On a near-perfect late October fall day, eighth-grade students from Bi-Cultural Hebrew Academy traveled across town to the Elayne and James Schoke Jewish Family Service for a mitzvah field trip as part of the BCHA Nancy and Kamal Haron Leadership series and the UJF of Greater Stamford, New Canaan and Darien’s supported chesed program at BCHA.
“We have had a phenomenal partnership with Bi-Cultural for so long,” said Leah Schechter, chief program officer at the Elayne and James Schoke JFS. “Having Bi-Cultural teens, who are the future of our Jewish community, be here to help make some of this happen just speaks to the relationship and to the long term of food drives and all things in between. This is taking us to the next level.”
Led by BCHA Middle School Principal David Giver, students were greeted at the front of JFS by Mrs. Schechter. After learning the importance of their mitzvah project and how it will affect countless families in need, the eighth-graders were all expecting to head inside and help in the food pantry.
However, Mrs. Schechter had a surprise: a mobile food truck that was parked just a few feet away from the Jewish Family Service entrance. This was a new food truck, so new that it has never been stocked with non-perishable foods. That was about to change.
“This is literally a year-and-a-half to two years in the making,” said Mrs. Schechter during Thursday’s field trip. “The truck arrived in town just a few days ago we’re excited to get it on the road and put it to work in the way that it was meant to be. And that is getting more food out to the people in Fairfield County that otherwise don’t have kosher food put on their table.”
So the eighth-graders were split in half. One group of students worked in the food pantry and brought out cans of tuna, corn, shelf-stable milk, chips and other non-perishable items to the truck. The other group of BCHA students oversaw stocking the truck. With all the work done by the students at BCHA, it is estimated that 75-90 clients will be served.
“This is dreams coming into fruition and goals coming to be,” said Mrs. Schechter. “The truth is that there has been a whole team that has gotten us to this moment. We’re going to need teams of people moving us forward because now is when the real work starts.”
After completion of the project, Mrs. Schechter took everybody inside to a conference room and picked up some valuable feedback from the students about the truck.
“BCHA students have always partnered with JFS to bring kosher food to those in need in our community,” said Giver. “It was a special opportunity to bring our eighth-graders, as part of their leadership seminar, to help stock JFS’s brand-new mobile food pantry. We are also grateful to UJF of Greater Stamford, New Canaan and Darien for a grant which enabled us to acquire a shuttle bus in order to transport students to important community service programs such as this.”