Chabad mobilizes, offering to feed children for free

 

Chabad-Lubavitch of Wisconsin is providing free kosher food for children.

The organization is mobilizing its statewide synagogues and outposts, and tapping government programs, to provide at least 500 breakfasts and lunches daily next week.

“The needs are endless,” said Rabbi Mendel Shmotkin, executive vice president for Chabad-Lubavitch of Wisconsin. “You’ve got to start somewhere.”

To get the free food next week, fill out this order form by Friday, July 3 at 4 p.m. The program is expected to continue weekly, at least through Aug. 30. 

Coronavirus-related layoffs are creating greater need, while unemployment benefits and other assistance aren’t replacing full incomes, Shmotkin said.

As of 9 p.m. Thursday, more than 500 people had signed up for next week’s meal packages, which will contain seven breakfasts and seven lunches for each child. The packages next week will include cereal, challah rolls, coleslaw, frozen chicken nuggets and more. 

Orders have come from “throughout the entire Jewish community,” Shmotkin said. This includes Orthodox, Conservative and Reform families, from Milwaukee’s east and west sides, Glendale, Bayside, Mequon, Madison, Kenosha and Green Bay, he said.

The effort is made possible by loosened government restrictions for meal programs for children. Rules that once required that food be served on location have been loosened because of the pandemic, Shmotkin said. Chabad-Lubavitch of Wisconsin has also tapped into yet another program that makes use of milk that farmers can’t sell. Agudath Israel of Illinois is a partner, providing kitchen services to Chabad-Lubavitch of Wisconsin for the effort. The Wisconsin organization has kitchens, but the Illinois Orthodox service organization can better scale up. Donations also assist with the effort. 

Chabad-Lubavitch of Wisconsin has pivoted from its pre-coronanivrus priorities to place its greatest current focus on food and shelter, Shmotkin said. The organization has been working the problem, including issuing more than $100,000 in cash disbursements to families during the pandemic, he said.

To volunteer to help with food distribution or otherwise, visit the Chabad-Lubavitch of Wisconsin Chabad CAREs site.