April 14, 2024
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Spotlight on Tomchei Shabbos

What is the name of the organization?

Tomchei Shabbos of Bergen County.

When did the organization get started?

Tomchei Shabbos of Bergen County was founded in 1990.

Please describe in detail what services your organization provides. Who it services, how often etc. If you provide many services, please list all of them.

Tomchei Shabbos delivers fresh Shabbos food. Our goal is to provide three meals worth of food to each family every week. Each family custom picks the contents of their box from our list based on their preferences, family size and needs. No one receives food that they don’t want or won’t use. We have two smaller programs as well. One provides takeout to those who are unable to cook, and the other provides supermarket vouchers. We have never skipped a delivery since our founding and we operate every week of the year with the exception of Chol Hamoed Pesach. We provide Yom Tov extras depending on the holiday, and for Pesach we provide the full week’s worth of food. For Shavuos we provide dairy products, cheesecake etc. For Rosh Hashana we provide new fruit, honey, honey cake, etc. For Chanukah we provide latkes and doughnuts. For all of the holidays we provide additional varieties of meat and chicken products, as well as more produce than a regular box.

Who is eligible for your programs?

Any Jewish resident (of any level of observance) of Bergen County with a demonstrated financial need. The need is not income based. We assess each situation individually. Ideally an applicant will have a reliable reference and the applicant can avoid having to submit paperwork.

Are your services anonymous?

Our services are 100% anonymous. Each recipient tells us their community affiliations (schools, shuls, etc) so that we can ensure that the driver for their box has no social overlap with them. Boxes are identified by anonymous route numbers and not by names. We work with recipients to arrange delivery options that work best for their comfort level. We firmly feel that the kavod of our recipients is of the utmost priority and, as such, how we give is as important as what we give.

Please share an anecdote that highlights the work you do.

We often hear from recipients that even though we are “just” providing Shabbos food, the elimination of this one stress factor in their lives has a domino effect. They are able to direct funds towards mortgage, tuition, debt, etc; the emotional stress is lifted in their homes and causes the overall atmosphere to be happier.

What aspect of your work would you like the community to know about that is perhaps not obvious OR what misconceptions would you like to correct?

People assume that everyone in Bergen County is affluent. This is simply not the case. Many people here experience financial need, or fluctuations; we would like to eliminate the stigma of reaching out. Everyone has a need of some sort at some point in their lives. We have recipients who used to be donors and donors who used to be recipients. This circle of support is the beauty of community. The majority of our recipients are frum families with children from the mainstream community.

What volunteer opportunities, if any, can community members sign up for? Please include age of the volunteers, frequency of commitment and expected task.

Tomchei is nearly 100% volunteer run! We have over 100 volunteers packing and delivering boxes every week! Packers must be age 10 or older (together with an adult; children over age 12 may pack unattended). Packing takes place Wednesday evenings and takes less than an hour. We b”H typically have a waiting list for people who want to pack (packers all sign up in advance), so if you’d like to pack please email us now! There is no age minimum for drivers but they must be able to carry a box; different routes present different distances, etc. We welcome chesed and fundraising projects. We are looking for longer term volunteer commitments; for individuals who want to get involved in a specific project and see it to fruition from beginning to end, anyone with skills in marketing and creativity and community outreach should feel free to contact us.

If there is anything you would like to add that we have not asked, of course feel free to share.

We provide very high quality fresh food. All of our products are tested by our team before sending them to recipients. We welcome feedback from our recipients as to the quality of their box. We keep our overhead very low so all donations can go directly to the recipients’ needs.

By Nina Glick

 

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