5,824 pounds. That’s how much food was collected by the congregation at Temple Beth El of South Orange County (TBESOC) in Aliso Viejo on September 14.
“We do an annual food drive that we encourage our community to bring on the morning of Yom Kippur,” said Al Welland, executive director of TBESOC.
During Rosh Hashana, September 4 through September 6, the lobby of TBESOC was filled with empty grocery bags donated by Trader Joe’s. Attached to each bag was a list of items needed by South County Outreach (SCO), a non-profit organization that serves low-income individuals and families in South Orange County.
“They [TBESOC] are a wonderful partner for us,” said Lara Fisher, executive director of SCO. “This is a really tough time of the year. Our needs go up very high in the summertime.”
Fisher explained that families need more assistance in the summer months when children aren’t receiving free or reduced-cost lunches at school. As a result, the food supplies at SCO are low when donations decrease (mid-September through Thanksgiving).
Although the economy has shown signs of improvement, Fisher said that many people have found only part-time work and are still not making enough to support the family.
“We see a number of families that really struggle,” Fisher said.
TBESOC helps to fill this gap. According to Fisher, the food donated by TBESOC will feed approximately 150 families for one week. “We are so grateful for their efforts,” she said.
Welland, who’s been at TBESOC for 10 years, said that each year he sees an increase in the amount of food donated by the congregation.
“Our families go shopping together,” said Welland,” and our community really takes it to heart that we are able to help in such a meaningful way.”