JFS Food Pantry expands to meet growing demands

by | Dec 1, 2022 | Trending News

The food Pantry, operated by Jewish Family Service of Tidewater, was recently expanded by about one-third its size. Prior to its expansion, JFS had two smaller pantries: one for the general community, and the “Milk and Honey” program for Jewish individuals. These two small programs were recently combined into one larger space near the receiving area at the Sandler Family Campus.

During the beginning of the COVID crisis, the pantry was limited in its ability to allow people to “shop” for food. Instead, bags of food were prepackaged with available items, and families would pick up the bags, unable to enter the space. Now, with the expansion of space and availability of food, they can enter the pantry and select what they and their families would like.

“This is much more affirming and allows them to make their own selections,” says Kelly Burroughs, CEO of JFS.

During Thanksgiving, long lines traditionally form as families line up to receive food from JFS. Volunteers help hand out turkeys, pies, and all the trimmings so that families can have a traditional Thanksgiving meal.

Funding for these programs comes from a variety of sources, such as the Food Bank of Southeastern Virginia, United Jewish Federation of Tidewater, and private cash donations. Other ways to support the pantry are to collect food as part of a mitzvah project or bring it to the Sandler Family Campus and leave non-perishable items in the box at the entrance. Perishable items can be given to the security officer who will make sure they get refrigerated.

During the High Holidays, the extra space was a double blessing, as JFS received tons of non-perishable food from area congregations.

“The generosity of our community at Rosh Hashanah was amazing!” says Jody Laibstain, JFS volunteer coordinator, who oversees the pantry projects. “We received food from KBH, Beth El, Temple Israel, and Ohef Sholom.” The agency also received many individual contributions, both for the High Holidays and in preparation for Thanksgiving.

The need for food is always present, and all contributions of non-expired food are appreciated. “Although our shelves are stocked now,” says Laibstain, “these shelves have been emptying quickly. The number of people visiting our pantry is steadily increasing. We have added an additional distribution day, and are now open on Tuesday and Thursday mornings, and by appointment.”

Individuals in need of food assistance can make a confidential call to 321-2227.

In addition to food, families are also in need of laundry detergent, dish soap, toilet paper, paper towels, feminine hygiene products, shampoo, soap, and toothpaste.

JFS Staff Report