JFS is laying the foundation to fight food insecurity in Broward
In Broward, 2,300 Jewish households – or 4,400 persons – reported an income below Federal poverty levels
74 percent of these people are living at more than 200 percent below the poverty line
27% of the food insecure population in Broward County do not qualify for food stamps
In Broward County alone, 281,940 people – or 15.6 percent of the total population – are suffering from food insecurity, according to Feeding America’s 2014 Annual Map the Meal Gap Project, and 74 percent of these people are living at more than 200 percent below the poverty line. As families struggle to put nutritious – or any – food on the table, seniors are particularly at risk. According to the National Foundation to End Hunger, one out of every seven Floridians aged 60 and older are facing the threat of hunger.
Food insecurity means that people suffer at times — or all the time — from hunger, a lack of nutritional food or access to food and/or don’t know from where their next meal will come.
The Broward Jewish population is by no means immune to this scourge. In the Broward Jewish community 2,300 Jewish households – or 4,400 persons – reported an income below Federal poverty levels, according to the Jewish federation of Broward County’s 2016 Jewish Demographic study (note that food pantries generally serve people who are 150 percent above the poverty line). Twenty-five hundred of these are elderly aged 65 and above. In addition, 1800 Jewish households reported that they “sometimes” or “often” don’t have enough to eat. Social workers and the social service agencies who work in the field unanimously agree that the Jewish community — and particularly those who are kosher – do suffer from hunger and food insecurity and are in need of assistance.
The experience of Goodman JFS bears this out. Each month, Goodman JFS distributes food cards of between $40 and $100 to more than 350 Holocaust survivors and Jewish seniors in need. In addition, our KOLOT/domestic abuse program helps 44 Jewish women and 110 children per month gain access to food through our distribution of $1500 in food cards per month. While these activities help alleviate the strain of hunger, our professionals tell us they are not enough to lift these populations out of food insecurity.
Goodman JFS also distributes food cards to non-Jewish Broward residents, funded mostly by a $19,000 FEMA grant, a totally inadequate sum when put in context of the 300 calls we field each month asking us for help. Due to our limited resources, we are falling far short of meeting the incredible need for hunger relief services among Jewish and non-Jewish Broward residents.
With the Sun Sentinel documenting the “Hidden Hungry” – thousands of elderly living in retirement communities located in “food deserts” – and with Feeding America stating that $162,796,000 is required to meet food needs in South Florida, Goodman JFS must now jump in with both feet and fully join the fight against hunger.
Goodman JFS will establish a kosher food pantry in winter 2017 to address hunger in our community. The food pantry – supported entirely by donations from the community — will be located in the Hollywood area and will source its kosher food from food drives, retail stores and Feeding South Florida. It will:
- Target JFS clients and the Jewish community, and provide emergency assistance and referrals to anyone who is hungry
- Be a second “front door” to JFS and intake portal for people in need to access other JFS services
- Serve 100 unduplicated families (approximately 400 people) in year one; through ongoing outreach and word of mouth we expect that number to grow to 300 families (over 1,000 people) by year three (if enough funding is available)
- Be stationed in a facility that serves as the “JFS Community Market,” where people come to “shop” for goods by appointment
- Be mobile and purchase a van/truck
- Recruit volunteers to make food deliveries to seniors and families not able to come to “The Market”
- Make deliveries and facilitate “pop-up pantries” in various locations around the county
- Recruit adults with disabilities to work/volunteer in appropriate functions
The Food Pantry budget in Year 1 will be approximately $250,000, including startup costs. The budget will be $200,000 to $300,000 in the following years, depending upon the amount of clients we have (or are able to afford to feed). Funding will come almost entirely from grants, individual donors and the community, with subsidies coming from the Goodman JFS budget. JFS already has close to $100,000 committed by an elite group of Founders and Sustainers.
Founders* – are visionary and caring people who commit to a one-time gift at the following levels:
Sustainers – are visionary and caring people who commit to a monthly gift of $100 or more for at least two years.
*Founders will be recognized on a plaque affixed to one of the Pantry walls. Founders and Sustainers will be recognized on the JFS/Pantry website and will receive regular updates and news on the Pantry’s progress.