JF&CS News Summer 2012
Where will we put the eggs? And if we get the eggs today, where will we put the carrots tomorrow? Bernice Behar, Program Manager of Family Table, the JF&CS food pantry, made hard choices like this every week. Since the economic downturn in 2008, Family Table has more than doubled in size and now serves more than 300 families in two locations with three distributions every month.
But the growing demand for fresh produce plus the increased number of families created a logistical challenge. With two small freezers and only one refrigerator, the team had to be strategic about if and when it brought in certain items. Because there wasn't enough storage space, they frequently ended up having to make difficult choices or paying for produce to be delivered the morning of a distribution instead of sourcing free produce that needed refrigeration.
"It was a lot of juggling. We couldn't maximize our food budget because we couldn't source the lowest costing food - we had nowhere to store it. Timing was more important than cost if we wanted to get enough," said Alison Books Kaufman, MS, RD, LDN, JF&CS Director of Hunger and Nutrition.
Thanks to the generosity of JF&CS supporter Ronald Casty, Family Table now enjoys a renovated food pantry with a walk-in refrigerator and freezer. The program's storage has grown from 225 to 540 cubic feet – more than twice the capacity. Ronald's gift allows the pantry the flexibility to offer the most nutritious food at the lowest cost to feed the most families in need.
"I am interested in making a difference in ways that have measurable impact. The Family Table renovation not only accomplishes this but also speaks to an issue I care deeply about, which is helping people in need have enough food to eat," said Ronald.
As the largest kosher food pantry in New England, Family Table is now able to support three food distributions each month with an innovative nutritional focus that goes beyond staples to include the healthiest food possible: fresh and frozen produce, whole grains, protein rich foods, and dairy, as well as personal hygiene products and Jewish holiday items. Family Table's focus on providing perishable foods that are the hardest to afford is meeting a need in the community for better nutrition and greater choice. "The number one food that people request more of is fresh produce, and we are so pleased they want more," said Alison.
Family Table now receives free produce - cucumbers, squash, carrots, garlic, scallions, herbs, turnips, radishes - from an ever-growing number of local sources including The Greater Boston Food Bank, Boston Area Gleaners, and Lovin' Spoonfuls. It is also able to regularly accept generous gifts of seafood from Universal Fish of Boston, run by JF&CS supporters and Family Table volunteers Jeff and Marci Katz, and kosher chicken from an anonymous donor that Family Table was previously able to store only twice a year.
On June 12, community supporters and JF&CS staff gathered to hang a mezuzah and celebrate the renovation. David S. Noymer, Chief Financial Officer of the Greater Boston Food Bank, spoke about JF&CS.
"JF&CS is a leader in offering healthier food to individuals and families in need. The installation of the walk-in refrigerator and freezer is one of many best practices that have enabled the agency to use our resources even more effectively, in fact doubling their capacity since October 2011. We are proud to partner with JF&CS," said David.
Donor Ronald Casty echoed these positive remarks at the celebration. "The more I get to know about JF&CS, the more impressed I am. The leadership and staff are highly professional and dedicated, and the ways they are strategic make them a premier organization to be involved with. I am certain they are developing into a model to be emulated in many other communities," he said. Thank you Ronald!
For more information, call 781-647-JFCS (5327) or email your questions via our contact us page.