By Paula Katinas
Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Ahead of Passover, the Metropolitan Council on Jewish Poverty is giving away 2.1 million pounds of kosher food to an estimated 50,000 families in New York who might otherwise not be able to afford to have a Seder.
Recent food distributions sponsored by the Met Council took place in Bensonhurst, Flatbush, and the Brooklyn Navy Yard. A group of volunteers, including elected officials like Assemblyman Dov Hikind (D-Borough Park-Midwood), Councilman Mark Treyger (Coney Island-Gravesend-parts of Bensonhurst) and Councilman Stephen Levin (D-Greenpoint-Williamsburg), assisted in the effort by pulling boxes of matzah, grape juice, applesauce and other foods off trucks and delivering them to families in need at local Jewish community councils.
The food packages include traditional staples such as matzah, tuna fish, gefilte fish, carrots, potatoes and applesauce, council officials said.
The food giveaway, which began on March 25, will continue through April 10. Passover begins at sundown on April 14.
Ahead of Jewish holidays, the Met Council traditionally distributes an increased amount of food packages and food cards to families in need because of the unique challenges of affording kosher food and the importance of food for rituals, council officials said.
“For most of us, Passover is a time for festive family Seders. But for too many of New York’s Jewish needy, the Festival of Our Freedom is, ironically, just the opposite; yet another painful reminder of the oppression of poverty,” David M. Frankel, CEO and executive director of the Met Council, said. “In New York City, there are a half a million poor and near poor Jewish New Yorkers who struggle to feed their family every day. The 2.1 million pounds of food we distribute will allow our clients to observe Passover with a traditional and nutritious meal that otherwise would have been price prohibitive.”
On average, a kosher meal is 30 percent more expensive than other meals, council officials said
The Passover food packages are part of the Met Council’s year-round, kosher food program, which distributes more than 5 million pounds of food packages, nearly $500,000 worth of emergency food vouchers and 115,862 prepared meals to supplement low-income households throughout the five boroughs.
Council officials said the meals are important because they enable families to eat healthfully and ensure that they can use their limited incomes to meet other daily needs, such as rent, clothing and medications.
The Met Council is requesting that anyone who knows a family in need of assistance for Passover call 212-453-9539.
The organization is one of New York City’s largest human services agencies, providing 100,000 people with critical services every year. It has been operating since 1972. For more information, visit www.metcouncil.org.