Accessing kosher food can be hard enough for local members of the Jewish community, let alone for those who have trouble leaving their homes.
However, for the past 50 years, Jewish Family Services of Greater Harrisburg, Inc. has provided a solution with its Finkelstein-Cohen Kosher Meals on Wheels program.
“It’s such an accomplishment to do something well for 50 years,” said Steven Schauder, executive director of Jewish Family Services (JFS).
To celebrate, the organization will hold a “50 Years of Caring” event on June 9, featuring keynote speaker Michael Solomonov, an award-winning chef.
The Meals on Wheels program remained active, serving members of the community even during the pandemic. Those in need are given foods based on their dietary needs, whether that means providing kosher, low-sodium or gluten-free options, among others. The program is open to all community members, not just those in the Jewish community, Schauder said.
When the operation began 50 years ago, JFS served about four families a month. Since then, they’ve grown to deliver meals to at least 20 families a week and, in total, have served more than 250,000 meals over the years.
“If we weren’t there to provide these meals, there wouldn’t be many options,” Schauder said.
But the service is about more than just the food. It’s also a time for volunteers to check in with residents, talk and spend time with them. The organization also has social workers who visit with community members.
Schauder remembers a specific occasion when JFS delivered food and clothing to a family, after a house fire.
“It meant so much to them,” he said. “That was particularly meaningful.”
JFS also plans to expand the reach of its food pantry to assist more people struggling with food insecurity. Currently, they assist around 100 local families each year.
“We want to get the word out that JFS is here for the community,” Schauder said.
Jewish Family Service’s “50 Years of Caring” event will take place at the Alexander Grass Campus for Jewish Life (formerly Dixon University Center) at 2986 N 2nd St., Harrisburg. For more information and to purchase tickets and sponsorships, visit www.jfsofhbg.org/KMOW50 or call (717) 233-1681.