National Volunteer Month: Highlighting the Heroes of the Kosher Food Pantry

April 06, 2022

National Volunteer Month: Highlighting the Heroes of the Kosher Food Pantry

Did you know that even before the pandemic, one in every 8 people in Georgia are food insecure?*. Every week, the Food Pantry at Jewish Family & Career Services (JF&CS) provides thousands of pounds of food to those struggling with food insecurity in the Atlanta area. Without the help of our passionate and dedicated volunteers, our work would not be possible.

In honor of National Volunteer Month, we are highlighting six of our amazing food pantry volunteers. Though these volunteers come from different walks of life, they share one common goal: To provide service and a smile, along with nourishing foods, to those who need it. Let's meet them.

Miriam and Danny Saul

Miriam Saul has found her forte at the food pantry greeting our shoppers and checking them in. She is friendly and welcoming, and as a Cuban American, she easily moves from English to Spanish when greeting our Spanish-speaking guests.

Miriam and her husband, Danny, are new to the food pantry, but they have already shown an incredible warmth and willingness to pitch in with whatever is needed.

Michael Karp

“These kinds of challenges are fun to me.”

That’s a typical response from food pantry volunteer, Michael Karp. In this case, we had just filled our refrigerators and freezers to capacity with an order from the Atlanta Community Food Bank. Michael then received a text from his contact at Target, one of our food rescue donors through a partnership with Second Helpings Atlanta. Our weekly donation of rescued food included cases and cases of refrigerated and frozen food, and we had no obvious storage space left.

Michael approaches these challenges with leadership, enthusiasm, creativity, hard work, and a sense of humor. He brought this same approach to our Operation Isaiah food drive, when he picked up food collected by synagogues all over Atlanta. He then managed the weighing, sorting, and storage of thousands of pounds of donated food. Michael keeps our pantry shelves well stocked, and he makes sure that the food is neatly and efficiently displayed. And of course, he found space for that Target donation!

Ellen Lindemann

Ellen Lindemann has found her niche at the food pantry helping our guests shop. She is an expert at organizing and stocking our refrigerator with Monday’s donations of rescued food from Whole Foods. Ellen takes note of any vegan foods and points these out to regular shoppers who appreciate these items. She also helps pack groceries for deliveries and remembers everyone’s special requests.

Ellen knows JF&CS well. Her husband, Bruce, serves on the board of directors, and their daughter, Carla, is part of our IndependenceWORKS program. We are thrilled that Ellen is bringing her warmth and energy to helping our pantry shoppers!

Barry Koffler

Barry Koffler has a special role among the food pantry volunteers. Barry comes in early on Wednesday mornings. He helps us set up, then packs groceries and delivers them to seniors living at a nearby low-income apartment complex. His deliveries include several Russian-speaking residents, and while Barry does not speak Russian, he found that he could communicate in Hebrew with one of the residents!

We recently had an intern interview with our delivery recipients to ask about satisfaction with pantry services, and these residents raved about Barry. He may only spend a few minutes at each apartment, but it was clear from their comments that Barry delivered kindness and respect along with their fruits and vegetables.

Rebecca Wengrow

When Rebecca Wengrow packs groceries for delivery to our food pantry guests who cannot visit the pantry to shop for themselves, the finished product is a work of art, and her experience bagging groceries as a teenager is evident. Rebecca is a hard worker and is highly organized, moving easily from setting up our produce, to packing boxes for delivery, to helping our guests shop in the pantry.

Rebecca is a producer at CNN, where employees are encouraged to volunteer and are paid for four hours of volunteer work every other week. Rebecca has chosen to spend those hours with us at the food pantry for the past year, and we are so grateful!

The Food Pantry is always looking for volunteers. To learn more about rewarding volunteer opportunities at JF&CS, click here. If you can’t volunteer your time, we can always use the donations. You can donate monetarily, or donate any food pantry-compliant food items you have around the house. To learn more about what food items the pantry needs, click here.