By Rachel Retter
As the holiday of Passover approaches, Jewish families everywhere scramble to prepare. Cars are vacuumed and coat pockets are turned inside out; new clothing is ordered and Haggadas are perused; and of course, groceries are stockpiled and a series of painstaking meals are assembled.
For some families, however, these daunting tasks are overshadowed by the fact that they cannot even afford the basic necessities to feed their family, much less prepare specialized chometz-free foods. On Sunday, April 7, Yeshiva University’s chapter of UAID (United Against Inequities in Disease) partnered with Met Council and City Harvest at a special pre-Pesach event which provided over 300 poor families with fresh food, as well as various other resources and social services, like health screenings and SNAP benefits. City Harvest provides fresh produce like apples, potatoes, and carrots, and Met Council supplied kosher for Passover food items, such as Matzah, macaroons, and nuts.
15 YC and Stern volunteers came to the event in Brooklyn to help out. In an outdoor lot, massive crates and bags of produce were bagged and handed out by volunteers to Met Council’s clients. The line of people waiting for food stretched all the way down the lot, and there was a constant incoming flow of people for the duration of the event.
In addition to helping to pack and distribute food, UAID ran programming for the families that came. There was a smoothie making booth and a herb-planting stations, designed to educate the community about nutrition and environmental sustainability. For the kids, there were art projects, games, and face painting; almost immediately after the event started, the room was filled with excited little power rangers, butterflies, and spidermen. The atmosphere was light and fun, making it easy and comfortable to get to know the amazing families who came to partake in the event.
“What was so special about Sunday’s event was that we were able to transform the typical pre-Pesach food distribution into a dignified experience— one in which participants were not simply standing in a long line to pick up the food they need, but rather could enjoy themselves at a fun community event,” said Bailey Frohlich, Vice President of UAID.
For the volunteers, it was a powerful experience. “Sometimes we get so caught up in our own busy lives that we forget that there are people who are less privileged than we are and who are struggling to feed themselves and their families,” commented Ayelet Schechter, UAID’s Events Director. “It was amazing to see the impact we had on these people’s lives and how much they appreciated all that we did for them.”
Leah Schechter, Met Council’s Director of Volunteer Services, expressed her appreciation to everyone who helped make the event a success: “Met Council was thrilled to partner with Bailey, Ayelet, and YU volunteers from UAID to put together an amazing green market. Working with students who take on leadership projects like this make it possible for Met Council to access and serve even more clients.” Schechter added that the Met Council is “looking forward to an ongoing partnership and relationship with Yeshiva University students.”
This marked the last major UAID event of the semester. According to UAID president Alyssa Wruble, it was a perfect way to end off the year. “Part of UAID’s core mission is to go beyond the confines of our University and interact with, and give back to, the larger New York City community–so this really made for both a great last event of the semester and last event of my term as UAID president.”
The next UAID-Met Council food distribution event is this Monday, April 15th from 4pm-6pm, just a couple blocks away from 245 Lexington! If you are interested in volunteering for any part of this event, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you want to hear about more ways you can volunteer with Met Council to provide for people who are at or below the poverty line, contact Leah Schechter at email@example.com.