Congregation Rodeph Sholom has long understood that addressing the needs of the less fortunate in our community is part of our mission to perform tikkun olam, repair of the world.
Childhood hunger is an especially troubling trend in our city. How can a child focus on schoolwork when he or she is hungry? How can a starving child fight the illnesses that run rampant in schools and housing projects? The questions are nearly as terrifying as the answers.
Children from families who are at the Federal Poverty Level or near it are eligible for free breakfast and free or reduced
lunch on school days. To receive free lunch at school, a family of 4 cannot earn
more than $31,500 annually. But, what happens on weekends?
A growing number of privately sponsored programs have stepped into the vacuum by providing weekend meals to children in need. We at Rodeph Sholom, through the Social Action Committee, operate the Backpack Buddies program to address these concerns. We began our program in September 2013, and have since doubled the number of backpacks we deliver each week.
• Backpack Buddies is a nationwide effort that has been endorsed by the Union for Reform Judaism (URJ).
• Backpack Buddies serves children who are food insecure, meaning they do not have access at all times to enough food for an active, healthy life.
• CRS currently distributes 70 backpacks full of food weekly on Fridays to children at three locations in Manhattan — the Lincoln Square Neighborhood Center, the Frederick Samuel Community Center and The Church of St. Matthew and St. Timothy. Each Friday during the school year we deliver full backpacks and pick up empty backpacks to pack for use the following weekend.
Each backpack provides a child with 6 nutritious meals for the weekend and contains:
• 2 cans of protein
• 2 cans of soup
• 2 canned vegetables
• 2 packets of fruit
• 2 cans of pasta
• 4 containers of milk
• 2 boxes of cereal
• 2 snacks
• While CRS is currently helping three after-school programs, one of our goals is to expand the number of children who receive weekend food by encouraging and training other synagogues and churches to begin backpack programs. In Savannah, GA., a program involving one Temple serving 50 children has grown to 20 congregations serving 1,000 children weekly.
Volunteer: We need four volunteers weekly to pack backpacks with food. This activity takes about 45 minutes and occurs on Wednesday mornings starting at 9:00AM. We coordinate weeks with the Religious School, which participates as part of its curriculum at least once a month. Go to rodephsholom.org/volunteerhub, create an account, and sign up for a slot!
$15 to feed 1 child for 1 weekend
$60 to feed 1 child for 4 weekends
$600 to feed 1 child each weekend during the school year
$525 to feed 1 class for 1 weekend
$2,100 to feed 1 class for 4 weekends