For the fourth year running, the United Jewish Organizations of Williamsburg and North Brooklyn (UJO) partnered up with the Metropolitan Council on Jewish Poverty to distribute 4,000 free kosher meals to children before the start of the new academic year last week.
The last week of August is a particularly tough period on low-income families as most summer camps have ended and school openings are still a week away.
“Every day, 300,000 New Yorkers struggle to find access to nutritious and kosher food,” said Alan Schoor, the CEO and the Executive Director of the Met Council. “The annual Kosher Summer Meals is an essential program because for many families, the week between camp and school is particularly difficult to provide adequate meals.”
The free meals initiative launched in 2012 looked to counter that problem, and has continued to tackle it each year since.
The program is modeled on the city’s summer meals program, but this one in particular takes into account the needs of children who keep kosher.
For this year’s drive, which took place the week of August 24, the Met Council and the UJO worked with The Jewish Education Project, the city’s Department of Education, the Jewish Community Council of Boro Park, Assemblyman Joseph Lentol and Councilmembers David Greenfield and Stephen Levin to recognize the families most in need and distributing the meals.
“Every family in New York should have access to the healthy, nutritious meals their children need to grow and thrive,” said Levin. “I am proud to support the Kosher Summer meals program to help bridge the gap between camp and school and ensure that no parent is left wondering where their child’s next meal will come from.”
The program was also created to address the larger systemic problem of a growing number of Jewish households living below or near the poverty line in the city. In Brooklyn itself, there are 168,800 such households, according to the Met Council.
“The end of the summer, with camps coming to a close but the school year yet to start, is a time when children are home,” said Rabbi David Niederman, President of the UJO of Williamsburg and North Brooklyn. “Unfortunately, many fail to eat a nutritious lunch, which affects not only their eating habits but their entire day. We are thankful to the Met Council, The Jewish Education Project and Councilman Steve Levin, for working with us to ensure that there is no reason to go hungry. Children are welcome to come and enjoy a ready packed nutritious meal, while also enjoying the outdoors.”