Every day, thousands of Charlotte area residents receive their meals from food pantries, soup kitchens, homeless shelters, residential care facilities and senior programs. As a mini pantry for Loaves & Fishes, the Jewish Family Services food pantry is one place people turn to for help in meeting their basic needs, but providing food is no longer enough.
Nearly 625,000 N.C. seniors live in or near poverty, struggling to stay independent and healthy while living with food insecurity. Currently 81 percent of N.C. households receiving food assistance do not know where the next meal is coming from and 75 percent of households served by food banks have to struggle between paying for food and paying for health care.
These alarming numbers indicate it is time for our community to recognize the urgency of gaining a fuller understanding of what it means to struggle with food insecurity.
Together with the Jewish Community Relations Council of the Jewish Federation of Greater Charlotte and other local Jewish organizations, Jewish Family Services is hosting Charlotte’s first community Hunger Seder on Sunday at 4 p.m. at Temple Beth El in Shalom Park.
During the Passover holiday, which this year begins the evening of April 22, Jews across the country celebrate our freedom from slavery in Egypt. In most Jewish homes, festive dinners, called Seders, are held the first and second night of the holiday to retell the story of freedom.
Passover is really a celebration of freedom from all slavery, all oppression and all hardship. It is a celebration of what it means to be free. Jewish custom instructs “Let all who are hungry come and eat,” yet in our world today, there is still a startling number of senior adults who face the stark reality of hunger.
By joining together in this Seder, we call attention to the prevalence of senior hunger locally and take the opportunity to raise awareness, educate and empower our community members. In addition to members of the Jewish community, the Seder will include readings by local leaders in anti-hunger and senior resources organizations, including AARP, Crisis Assistance Ministry, Loaves & Fishes, Second Harvest and Urban Ministry, as well as elected officials and representatives.
Addressing hunger is a community responsibility. We all share in working to strengthen our food nutrition programs and the Hunger Seder is one way we can expand the conversation on food insecurity in Charlotte.
Worrel is executive director of the Jewish Federation of Greater Charlotte and Starr is executive director of Jewish Family Services.