Sag Harbor Synagogue Reaches Out To Latino Community With Food Aid –

Posted By on April 28, 2020

In the wake of the mass shootings at a Pittsburgh synagogue in 2018, Temple Adas Israel in Sag Harbor formed a social justice committee that has focused on four major issues: homelessness, immigration, at-risk children, and hunger.

Central to the committees formation was the idea that we have to be there for our neighbors, so in a time of need our neighbors are here for us, said Alyssa Peek, who chairs the committee, along with Andrea Klausner.

Now, with rampant unemployment and local food pantries pushed to the brink because of the coronavirus pandemic, the committee has teamed up with the Latino advocacy group, Organizacin Latino-American, or OLA, in a novel way to provide food aid to families in need.

When the pandemic happened, we got a call from Minerva Perez, the executive director of OLA, said Ms. Peek. She said she had a number of families who had been struck hard, which is not surprising because a lot of work has dried up and some families dont qualify for unemployment.

Rather than running the operation like a typical food pantry that might be open one day a week, the committee has set up a system that bears a bit of a resemblance to the story, Stone Soup, in which hungry strangers convince wary villagers during a time of shortages to each share a small amount of their food to make a meal that winds up being large enough to feed them all.

Volunteers are asked to commit to buying one food item per week to meet the needs of a specific family. Someone might be assigned to buy rice, another beans, and still another fresh vegetables. Add in meats, dairy products, fruits, and cereals, and a weeks supply of groceries materializes without taxing any one volunteers time or pocketbook.

If everyone does a tiny bit, it adds up, Ms. Peek said.

Each volunteer drops off their assigned item in storage bins and coolers that are placed outside the synagogue during a prearranged time slot. The recipient family is asked to pick up their food during a second time slot.

It can be hard to ask for help, and most of these families have never asked before, said Ms. Klausner. We want them to be able to maintain their dignity and privacy.

So far, the committee is providing food relief for seven families and is ready and able to serve more, she said.

The number of volunteers continues to grow as well, as more people sign up to help carry the load, Ms. Peek said, with more than 20 volunteers stepping forward.

Not all of the volunteers are members of the congregation. Weve reached out to friends and family, Ms. Peek said, through Facebook posts and an email blast from the temple.

Ms. Klausner, the second vice chair of the Southampton Town Democratic Committee, has solicited its membership as well.

This is what the Democratic Party stands for, she said. We are trying to do our best to put those ideals into practice.

The committee is considering launching its own food aid effort, she added.

Besides the fulfillment that comes with helping others, Ms. Peek said volunteers have made friends as well. We have Zoom calls every Sunday at 10, she said. Were making a new community.

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Sag Harbor Synagogue Reaches Out To Latino Community With Food Aid -

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