A delegation of Orthodox organizations received a tour of Food Bank of New York City’s massive distribution center in advance of the citywide charity’s distribution of 500,000 free kosher-for-Pesach meals to needy families.
“We were highly impressed, the place is absolutely enormous,” said Rabbi Yosef Rapaport, who attended the event on behalf of Agudath Israel of America. “What is most striking is a sign hanging that says, ‘Every year, one in five New Yorkers eats from this warehouse.’ This year they have reached out to provide food for Pesach and have been eager to find out about the needs of the community, including acceptable hechsherim.”
Food Bank of New York is a non-profit umbrella organization that coordinates government resources as well as raising its own funds to help the city’s poor. It partners with approximately 1,000 charity organizations throughout the five boroughs to fight hunger. Among its members are 44 organizations that provide kosher food.
Representatives of Agudath Israel, the Orthodox Union, Masbia and others were shown the inner workings of what is the nation’s largest hunger-relief operation. In addition to the sheer scope of the operation, visitors said they were overwhelmed by the massive stores of Pesach staples that have been prepared for distribution.
“They showed us a refrigerator with what looked like a half block’s worth of eggs, a freezer with shelves upon shelves of Agri chickens, and a whole selection of Leiber’s products” said Alexander Rapaport, director of Masbia. “They have made a huge commitment to help meet the needs of Pesach and of the frum community in general. They deserve a tremendous amount of credit.”
Food Bank’s new initiative comes on the heels of a recent policy change enacted by Human Recourses Administration Commissioner, Steven Banks, allowing kosher soup kitchens and food pantries to substitute alternative items for non-kosher meats offered by city agencies. The shift came as a result of a meeting arranged by Rabbi Shmuel Lefkowitz of Agudath Israel and was attended by representatives of the Food Bank as well.
Sources involved in the issue said that the meeting had drawn attention to the subject of Jewish poverty and sparked this initiative.