Lose the leaven and feed the hungry


Need to get rid of some chametz? Capital Area Food Bank and a host of local Jewish and non-Jewish organizations have you covered as you empty your house of leavened food in preparation for Passover.

For the last dozen years, the food bank has teamed up with organizations ranging from synagogues and schools to the NCSY youth group and the Jewish Community Center of Greater Washington to run the Pesach Chametz Riddance Food Drive.

Running until Passover starts, the three-week food drive has collected as much as 7,000 pounds of food in a single year, says Max Rudmann, one of several people running the drive.

While Rudmann believes that the chametz aspect of the drive is appealing because it is both convenient timing and gives people something to relate to, he also wants to make sure people remember that Pesach cleaning isn’t the drive’s only goal.


“It’s not just an opportunity to get rid of your chametz,” he says. “It’s the chance to realize that we’re in a situation where people are going hungry.”

According to D.C. Hunger solutions, one in eight households in Washington is struggling against hunger. And 12 percent of households in 2010-12 were considered “food insecure” — meaning, unable to acquire necessary amounts of appropriately nutritious food.

There are 16 participating organizations, which serve as drop-off sites for the food. These include Congregation Har Shalom, Kemp Mill Synagogue, the Melvin J. Berman Hebrew Academy, Ben Yehuda Cafe & Pizzeria, Ohr Kodesh Synagogue and the University Tower Condominiums.

NCSY is one organization whose involvement goes beyond being a drop site. For the past few years, they have been hosting a “Fill the Truck” event, during which they park a truck outside Shalom Kosher Supermarket in Kemp Mill and ask shoppers to buy some extra food to contribute so that they can fill the truck. This year’s event will be on March 30.

Additionally, NCSY is planning on staging additional chesed events, during which NCSY’s high schoolers will volunteer to spend time with the elderly and perform charity work.

Dylan Menguy, media and events coordinator for the Capital Area Food Bank, praised the work of volunteers who collect food for his food bank. “They’re on the front lines,” he said.

However, Rudmann does not want the donations to be limited to these three weeks.

“We’re hoping that the idea of sharing is being pushed,” he said. “It’s something people should be thinking about all year, not just once a year.”

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