week's perishable foods won't go to waste.

Barrack students and their parents were invited to convene at JRA's Northeast Philadelphia warehouse at 11 a.m. on Nov. 20 to pack as many as 500 meals for area seniors. The food, which would have been served to Barrack students, is to be prepared by Josh Katz, director of sales and marketing for Max & David's and Barrack's food services.

As is the case with JRA's monthly food distribution, the whole process is built around an assembly line model, with students and parents moving individual trays down the line, filling them with an entree, vegetable and starch before sealing up the trays and packing them for transport.

Those meals will then be frozen and stored to be distributed to seniors living primarily in the Rhawnhurst section of Philadelphia. The distributions are expected to begin Nov. 23, but Nina Cohen, who oversees Cook for a Friend, said she hoped to keep a number of them in storage for the winter months when it's harder for many seniors to shop and cook.

And because kosher food is so expensive, and a hardship for some families, Cohen said that having this amount of food donated "is really a blessing."

Katz said he'd not yet settled on a menu, and was considering preparing a Moroccan couscous ratatouille or a grilled vegetable melange, and perhaps some beef or chicken stew for a source of protein.

Regardless of the menu, said Katz, it's a good thing all around. The kids learn about mitzvot, the seniors get the meals, and the food isn't wasted. 

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