On September 23, 2018, a team of 27 dedicated souls cycled for JF&CS Family Table at the 7th Annual Ride for Food. Sponsored by Three Squares New England, the Ride for Food creates greater awareness of hunger in our communities and raises critical funds for participating food pantries. This year's Family Table team succeeded in raising more than $38,000, which will help Family Table provide healthy groceries and Jewish holiday items for more than 500 families each month in the coming year. Carol Laibson, a frequent rider on the Family Table team, works with Holocaust survivors as a Clinical Manager for JF&CS Schechter Holocaust Services. She shared the reflection below.

Carol on her bikeFood – what does it mean to you? To me, it can be something that brings joy, eases pangs of hunger, but is often taken for granted and not considered. To my mother it was a precious gift that was shared with her best friend during their time in the Auschwitz concentration camp. To Holocaust survivors, it can bring back painful memories of a time when almost none existed.

As I fasted a few weeks ago during Yom Kippur and felt and heard my stomach grumble, I was reminded of those who survived the horrors of Nazi persecution. During the Holocaust, the feeling of hunger did not come from a choice, but a lack of food and starvation, that may have lasted days, weeks, months, and sometimes years. I thought how fortunate we are to have the luxury of choosing to fast or not fast. In my work with Schechter Holocaust Services, I have seen how prolonged hunger can be an ever present part of someone's life and how food from Family Table can bring relief from today's hunger as well as relief from painful memories of hunger and one's past.

A few days after Yom Kippur, I became part of a community of people who joined together to donate their time, their money, and their hearts to make a difference in the lives of people of all ages and backgrounds who rely on the lifeline provided by Family Table. I feel so strongly about their work that I embraced the challenge to ride 25 miles as a part of the Three Squares New England Ride for Food. What a great feeling of camaraderie to ride with others who share the passion of helping people overcome food insecurity. Although I have been involved with Family Table for many years, riding that day instilled in me a deeper appreciation of what it means to be hungry and the importance of the tireless work the staff of Family Table do every day to ease the pain of so many people.