Truly Urgent: How to Feed the Hungry During Coronavirus
By Alexander Rapaport, CEO of Masbia Soup Kitchens
Usually on Fridays most of our staff is off. This Friday, however, was different - very different. Most of them came in to work. We all wanted to catch up on getting the inventory ready. We got a huge supply of eggs and pasta in the Boro Park facility, a supply of salmon, grape juice, eggs and pasta in the Flatbush facility, and a huge supply of frozen ready-to-eat airline meals at the Queens facility. We'd even hired some temp workers. Mohamed, who used to work for us many years ago, also offered to join us during this emergency. While we are still putting some pieces of the puzzle together, we are also trying to get some deliveries out. Our website is constantly receiving requests for food from the elderly, sick and quarantined.
I have been doing this for fifteen years now. We opened in April 2005. We did a lot of emergency work during Hurricane Sandy, but nothing prepared me for this. It was getting late before Shabbos, and I decided to do some local deliveries myself, as we had a lot to get out before Shabbos. I put in lots of ready-to-eat Shabbos food, together with some frozen meals, and some groceries. I quickly got into a car with Mohamed and Rafi, and headed to the home of a 91 year old, on the fifth floor of an apartment building. Rafi and I both grabbed a box while Mohamed stayed in the car. We rang the bell, but no one answered. We got into the elevator, and headed up. We knocked on the door and I heard someone say in Yiddish "Kim arein, de teer iz ofen".
All along, I told myself that the deliveries will be dropped off at the door. But what do I do now? I let myself in. I spotted the old man, who couldn't move around. He was in his underwear, in a semi lit apartment, with stuff everywhere. It looked like whoever was taking care of him hadn't done so for a while or didn't show up that day. He couldn't move much from his chair, but was visibly excited for the delivery. I headed into the kitchen with Rafi and put the boxes down on the floor. Now, my dilemma was even greater: Do I unpack all the ready-to-eat food and set it up for him, or, since I am running around, would it be safer not to touch anything in the house and leave as fast as I could? I made a quick decision to leave immediately.
With a heavy heart we made it to the elevator, where I burst into tears. I got into the car, still crying. Mohamed and Rafi saw me in a state that almost no one has ever seen me in. I couldn't even wipe my wet face, because I first wanted to wash my hands with soap, and cleanse them from being "out there". I made a few more deliveries until a half hour before candle lighting. I made sure to leave them all at the door, I just couldn't anymore....
In the next few days, we will gear up for those deliveries, and we need your help. We need a lot more food. We need Kosher for Passover food. We need to hire a lot more temporary staff, since almost all of our volunteers cancelled. We also need more protective gear to keep our staff and the food we serve safe. We made a special urgent appeal with the first goal at $350,000, and we've reached less than 10% of that goal. This is truly urgent! Please do what you can ASAP!
Please make a donation now at masbia.org/corona.