STATEN ISLAND – Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito and Staten Island Council Member Debi Rose last Monday participated in a Passover distribution hosted by the Council of Jewish Organizations of Staten Island at the Young Israel of Staten Island. The Speaker and Council Member Rose helped assemble and distribute packages of food for over 500 Staten Island Jewish families in need ahead of the Passover Holiday.

About one in four Jewish families in New York City face economic hardship, and approximately half of those families depend on food stamps. Forty-five percent of all children in Jewish households live at or near the poverty line. Kosher dietary restrictions can make receiving help from mainstream emergency food providers more difficult for Jewish families. During Passover season, when schools are closed, large families who rely on school breakfast and lunch for meals face increased hunger and economic hardship.

The Council of Jewish Organizations of Staten Island is a Jewish umbrella agency that is the central coordinating and resource body for over 60 affiliated member organizations serving the Staten Island community. Since its inception in 1967, the agency’s mission has been to identify and address the needs of the disadvantaged, alleviate the plight of the poor, and serve as the beacon of the Jewish community on various communal issues.

“Passover should be a time of celebration and togetherness – the last thing families should have to worry about is having enough food on the table. I am proud that my colleagues on the Council have committed over $11,000 this year to fighting hunger in their districts through the important work that the Council of Jewish Organizations does,” said Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito. “The New York City Council has always advocated for funding for initiatives like the Emergency Food Assistance Program (EFAP), even while coming SNAP cuts from the current presidential administration will negatively impact pantries on the front lines. However, we will always fight to make sure that no one goes hungry. The Council will continue to work with invaluable partners to ensure that the Jewish community receives the support it needs.”

“With food pantry supplies low and needs growing, I’m pleased that COJO is able to help the community by assembling Kosher food packages for more than 500 local families,” said Council Member Debi Rose. “I was proud to join Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito and my City Council colleagues in assembling these packages so that Staten Island families would be able to better enjoy the Passover holiday.”

Scott Maurer, CEO and executive vice-president of COJO, agreed and added, “My dream is that no one should experience poverty and hunger, and the pantry should go out of business due to a lack of clients in need. However, until we reach that day, we here at COJO are in the business of combating hunger and giving our community a safe place to come for help.”

Mendy Mirocznik, president of COJO, acknowledged Stuart Cohen, Director of the Food Pantry at COJO, and his team of volunteers for doing a great job in organizing the Passover food drive and distribution, saying, “The COJO Passover Food Relief is just one component of our pantry that services all people of Staten Island. Our goal is to make sure that no person goes hungry in Staten Island.”

“Poverty should never prevent people from practicing their faith,” said Triada Stampas, Vice President for Research and Public Affairs of Food Bank For New York City. “Food Bank For New York City, in partnership with the New York City Council and other vital supporters, helps provide millions of Kosher meals with dignity to Jewish families who observe Kosher dietary laws during the Passover season and beyond, so that they are never forced to choose between their faith and the food they need to survive.”

“City Harvest is working hard to feed our hungry neighbors and ensure that kosher observant families in New York City have access to good quality food on Passover and throughout the year,” said Rebecca Glass, Manager of City Harvest’s Kosher Initiative. “We were proud to have delivered 11 pallets of fresh produce and eggs to Young Israel for families on Staten Island in advance of the holiday.  Since 2002, City Harvest has rescued and delivered nearly 30 million pounds of kosher food so that low-income Jewish families across the five boroughs can eat healthy meals that meet their religious dietary guidelines.”

“We are very happy to be able to provide many different Kosher for Passover foods to COJO of Staten Island and over 100 other food pantries, in the 5 boroughs, enabling them to distribute to those that need it most, making Passover for the recipients a most joyous Holiday,” said Alan Schoor, Executive Director of the Metropolitan Council on Jewish Poverty.


[Photo credit: William Alatriste]