With a new refrigeration system and new drop-off location, Jewish Family Service is more equipped than ever to accept fresh produce this planting season.
“It’s really a very fundamental Jewish concept of tzedakah,” said Rebecca Axelrod-Cooper, community impact coordinator at JFS. “You set apart a side of your field and share with those that are less fortunate.”
“When you’re on limited income and have to make choices to really stretch, fresh produce is such a huge luxury,” she added. “Tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers, herbs, potatoes, in the summer corn, anything fresh goes.”
Jewish Family Service’s Community Food Pantry serves 125 families per month and is open to the entire 18104 zip code and Jews throughout the Lehigh Valley.
Earlier this year, JFS purchased industrial-grade refrigeration and freezer space that will allow it to better store fruit, vegetables and other fresh items. The pantry will now even be able to order milk from the Second Harvest Food Bank, which it couldn’t do before.
And starting in June, the Jewish Community Center will be accepting donations of produce at its front desk.
“It came to our attention that the limited hours at JFS made it difficult for people who worked to drop off any donations, and in particular fresh produce to us, either if they had bought extra at the grocery store or are growing in their own garden,” Axelrod-Cooper said. “Since the JCC has way more hours and access to refrigeration, they have graciously agreed to partner with us.”
Non-fresh items may also be dropped off at the JCC in red labeled bins throughout the building. Fresh produce will be stored in the JCC’s refrigerators until JFS can retrieve them.
“People are getting back to wanting to know where their food comes from and grow it and experience it with their children,” Axelrod-Cooper said. “To take it to the next step and add the tzedakah component gives a lot of meaning. If you want to consider setting aside or planting extra, please keep us in mind.”