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Met Council partners with Uber to deliver 500 meals to Holocaust survivors

Uber Driver Sheldon Samuels picks up food to go to a Holocaust survivor on his own time. (Photo by Todd Maisel)

Most of those still living with the personal memories of the Holocaust are in their late 70’s or even older and during this COVID-19 outbreak, they are among the most vulnerable populations who are getting the sickest and even dying. Few will venture out as the risk of going for a container of milk could mean the end of their life.

So trapped in their homes until the threat abates, the Met Council for Jewish Poverty and Uber Eats have partnered to deliver groceries to their doorsteps, the drivers volunteering their services to drop off Kosher for Passover food for those Jewish seniors who can’t go out.

The Met Council has been under siege of late as millions of Americans are now out of work, many of whom live in New York City. The organization has taken on the challenge of feeding people through 30 food pantries and kitchen around the city, bringing groceries to many people who have no income at this time. David Greenfield, CEO of the Met Council has called on the state to assist them with funding to continue the vast network of pantries that are now jammed with people who no longer have jobs and can’t even make their rent payments.

Met Council has received assistance from the state legislature that has provided funds in their budget to help the many people who can’t afford to buy groceries.

Greenfield said costs were rising for his organization, City Harvest and other similar food distribution organizations because they are competing with large department stores such as Walmart, who are willing to pay more for the same good. Their costs have also risen because they have to hire more drivers, make more deliveries, and replace many of the volunteers who were seniors and can’t work any more. They also have added expenses for Purell, masks, gloves and other PPE.

Over the course of Monday and Tuesday, Uber Eats delivery people will pick up 500 Seder boxes from The Met Council distribution center in Brooklyn and deliver it to elderly Jewish New Yorkers across the Borough. Passover starts on Wednesday evening, April 8.

Members of a Crown Heights senior center, load up food for seniors in their center for Passover. (Photo by Todd Maisel)

Passover, a seven-day Jewish holiday, begins with a traditional “Seder.” The holiday is celebrated with specific dishes and foods such as Matzoh. These deliveries will ensure that Jewish families who cannot go shopping are able to celebrate safely. Unfortunately, many seniors will have to go without their families on the holiday, traditionally celebrated with large family gatherings. The risk is too great, officials say.

Jessica Chait, managing director of the food program for Met Council said there are 10’s of thousands of Holocaust survivors living right here in the borough of Brooklyn.

“In light of COVID, it’s not safe for those over 70 to be outside,” Chait said. “We are particularly concerned with those who are frail. Importantly, we include for the holiday Kosher meals and we are in the business of making sure that those who need it most will get it. Our plan between now and the holiday is to do more than 500 deliveries in partnership with Uber and another 100 more seniors and survivors in Queens.”

Sheldon Samuels, an Uber Eats Driver, said it feels “good to give back to the community.”

“I just want to do my part to help people, it’s very compelling to help people from the Holocaust,” Samuels said.

Met Council volunteers will be packing and loading boxes to Uber Eats delivery people at a central distribution center on Preston Court in East Flatbush.

Met Council provides food and delivers to 30 pantries around the city, and is one of the largest food distribution charities in the city.

Jessica Chait, left, works with other members of Met Council to prepare the groceries for delivery and pick up. (Photo by Todd Maisel)
Workers prepare food for pick up. (Photo by Todd Maisel)
Workers prepare for deliveries and pickups of food at the Met Council warehouse. (Photo by Todd Maisel)

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