What Jewish person can live with the knowledge over 18% of Philadelphians live below the poverty line? Many suffer malnutrition due to poverty; over 12% of Jewish Philadelphians are impoverished to the point of needing help with affording food. There are things you can do immediately, beginning with watching the 4 minute video on the right.
Consider volunteering for, or, establishing fresh produce Gleaning projects that ensure food banks have more than canned and dried food to offer.
These projects bring volunteers to glean for the poor what the machine harvesters miss, which is tons of fresh produce! After gleaning, the food is brought to food banks that are accessible by public transportation, unlike most farms. Those making the food accessible to poor individuals, families and elderly. These gleaning projects are great to engage your congregation, youth group, Hillel, fraternity, etc. Living on cheap canned goods, which are full of salt and low in fiber, is a huge nutrition issue for our poor and elderly. Two initiatives require your attention, both can make a huge difference:
Letter writing and calls: to allow a higher savings ceiling for those seeking the $35/week Federal Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) vouchers that are provided under Pennsylvania State supervision. The Pennsylvania Jewish Coalition is taking the lead, and with them the leadership of the Jewish Federation of Greater Philadelphia continues to work with the United Way of Eastern Pennsylvania and the Coalition Against Hunger to influence Governor Tom Corbett and Gary Alexander, who heads Pennsylvania's Department of Public Welfare, to have vastly greater compassion and program regulations here in Pennsylvania.
What if we ask these two men to volunteer to live for a few months on the levels of savings and possessions they are recommending. Lobbying efforts have already affected them slightly, moving their initial proposal: $2,000 total savings per regular household and for households with elderly or disabled members, no more than $3,200, up to $5,500 and $9,000. Imagine, that's all you can keep as your personal "safety net" for the rest of your life to qualify for help with fresh vegetables! An impoverished 87-year old Jewish Torresdale resident has even filed an on-line Change.org petition to increase the power of protest.
A third step is to support green space and communities gardens, such as through CityHarvest.org, and to supply food pantries city-wide, such as
The Raymond & Miriam Klein JCC Mitzvah Food Project Pantry, where "Clients are welcome to access our Northeast Philadelphia pantry once a month on Tuesdays from 1:30-3:00pm. Please call in the morning before coming to the pantry. For more information on how to access the pantry or make food donations, please contact Lisa Sandler at 215-698-7300 x197 or email@example.com".
Consider Gleaning Projects and immediate activism with the legislature as your next mitzvah. The state hearing on SNAP is March 15th - the time to send your letters and make calls is now.
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