UJA Federation of New York and Catholic Charities Launch Second Joint Feeding Our Neighbors: An Interfaith Response Initiative to Feed New York's Hungry

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Jewish and Catholic communities launched initiative with Thanksgiving and Hanukkah food packaging project.

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UJA-Federation of New York and Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of New York launched the second joint Feeding Our Neighbors: An Interfaith Response initiative, collaborating once again in a unified effort to tackle hunger by collecting and distributing food to hungry New Yorkers. Kicking off the initiative at the YM & YWHA of Washington Heights & Inwood, UJA-Federation, Catholic Charities, and 50 UJA-Federation volunteers assembled 750 Thanksgiving and Hanukkah–themed kosher food packages to be distributed to low-income, homebound residents of Washington Heights, through UJA-Federation beneficiary agencies and a Catholic Charities food pantry. This was the first in a series of efforts to strengthen the resources for food pantries to collect and distribute one million meals throughout New York during winter's cruelest months.

“We’re coming together again because our desire to ensure that every New Yorker has their basic needs met with dignity, healing, and hope never ceases,” said John Ruskay, executive vice president and CEO of UJA-Federation. “This is an opportunity for the Jewish and Catholic communities to stand as one on the issue of hunger, recognizing that it affects men, women, and children of all faiths and backgrounds without prejudice, and that it is our collective responsibility to ease the struggles of those less fortunate.”

In the five boroughs, hunger affects approximately 1.7 million individuals. In addition, approximately 2.6 million — or nearly one in four — New Yorkers experience difficulty affording food for themselves and their families. According to the Jewish Community Study of New York: 2011 (JCSNY) conducted by UJA-Federation of New York, the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) — formerly known as food stamps — is the public benefit most widely used by poor Jewish households. Citywide, across all faiths and ethnic communities, the nonprofit Feeding America has found that approximately 1.9 million New Yorkers rely on SNAP.

“Catholic Charities is proud to partner with UJA-Federation on this initiative to replenish the food pantries and soup kitchens in our community. Unfortunately, so many families in our community rely on these to survive,” said Monsignor Kevin Sullivan, executive director of Catholic Charities. “Over the next few months, with the disturbing cuts to SNAP, our joint projects are even more important for New York’s neediest.”

Through the first Feeding Our Neighbors: An Interfaith Response initiative, UJA-Federation and Catholic Charities collected and distributed more than 750,000 meals throughout their communities to feed families, children, and seniors. The goal for the second joint initiative is one million.

UJA-Federation and Catholic Charities will meet once again in January, when Dr. Ruskay, Cardinal Timothy Dolan, and Msgr. Sullivan will collect food packages outside of St. Patrick’s Cathedral for distribution to a Catholic Charities food pantry and to a UJA-Federation beneficiary agency. Individually, UJA-Federation will also be engaging its community by offering opportunities, from November through March, to donate food and volunteer in projects, such as Super Sunday, Pack It Up for Purim, Martin Luther King, Jr. Day of Service, and Families Feeding Families, that will benefit Feeding Our Neighbors: An Interfaith Response.

About Feeding Our Neighbors: An Interfaith Response
Feeding Our Neighbors: An Interfaith Response unites Catholic Charities and UJA-Federation of New York, two of the largest faith-based, not-for-profit organizations, to raise awareness about the issue of hunger and food insufficiency in the community. Through the shared values of “Let all who are hungry come and eat” and “No hungry neighbor should be turned away,” the Jewish and Catholic communities collectively pledge to make a difference in the lives of those who are hungry and in need. The interfaith initiative stems from Catholic Charities’ Feeding Our Neighbors initiative, an effort to fight hunger by replenishing dwindling supplies in emergency food programs that continue to be stretched thin. Together, Catholic Charities and UJA-Federation maximize their impact to realize a goal of collecting and distributing one million meals to feed hungry New Yorkers during winter's cruelest months.

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Shari Harel
UJA-FEDERATION
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