Meir Panim has one theme for the Chanukah parties it will hold this year for its clients: “We missed you. Come back!”
“Since we were forced to close our restaurant-style soup kitchens with the onset of COVID-19, our clients became accustomed to picking up their meals and taking them home,” says Mimi Rozmaryn, director of global development at Meir Panim. “Now, though, as infection rates continue to drop and Israel is hopefully getting back to normal, we want to retrieve the feeling of community, of course, while adhering to Health Ministry guidelines. At the end of the day, clients really benefit from the social interaction at Meir Panim, and this way, our branch managers are also able to keep tabs on the people living alone.”
Mimi Rozmaryn explains that many of Meir Panim’s clients are hard put to change their habits and go back to eating their meals in the Meir Panim dining rooms. “This year, we want our Chanukah parties at the various branches of Meir Panim to do double duty, serving also as re-welcoming celebrations,” she said.
One of the most impressive aspects of Meir Panim is how their activities are focused not only on the people most in need, but also on those who faithfully serve the community, rain or shine, and who don’t usually get much recognition. “On Chanukah, Ilanit, our branch manager in Or Akiva, walks around to all the local schools, delivering doughnuts and chocolate gelt to the crossing guards, security guards and local police officers. They really appreciate the gesture,” Mimi notes.
But while COVID seems to be receding, the economic fallout is still reverberating strongly. “The cost of food has spiked, and people who were once managing are now coming to us to supplement their food budget,” says Mimi. “We have a few families who come to us one day a week. They don’t feel right coming every day, but by depending on us for one day of week, it helps them scrape by and keep their heads above water.”
One of the cornerstones of Meir Panim is to treat clients with dignity, as can be seen by the aesthetically pleasing food presentation and the fact that only real dishes and cutlery are used. Not only is the food delicious, it is served in abundance. “People who come to our branches are welcome to take seconds, or to fill up plastic containers with food to take home. If there’s one thing we want, it’s that our clients feel satisfied. That’s what we’re about,” Mimi sums up.
This Chanukah, make your donation to Meir Panim online at www.mpdonate.org, through our toll-free number 1(877) 736-6283, or by mail to: American Friends of Meir Panim at 88 Walton Street, Suite B1, Brooklyn, NY 11206.
By Hadassah Bay