Food banks providing kosher meals to struggling families given £100,000 grant
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Food banks providing kosher meals to struggling families given £100,000 grant

Government department gives funding to Hot Line Meals Service and the Jewish Community Council funding to support Jewish families in need during the pandemic

The Government has given thousands of pounds to a London-based food bank to provide kosher meals to hundreds of Jewish families struggling financially through the coronavirus pandemic.

The £100,000 grant was given to Hot Line Meals and the Jewish Community Council by the Department for Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) last week and has been earmarked to help 1,200 adults and children over the upcoming school holidays.

Hot Line Meals Service (HLMS) is a charity based in Hackney in north London, home to the UK’s largest strictly Orthodox Jewish population, and the grant was obtained with help from the Jewish Community Council (JCC), which is based in Stamford Hill.

Orthodox community and welfare organisations such as North London Bikur Cholim, Ezer LeYoldos and Bikur Cholim D’Satmar all refer families-in-need to HLMS, which provides daily three-course kosher meals to people who are unable to shop or cook for themselves for reasons such as illness, disability or frailty.

Users include the elderly, dysfunctional families, and families in crisis, who live in some of London’s most deprived areas, with the JCC identifying households that need additional help as a result of the pandemic, and negotiating with kosher food suppliers in order to stretch the grant monies further.

Speaking to Jewish News this week HLMS spokeswoman Chani Rapaport said their meals, which are prepared, packed and delivered by volunteers, were needed now more than ever.

“The DEFRA grant will enable us to expand our service in partnership with the JCC,” said Rapaport. “Our aim is to provide the five main food groups to ensure that the recipients get a wide range of nutrients in the morning and evening, as well as to contribute towards nutritionally balanced meals.

“We have identified 300 economically-deprived families who have fallen into crisis due to the current pandemic, and their food packages will comprise of milk, bread, vegetables, fish, meat, eggs and cereal over an initial eight-week period.”

The money was allocated as part of the Covid-19 Food Charity Grant Scheme, with Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden saying: “We’re doing all we can to support vulnerable people through this crisis.”

JCC director Levi Schapiro said there was a “desperate need to provide essential food to disadvantaged families during the crisis” and Rapaport said Hot Line Meals were currently “inundated with calls” for additional meals.

“Hot Line Meals typically charge a nominal fee, but as part of the government grant these struggling families will not have to pay a penny,” said Schapiro.

“People are struggling, frankly. They’ve lost their jobs and are struggling to feed themselves. It’s like coming out of a war-zone. We know that there are [Orthodox] children going to sleep hungry. I know families where the children don’t have one single proper meal a day. The effect this can have is devastating.”

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