The fall season generally sees an increase in donations to food banks, but Temple Kol Ami Rabbi Jeremy Schneider wanted to create a food drive that was larger and had a long-term impact.
“Since I’ve been at Temple Kol Ami, I have moved the food drive along to a bigger drive that is more impactful year-round for the Paradise Valley Emergency Food Bank,” Schneider said. Temple Kol Ami holds two food drives every year.
Last month, Temple Kol Ami, in association with Sprouts Farmers Market, donated more than 6,000 pounds of food to the Paradise Valley Emergency Food Bank (PVEFB) after raising $12,000. The initiative was led by Schneider. This is the second year Sprouts and Temple Kol Ami have worked together on a food drive.
“The idea of a fall food drive started with our founding rabbi,” Schneider said. “Temple Kol Ami has a long history of social action and social justice projects in the community. The food drive is just one example of a variety of projects we do in the community.”
In the past, Temple Kol Ami has partnered with other grocery stores. Schneider thinks such partnerships make the food drives more effective than if the temple ran a drive on its own.
The collaboration with Sprouts Farmers Market came about because one of Temple Kol Ami’s members, Ted Frumkin, is the chief development officer for Sprouts. Frumkin told Schneider about Sprouts’ Healthy Communities Foundation, which serves those living in food-insecure areas and promotes nutritional and health education.
Frumkin introduced Schneider to Lyndsey Waugh, the foundation’s executive director.
“Sprouts has a commitment to quality in the products on our shelves,” Waugh said. “The opportunity to work with the food bank is always a great way for us to help put healthier options in front of people.”
On Oct. 21, the congregation met at a Sprouts location in north Phoenix to buy the food with the money that the congregation had collected. Schneider was impressed to see all the hard work everyone — especially the children — put into loading the food onto trucks.
“My goal is to get families involved. I want them to see where their money goes,” Schneider said. “I want to show the kids that the food comes off the shelves and has to be brought to the food bank. We cannot rely on others to help. We have to do the work ourselves.”
Sprouts and Temple Kol Ami worked together on providing PVEFB with healthy and nutritious options, including low-sodium meats and soups, as well as vegetables and fruits. Waugh said that some of the food was even special-ordered for the food bank.
“When people come into the store, they’re getting that exposure to those ‘better for you’ products that we have available,” Waugh said. “Then that’s being passed through the food bank and made available to somebody who doesn’t always have a say on what they have to serve at night for their family meal.”
The PVEFB is a privately owned food pantry that is staffed by volunteers and is mostly financially supported by religious institutions.
“This support is vital, as we are private and have no endowments or governmental subsidies,” said PVEFB Executive Director Gail Marks. “In the case of Temple Kol Ami and other synagogues, we count on their donations, coming as they do to fill our shelves after what are typically summer months of greatly reduced donations.”
Marks has been with the food bank since 1993, when her daughter chose PVEFB as her bat mitzvah project.
“All donations of food products or money are used totally in service to our neighbors in need,” Marks said. “I often say you cannot take care of the whole world — just try to take care of your piece of it.” JN