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Jewish Family Services Launches Youth Hunger Project

From left: Event hosts Rachel Lutzker and David Jorgensen; co-chairs Pia and Mickey Rosenberg Toro and Judy and David Rosenthal with fourth grade contest winner Olivia Rae. Courtesy photo

The Anja Rosenberg Kosher Food Pantry at Jewish Family Services in West Hartford will manage the new Youth Hunger Project.

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More than 250 people recently attended Jewish Family Services (JFS) Sixth Annual Embracing Possibility “Helping our Hungry Community” gathering  which took place at the home of Rachel Lutzker and David Jorgensen. The event celebrated the launch of the Anja Rosenberg Kosher Food Pantry’s Youth Hunger Project.

In Connecticut, 414,730 people are struggling with hunger and 117,380 of those are children. Every contribution made to the Youth Hunger Project will allow Jewish Family Services to continue to provide critical services to Greater Hartford community and to meet the increasing needs of food insufficiency in our community, especially children.

The new program, referred to as a  “Snack and Cereal” program, will be managed by the Anja Rosenberg Kosher Food Pantry. Healthy snacks and cereals will be distributed specifically to JFS client families with school-age children.

“There are studies that clearly show the impact of food insufficiency on children,” said Anne Danaher, chief executive officer of Jewish Family Services. “Some factors are developmental delays, behavioral issues that often become mental health problems. Statistics clearly  indicate that poor nutrition on an ongoing basis is more than likely to mean a child is going to have to a repeat a grade in school. Continued throughout their childhood, those are children who are in fact less likely to be able to graduate from high school.” Added Danaher, “We believe providing  good nutritional food early on will ultimately provide for a much better future for these children and their families.”

As part of the annual event, Jewish Family Services invited local Jewish schools to participate in a community-wide contest and students were asked to create an illustration for this new initiative, highlighting what hunger and helping the hungry means to them. The winning entry, chosen by a committee whose members were selected by JFS, was presented by a local fourth grade student who attends the religious school at Chabad House of Greater Hartford. Her drawing, entitled “Good Heart,” showed a poignant scene of crying children with their hearts half full.

“Through this project we are able to educate the youth in our community about hunger and those in need in Greater Hartford,” explained Pia Rosenberg Toro, president of JFS. “It is important for all children to understand that food insufficiency exists in our own community. The Anja Rosenberg Kosher Food Pantry makes a direct impact on these children’s lives.”

The Anja Rosenberg Kosher Food Pantry at Jewish Family Services distributes more than 90,000 pounds of food, toiletries, and cleaning supplies each year to local residents within the Greater Hartford area during temporary or long-term times of need. Founded in 2002, the Kosher Food Pantry serves approximately 700 people in need, distributing 4,000 bags of food, toiletries, and cleaning supplies yearly. The food pantry is for anyone who is experiencing food insufficiency, whether it is a one-time occurrence or an ongoing challenge for a family or an individual.

A new reusable shopping bag was also distributed to attendees and JFS asked  the community to fill the bags with food donations so needed by food pantry clients.

The goal of this year’s annual campaign is to raise $500,000 which benefits counseling, education and community support programs. Event co-chairs Pia and Mickey Rosenberg Toro and Judy and David Rosenthal were thankful for the exceptional response. “We are so proud of our community’s generosity.  These donations will help tremendously in funding basic human needs services provided by JFS for children and families living in our own community.”

Jewish Family Services is a partner agency of Jewish Federation of Greater Hartford  and is generously supported  by the Jewish Community Foundation and the Hartford Foundation for Public Giving. The agency provides counseling and basic human services to individuals and families throughout the Greater Hartford area. To make a donation of goods to the food pantry, please call 860-236-1927 or visit www.jfshartford.org

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