Throughout the holiday season, volunteers gathered at a warehouse in Brooklyn and packed thousands of boxes of food. The food, meant to help low-income seniors celebrate the holidays, is hand-delivered to thousands of homes – the homes of Holocaust survivors.
It’s a project from Met Council, New York’s largest Kosher food network. Met Council CEO David Greenfield told CBS News there are an estimated 15,000 to 20,000 Holocaust survivors living in New York City. “There unfortunately is a very large portion of them who are low income and live alone,” Greenfield said.
Met Council is dedicated to making sure those survivors know they’re not alone – especially during the holidays.
“For people who unfortunately have to be alone for the holiday, just having some sense of holiday and knowing people are thinking about you I think is especially meaningful,” Greenfield said.
The Met Council originally started delivering food to survivors in March of 2020, when the pandemic hit. At first, they were, according to Greenfield.
“And then we realized the need was actually a lot greater,” he said. “So now we’ve expanded the program … we’re delivering 2,100 packages of food every week to Holocaust survivors throughout the New York area who are still homebound and who have nobody else to care for them.”
The Met Council doesn’t just work during the holidays. Volunteers are constantly packing up food for people in need. They provide 20 million pounds of kosher food to pantries in New York each year.
They also run a kosher food truck, deliver food pantry items to low-income households on a weekly basis, and hold events for low-income seniors.
But during the holidays, survivors get an added gift inside their food box. “We have the volunteers write notes. So they’ll write a note like, “Happy Thanksgiving” or “Happy Hanukkah,” Greenfield said. “And some of the notes are coming from 8-year-old kids who are just sitting there packaging and while they’re coming in, they’re learning that there was once something called the Holocaust and there are people who survived and it was terrible, and we have to give back.”
Greenfield says for the recipients, it’s not just about the food. “We’ve actually had feedback from people that, the best part of their week is when the volunteer shows up and drops off the food and says hi to them and chats with them for a couple of minutes,” he said.
The volunteers feel the impact of their work too . “We had a teenager who dropped off some food at this older woman’s home,” Greenfield said. “She struck up a friendship where she actually writes and calls regularly with this 90-something-year-old Holocaust survivor.”
“She has a real connection and she gets advice from her and they keep in touch,” he said. “And she really feels like she has someone in her life not just that she cares about, but cares about her.”