ROCKFORD - Jews around the world finish celebrating Rosh Hashanah today and begin observing the Days of Awe, the period between the mark of the Jewish new year and Yom Kippur, the Jewish day of atonement. Every year Jewish congregations across the country gather food and money to help the hungry between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur. The efforts of the pious don't come at a better time for area food pantries.
Food continues to go out the door at Rock River Valley Food Pantry, however needs are becoming harder to meet. The pantry doles out nearly 85,000 pounds of free food to needy people every month.
RRVFP used to receive almost a third of that 85,000 pounds from the federal government. Now the food pantry receives less than five percent from the Department of Agriculture. Kim Adams-Bakke, executive director for the Rock River Valley Food Pantry, says the lack of food is primarily linked to the drought conditions farmers across the country are experiencing.
"The USDA does not have the opportunity to purchase excess foods that our country's producing, so that's impacted the amount of commodities that's being provided to pantries and on-site feeding locations," said Adams-Bakke.
The need comes right around the Jewish High Holidays. The high holidays and days in between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur is a period of time for internal reflection for the Jewish people. Many Jews take the time to reflect not just on themselves but on how they can help their community as well.
"It's not just
about ourselves, it's about the world and what we can do to make the world
better," said Rabbi Binah Wing, religious leader at Temple Beth-El in
"As we tune into those ideas, then it makes a lot of sense for us to say well what's one of the things we can really work on that's very key, and obviously that is hunger."
Temple Beth-El's High Holiday food collection started slightly before the holidays. The drive culminates on Yom Kippur, a day where Jews fast and feel the hunger that those who go without, struggle with everyday.
"When we consciously feel hunger it makes us aware that there are people who are hungry all the time so it's particularly appropriate for that reason," said Wing.
Those who struggle
with putting food on their tables' everyday, most will continue to have those problems
into in the Jewish New Year. That's what
food pantries across
"Unfortunately some of our donors now frequently need our services, so if people want to make a difference they really can by donating food, monetary donations, and even volunteering." Said Adams-Bakke.
Rock River Valley
Food Pantry is now seeing 200 new visitors a month to their distribution