[More than] 30 kosher food pantries and soup kitchens in the city’s five boroughs supplied year round by City Harvest, New York City’s nonprofit food rescue operation, with fresh produce and other provisions. For most, it is their only source of fresh produce and their major supplier of food. But the Jewish Federation and Jewish donors who support Jewish causes barely give this major supplier of food to these kosher food pantries and kosher soup kitchens – including those in haredi areas – any funding.
The New York Jewish Federation and Jewish donors who donate to Jewish causes have again shamefully managed to demonstrate that helping the poor is not a primary concern for them.
The Jewish Week reports:
[More than] 30 kosher food pantries and soup kitchens in the city’s five boroughs supplied year round by City Harvest, New York City’s nonprofit food rescue operation, with fresh produce and other provisions.…
A UJA-Federation of New York population survey released this summer found that a quarter of people in the city’s Jewish households are poor. Fifteen percent of poor people living in Jewish households are Russian-speaking seniors, according to the survey.
Yet not much word of City Harvest’s growing work in the kosher sector seems to have reached the Jewish world. Donors who also give to other Jewish causes fund less than 5 percent of City Harvest’s kosher program; the rest is funded out of the organization’s general operating budget.…
City Harvest…started its kosher program in 1999 when it concluded there was a lack of communal awareness around Jewish poverty, said Leslie Gordon, City Harvest’s director of agency relations.
Today, City Harvest’s kosher program has a truck used exclusively for kosher pickups and deliveries and, in energetic, curly-haired Rebecca Glass, a Hebrew-speaking manager proficient in kashrut. Glass keeps track of which food programs accept which heksher, or kosher certification; works with donors and drivers to help them recognize kosher food donations and set them aside, and conducts “canned food sorts” with an ecumenical staff of volunteers to identify kosher products for the program.
The Queens Jewish Community Council’s tiny, one-room food pantry receives about 25 percent of its stock from City Harvest, said Cynthia Zalisky, the council’s director. It also depends heavily on the nonprofit, nonsectarian Food Bank for New York City, and on the Metropolitan Council on Jewish Poverty, which is an agency of UJA-Federation.
City Harvest works with both the Met Council and the federation, Szapiro said: City Harvest provides food for the Met Council’s wider Passover distribution, for example, and meets with the federation to raise awareness of its kosher program. Because City Harvest is not an official federation agency, however, it is limited in how much support it can receive from the federation and has not qualified recently for any funding opportunities.…
The behavior of the Federation is shameful. So is the behavior of Jewish donors who give to Jewish causes but who ignore City Harvest because it appears to be a non-Jewish charity set up to help the city's non-Jewish poor – even though the Jewish community has the moral and halakhc responsibility to help non-Jewish poor as well as Jewish poor.
But the truth is that even programs for the Jewish poor are very underfunded by these Jewish donors and the Federation.
It doesn't have to be that way and it shouldn't be that way.
But with today's Federation leadership, there is little hope for substantive change.