March 16, 2009

Demand for Kosher Soup Kitchens Soars as Concern for Holiday Mounts

New York…The economy is wreaking havoc on many middle class Jews who are increasingly having difficulty feeding their families, social service agencies say. The Masbia soup kitchen in Boro Park, which opened several years ago to feed individual poor people is now being used by entire families affected by the recession, according to its founder Alexander Rapaport. Jewish agencies dealing with the poor are responding to an unprecedented demand for assistance by middle class families, says William Rapfogel, the executive director of the Metropolitan Coordinating Council on Jewish Poverty. He predicts that several additional soup kitchens will open throughout New York City and in other communities with large Jewish concentrations. In New York, Met Council’s food pantry which normally provides food to 13,000 households a month, is dealing with a 30% increase, largely from middle class and working poor families who are not getting other benefits like food stamps, healthcare and rental assistance. Agencies surveyed by KosherToday are expecting as much as a 30% increase in requests for assistance this Passover, at a time when many of the foundations who traditionally provided assistance are reeling from the economy or the post-Madoff era. Individual contributions have also fallen dramatically making it a most daunting challenge for the agencies. According to Mr. Rapfogel, “as much as the kosher soup kitchens are desperately needed, it will depend on the availability of funding, perhaps from individuals who wish to feed the hungry.”