Feeding The Hungry During COVID-19

With businesses and schools closed and as the community settles in to prevent the spread of COVID-19, many vulnerable are lacking access to food. Associated agencies are stepping up to do their part.

48 Hours

Two thousand is the magic number.

For that’s how many meals Pearlstone professionals prepared in two days to feed Baltimore City youth.

As soon as the crisis began, Pearlstone’s senior leadership team began looking for partners and ways to help those in need. Their efforts eventually led to the Mayor’s office. The project was solidified when Alice Kennedy, Deputy Commissioner, Homeownership & Housing Preservation for the Mayor’s Office of Children and Family Success, reached out to Pearlstone’s CEO Jakir Manela. The City, she explained, was concerned about the children and teens who were going hungry, in part because they were no longer receiving free or reduced breakfasts and lunches in schools.

Within 48 hours, the Pearlstone team kicked into gear, talking to their suppliers, planning menus and putting together brown bag breakfasts and lunches for the youth. They prepared and bagged 1,000 meals a day, over the two-day period.  

And, although much of the food was purchased from two of its local food vendors, they used the carrots and some eggs in the egg salad sandwiches from their farm.

In keeping with Pearlstone’s commitment to sustainability, all meals used recycled paper bags with recycled napkins and compostable birch wood spoons. All food was Kosher under OU supervision.

The menus were based on the recommendations from the Mayor’s office. The meals were picked up from Pearlstone by the City and distributed to the youth.

“We are so thankful for our partners at The Associated: Jewish Federation of Baltimore and in the Mayor’s office. In a time of crisis, Pearlstone acted according to our Jewish values,” Deputy Director Eve Wachhaus said. “While we aren’t able to feed everybody, we must try to feed all we can. We wish we could do more.”

To that end, Wachhaus said that Pearlstone hopes to continue working with Baltimore City when they have needs.  They are also interested in other organizations who are helping feed the hungry during these challenging times, including finding ways to provide food for seniors who are self-isolating.

“I am so happy that our dedicated team of professional Culinary and Retreat Services colleagues were able to jump into action, on such short notice, to provide 2,000 meals for the youth of Baltimore City. It was very humbling and such a blessing to many of us to feed those who may otherwise have gone hungry! We stand at the ready to be of service, if we are called upon again during this international health crisis,” adds Rachael Walkins, Pearlstone’s Director of Food Services.

“I know I speak for everyone one of us who were a part of the effort by Pearlstone when I say that it was our humble privilege to be of service to our community in providing nourishing food to the children of Baltimore. We are here and continue to be available to assist in any way possible,” says Pearlstone Executive Chef Rebecca Pauvert.

Take Part in a Casserole Challenge

Community members joined Jewish Volunteer Connection (JVC) in this time of great need, delivering meals to Art with a Heart and DRU/Mondawmin Healthy Families to support those experiencing food scarcity during this unprecedented time. These were contact-free deliveries that meet an urgent community need. To learn about other volunteer opportunities, go to https://associated.org/covid-19-updates/volunteer-opportunities/ .

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