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Harvest of Plenty: Feed the Hungry Campaign

Congregation feeds the hungry in the local community.

Community Contact Information:
Temple Sholom
Chicago, IL
http://sholomchicago.org/

Goals:
• Provide food to the needy in the community.
• Engage the congregation in year-round tzedakah based around the Hebrew calendar.
• Create a regular program for volunteers to prepare food for the hungry.

Overview:
The congregation holds seasonal fundraising appeals for organizations working to combat hunger. In addition, to continue the work throughout the year, the congregation holds a High Holy Day food drive, and congregants prepare food for the hungry on a regular basis.

Fundraising: In addition to their local work, the congregation participates in MAZON: A Jewish Response to Hunger, through High Holy Day appeals. During Pesach, the committee asked congregants to donate the amount it would cost to feed an additional person at their Passover Seders.

Volunteering and food collection: Through a partnership with a local food pantry, the congregation provides volunteers, the professional expertise of congregants, and collects food on a year-round basis. During the High Holy Days, the social action committee distributes grocery bags to every attendee to encourage food donations. Congregants are instructed to fill the bags with non-perishable food items and return them to the synagogue during the Days of Awe. After Yom Kippur, the social action committee delivers the food to food banks, soup kitchens, shelters and missions throughout the area.

Food preparation and distribution: Once every month, congregants prepare more than 500 sack lunches, which are distributed in cooperation with a local mission. Different synagogue groups, including brotherhood, sisterhood, the youth group and various religious school classes volunteer on a rotating schedule. Additionally, during the winter holiday season, the synagogue works with local organizations to pack and distribute over 500 boxes of holiday-related food to local shelters and missions.

Youth involvement: Many students in the Bar/Bat Mitzvah program serve meals in soup kitchens, volunteer at the food pantry, and collect food to distribute as part of their Mitzvah projects.

Results:
Congregants raised thousands of dollars for local and national campaigns against hunger. During the High Holy Day Hunger-Drive, the congregation collected over ten tons of food. Congregants enjoy the routine of regular giving. The synagogue’s rotating lunch schedule allows congregants to volunteer as they are able, with a group of peers, in a way that puts food on the table for the hungry and homeless.