Community Contact Information:
Congregation B’nai Yisrael
- Nurture a culture of healthy and responsible consumerism
- Encourage family meals: preparation, cooking, eating
- Share healthy resources with those who cannot usually afford them
After engaging in a study of kashrut and Jewish thought around eating, Congregation B’nai Yisrael formed a CSA (Community Sustained Agricultural) partnership with Roxbury Farms. Families purchase farm shares and receive fresh, local produce with excess going to community organizations fighting hunger.
The congregation researched local farms with CSA programs and chose the one that they felt strongest about supporting. The management of the CSA partnership is shared by the community and the congregational staff; the clergy play an active role in advertising this program within the congregation and in the wider community. The congregation reached out to nearby mosques and local churches to join.
The program marketing strategy strives for depth: on Friday nights, at Saturday Torah Study sessions, on Sunday mornings with families, members discuss the benefits of the CSA movement: fewer resources used for transport; the health of eating organic; the wisdom of paying farm workers a living wage; the value of preparing meals for the family table; the Jewish need for taking the healthy food we can afford and to share with those who have fewer resources.
Families purchase a share of harvest from the farm (the synagogue is the largest of four drop-off sites for the farm, which is completely supported by its member shares). Each week produce is freshly picked and brought to the synagogue. Those who have purchased a share come in the afternoon to pick up their produce. One volunteer is on hand to help everyone find what they need. Another volunteer prepares the next step of the program. First, the members of the synagogue maintenance staff take a share, provided by the congregation. A volunteer then drives all leftover produce—those shares not picked up by congregants or extras—to a nearby workers pick up site and immigrant center. They run nutrition classes with this produce and distribute the food to attendees.
The congregation has been able to raise awareness locally of justice and health as related to diet, as well as providing a substantial amount of healthy food for their neighbors in need. Many more congregants are aware of the farm partnership and becoming more and more interested in the kind of work we are doing. Outreach to congregations of other faiths—combined with their partnership with the immigrant center—have helped create a wider impact in the larger community.
This program received a Fain Award in 2009.