Chabad-Lubavitch of Wisconsin has extended its free food program at least through the rest of 2020, after initially indicating it might have to end on Aug. 30, 2020.
“In normal times, thank God, there are many organizations in the city that deal with physical well–being,” said Rabbi Mendel Shmotkin, executive vice president for Chabad-Lubavitch of Wisconsin. “We understood that if we have any chances of trying to help the physical needs, that’s what’s important right now.”
Chabad-Lubavitch of Wisconsin, which operates synagogues and various programs related to spirituality, reordered its priorities for the pandemic and launched the Chabad CAREs Kid’s Wellness Initiative on July 9, in partnership with Agudath Israel of Illinois. It has now been extended beyond the previously stated Aug. 30 sunset date, thanks in part to a government extension.
The program has continued uninterrupted since its inception, serving about 225 families weekly. The purpose of the program is to mitigate food insecurity because of the economic impact of COVID-19 in our Jewish community, according to Chabad-Lubavitch of Wisconsin. The program provides fourteen weekly meals – breakfast and lunch seven days per week.
To get the free food next week, fill out this order form. You’ll pick one of several Chabad distributions sites: Kenosha, Waukesha, Milwaukee’s East Side, Glendale, Bayside, Mequon, Madison or Green Bay.
“They pop their trunk and it’s loaded into their trunk,” Shmotkin said.
Chabad-Lubavitch of Wisconsin has been able to extend the program through the end of 2020 because “government, I believe, realized that life was not returning to normal and this was a good umbrella to run its program,” Shmotkin said.
But Chabad-Lubavitch of Wisconsin must continue to come up with 60 cents per meal, per day, and it is fundraising for that purpose.
“We are definitely going to need to raise substantial money for this, now that we know the long-term costs and that this is not just a short-term program,” Shmotkin said.
Chabad-Lubavitch of Wisconsin has so far distributed 83,440 meals or 44 tons of food. It serves 750 children weekly.
“Our thinking is that as we get further and further away from all the stimulus, we might see an uptick of some 15 to 20 percent,” Shmotkin said. “We’re anticipating up to 875 children per week instead of 750.”
Shmotkin said everyone at Chabad-Lubavitch of Wisconsin recognized months ago that serving physical needs would be important during the pandemic.
“Community is great. For most people, community means a place to grow together,” he said. But he also noted that the founders of his movement “made it their business, before looking into the spiritual wellbeing of people, the physical wellbeing was first.”
To volunteer to help with food distribution or otherwise, visit the Chabad-Lubavitch of Wisconsin Chabad CAREs site.