April 21, 2024
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April 21, 2024
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ShopRite Stores Join With Jewish Federation To Provide Mishloach Manot

ShopRite of Englewood, Paramus, Rochelle Park and eight other locations are members of the Wakefern Food Cooperative, which owns the banner ShopRite. In a collaborative effort with the Jewish Federation of Northern New Jersey, Irv Glass, co-CEO/co-president of Glass Gardens, the parent company of these 11 ShopRite stores, reached out to the JFNNJ. Glass, a second-generation owner, observed that Purim gift basket giving was traditional in Jewish communities for those both with and without means. According to Andrew Kent, executive vice president of Glass Gardens, “He wanted to bring some joy and nourishment to those without.”

Intending to grow the project into an annual event, Glass Gardens engaged the JFNNJ to target the appropriate population. They identified the Jewish Family and Children’s Services Food Pantry, Daughters of Miriam, Kosher Meals on Wheels and the Harmony Village of Care One in Glen Rock as recipient organizations for distribution of Purim mishloach manot gift baskets.

Kent provided some insight on how they decide what to include in the baskets. “After stocking the JFCS food pantry in Teaneck with my family and supplying much of what they carry, I was aware of the types of items most commonly distributed: tuna, sardines, rice cakes, crackers, grape juice, tea biscuits and jelly. So we based our item selection on that, and added some sweet treats as well … but mostly nourishing, healthy alternatives.”

Shara Nadler, manager of the Volunteer Center at JFNNJ, lauded Kent’s perspective and efforts. “They donated full-size packages of these items,” she said, “not samples or snack-size packets—a regular package of rice cakes or a jar of jelly that you would find on the shelf. The thought that went into those donations was so heartfelt.” Nadler also explained that a project of this magnitude requires an incredible amount of planning, cooperation and logistics from multiple sources: the donors, the JFNNJ, the volunteers and even the recipient organizations.

According to Laura Freeman of JFNNJ, 9,000 items were donated by ShopRite for the baskets; and Kent not only supervised, but came over to help unload.

The JFNNJ’s role, Kent said, was to organize and identify the beneficiary agencies, attend to the logistics and communication, as well as the actual assembly of the basket contents and delivery. Other essential and generous vendor partners in providing items for the baskets were Kayco, David’s Cookies and Rema Foods.

Summing up his outlook on the Purim basket collaboration, Kent said: “It is exceptionally meaningful to invest in our community and bring some joy to anyone’s life. These agencies do amazing work and we are lucky to have them in our community. We are happy to partner with them for the long term, investing both our time and resources.”

Nadler described the collaboration as very special. “The Jewish Federation, Glass Gardens and community-based partners came to the table with unique resources to make this new project wildly successful.”

A village of volunteers undertook the effort with amazing enthusiasm, including sorting, packing and delivering 770 Purim baskets to several locations. Federation volunteers picked up food items provided by ShopRite and assembled them at home with friends and family. Once completed, volunteers brought them back to Federation so that the Volunteer Center could distribute them to the recipients.

“What’s truly meaningful is that there are volunteers ready to do what they can to meet community needs,” said Nadler. “Many people are isolated and struggling. The collaboration between resources, both for-profit and nonprofit, volunteers and recipient organizations plays an integral role in assuring that the needs of the vulnerable are served.”

To this end, volunteers are now needed for the March Mega Food Drive. The goal is to collect 20,000 pounds of nonperishable food (non-expired, no glass, no candy) to distribute to nearly 30 community partners in Bergen, Passaic and Hudson Counties. There are more than 45 collection sites throughout the counties to help reach the goal of 20,000 pounds of food.

Also there is Federation’s Blue Bag Challenge, where volunteers can pick up blue shopping bags at the Federation’s office, fill them with nonperishable foods and drop them back at Federation when completed.

To volunteer for either or both of these programs, visit the website www.jfnnj.orgfighthunger  or reach out to Shara Nadler, manager of the Volunteer Center, at 201-820-3947. Volunteers are needed!

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