Worrying about the next meal is an issue that affects far too many families and individuals across our community. Jewish Federation and our partner, Jewish Family Services (JFS), continue to collaborate to ensure the dignity of those in need, while also providing them with healthy food options.
Approximately 25% of the annual funding that JFS receives from Jewish Federation through funds raised during the Annual Campaign goes toward food security initiatives. JFS also organizes Project Isaiah, an annual food drive that enables them to meet the growing demand for assistance and expand the frequency with which people receive food.
Project Isaiah is a fixture in our community at this time of year, with community organizations, synagogues and community members generously coming together to raise food for those in need. And this year, the needs around food insecurity are greater than ever before.
Since COVID-19 hit, the number of monthly visits to the Jewish Food Bank has more than doubled, from 560 to 1200, and demand continues to escalate. More than 1,100 clients are currently accessing JFS’ food programs, including seniors, children and Holocaust survivors. This paints only part of the picture: across our community, the need for food assistance has increased fourfold, and the percentage of Lower Mainland Jews who are living in poverty is expected to increase to more than 18 percent by 2021.
Through this year’s Project Isaiah drive, which kicked-off on September 8 and runs through September 29, JFS hopes to restock the Jewish Food Bank pantry with enough healthy and nutritious non-perishable kosher items for the next four to six months. You can find the list of much-needed provisions, such as canned fish and vegetarian soup, here. JFS staff has requested that people donate only single family-sized portions, as at this time they are unable to divide large quantity items into single packets for safety reasons.
As with so many other initiatives, the campaign has been organized differently this year. Community members are invited to “shop and drop”. Collect your donated items and then safely leave them at one central location on September 29, from 6:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. at the first-ever COVID-19 Drive-Thru Drop Off, which will be held at the VTT/Beth Israel parkade.
If you’re unable to physically shop, you can make a contribution to the virtual community food drive and JFS will do the shopping on your behalf.
Check the JFS website and with your synagogue for more details about this year’s Project Isaiah and additional drop-off locations.