My grandmother had many ways of showing love, but feeding us is the way I so often feel her presence in my life decades after her passing. When my grown sons come home, I ask, “What can I make you?” Food is a way I show love, too.
Imagine yourself as a parent or grandparent who can’t ask the children in your life, “What can I make you?” What if you regularly struggled to fill your cabinets? What if the trade-off was putting a meal on the table or making your rent payment?
What if the trade-off was forgoing your meals so your children would have theirs? What if, in front of your kids and a store full of people, you had to remove items from your grocery cart because your resources don’t meet your family’s needs?
What would you feel? Embarrassment? Guilt? Helplessness? Isolation? Sadness? Desperation?
Working families, people with chronic mental illness and other disabilities, seniors, refugees and immigrants, widows, Holocaust survivors, young adults and grandparents raising grandchildren. All of these neighbors count on the JFCS Sonny & Janet Meyer Food Pantry as part of a complicated calculus that helps them meet the most basic human need for food.
Like anyone, our neighbors want to feed those they love. Regardless of the complex circumstances our clients face, they want — and deserve — a dignified way to access food and other essentials to care for themselves and their families.
For many years, our community has shown love through food by supporting the Pantry. Sonny and Janet Meyer show love through food, not only with their unwavering support but also by inspiring so many others to join them. The dedicated weekly volunteers who stock the Pantry shelves, attentive to every detail and committed to quality, show love through food. The hundreds of people and many Jewish organizations who donated 8,000 pounds of food and other essentials during the Feeding Families Food Drive show love through food.
As JFCS prepares to open an expanded and remodeled Pantry, made possible with the support of a Dare to Care/CareSource Hunger Innovation Grant, we’re building on all that love to better serve our neighbors with respect for their undeniable humanity.
A larger footprint at the front of our building means every Pantry shopper will browse more shelves stocked with requested options. Increased refrigeration and freezer capacity will help us offer more healthy proteins like fish and eggs, dairy products and fresh produce. People shopping for personal needs items, like feminine hygiene and incontinence products, will now be able to make their selections privately.
Weekly evening hours will make the Pantry more accessible for working people. We have a staged rollout to open our Pantry to neighbors in surrounding ZIP codes in a manner consistent with our security procedures. Using our client-centered case management approach, we’ll have the opportunity to assess shoppers’ other stability markers because we know from experience — when you need food, you probably need other things, too.
Love through food is as individual as the taste of my grandmother’s sweet and sour stuffed cabbage on my tongue. Love through food is as universal as every parent and grandparent being able to ask their children, “What can I make you?” and having the food to do it.
By Deb Frockt, Chief Executive Officer
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