September 21, 2019

Orthodox Union Establishes Kosher Food Lifeline 

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The Orthodox Union (OU), the nation’s oldest and largest organization for the North American Orthodox Jewish community, has established Kosher Food Lifeline (KFL), a new division that helps existing food pantries, Tomchei Shabbos programs and other social services across the United States to provide Kosher food to Jews in need.

Orthodox Union President Moishe Bane told the Journal in a statement, “The Orthodox Union was founded over 120 years ago on the principle Jews must help their fellow Jews to practice the sacred mitzvot and keep Yiddishkeit alive in America. Creating access to kosher food, one of the most fundamental components of Jewish life, remains a priority even today, and we are eager to support the kosher food pantries and programs that provide critical access to kosher food to those in need.”

KFL offers need-based food programs, financial assistance, relationships with kosher food distributors, government grants and other logistical support.

Kedem, a food products supplier that emphasizes kosher, gluten-free and all-natural foods, provided a $200,000 grant to launch the new program before Passover 2019. 

Fifty-three partner organizations delivered over 150,000 pounds of Kosher-for-Passover food to more than 170,000 Jewish families in need around the U.S. including Arizona, Nevada, Texas, Colorado, Kansas, Missouri, Ohio, Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Maryland, Michigan, Massachusetts, Illinois, Rhode Island and the New York tri-state area.

“It was truly a win-win situation,” Kedem Vice President Charles Herzog said in a statement to the Journal. “Food insecurity is an important issue for us. We are always looking for ways to work with our communities and help where we can, and the OU’s Kosher Food Lifeline program ensured that we were sending exactly what was needed, where it was needed. We look forward to future partnerships with KLF and its network of Kosher food pantries.”

Individuals have kosher food-access challenges for a variety of reasons, including economic issues or limited mobility to physically obtain the food. The 215 food agencies in 24 states across the country provide low-cost or free kosher food to individuals and families who struggle to access food.

“Financial strains within in the Jewish community cannot be understated,” Orthodox Union Executive Vice President Allen Fagin said in a statement to the Journal. “As the OU tackles affordability issues on a number of fronts, we recognize those in our community who struggle each day to put nutritious kosher food on the table. We must work together to support the food pantries and agencies that serve them and the OU is uniquely positioned to do so given that we are the largest global Kashrut certifier.”

“By coordinating purchases and helping corporate food donors to direct donations where they are needed, we can increase efficiency, eliminate waste, bring prices down, and hopefully, help these agencies provide more nutritious, protein-rich kosher food to those who need it most,” Kosher Food Lifeline Founding Director Allison Deal said in a statement to the Journal.