(photo from Jewish Food Bank Report 2013-14)
Project Isaiah is the annual High Holy Day food drive that assists those members of the community who are in need. All donations go directly to the Jewish Food Bank to assist individuals in the community – seniors, families and newcomers.
Sponsored by Jewish Family Service Agency and Jewish Women International-British Columbia, Project Isaiah is inspired by Isaiah 58:7: “… share your bread with the hungry.”
The Jewish Food Bank’s 2013-14 report, released last week, notes that the situation of the Jewish community mirrors that of the larger community, wherein most people living on fixed incomes or earning minimum wage in British Columbia spend 60 percent of their income or higher on housing, leaving 40 percent or less to cover utilities, medication and clothing, as well as food. With the rapidly growing cost of living, and lower economy, more families are having to access food banks for help:
• 12 percent of B.C. residents are unable to meet basic needs and do not have access to adequately nutritious food in sufficient amounts.
• For the past eight years, British Columbia has been ranked as the highest province in Canada for children living in poverty.
• Food bank usage is at an all-time high.
• 7.7 percent of B.C. residents are considered “food insecure” and go without or on reduced food intake.
The Jewish Food Bank supports almost 400 Jewish individuals. Each time clients visit the food bank, they receive approximately two to three days’ worth of food per individual.
All of the households served live at or below the poverty line and 80 percent of all households spend at least 60 percent of their income on rent. All clients are assessed and authorized by a JFSA caseworker. Currently, the food bank helps 55 children and teenagers, 248 adults and 91 senior adults.
Annually, more than 45 volunteers provide operational support to the food bank. The volunteers do the ordering, pick up donated goods, set up, as well as deliver to more than 50 homebound clients. With additional volunteers for its annual food drives, Project Isaiah, and the newly established Project Sustenance in the spring, volunteers contribute close to 3,500 hours of support.
The food bank is fully funded through the generosity of JFSA donors, the fundraising efforts and donors of JWI-BC, gift-in-kind donations of food through various food drive events, such as Project Isaiah and Project Sustenance, and ongoing donations collected by community partners. This past year, it had an operating budget of $149,200, with in-kind donations of food making up a value of $30,000 of the annual budget.
Close to 40 community partners provide ongoing food donations, supplies and space to support the Jewish Food Bank. These partners help lower the cost of operations and play a critical role.
This year’s Project Isaiah is underway, and the food bank is hoping that you will consider sharing your bread with the hungry (now and throughout the year). Take a bag home from a local synagogue or Jewish day school and return it, filled with food. A suggested shopping list includes high-nutrition items such as canned fish (tuna/salmon/sardines), peanut butter (plastic bottles only), canned fruit, canned vegetables, cooking oil (plastic bottles only), whole grain pasta/rice/cereals, legumes (canned or dried), dried fruit (prunes/apricots) and toiletries (includes children’s diapers). Note: check the “best before date” on products, as expired products cannot be accepted.
If you are unable to contribute food, JFSA and JWI-BC gratefully accept monetary donations (and issue a tax receipt).
For more information about Project Isaiah, contact Debbie Rootman at JFSA (604-257-5151, ext. 230) or [email protected], or Sara Ciacci at JWI-BC (604-838-5567).