Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito and New York City Council Members Julissa Ferreras, Mark Levine, Mark Weprin, and Karen Koslowitz partnered with Masbia Soup Kitchen and the Food Bank for New York City to distribute kosher-for-Passover meals to observant families ahead of the upcoming holiday.

About one in four Jewish families in New York City face economic hardship, and approximately half of those families depend on food stamps. Forty-five percent of all children in Jewish households live at or near the poverty line. Kosher dietary restrictions make it especially difficult for Jewish families to receive help from mainstream emergency food providers. During Passover season when schools are closed, large families who rely on school breakfast and lunch for meals face increased hunger and economic hardship.

Masbia Soup Kitchen Network, a restaurant-without-registers-style soup kitchen in New York City that serves approximately 30,000 balanced and nutritious meals each week, is gearing up to serve some 18 Passover meals to an estimated 25,000 New Yorkers as part of its annual Charoset Drive. This year, Masbia will be partnering with the Food Bank for New York City to distribute approximately 450,000 kosher for Passover meals to families in need.

“Passover should be a time to come together and celebrate a community’s triumph over hardship–but for many Jewish families, it can also be a time of increased hunger and worry,” said Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito. “The City Council is proud to support the efforts of Masbia and the Food Bank for New York City in their efforts to provide wholesome, kosher food to observant families with religious dietary restrictions. We are committed to fighting hunger in our city and these organizations are invaluable partners in ensuring that every community gets the help and support it needs.”

“Keeping up with the demand is a constant challenge to us at Masbia especially during the Passover season. Having partners like Food Bank for NYC and the leadership of City Council is the reason we are able to feed so many hungry New Yorkers,” said Alexander Rapaport, executive director for Masbia.

“Nearly 1.4 million New York City residents rely on food pantries and soup kitchens, and hunger does not discriminate–that’s why it’s important that we serve the needs of all New Yorkers. Religious dietary restrictions can make it particularly hard to afford the balanced nutrition we all need to thrive,” said Lisa Hines-Johnson, chief operating officer of Food Bank for New York City. “As we prepare for Passover, we want to make sure that all kosher-observant New Yorkers are able to provide for their families with dignity during a holiday where food plays such a central role.”

“Poverty in the Jewish community is largely hidden, but there are many families who struggle to pay for kosher food during the holidays,” said Council Member Mark Levine. “As chair of the New York City Council’s Jewish Caucus, I’m grateful to Masbia and the Food Bank for New York City for stepping up and providing our fellow New Yorkers in need with fresh, nutritious kosher food packages as they celebrate the holiday. We must continue to promote efforts like this to support low-income residents, no matter what community they come from.”

“Masbia of Rego Park offers hot meals and food distribution to the needy on a year-round basis. This special Passover food distribution is especially significant in that it will enable families to celebrate a tradition that has been observed through the centuries,” said Council Member Karen Koslowitz.

“This Passover, I am grateful for places like Masbia, which helps feed thousands in need across the city,” said Council Member Mark Weprin.

The New York City Council allocated $1.32 million in the fiscal year 2015 budget to bolster dwindling supplies in city food pantries, food banks, and soup kitchens, including $105,000 to Masbia to help meet the specific needs of Jewish families facing hunger. In 2013, fifty percent of hunger-relief organizations had to turn people away due to inadequate resources to meet rising demand, after food-stamp cuts for 1.8 million city residents. One million households lost an average of $30 to $50 a month in benefits when the cuts took effect in January 2013.


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