The coronavirus pandemic has resulted in another crisis, people not having enough food because of the unemployment caused by the state-mandated closures of many businesses.
In an effort to help in Five Towns, the Cedarhurst-based Marion & Aaron Gural JCC that operates the Sustenance Hope Opportunities Place has collaborated with the National Council of Jewish Women-Peninsula Section at 591 Malvin Mall in Cedarhurst’s Maple Plaza.
The NCJW raised $4,000 in nearly four weeks from donors. “We care and we are not going anywhere and we were happy to help,” said Section Administrator Bonnie Sperry, adding that the pandemic has made it difficult to hold events for schools, students and seniors due to the pandemic. The JCC also receives financial support the UJA-Federation of New York, Community Chest South Shore, private donors, community members and fundraising.
To provide nutritional support to individuals facing hardship, the Rina Shkolnik Kosher Food Pantry is a supermarket-style pantry offering perishable and non-perishable kosher food, cleaning supplies and personal care items at the SHOP.
Stacey Feldman, the Gural JCC’s associate executive director said the pantry feeds more than 575 families per month, and has seen a 44 percent increase since March due to the pandemic. “It’s sad, but reassuring to know that these people use us for certain hardships,” she said. The SHOP serves everyone from older adults, large families, people with disabilities, single-parent families and people who are recovering and or have lost work because of the pandemic.
At the food pantry, Feldman said the goal is to help people while ensuring their self-respect, which is why it is operated in a mini-mart style. Instead of being handed a box, families can “shop” for the food they want. “Selecting their food allows them to retain their dignity,” she said. In the pandemic, the SHOP implemented a phone order system in March, which allowed families to still choose the items they wanted and then pick them up in store.
Sperry said it is important local organizations continue working together. “We have a wonderful relationship, it’s such a difficult time for everyone, and we rely on each other in the end,” she said.
Feldman said the collaboration allows them to inform the organization’s families on the wonderful services they both offer. “We are grateful for the generous support from NCJW and hope to partner with them in the future,” she said.
For more information on the Gural JCC’s SHOP, go to https://www.guraljcc.org/kosher-food-pantry/ or call (516) 569-6733. To learn more on the National Council of Jewish Women-Peninsula Section, go to https://www.ncjwpeninsula.org or call (516) 569-3660.