It will be a happier Passover for people relying on the Queens Jewish Community Council’s food pantry to enjoy the holiday.
Sticking with a tradition that has gone on for the last eight years, Stop & Shop is donating one ton of food and drink to the Queens Jewish Community Council in order to make up for the group’s shortfall this Passover.
At a press conference inside the Stop & Shop location at 89-89 Union Tpke. in Forest Hills on Thursday, Borough President Melinda Katz and other elected officials spoke highly of the alliance between the QJCC and Stop & Shop, noting the thousands of people who receive donated food each year.
“To have partners like the Queens Jewish Community Council is key when it comes to the families of the borough of Queens,” Borough President Melinda Katz said, standing in front of two shopping carts loaded with food. “Government officials can only do so much. Whether the budget is good or whether we’re at a deficit, we all rely on organizations like the QJCC that we know are going to be out there, that we know are going to be gathering food for folks.”
With the help of Rep. Grace Meng (D-Flushing) and Councilwoman Karen Koslowitz (D-Forest Hills), more than 500 packages of kosher food were distributed at the QJCC’s office at 119-45 Union Tpke. in Forest Hills on April 6 and 1,000 packages were given out to those in need last Thursday.
The parcels contain items such as matzo, gefilte fish, potatoes, canned fruit, apple juice and Passover cookies.
“Last night, I didn’t sleep because I was worried that I’m out of food. What happens to the next person who calls me, desperate and says ‘I don’t have enough food?’” QJCC executive director Cynthia Zalisky said. “Thanks to Stop & Shop, I will be able to service more people.”
One of the families that will be eating better during Passover thanks to a package from the QJCC is the sizable one of Kew Gardens Hills resident Yoav Babakhanov.
The father of seven children, ranging from nine years old to just one week, Babakhanov, who has lived in Queens for 17 years, thanked the organization for its charity work.
“I just want to say thank you for being the cause of so much hope to the people that can use it,” Babakhanov said. “It’s very great for the community and for all of Queens.”
Koslowitz hopes the QJCC’s shortfall in its food supply brings attention to the plight of some of her district’s residents despite the relative affluence of areas in Forest Hills and Kew Gardens.
“This is my district and I’m happy that the store is doing this in my district,” Koslowitz said. “People have to recognize that even though we are Forest Hills, Rego Park and Kew Gardens, people still need help.”
According to the QJCC, 19 percent of Jewish families in New York City are poor, an increase of four percent over the last ten years.
Passover began on Monday evening and concludes next Tuesday evening.