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Food packages feed the needy

Once a month a group of women, all members of Hadassah, get together to assemble food packages to give to Jewish Family Service in Shalom Park.

Hadassah, one of the largest women's organization in the world, with close to 300,000 members is committed to reaching out to communities to help people.

Locally, the Charlotte Chapter has 875 members with membership ranging from young children to older adults.

In south Charlotte, a group of Hadassah volunteers cook and assemble meals for elderly or disabled home-bound individuals, or other people in need.

Some months, 60 to 80 meals are assembled in two hours.

Thanks to south Charlotte neighbor, Penny Krieger, 65, food preparation is an important project of the Charlotte Chapter.

The food preparation took off last year when Krieger, the membership chair, encouraged her friends and members to help prepare monthly food packages. Overall, there are at least 50 women who participate.

The food packages consist of food with a Jewish theme.

The recipients might find brisket (beef), latkes ( potato pancakes ), kugel (noodles) and sweets. Often the food is related to a Jewish holiday. It's always a complete meal.

The recipients don't get to meet the food makers. Natalie Tunney, the senior outreach specialist and volunteer coordinator, appreciates what the women do for JFS.

"Our volunteers enhance the good work of Jewish Family Services by realizing the importance of donating their time and talents to our agency," said Tunney.

Krieger is organized when it comes to the food preparation. Anywhere from 10 or more volunteers once a month come together in a volunteer's kitchen. Many volunteers will drop off food or donate money, while those volunteers who have the time will assemble the food. Before assembly begins, starches or vegetables that need to be cooked are prepared. Once cooked, an assembly line process is used to complete the packages.

The women get pleasure from performing a Mitzvah (an act of giving). Volunteers pay for everything for the food packages. If a woman doesn't like to cook she can still help by offering her kitchen for meal prep, donating food or supplies, packaging the food, labeling or delivering the meals to JFS.

After the food is packaged, it's labeled with date, contents and a message: "Made with love by Hadassah."

The food is either put in the refrigerator or the freezer. A JFS volunteer will deliver the meal to the recipient.