Feeding Families
Caring for Generations

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Feeding Families
October 25, 2012
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JF&CS News Fall 2012

family table volunteerDeciding what to feed your children for dinner can be stressful for many families. With long workdays and after-school activities, busy parents are feeling the squeeze. But what if you didn’t have a choice or, worse yet, didn’t have enough food for dinner?

This is a situation many families in Massachusetts find themselves. For almost twenty years, JF&CS Family Table, the largest kosher food pantry in New England, has helped these families put food on the table. Since the recession began, Family Table has doubled in size and now serves more than 320 families in over 100 towns every month.

The Family Table Choice Pantry offers a new way for JF&CS to reach more families. This innovative program allows families to “shop” for the foods they want from a wide selection of fresh and nutritious staples and produce instead of receiving a pre-packed bag. Open two weekdays a month during business hours and some evening hours to accommodate the schedules of working families, easy access is just one component of the pantry’s success.

“The goal is to allow people to shop for themselves rather than handing them a pre-packed bag. It’s more dignified and more economical. People only take what they want and need,” said Alison Books Kaufman, JF&CS Director of Hunger and Nutrition. “The Choice Pantry has felt right from the start.”

The Family Table Choice Pantry allows JF&CS to provide a greater variety of healthy foods to a greater number of clients. Eighty-five families currently stop by JF&CS Headquarters in Waltham to select the items they want for their tables. Clients love the flexibility and expanded hours of the new service, saying, “It’s a really respectful process,” “I like that I can choose my own food and nothing goes to waste,” and “The team is very supportive and treats us with respect.”

“The choice model is not yet widely adopted. This is cutting edge. We were confident through our research and needs assessment that we were approaching it the right way. We put a lot of thought into the foundation of the program and the results of our survey validated our approach,” said Bernice Behar, Family Table Program Manager.

Elka Kuhlman has been a Family Table volunteer for fifteen years and is now a Choice Pantry volunteer as well. “All of us would agree that no one deserves to be in the situation where they don't have enough food for their family, yet fixing the problem feels overwhelming,” said Elka. “Family Table is trying to work on the problem in a new way with Choice Pantry. They are doing something that allows people to retain their dignity at a time when they are feeling vulnerable by allowing them to be in control of their food decisions.”

To learn more about Family Table Choice Pantry, please contact Tamar Moskowitz, Volunteer and Food Coordinator for Family Table, at tmoskowitz@jfcsboston.org.

For more information, call 781-647-JFCS (5327) or email your questions via our contact us page.

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