Food Insecurity

Even though food insecurity is a significant societal issue, we view the issue as
something our community can impact positively with efforts small and large.

Below are some of the current partners and programs that take aim at reducing the 7.3% of Union County and 8.6% of of NJ households that experience food insecurity.

Bagged with Love

We are partnering with JCC of Central NJ on behalf of the Mandy Reichman Feeding program which provides food and support to less fortunate, needy families in Union County. Together with the JCC each month, we pack 150 sandwiches and 100 emergency food bags for Jewish family services. 

The Mandy Reichman Feeding program, also known as Bagged with Love, was founded in in memory of Mandy Reichman (daughter of long-time Temple Emanu-El preschool teacher Meryl Reichman) who was passionate about feeding those in need. 

bagged with love

Jewish Family Services

Pitch in at the JFS Food Pantry or put your green thumb to work in the vegetable garden. At the Food Pantry, volunteers assist with packing bags, stocking shelves, and serving over 400 individuals/families.  In the garden, help is needed with weeding, harvesting, planting, and other general garden maintenance.  Both efforts happen at the JFS in Elizabeth. The mission of Jewish Family Services of Central NJ, a non-sectarian health and social service agency, is to strengthen family life and encourage personal growth by providing specialized quality services to over 8,250 individuals, families, and the elderly in need in Union County.

Westfield Food Pantry

Thea Westfield Food Pantry is located inside the Holy Trinity Interparochial School and offers opportunities to either donate or distribute food. The food pantry provides 300 to 350 adults and children with two weeks of food supplies. The pantry operates five days a week and is looking for volunteers to serve those less fortunate in the Westfield and surrounding communities.

If you are interesting in volunteering, please note that the work is packing groceries, up to 6 full cart loads, so it is somewhat physically demanding. If you would like to sign up to volunteer, please contact Alice Fertig

Westfield Food Pantry


You’ll find our members out on a “Bridges Run” in Irvington and elsewhere in which we engage in conversation, serve hot soup, hand out brown-bag lunches, and distribute various hygiene kits and clothing to a very appreciative group of beneficiaries. Bridges was started in 1988 by a couple from Summit, NJ that traveled in NYC one Friday evening with an intention to reach out to people experiencing homelessness by bringing them sandwiches, coffee, and a genuine interest in conversation. Bridges has a mission to end homelessness through volunteer-driven outreach and individual case management focusing on health, housing, and independence. 

bridges (1)

Community Food Bank of NJ

Join a temple group and spend some time at CFBNJ’s warehouse in Hillside where you might be asked to sort and repack food items, assemble emergency food boxes, or package bulk foods into family sized bags. The Community Food Bank of NJ is the leading anti-hunger and anti-poverty organization in the state. Combined with their Egg Harbor location, the Food Bank serves over 800 area programs and community partners covering 15 of 21 NJ counties. In addition to providing food and nutrition services, the Food bank also offers opportunities for education, job training, and youth programs.

food bank

Rise Against Hunger 

One of our most popular volunteer activities takes place inside our temple. This annual event brings out a cross-section of members young and old to form dozens of assembly lines that package rice, soy, and some dried vegetables into meals. These meals are served around the globe in medical clinics, vocational training programs, elder care facilities, and schools. Rise Against Hunger is a growing global movement that is working to end hunger by empowering communities, nourishing lives, and responding to emergencies. In 2001, this movement packaged over 17 million meals which helped more than 2.7 million lives and distributed over 27 million meals worldwide.


Food Drives

Yom Kippur Food Drive: On Yom Kippur, we fast, not only to show sacrifice and to be “afflicted,” but to understand what it is truly like to experience hunger. On a day of reflection, we hope to reinforce our compassion and insight, and hopefully, the desire to help those who live hungry on a day-to-day basis. Each year, Temple Emanu-El congregants are asked to bring a donation of a generous grocery bag of food, which is distributed by JFS to assist families in need of all denominations and backgrounds.

Turkey Drive: Each year, Temple Emanu-El collects and helps distribute Thanksgiving essentials for our local families in need including frozen turkeys, canned fruit and veggies, stuffing, rice, pumpkin pie filling, cranberry sauce, baking ingredients, and anything else Thanksgiving related!