Volunteers weed in the community vegetable garden at The Gan Project through Feed Chicago, a hunger-themed day of service held Sept. 15. Photo credit: Robert Kusel
More than 100 young adult volunteers joined the fight against hunger on Sunday, Sept. 15 through Feed Chicago, a citywide day of service providing food assistance to those in need, hosted by the Young Leadership Division and the Tikkun Olam Volunteer Network of the Jewish United Fund of Metropolitan Chicago.
The event coincided with the Jewish New Year, and kicked off the JUF’s Hunger Awareness Project, a year-long initiative to raise awareness and mobilize volunteers in the area of hunger and food insecurity.
“Volunteering was an overwhelmingly rewarding experience,” said volunteer Ben Balson, who helped out at the Center for Enriched Living. “At the end of the event, the other volunteers and I were doing the all of the thanking. It truly is great for the soul to not only give back, but have a great time doing it, and even make a few new friends in the process.”
With 12 projects taking place throughout the city and suburbs – starting early in the morning and ending late in the evening – thousands of lives were touched by day’s end. From sorting food donations to cooking meals to weeding at a community vegetable garden, the volunteers all made a significant impact at their service sites.
Volunteers prepare meal at the Campus Kitchen at Northwestern University through Feed Chicago, a hunger-themed day of service held Sept. 15. Photo credit: Robert Kusel
“Feed Chicago enabled our organization to pack and deliver 89 boxes of food to families in need,” said Amir Zadaka, of the Jewish Relief Agency. “We are thankful to JUF for making this possible and look forward to more opportunities to work together.”
Other organizations hosting projects included: A Just Harvest, the Campus Kitchen at Northwestern University, Connections for the Homeless, Deborah’s Place, the Franciscan Outreach Association, the Gan Project, Housing Opportunities & Maintenance for the Elderly (H.O.M.E), JUF’s Uptown Café, and Lincoln Park Community Shelter.
The biannual day of service is just one small part of the JUF’s year-round efforts to fight hunger. Approximately 4,900 Jews in Chicago are sustained through daily or weekly JUF-funded food programs – which amounts to over 490,000 meals served, more than 19,000 food bags provided and more than 12,000 grocery cards distributed.
“Hunger is an urgent problem,” said Skip Schrayer, Chair of JUF’s Jewish Community Relations Council. “The JUF Hunger Awareness Project was initiated to allow all of us to engage in the fight against a problem affecting every community in America.”