Passover Food Drive in its 27th Year

Published: March 14th 2010
in News » Local

Passover food drive volunteers.
Pic: Dan Verbin



For 27 years, the Toronto section of the National Council of Jewish Women of Canada has been running a Passover food drive that provides kosher for Pesach food for Jews in need in the Greater Toronto Area.




This year’s motto is “Caring for our community.” The program is being run by co-chairs Debbie Wasserman and Karen Fenwick, who have volunteered for the past year to set up the drive.




The two-week program, which is entirely volunteer-based, continues until March 18. Volunteers, who number between 1,000 and 1,500, include school groups and community groups. They help out with packing and delivering (which takes place on Sunday, March 21 between 8:30 a.m. and noon). In total, 2,500 to 3,000 boxes of food will be delivered, helping over 10,000 people in the Jewish community who are in need this Passover.




It is the only program of its kind for Pesach in the GTA.




“A lot of additional names on our list this year are middle class people who lost their jobs because of the recession. It’s very sad,” commented Wasserman. “It’s important as Jews that we help our community.”


People who receive the food include seniors, single parents with kids, new immigrants and people with disabilities who are in financial need.




It is also an educational program that teaches about poverty in Toronto, said Wasserman.




Wasserman and Fenwick point out that many people do not realize there are many Jews living below the poverty line – approximately 10 to 11 per cent of the community in the GTA.




“There’s a real need in our community. It’s important for Jews to be aware of it. Everything that happens in the general community happens in the Jewish community too,” said Wasserman.




The program packs boxes of identical food from a list of kosher for Pesach items – “the basic items of Passover” – including a Haggadah and Pesach greeting cards made by children who help with the drive.




“It’s a very personal experience for the kids,” said Wasserman who added that when people receive the cards, many times they call to thank the program for the personal touch.




On the day that the food is delivered, people from all parts of the community gather to help deliver from the National Council of Jewish Women’s headquarters on Bathurst Street. They give each driver four to six boxes. Many volunteers bring a helper with them.




“It’s a really nice program. It’s a really great feel good experience,” said Wasserman.




The food drive encourages the donation of money, which they use to buy specific kosher for Pesach food items wholesale, but they also accept food donations. Any kosher food that they cannot use is donated to other Jewish agencies or synagogues in the GTA. For kids, though, Wasserman feels that the mitzvah of donating food items supersedes the drive’s need for monetary donations, so parents are encouraged to have their kids donate food.




Related articles: (Passover, food drive, Nation Council of Jewish Women, Pesach)

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