Mazel Meals is a signature program of Jewish Family Service of the Lehigh Valley. Alongside staff, volunteers and catering partners work together to prepare and deliver homemade Kosher meals to 45 clients across the Lehigh Valley once a month. These meals oftentimes reflect Jewish holiday staples, as well as other favorites.
After JFS temporarily closed its doors in March due to restrictions related to the Coronavirus pandemic, they began to think creatively about how to reimagine Mazel Meals in a way that would be safe for their staff, volunteers and clients.
In April, they partnered with Chabad to deliver soup and challah to a small number of clients.
“And then we stepped back, and we evaluated how that went, and it went very well. We received many messages of appreciation from our clients,” said Carol Wilson, program manager and community liaison for older adults for JFS.
After a successful go, in May, the number of meals delivered grew again. By June, they were back to their full cohort of Mazel Meal deliveries with a 20% increase in recipients. Realizing the importance of these meals, JFS has increased its funding of the program to now provide two fully prepared meals with each delivery.
“One of the most beloved parts of the Mazel Meal program is that typically, in non-COVID times, we partner with community synagogues and community organizations and we cook together. But right now, that’s just not possible,” Wilson continued.
Since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, JFS has been partnering with caterers across the Lehigh Valley. Together, they carefully plan the menus, and then the caterers cook and safely package all of the Mazel Meals.
From there, JFS Volunteers fan out across the Lehigh Valley to deliver the meals to their clients.
This year for Chanukah, JFS has a treat in store for their clients. They will receive a meal consisting of homemade latkes, herb roasted chicken, a green vegetable, Chanukah cookies and more.
“I try to think about ‘what would I serve you if you came to my house for dinner?’ And that’s what we think about when we prepare these meals for our clients,” said Wilson.
In addition to this delicious meal, JFS is bringing holiday cheer to our community’s older adults in another way. In lieu of in-person events with Eva Derby, who often volunteers to travel to assisted living residences to share a fun and educational program at Jewish holidays, JFS will be sharing a Chanukah video program with these residents. The video will include songs, the story of Chanukah and a story from Derby.
To learn more about the Mazel Meals program, visit www.jfslv.org/volunteer/mazel-meals.