JF&CS Volunteer News Spring 2012

Jenn WallJF&CS volunteer Jennifer Wall is a former personal chef and healthcare professional who brings her knowledge of food, impressive organizational abilities, and warm sense of humor to helping the agency feed families in need.

"As a chef I catered to dual income families who didn't have time to cook but had lots of resources. As a hospital administrator I interacted with patients and doctors. But nothing is as direct as giving food to people, helping them sustain their existence," said Jenn. "This is fulfilling in a way most things in my professional life haven't been. I really enjoy it."

Jenn, who lives in Sudbury with husband Jonathan and their six-year-old son, began volunteering for JF&CS in March 2010 and now shares her time and expertise with not one but two programs: Family Table and Nutrition Services. A typical day might include tweaking a recipe for brown rice salad to make it healthier or assigning drivers for an upcoming Family Table food distribution.

"Jenn is an extremely consistent presence who is incredibly dedicated to what we do. I think she enjoys feeling part of the mission and wants to see us succeed. And we love working with her," said Bernice Behar, Family Table Program Manager.

Jenn has a long history of community involvement and has also volunteered for the Coalition Against Domestic Violence and as a driver for Kosher Meals on Wheels.

"I was raised with a strong ethic of helping people who don't have enough. I look forward to seeing clients and finding out if they're doing better. It's gratifying when they can ‘graduate,'" she said.

Each month at Family Table, New England's largest kosher food pantry, clients receive fresh and frozen produce along with wholesome groceries, protein rich foods, dairy, personal hygiene products, and Jewish holiday items. Kristen Pufahl, Registered Dietitian for Nutrition Services, relies on Jenn's expertise to research recipes that teach clients how to use the produce of the month and to create healthy recipes for meals that cost $2 or less per serving.

"Jenn is great at finding and modifying recipes to use the produce we give to families. She's an exceptional resource for us. I know I can rely on her when I have questions about cooking and foods," said Kristen.

Jenn's recipes are shared at Kristen's weekly nutrition classes, included in the monthly newsletter for Family Table clients, and sent out on a listserv. They help a wide range of people from elders living in senior centers, people with disabilities, teens and Latina moms, and families in low-income housing and homeless shelters, some who cook with only a microwave and mini fridge.

In addition to researching and tweaking recipes, Jenn is happy to shop for groceries or roll up her sleeves to prepare foods for community programs, cheerfully whipping up salad for forty on a recent afternoon. Most of her time is spent helping Family Table run smoothly. In the days before each distribution, she organizes and prepares information packets for new clients, and does "whatever needs doing." On distribution day she assigns tasks, hands out shopping lists, and thoughtfully matches drivers with client families for deliveries.

"Jenn does so much prep work for each distribution day and makes this place run so smoothly. She doesn't just get the job done, she gets it done well. I know I can count on her," said Tamar Moskowitz, Family Table Volunteer and Food Coordinator.

Volunteering at JF&CS allows Jenn to maintain the elusive work-life balance treasured by all modern mothers. "It's gratifying to be able to balance multiple things. I can have a full life and still focus on my family." Her parents now pitch in on distribution day. "My son loves to pack groceries with his grandfather. He knows he's helping people who need food. It's become a family affair," said Jenn.

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