A new year is dawning. It's time to reflect upon what we have achieved individually and collectively, assess our failings and resolve to do better.
It has become abundantly clear to many that we have fallen short in our efforts to address hunger and poverty in our community, failing to provide adequate support to those who needs our help the most — low income Jewish households.
Leonard Barrack, president of the Jewish Federation of Greater Philadelphia, is outraged that, as a community, we have not been able to significantly affect this very critical priority. "I truly hope that during these High Holy Days, when we break fast, we all resolve to break the fast for so many in our community who are fasting every day of the year."
Federation is investing significant resources in addressing the hunger and poverty situation among the low income elderly, as well as with families and children. Unfortunately, the significant needs outpace our investment. Current economic conditions, characterized by the steep increase in food, fuel and other consumer goods prices, are forcing more and more of our community members to reach out to Federation agencies for help.
Our primary service delivery partners — Mitzvah Food Project, Jewish Relief Agency and the Jewish Community Centers — are all reporting significant increases in the number of individuals and families now requesting either meals or non-perishable food packages. In fact, most recent reports from the field are very troubling:
· The Mitzvah Food Project experienced a 63 percent increase in the number of food packages distributed during the first six months of this year.
· Prior to May 2008, the Jewish Relief Agency averaged 15 to 20 new recipient households per month. Since May 2008, 40 to 60 new households are requesting food support from JRA.
· Federation Housing, which serves the low-income elderly in our community, needs significant funds to provide hot meals to 200 seniors residing in their facilities.
Addressing these critical needs will require a concerted effort. Federation is undertaking a city-wide hunger relief campaign partnering with area synagogues during High Holidays.
To contribute to the Hunger Relief Campaign, call the Jewish Federation of Greater Philadelphia at 215-832-0577. Additional information will be made available during holiday services at area synagogues.