United Synagogue raises £500k to meet record demand for food aid

US's Chesed department is facing mounting calls from families unable to make ends meet


Thousands of community members in challenging circumstances will receive support at Pesach — and throughout the coming year — thanks to the £521,000 raised from a matched giving campaign by the United Synagogue this week.

Close on 140 “Chesed champions” solicited support from family and friends and the fundraising drive attracted more than 2,700 donors.

The US’s Chesed department and synagogue teams help more than 4,000 people in need every year.

But Chesed is now reporting a dramatic rise in the number of families needing support to make ends meet.

This year, well over 700 families have asked the charity for assistance, a rise of more than 20 per cent, as they struggle to cope with lost income during the pandemic and the rising cost of living.

Pesach food parcels distributed to families in need will contain more than 20 different items including grape and other fruit juice, cheese and tuna, tea and coffee, jam and butter, salt and pepper and chocolate and biscuits.

The US is braced for even greater demand after Pesach in the light of rocketing fuel costs.
It is additionally expecting to play its part in helping Ukrainian refugees through its shul-based asylum seeker centres.

Chesed head Michelle Minsky told the JC: “Whether it’s providing much-needed essential food parcels or cooked meals to over 120 families a week, calling or visiting elderly people living alone, helping with shopping, bereavement befriending, organising meal rotas, or simply being a friend — US Chesed helps others every day of the year. The current cost of living crisis and the effects of Covid mean that even more US families need extra financial, practical and emotional help.

“We are so grateful to each of our donors, and those who provided the matched funding, to help us raise enough to ensure that US Chesed can be there for every family that needs us — and to support our work beyond the Jewish community.”

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