Throughout the summer, JSU of St. Louis has been organizing volunteer efforts in partnership with Torah Prep school and the Agudas Israel to provide and distribute free food to members of the St. Louis community.
Under the leadership of Aguath Israel of Illinois, community member Jonathan Witten initially reached out and gained our community access to these generously granted government resources. Rabbi Menachem Tendler and Rachaeli Staum worked with him to secure a distribution location (The Torah Prep girls school parking lot) and then approached JSU of St. Louis to recruit volunteers to help with the distribution.
The program began fairly simply with offering free Chalav Yisroel milk (milk with special kosher supervision) to any families who simply came by to pick some up. One of the beautiful things about this program was that there is no requirement for financial need, to require Chalav Yisroel milk or to have been personally impacted by Covid-19.
What started simply with milk soon grew to include boxes of farm fresh produce. Boxes contain a variety of different items each time but frequently include strawberries, corn, zucchini, cucumbers, bell peppers, tomatoes and more.
Some weeks we were able to offer "dairy boxes" containing a selection of dairy items such as whipping cream, half and half, baking cheese, and cream cheese. The program more recently, and excitingly began offering "Kiwi Kids" boxes. These boxes contain a selection of prepared complete meal items for households with children under the age of 18. These must be reserved ahead of time but have proven an extremely popular benefit and thousands upon thousands of meals have been distributed so far.
What started as a dozen or so volunteers handing out bottles of milk has blossomed into a huge enterprise that is distributing thousands of pounds of food PER WEEK.
"We have had to learn and change our practices to adapt to the logistical challenges of loading so many cars in a short window of time each week" said Sam Zitin, referring to the incredible growth in the program participation.
JSU is grateful for the efforts of Jonathan Witten, Rabbi Tendler and Rachaeli Staum, and Agudath Israel of Illinois for the opportunity to participate in this special opportunity to help feed hundreds of families every week. To learn how to participate in receiving food or to volunteer please contact Farm2FamSTL@gmail.com