On January 24th, 10 JWFNY members went to the Masbia soup kitchen in Flatbush, Brooklyn. This facility is a central kitchen that prepares food which is delivered to other Masbia locations throughout Brooklyn and Queens. The kitchens are open nightly (except on Friday and Saturday) for dinner and serve approximately 160 people a day. Each location is designed for families to eat in an intimate setting and not feel like they are at a typical soup kitchen. They are served their meals as if dining in a restaurant and trees are strategically placed between tables to give diners privacy.
During our visit, we assisted in food prep by peeling potatoes… for 4 hours! Although there were a lot of potatoes, knowing that our hard work would provide less fortunate families with a hearty meal was very fulfilling. In addition to ourselves, there were two other groups of volunteers including men with special needs from the local community. Each week, they come to Masbia to assist in food preparation. Not only does this promote their development and social skills, but it also provides them with an opportunity to become involved in the community and perform a mitzvah. It was great to see so many people getting involved to help others.
We had the chance to meet with Masbia Director Alexander Rapaport. Masbia follows the laws of kashrut and all locations are fleishig (meat only); therefore, any food purchased or donated must be kosher. This often presents problems because Masbia is not allowed to accept all food donations from places like the NYC Food Bank and/or local charities. They are working with the Food Bank to receive fruits and vegetables and receive funding from generous donations to purchase kosher meat and other food products.
Overall, this experience was very enlightening. As a member of the Advocacy Committee, it was very interesting to get a first-hand look at the work that is being done in the community to promote the well-being of families in the Jewish community. We hope to further our work by meeting with legislators to help bring to light the special needs of children and families, especially in these turbulent economic times. Volunteering at Masbia reminded me that something as simple as peeling potatoes can make a difference in someone’s life. Please consider joining us for a second volunteer outing at Masbia on May 10, 2011. For more information, contact Joy at firstname.lastname@example.org.
–Sandy Greenberg (JWFNY Board & Advocacy Committee member)