Impact Stories:

Putting Food on the Table: Your Support is More Important Than Ever

When you’re hit with unexpected bills or expenses, have you ever found yourself cutting back on grocery spending?

Household Client Base
Served by JFCS Squirrel Hill Food Pantry
excludes one-time emergency food packages
Households Served Monthly
That follow a kosher diet
excludes one-time emergency food packages
More Than 1%
of Households
Have medical gluten-free needs
excludes one-time emergency food packages

Food insecurity, put best by Matthew Bolton, director of the Jewish Family and Community Services (JFCS) Squirrel Hill Food Pantry, “… is not knowing when your next meal may come.” When it comes to food, “The grocery budget is the most flexible budget. And as we see utility prices and other costs increase for families, it’s the grocery budget that gets cut.”

To suddenly be faced with a scenario where you can’t afford enough food is terrifying, and sadly more common than most people realize. When COVID-19 shut down schools, parents had to spend upwards of $200 to $300 in additional meal costs to feed their kids breakfast and lunch at home. In 2017, Jewish Federation’s study of the Jewish community found that 13% of families could not meet a sudden $400 expense, and that percentage has likely risen with recent inflation.

We at the Federation know from our crisis work, whether it is war in Ukraine, recent hurricane disasters or the COVID-19 pandemic, that being prepared before these crises is key to helping when they hit. We support the JFCS Squirrel Hill Food Pantry because we believe that no one should have to choose between paying bills and maintaining their own health.

“With uncertain present and future, having flexibility allows us to be nimble and pivot to the needs of the community,” Bolton says of the Federation’s impact. “The quick and immediate support of the Federation has allowed us to serve all the unique and diverse needs we see day to day—such as people with destabilized housing and people experiencing acute life transitions.”

Through JFCS, we’ve helped ensure a smooth distribution of Passover and other cyclic Jewish holiday foods. Bolton comments, “Thanks to the Federation, our Jewish community knows that they can rely on the pantry to celebrate these holidays in a culturally appropriate way without worry.”

The JFCS Squirrel Hill Food Pantry continues to work tirelessly to provide groceries to over 300 households each month, accommodating both kosher and gluten-free diets, along with supplying other important resources like toilet paper, diapers, soap, deodorant and smoke detectors with the aid of the Federation. Many of their families are Ukrainian and Russian immigrants and members of the Jewish community.

Servicing this much of the community is no easy task, and the pantry faces new obstacles each day. “Currently, there is a lack of kosher proteins versus non-kosher proteins. At a national level, we’ve done a lot of advocacy around strengthening food security legislation through the Farm Bill and by strengthening the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). We have worked with the Jewish Federations of North America (JFNA) and the Network of Jewish Human Service Agencies (NJHSA), in tandem for more kosher proteins on the commodity level,” says Bolton.

To aid programs like the JFCS Squirrel Hill Food Pantry and strengthen food security, please consider donating to the Community Campaign.

Subscribe to Impact Digest

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit
Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua.
Something went wrong. Please check your entries and try again.
Scroll to Top