When Michelle Hutchison, director of the Ottawa Kosher Food Bank, sent out an email requesting volunteers, I had no idea what was entailed.
So when I arrived at the Kosher Food Bank – located at Kehillat Beth Israel (KBI) – at 9 am on the morning after Yom Kippur, I was overwhelmed to find the “shop” bursting at the seams with bags and boxes. This was the result of Project Isaiah undertaken by KBI, where bags were given out to be returned to the synagogue filled with food items.
The shelves in the shop were pretty bare and the room somewhat chaotic. The room is a small niche near the dairy kitchen carved out to meet the needs of local families desperately requiring assistance.
But after four-and-a-half hours of laborious effort, Judy Bosloy and I created a veritable grocery store with loaded shelves ready for the next “shopping day.”
There are a couple of concerns I want to express.
The Kosher Food Bank receives many donations of food products that do not have kosher certification. While these items are passed on to a non-Jewish food bank, it does take volunteer hours to sort through and separate them. So please check to make sure an item is kosher before donating it.
As well, the Kosher Food Bank receives many donations of food items whose expiration dates have passed. Please save us hours of scrutinizing expiration dates by checking the best-before dates on the packaging.
So yes, now we have lots of pasta, tomato sauce, and tuna, but would love more pickles, gefilte fish, canned salmon and cereals other than corn flakes.
Our next goal is to purchase a commercial refrigerator that would permit us to stock fresh eggs and dairy products. Imagine if seven people donated $500 each!
And while you’re in shopping mode, if it’s time to throw out old grocery bags, you can replace them with great Ottawa Kosher Food Bank bags. They are five for $20 and are available at KBI and hopefully soon at other Jewish outlets in town.
In these days of festive meals with tables brimming with delectable foods, let’s not forget those vulnerable and less fortunate than ourselves.
Post script: This article was written prior to the devastating tornadoes that hit Ottawa on September 21. The needs at the Ottawa Kosher Food Bank are even greater now. Visit www.okfb.ca for more information.