(JTA) — Kosher-observant Jews in need now have a national resource to find low-cost or free food.
The Kosher Food Lifeline, a food pantry resource center, is a new division of the Orthodox Union designed to help the at least 215 food agencies in 24 states that provide food to individuals and families. It offers assistance to programs with procurement, distribution, government grants and other logistical support.
The O.U. announced the program on June 17.
Kedem, which focuses on kosher, gluten free and all-natural foods, provided a grant to launch the inaugural program in advance of Passover this year. More than 150,000 pounds of kosher-for-Passover food was distributed to 53 partner organizations, who delivered it to communities in nearly 20 states, supporting over 17,000 Jewish families in need.
Reasons for food access challenges vary, according to the O.U. They include economic barriers and limited supply, as well as limited mobility for individuals.
“This is the first time a national program, at this scale, has addressed the needs of kosher food pantries, many of which are run by hard-working volunteers with limited resources,” said the Kosher Food Lifeline’s founding director, Allison Deal. “By coordinating purchases and helping corporate food donors to direct donations where they are needed, we can increase efficiency, eliminate waste, bring prices down, and hopefully, help these agencies provide more nutritious, protein-rich kosher food to those who need it most.”