BOCA RATON, FL (BocaNewsNow.com) — Despite the stereotypes, oppulent wealth, and bevy of BMWs and Lexus' that populate the greater Boca Raton and Delray Beach areas, there is a hunger problem — and to that end, Ruth Rales Jewish Family Service says that its food panty expansion is helping those who help those in need.
One year after the grand opening of the agency's food pantry in a new 2600 sq. ft. space in Delray Beach, Ruth Rales Jewish Family Service is celebrating the move’s success in enabling the agency to do even more to address hunger in the Boca Raton and Delray Beach community. The Jacobson Family Food Pantry at JFS opened in its new location last October, following a $1 million gift from Anne and Norman Jacobson.
“We knew that moving the food pantry to a more appropriate space would give JFS additional opportunities to feed more people and store more food, and the relocation has surpassed our expectations,” said Danielle N. Hartman, JFS President & CEO. “We’re reaching more recipients each month, and offering them a larger number of food items and choices. Yet, while their bimonthly food packages include more, the cost to our agency is less.”
“Our much increased storage area allows us to purchase far greater quantities at bulk rate, and our new refrigerated space now also stores chicken, produce and fresh milk for distribution,” said Lisa Goodman, JFS Vice Chair for the Food Pantry. “We’re also able to accept much larger donations of food such as ten pallets we recently received through the Palm Beach Food Alliance. In addition, our community is undertaking many more food drives – more than 60 in the past year! Having a full-time Operations Manager as well as our Outreach Coordinator has been essential to this growth.”
Food pantry recipients now choose between a bimonthly food package delivery at home and going to the pantry to pick up or “shop” for their groceries at no cost. Some in emergency situations walk in for help. From first contact through screening and ongoing food assistance, JFS works with clients to connect them with other services that can stabilize and improve their situations.
JFS food pantry services began in 1996 with 35 clients. Now numbering more than 600, recipients are first screened to determine their eligibility. Significant increase in local need caused JFS to outgrow its location on the Jewish Federation of South Palm Beach County campus west of Boca Raton.
“The grim facts demonstrate the growing local need for supplemental food for individuals and families. Over 80% of our food pantry recipients are seniors and that number is projected to increase dramatically as our community ages,” said Hartman. “Today in America, 1 in 9 seniors – an astonishing 5 million people – is at risk for hunger. The number of food-insecure seniors is projected to increase by 50% when the youngest of the Baby Boom Generation reaches age 60 in 2025.”
Among the facts are:
· In the most recent food insecurity survey conducted in Palm Beach County, 1 in 3 households with incomes less than or equal to $35,000 ran out of food before they had money to buy more.
· More than 165,000 residents were receiving food assistance through the supplemental nutritional assistance program (SNAP) – a nearly 200% increase from 2007 to 2011; however, recent government cuts to the SNAP program are intensifying food shortages among families and individuals.
· The 211 County crisis hotline has seen a 30% jump in calls for food over the past 12 months.
· Almost 3,000 seniors in South Palm Beach County linger on government wait lists unable to access core services such as the federal Older American Act (OAA) meal programs. This waitlist keeps growing and, due to government funding reductions, there is no doubt that the growth will be dramatic.
“Sadly, hunger is often the final blow that drives an individual or family to seek help with their dire situation,” said Hartman. “We are deeply grateful to the Jacobsons for their visionary gift that will help address local hunger far into the future, and to the Oscar and Ray Merber Trust for funding that also made the relocation possible.”
“Over the past decade, the number of our neighbors who need help with their day to day sustenance has grown tremendously, and the number of requests to the Food Pantry at JFS just keeps increasing,” said Norman Jacobson. “We must ensure that those who must depend on a pantry can continue to obtain their essential nourishment and maintain their dignity.”
A non-profit, non-sectarian agency, Ruth Rales Jewish Family Service of South Palm Beach County has been committed to enhancing and improving the quality of life for all members of the community since 1979. JFS offers help, hope and humanity through a comprehensive range of programs and services which support people of all ages and beliefs. With locations in Boca Raton and Delray Beach, JFS programs and services include food and financial assistance, senior services, counseling and mental health services and many volunteer opportunities. Funding is provided by private and corporate support, grants, special events and individuals. For more information, visit www.ruthralesjfs.org, phone (561) 852-3333 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.