In response to a nearly 5 percent spike in Jewish poverty since 2004, up to nearly 19 percent of the city's Jewish population, Stop & Shop in Forest Hills announced it would donate 1,000 pounds of kosher food to JCC to feed numerous families in need.
Arlene Putterman, manager of Public and Community Relations for Stop & Shop’s New York Metro division, announced the donation last week alongside numerous rabbis and local elected officials at the store, located at 89-89 Union Turnpike.
“Unfortunately for many, this Passover will be a very difficult holiday,” Putterman said. “The economy has claimed many jobs and many families are in need of help.”
Following JCC reports that one in five Jewish households live below the poverty level, Stop & Shop once again put together a care package for the organization, including matzo, gefilte fish, canned tuna, coffee and Passover cookies.
“We hope this will make a difference for Passover in the community,” she said. “We hope those who receive this will be able to enjoy their holiday so they can have a ‘zissen Pesach,’ a sweet and happy Passover.”
Borough President Melinda Katz and dozens of local City Council members attended the event. Katz said there is only so much the city can do without help from local civic groups during the holiday season.
“Government officials can only do so much, and whether the budget is good or at a deficit, we all rely on organizations like the Queens JCC that we know are going to be out there gathering food for folks and taking care of people who simply need an extra hand,” said Katz.
Yoav Babakhonv said he would not be able to feed his family of seven children this Passover without the help of Stop & Shop and JCC.
“Thank you for being the cause of so much help for all these people who could use it, and there are plenty in Queens,” he said. “It is a merit to the community, to all of Queens and to all of mankind.”
JCC president Warren Hecht said the group's pantry has been handing out food from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. leading up to the holiday, and have since run out of food.
“We gave out that food and now everything is gone,” Hecht said. “A lot of people talk about what they want to do with the poverty every year, but Stop & Shop doesn’t just do the talk, they do the walk.”