Rhoda Bloom Kosher Food Pantry

One in six Americans is affected by “food insecurity” – the lack of consistent, dependable access to food due to limited money or resources. Rockland Jewish Family Service works to alleviate hunger in our community through the Rhoda Bloom Kosher Food Pantry, which delivers kosher food to anyone in need in Rockland.

RJFS is part of Rockland Community Against Hunger (RCAH) which is a collaboration to provide information, raise awareness, mobilize support, & educate the community about healthy food & nutrition. For more information please visit http://www.rocklandhunger.org/

 

For more information about how to apply to the Food Pantry please contact Kathryn Samalin, 845-354-2121 ext.140 or email her at ksamalin@rjfs.org.

 

We welcome all to volunteer at our monthly distributions. We need volunteers from 8:30AM-12Noon. If you want to bring a group please contact Kathryn prior to the distribution. 

Food pantry distribution dates for 2017 (and the synagogues that volunteer each month):

RHODA BLOOM KOSHER FOOD PANTRY
CALENDAR 2017

JANUARY 15, 2017 ALL
FEBRUARY 19, 2017  NANUET HEBREW CENTER Purim
MARCH 19, 2017 ALL
APRIL 2, 2017 ALL – PASSOVER
MAY 7, 2017 KEHILAT NEW HEMPSTEAD Shavuot
JUNE 11, 2017 CONG. SHAREI ISRAEL BAIS TORAH
JULY 16, 2017 REFORMED TEMPLE OF ROCKLAND
AUGUST 13, 2017 NEW CITY JEWISH CENTER
SEPTEMBER 10, 2017 ALL – ROSH HASHANAH
OCTOBER 15, 2017 CSI – NYACK
NOVEMBER 19, 2017 MONTEBELLO JEWISH CENTER Thanksgiving
DECEMBER 10, 2017 ORANGETOWN JEWISH CENTER Chanukah

 

(The following was written by Marla Cohen for the Jewish Federation of Rockland County’s website, www.jewishrockland.org. Reprinted with permission.)

Since 1995, the Rhoda Bloom Kosher Food Pantry has seen the population it serves increase from an initial five needy families to slightly more than 100 today. And while recent trouble in the economy hasn’t sent that number surging, those who work at the pantry say they have seen a subtle shift in the population that the pantry is serving.

“We used to have people in years past use us for six months and then drop out,” said Abby Bard, the volunteer coordinator for the pantry. “More people are staying with us now. Our newer families tend to be Americans coming to us because of harder economic times.”

Most of the families the pantry serves are Russian immigrants, many who have been with the program from its inception, Bard said. Those clients tend to be elderly and they tend to be single or in couples without children. And while they continue to use the pantry, more clients are showing up who are native-born and who have larger families.

She attributed the shift to the increasing fuel and energy costs and harder economic times in general, though not to any one thing. And she expected that the need may grow in the coming months.

“I have a feeling that we’ll see more this year,” said Bard, who has been working at the pantry for about nine years. “Not as much as a general food pantry, who see immigrants and day laborers, but we’re seeing more families. We’re seeing parents with seven kids, and with the economic times harder, it’s a domino thing.”

The pantry got its start 12 years ago when Mary Anne Shain of New City Jewish Center felt there was no one providing kosher food to those in need. She became the first coordinator and spurred her synagogue and then others to begin collecting food for distribution. Rhoda Bloom, for whom the pantry was named in 2003, became the second coordinator at about the same time the pantry became associated with Jewish Family Service of Rockland. Bloom died in 2005.

“She was involved from the very beginning,” said her husband, Gerald, who still volunteers at the pantry. “You can’t imagine how pleased she was when they named the pantry for her. Over the years she’d been involved in a lot of things, but this meant more to her than any of those things she’d been involved with.”

The pantry is the only kosher one in the area, according to Jill Dunn, associate director of the Food Bank of the Hudson Valley, which provides food to the pantry. The only other kosher pantries that operate nearby, she said, are in Kiryas Joel in Orange County.

@Tomche Shabbos@, a program that anonymously distributes Shabbat meals door-to-door to those in need, operates in Rockland and is seeing a large increase in traffic this year, according to Debra Rosentock, a volunteer with the organization.”We are seeing tons more,” she said. “People are much more needy and the cases are sadder. It used to be, we used to try to take on a family before they were totally desperate Food is the last thing you’ll stop paying for, you’ll stop food and electricity first…Lots of families calling that don’t have electricity or heat, they’ve reached bottom. In addition, the organization, which operates primarily from private donations and serves about 315 families, is seeing more professional people who have lost their jobs, rather than day laborers and low-income families who cannot make ends meet.Tomche Shabbos packages are geared for Shabbat, with grape juice, challah, chicken, eggs and gefilte fish, and thus attracting a mostly Orthodox clientele. However, others do seek the agency’s services.”A Jew is a Jew,” said Rosenstock. “And we are here to help each one.”Other pantries in the region are seeing increased traffic, including kosher ones in New York City, which was reported recently in The Jewish Week, a weekly newspaper. And Dunn said that other local pantries have felt pinched, between increased need and decreased supplies, both from the USDA and from retailers.Clients must qualify, generally by showing they receive food stamps or qualify for Medicaid, said Maria Dowling, CEO of JFS Rockland.The Rhoda Bloom pantry’s budget is about $20,000 she said. It gets funding from Mazon, a Jewish Response to Hunger; the Food Bank of the Hudson Valley; the Federal Emergency Management Agency through the local United Way; Wakefern Food Corporation which operates the ShopRite supermarkets; and the Program Assistance for the Hungry, run by the Cornell Cooperative Extension of Rockland County.

In addition, Beth Am Temple, Montebello Jewish Center, Kehillat New Hempstead, Congregation Sons of Israel in Nyack, Nanuet Hebrew Center, Young Israel of Wesley Hills, Ahavat Yisrael of Wesley Hills, Temple Beth El, Orangetown Jewish Center, Monsey Jewish Center, New City Jewish Center, Temple Beth Torah and West Clarkstown Jewish Center all donate food, with each responsible for a particular food group. Each provides volunteers to help with the monthly food distribution as well, which generally takes place on the third Sunday of each month.The pantry also gets donations from b’nei mitzvah “mitzvah projects” and other private donations, Bard said. The only requirement is that food be marked with a hecksher, an accepted kosher certification mark, not simply the letter “k”. Each family receives apple juice, a jar of mayonaise, beans, soup mix, fruit, vegetables. pasta, sauce, canned potatoes, kasha, jelly, cookies, borscht, Shabbat candles and prayers, every month, with a prayer appropriate for the month, according to Bard.“We give out coffee and tea,” she said. “For holidays, we give out appropriate things, for Chanukah we gave out chickens and turkeys and frozen latkes.”At Passover, clients receive kosher for Passover items, at Purim hamentashen and at Rosh Hashanah, chicken and honey. It’s a community effort that provides a needed service, but also brings volunteers together from across the county, Bard noted. “The really nice thing is on any given Sunday, it’s one of the few places where you can see Orthodox, Reform and Conservative Jews working together,” she said. “And everybody notices it. They all know it’s a beautiful thing.”