July 24, 2024
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Linking Northern and Central NJ, Bronx, Manhattan, Westchester and CT

Food Rescue Org. Shearit Haplate Marks 10th Anniversary

Celebrating its 10th anniversary in rescuing prepared foods from local establishments and catered family events, Shearit Haplate of Bergen County, Inc. (“SHP”) specializes in rescuing fresh, leftover kosher food and distributing it to people within our community who can use it. According to one of its founders and current president, Josh Klavan, the mission of SHP is twofold: “First, our primary goal is to heighten the awareness within our community of the importance of minimizing the waste of food. We thank Hashem daily for the food He provides us; yet that same food unfortunately is then often discarded due to over budgeting on how much is actually needed.” he said. “Our second equally important mission is to offer temporary assistance to those in our community who can use the food collected. We do not offer long-term daily food-on-the-table solutions. Instead we try to help ameliorate the pressures that an individual or family is undergoing at a particular time, whether due to financial or more personal circumstances.”

Officially incorporated in 2009 and registered as a 501(c)3 not-for-profit tax-exempt organization, SHP relies on its diverse and dedicated group of volunteers to run its three major phases of operation: food pick-up, food packing and recipient scheduling. Working in tandem, these three distinct but interconnected phases result in the distribution of food six days a week to a current count of 50 individuals/families within our community.

Daniel Chazin heads up the procurement of the food and its transport to the SHP distribution center. Chazin credits the local food establishments who donate food with magnanimous generosity on a regular basis, some contributing several times a week. In addition, numerous shuls and schools graciously contribute to the organization regularly, according to Chazin. Chazin estimates that individual family food donations account for about 30 percent of SHP’s donations. “We are very grateful to those who ‘double their simcha’ by donating leftover food from their smachot to others. Ideally, we would like to be notified in advance, so that we can make plans to pick up the food immediately after the event is over,” said Chazin. “In any event, we want to be notified as soon as possible so that we can make the food available to our recipients while it is still fresh.”

Once the food is delivered, the packers, led by Susan Fisch, take over. There are six groups of packers who assemble Monday through Friday. “Sunday is a particularly important day for our packers,” said Fisch. “We receive large shipments of Shabbat food. Sunday packers often include entire families with children ages 10 and above who get involved with their parents to participate in this vital mitzvah. We offer chesed hours to high school students for the time they put in, which makes it a win-win undertaking for everyone involved.” Fisch is enthusiastic about her team, consisting of, among others, young mothers who come to pack after driving carpools, or retirees who fit packing hours into their ‘hectic’ schedules. “We are most proud of the SINAI students who pack with us regularly on Thursdays. They are efficient and a delight,” said Fisch.

The most sensitive aspect of the organization is, without a doubt, the need to protect the anonymity of the recipients. Fern Amper heads up this component of the organization. She said that, over the course of the past 10 years, the organization has become so reliable that they have garnered the attention of the community, and local rabbis refer families in need on a regular basis. “We also advertise periodically on TeaneckShuls [an online Yahoo group] to offer our services to families in need,” said Amper. “Many of our recipients have joined us as volunteers as their situations improved and they wished to express their gratitude for our assistance in their time of need,” Amper said.

Each week, every family is given a private, 30-minute appointment at the distribution center, where they pick up food they need. “We make every effort to distribute all food received within twenty-four hours. Additionally, the freezer is always stocked with frozen Shabbat foods, including soup, gefilte fish and sides, which the recipients are welcome to take along with the other food collected,” explained Amper. “We try to vary the day of the weekly appointment for each family so that they get a variety of foods according to our schedule of providers. We alternate between dairy and meat throughout the week and try to ensure that our recipients have the opportunity to select from both.” The scheduling for distribution is complex and, most importantly, requires the utmost sensitivity to the privacy and needs of the recipients. “The dignity and privacy of our recipients is always a top-of-mind and priority focus by the organization,” Klavan added.

SHP also runs an annual post-Purim food drive that collects non-perishable food from within the community, and it has distributed the collected food to organizations or programs like the Helping Hands Food Pantry, Center for Food Action, Good Deeds Day (Jewish Federation of Northern New Jersey), the Major Stewart Adam Wolfer Institute and Tomorrow’s Children.

During this Chanukah season of giving, SHP is appealing to the community to offer a few hours a week to its various committees, or financial support through tax-deductible donations. For more information, you can visit SHP’s website at www.shpbc.org, its online Facebook page or call 225-DON8-FUD (225-366-8383). To donate food, email [email protected], or contact Daniel Chazin directly at 201-835-5338. To volunteer as a packer, email [email protected]. To become a recipient, email [email protected]. Your request will be kept strictly confidential.

By Pearl Markovitz

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