Norman and Colleen Millan help to fill the pantry at the Klein JCC in Northeast Philadelphia. Photo by Tom Rowan Jr.
IN THE BASEMENT of a Jewish Community Center, in an office no larger than a college student’s dorm room, six adult women operate a pantry aiding the effort to feed Philadelphia’s seniors.
Meet Nina Cohen. She’s sitting in her angel-blue upholstered desk chair swiveling in the middle of the office, leaning across a round table to grab, unfold and then rotate back around to hold up the front page of the Philadelphia Inquirer, with the top story addressing the city’s hunger epidemic.
“This is very real. This is not in some third-world country, this in the United States of America, this is in Philadelphia,” says Cohen, director of emergency food and home delivered meals at JCC Klein in Bustleton, referencing the newspaper’s report. “In this city, there are people who are not eating, so it’s very important to us to not only distribute food but try and educate people about poverty as well.”
The pantry operates a program called Kosher Meals on Wheels and provides supplemental foodstuffs to senior citizens’ doorsteps on a weekly, bi-weekly or monthly basis, as needed. The pantry counts on volunteers to help prepare, package and deliver the more than 1,000 rations a week to residents of the Northeast, as well as parts of Lower Bucks County and Abington Township.
“You will find no age group that is hungrier than another,” Cohen says. “But, what you will find with many of the seniors is a difficulty to ask for assistance. Remember, this is a generation that survived the Holocaust, survived the Depression and survived World War II, and they never expected to live as long as they have, and are really starting to run out of resources now at this late age, and we try to help bridge this gap.” continue reading »