Yad Ezra challenges colleagues to
shop for food on limited budgets.
hopping and cooking for a family
that keeps kosher and includes
at least one member with special
dietary needs is a challenge under the best
of circumstances. When the food budget
is sparse, the task can be overwhelming.
To help those who provide services to
local needy families better understand
their clients, Yad Ezra and Walmart
co-hosted the Food Pantry Shopping
Challenge on May 2 at the Walmart store
in Novi Town Center. Participants were
part of the Jewish Assistance Project, an
initiative comprised of Jewish Federation
of Metropolitan Detroit partners that
offers a coordinated system of services.
"This program was designed to raise
awareness among the Jewish community
of how challenging it can be to adhere to
dietary restrictions of all types on a fixed
grocery budget:' said Lea Luger, executive
director of Yad Ezra, the Oak Park-based
kosher food pantry. The agency serves
local families in need, especially those
who rely heavily on government assis-
tance programs, such as food stamps.
Participants were required to adhere
to a weekly food budget of $34 per
person, the current amount allotted by
the Michigan Supplemental Nutrition
The 26 shoppers were divided into
seven teams and given hypothetical fam-
ily situations, including number of people,
ages and dietary restrictions, such as
diabetes, peanut allergy, vegan, etc. Some
households included extended family
members or multiple generations. The
challenge was heightened by a 45-minute
Zipora Golenberg said she felt good
about the nutritious meals her team was
able to put together for their hypotheti-
cal household, which included a diabetic
"When you have health issues and a
budget, you prioritize said Golenberg of
JVS in Southfield. "We concentrated on
veggies and protein"
Most participants came away with
increased awareness of the hurdles Yad
Ezra clients face to put nutritious meals
on the table. They discovered many store
brands don't have kosher labels, which
means buying more-costly name brands.
"You don't realize how one allergy can
affect the whole family when you're on a
tight budget:' said Rachel Green of Jewish
Senior Life, whose team included a family
member on a gluten-free diet. "One small
loaf of [gluten-free] bread was almost $5."
At checkout, some teams discovered
they had exceeded their budgets and had
to return some food items.
"The experience was enlightening:' said
Randy Gavorin of the JCC. "It's important
for the community to realize how difficult
it is when you have to make decisions
about necessities versus wants:'
Participating agencies included the
JCC, Jewish Community Relations
Council, JVS, Jewish Family Service, JSL
"This is just another indication of how
cohesive our community is, that so many
agencies came together; Luger said.
Since its inception in 1990, Yad Ezra
has seen an increase of more than 500
percent in the number of families receiv-
ing monthly services. Last year, the orga-
nization distributed more than 1 million
pounds of food to people throughout
Metro Detroit. To volunteer or make a
donation, contact www.yadezra.org or call
(248) 548-3663. ❑
at am in
Phyllis Pazner, Fox Run resident, pictured with daughter Sher
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May 16 • 2013