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'It's their lifeline': Jewish Family Services packs meal kits for Rosh Hashanah

Posted at 9:46 AM, Sep 12, 2023

OVERLAND PARK, Kan. — Friday marks the beginning of Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year. But the cost of buying food to celebrate is something not every family can afford.

Recent data from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) reports 13.5 million households were food insecure in 2021.

In an effort to help, volunteers at Jewish Family Services in Overland Park are packing up meal kits to deliver to families.

Those who signed up for the service will receive a roast chicken, matzoh ball soup, dried fruit and more.

“Traditionally, you celebrate Rosh Hashanah with sweet items to start with a sweet new year,” said Jo Hickey, director of JFS Pantry Services.

Hickey said food partners across the community are integral to pantry services, which are by appointment only.

“All of us are struggling with increased prices for food," she said. "But when it comes to celebrating your traditional holidays, whether it’s a Jewish holiday or Christian holiday, food is what a lot of us are rooted in."

After families sign up and the meals are packed, the kits are delivered by volunteers.

“There’s a lot of people in the city who aren’t mobile and come to the pantries, so this brings it right to their table so they don’t have to miss out on the celebration,” said volunteer Karen Rossi.

Rossi said delivering meals provides company for some, which can be a "lifeline."

"Loneliness is a huge problem. There’s people out there who can check on them and just make sure they’re getting food every day," Rossi said.

The Rosh Hashanah meals will help nearly 300 families. Hickey said JFS serves up to 600 families a month through various pantry services.

See how you can sign up for help or volunteer at their website.