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Mitzvah Food Project Benefits From Synagogue 5K Event

October 28, 2010 By:
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Mitzvah Food Project Manager Drisana Davis (second from left) accepts a check from Elisa Heisman, program director at Congregation Beth Or, and Alan and Joan Kober, co-chairs of the synagogue's "Oy Vey 5K."
Congregation Beth Or, a Reform synagogue in Maple Glen, raised a record $13,000 during its summer "Oy Vey 5K," a race/walk that drew more than 300 participants. Proceeds from this fifth annual event, which was run by the synagogue with financial support from the Jewish Federation of Greater Philadelphia, benefited three charitable organizations.

Federation's Mitzvah Food Project received $4,300 from race coordinators to support its network of five pantries throughout the Greater Philadelphia area.

The project, founded by Federation in 1996 and operating as one of its internal programs since that time, currently runs food pantries at two synagogues and three Jewish Community Centers throughout Greater Philadelphia. It is dedicated to providing kosher food, basic staples and supermarket gift cards to those in need.

Recipients include elderly individuals and couples, single-parent families, the chronically ill, and those newly poor due to recent unemployment or a major medical problem. These individuals and families include at-risk Jews, as well as all who are in need, regardless of ethnicity or religious tradition.

The Mitzvah Food Project currently provides support to an average 1,100 vulnerable households every month, at high risk for food insecurity.

According to recent statistics, some 98 percent of households reporting income are living below 250 percent of the Federal Poverty Level; 53 percent of those who live in these households are senior adults living on fixed incomes, and 17 percent are children in low-income families.

Volunteers distribute food packages twice a month that consist of three days' worth of nonperishable food. Supermarket gift cards are provided to supplement the purchase of perishables such as dairy, meat and bread at local grocery stores.

The monthly value of the supermarket gift cards vary according to family situation and size, with other emergency support available, as needed. Thanks to its access to Federation's comprehensive network of social-service providers, staff and volunteers can refer and connect clients to a full range of additional services and resources.

Though the Mitzvah Food Project is serving an increasing number of clients, there is still much more to be done to reduce food insecurity in the Greater Philadelphia region. To make a donation or volunteer at one of the five pantry sites, call Drisana Davis at 215-832-0531 (e-mail: [email protected]).

The race also benefited Shelter Box for Haiti, a global disaster relief charity, and the Natan Luehrmann-Cowen Junior Choir Fund at Beth Or.

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