One and a half million Jews live in New York City, Westchester and Long Island, and a startling 560,000 of them live in poverty or below the poverty line; their struggles are a very real challenge for the community. On Saturday night, May 18, at 9:30 p.m. at YINR, UJA Federation of New York and Young Israel of New Rochelle will present “The Politics of Poverty: How Public Policy Shapes the Lives of the Neediest” with special guest David G. Greenfield, CEO and executive director, Metropolitan Council on Jewish Poverty.
Our nation’s political parties have vastly different approaches to addressing poverty. UJA and Met Council are working together to leverage government resources to best serve the most vulnerable, no matter who controls the purse strings. While many expressions of Jewish poverty are apparent within this more than half-million demographic, food insecurity remains a premier concern. UJA-Federation of New York addresses food insecurity by supporting home-delivered meals, food pantries, congregant meals, soup kitchens, SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) enrollment and food vouchers/cash assistance. On an annual basis, UJA-Federation allocates over $30 million for anti-poverty programming reaching over 40 agencies.
UJA-Federation New York’s partner, Met Council, is home to the largest kosher food distribution network in the country by serving as a central food warehouse and distributor to nearly 40 kosher food pantries in the Greater New York City area, serving approximately 50,000 clients monthly. Met Council’s central warehouse stores bulk deliveries (pallets) of food from various sources, but was lacking an efficient inventory/food tracking system. With funding from UJA-Federation, a digital pantry system was developed to serve more clients, provide more nutritious food and empower clients with greater choice in selecting food. The innovative systems provides one-stop social service centers in Brooklyn and Queens, the areas of densest poverty in New York City.
David G. Greenfield is an accomplished legislator, popular law professor and noted media personality, and has broad experience in government and not-for-profit organizations. As CEO and executive director, Greenfield ensures that Met Council fulfills its mission to aid, sustain and empower poor and near-poor New Yorkers. As a member of the city council for eight years, Greenfield authored nearly 30 pieces of legislation that were signed into law by Mayors Michael Bloomberg and Bill de Blasio. Greenfield also passed historic legislation mandating affordable housing, reforming the landmarks preservation process and providing free security guards for over 100,000 private-school children.
As the founding director and counsel of TEACH NYS, Greenfield advocated on behalf of parents of New York State’s 500,000 Catholic, Jewish and independent school children, leading to legislation providing for over $600 million in tax credits to parents of all school-age children.
Prior to the evening program at YINR, Greenfield will be speaking on Shabbat, May 18, at the annual UJA Shabbat luncheon at YI of Scarsdale. His topic will be “Beneath the Surface: Examining Hidden Jewish Poverty.”
The program will welcome the following community partners: Bet Am Shalom, Beth El Synagogue Center, Congregation Anshe Sholom, Congregation Kol Ami, Hebrew Institute of White Plains, Jewish Community Center of Harrison, Magen David Sephardic Synagogue, Pelham Jewish Center, Scarsdale Synagogue-Temples Tremont and Emanu-El, Temple Israel Center, Temple Israel of New Rochelle, Young Israel of Harrison, Young Israel of New Rochelle, Young Israel of Scarsdale and Young Israel of White Plains.
By Yvette Finkelstein