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JF&CS Blog


Making more room at the table
July 27, 2021
Bernice Behar with grocery bags

Q: Let’s start with the core work of Family Table– what it is?
A: For some people, the idea of a food pantry conjures up an image of a place where people wait in line to get whatever food is available. Where their bodies may be nourished, but not their spirits. Family Table is much more. We offer healthy foods: lots of fruits and vegetables, eggs, and Kosher chicken, paired with wonderful recipes from a registered dietician. Our Kosher food reminds people that the Jewish community is here to support one another. We nurture our clients’ spirits by empowering them to choose foods that fit their needs. We serve more than 500 families each month and deliver food to over 350 families who don’t have transportation. These deliveries are a sign of deep respect for the many people with disabilities and older adults who need our help, and an opportunity for volunteers and clients to connect human-to-human – a nurturing experience for all.

Q: Why an expansion and why now?
A: Unfortunately, the need has really grown. Food insecurity was a big problem before the pandemic, and now it’s become much, much worse. And it’s reflected in the Jewish community just as in the broader community. Through extensive outreach, we’ve also become much better known in the Jewish community, particularly with seniors, many of whom hear about Family Table from friends and neighbors, often in senior housing. We cover a wide geography of more than 100 towns. Our Waltham office serves as the distribution hub for all locations, connecting to our outposts at Temple Sinai in Marblehead and B’nai Tikvah in Canton. Family Table has grown so much over the last decade that we just ran out of space.

Q: What will the expansion mean for Family Table clients?
A: This expansion will almost triple our freezer and refrigerator space at our existing Waltham location to serve more people and store more food. We hope to double the number of frozen vegetables - peas, spinach, broccoli, beans, mixed veggies, corn – that we’re distributing. We have more space to add Kosher chicken, and to freeze our challah so that it’s still fresh when we deliver. If you visit our cold storage today, you will see that it’s just stacked to the brim, with aisleways full and no room to maneuver. An expansion of our space ultimately means that we can take on more clients and help nourish the body and spirit of so many more in our community who need help right now.

Q: What does the expansion mean to you?
A: As Director of Family Table, I manage the staff, the budget, all the organizational ins and outs. But the times that have felt so meaningful have been when I’ve personally handed someone a bag of groceries and felt that connection with people who really need us. Our clients are not anonymous to us. We walk with them through their lives. This expansion means we will walk alongside more clients in need. And in this challenging year, I watched the unbelievable hard work, dedication, and ingenuity of our small, but mighty Family Table team. To a person, they have worked so hard and knocked themselves out to make sure that just the right things have gotten into everyone’s hands. This expansion is an opportunity to increase our impact every day.

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