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Volunteers Step Up to Help the Hungry During COVID

COVID-19 has made the food insecurity situation more dire. Thankfully, many organizations are stepping up the plate to help.

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Esther Halevi with Lindsay Detsky (background). A huge supply of farm eggs that will feed several families, diapers, toilet tissue and cleaning supplies, all donated by the Toronto community

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The COVID-19 crisis has brought to the forefront a harsh reality: Anyone is vulnerable.

No more has this been apparent in those facing food insecurity challenges.

Through the Canadian Community Health Survey (CCHS), Statistics Canada found in 2017-18 that 1 in 8 households was “food insecure,” translating to over 4.4 million people. According to the Chasdei Kaduri Jewish Food Bank, 13% of Jewish families in the Greater Toronto Area live beneath the poverty line, and struggle from food insecurity challenges.

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And it goes without saying that COVID-19 has only made the situation more dire.

“We’re seeing so many people have to go to food banks for the first time,” said Veronica Summerhill from FoodRescue.ca, which is an initiative by the Second Harvest Food Bank.

Chaihana restaurant donated and delivered food to seniors, and homeless.

“FoodRescue.ca acts in a sense like dating site for food donations – we match facilitators of the food donations with those in need, while also providing direct delivery.” A lot of the food comes from outlets who unless contacted, may dispose of their food, such as grocery stores and restaurants. Summerhill notes that five Jewish non-profits are registered with the program.

Many Jewish organizations have not only maintained, but have amplified their operations, due to COVID-19. Mazon Canada has directed funding to an emergency COVID-19 food relief, which has amassed over $100,000 and has established grants to other partner organizations. Chasdei Kaduri has teamed up with food delivery service Friendly Produce as a result of increased demand.

But as the demand has significantly increased, so has the amount of those willing help. And these support systems have stretched way beyond the established food banks and charitable organizations.

Facebook groups such as Kavod-19: Toronto Jewish Community Response to COVID-19 and Hungry North of the GTA- Vaughan, Markham, Richmond Hill, Aurora and Beyond have provided outlets for individuals and companies to coordinate grassroots efforts to help.

Jewish food bank donations at a doorstep

One of those individuals is Esther Halevi, a Toronto-based social worker, who for the past five years organized food support systems for single mothers. She has immensely expanded her frontline efforts to bring food directly to those in need alongside many, including kosher companies, caterers, and several incredibly willing individuals looking to assist.

“Everyone realizes they are vulnerable,” says Halevi. “But there has been so much kindness and cohesiveness in the Jewish community to help. It’s been incredible.”

Halevi points out that those who don’t have food, and need help, are often the most vulnerable: Holocaust survivors, seniors, immigrants, and refugees, all who may not qualify for government provisions.

“People are calling, and are worried,” said Halevi. “But people have been reaching out to help.”

 Thankfully, volunteers on the front lines, such as Halevi, have been making sure that so many people without food, can now have items in their fridge and pantries.

Tevy Pilc is the Assistant Editor for TheJ.ca. He is a Toronto-based media professional with a diverse background that includes extensive experience in broadcast and print journalism and Jewish advocacy. He hates antisemites more than they hate Jews.

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Thank you for choosing TheJ.Ca as your source for Canadian Jewish News.

We do news differently!

Our positioning as a Zionist News Media platform sets us apart from the rest. While other Canadian Jewish media are advocating increasingly biased progressive political and social agendas, TheJ.Ca is providing more and more readers with a welcome alternative and an ideological home.

We revealed the incursion of anti-Israel progressive elements such as IfNotNow into our communities. We have exposed the distorted hateful agenda of the “progressive” left political radicals who brought Linda Sarsour to our cities, and we were first to report on many disturbing incidents of Nazi-based hate towards Jews across Canada.

But we can’t do it alone. We need your HELP!

Our ability to thrive and grow in 2020 and beyond depends on the generosity of committed readers and supporters like you.

Monthly support is a great way to help us sustain our operations. We greatly appreciate any contributions you can make to support Jewish Journalism.

We thank you for your ongoing support.

Happy reading!

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