Food banks face pre-Passover crunch

The recession has put the squeeze on food banks, as JTA wrote in July.

This story in the Forward takes a look at the growing needs:

Across the country, kosher food banks and soup kitchens are reporting a surge in demand ranging from 20% to 75% higher than in previous years, as layoffs and cutbacks force more families into poverty. People who used to donate to hunger programs are becoming clients, and people who were struggling before the economy collapsed are becoming desperate. Food banks are scrambling to distribute as much food as they can before Passover. Despite the unprecedented effort to feed the hungry, food program directors know they are only scraping the surface of the problem.

“The supply is limited, the need is endless,” said Wechsler, who manages the largest kosher food network in North America. “We give out one bottle of grape juice per family. Sometimes people say it’s just a Band-Aid. I say, no, it’s not even a gauze pad. But it’s still meaningful. It means they’re not forgotten. It means they can have a little bit of a holiday.”

And before Passover, the need for kosher-for-Passover fare is also on the rise, it says:

At least 75% of Met Council’s distribution centers have requested larger Passover food shipments this year, Wechsler said; overall, demand has increased more than 20%.

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