Kosher Food Pantry uses heated trailers, shifts to meet needs

JANE KAUFMAN | STAFF REPORTER | Posted Dec 10, 2020 at 11: 10 AM

Renee Silverberg, left, and Jennifer Wintner pack bags inside the new trailers.

To accommodate a combination of needs, the COVID-19 pandemic and cold weather, the Cleveland Kosher Food Pantry in South Euclid has set up heated trailers on its grounds in order to continue serving the local community.

Since the pandemic started, changes to the pantry’s operations have included pre-packing boxes of food, no-touch drive-through distribution and social distancing of volunteers as they pack. Much of this was accomplished by packing outside on tables set up in the pantry’s driveway area, according to the release.

Thankfully, the weather cooperated on most of our packing days during the summer, but we cannot pack food outside during a typical Cleveland winter,” said Rivka Goldstein, the pantry’s managing director, in the release.

“With the help of our board leadership, we came up with a plan to install two temporary office trailers. We will now be able to safely pack and distribute food through the winter. We also enlarged our driveway area so that cars can enter and exit safely for drive-through distribution.”

While the pandemic has closed many food pantries, the Cleveland Kosher Food Pantry remains open to feed the vulnerable, despite many challenges,” Alevsky said in the release. “We would especially like to applaud all of our volunteers, our donors and our hard-working staff, who have stepped up to assist others in these difficult times.”

The Cleveland Kosher Food Pantry is using heated trailers during the winter.

The pantry draws its client base from over 50 ZIP codes, with many from the suburbs who now find themselves needing community support for the first time. Its weekly drive-through distribution serves 150 area families, many of whom are recently unemployed. The pantry continues bimonthly food deliveries to 1,300 clients in 10 senior housing apartment buildings. Most are in lockdown due to COVID-19 and unable to shop for themselves. The volunteers work overtime to deliver the food door to door.

COVID-19 has dramatically increased the number of clients served to more than 6,000 monthly, up from a pre-pandemic average of 4,000 monthly. Comparisons from a year ago show significant increases in all categories, including 47% more seniors and 42% more families.

The pantry is one of the largest food relief agencies in Northeastern Ohio and is a partner agency of the Greater Cleveland Food Bank and the Hunger Network.

“We thank our local Jewish community and other major donors for their continued support of the Food Pantry,” Alevsky said in the release. “As we light the Chanukah menorah, may we continue to spread light and provide nourishment to our struggling families right here in Cleveland.”The Cleveland Kosher Food Pantry was established more than 40 years ago by Alevsky’s parents, Rabbi and Rebbetzin Zalman and Shulamit Kazen, as part of their efforts to help Russian Jews settle in Cleveland through the Semach Sedek Russian Immigrant Aid Society.

Jennifer Wintner packs bags inside the new trailers.