Volunteer with Pantry Packers in Jerusalem

May 24th 2013

Pantry Packers Volunterring in JerusalemAre you looking for a hands-on social action activity for your family, tour group, youth group, synagogue or school on your next trip to Israel? Would you like to find something that packs a lot of meaning into 90 minutes of work?

Check out Pantry Packers in Jerusalem. It’s a project of the Colel Chabad organization that regularly provides healthy food and pantry staples such as rice, oil and canned goods to the poorest of Israel’s families. Volunteer visitors do their assigned work in a clean, modern, industrial-style packing kitchen. Each volunteer is provided with a plastic apron, a plastic hair bonnet and plastic gloves to ensure that sanitary standards are maintained.

Like the name Pantry Packers suggests, volunteers pack bulk foods into family-sized packages, label them and prepare cartons for shipment to distribution centers. For example, on a recent visit to Pantry Packers, the members of the 8th grade class of the Ramaz School in New York, along with their adult chaperones, packed 948 individual bags totaling over 1000 pounds (that’s half a ton!) of rice for distribution during their 90 minute shift.

Pantry Packers - Students Volunterring in JerusalemThe work is suitable for volunteer visitors of all ages, including families with children as young as 7 or 8. It’s an activity that has the potential to inspire young people to feel a sense of responsibility for all Israelis, even those who are very different from themselves. The Pantry Packers volunteer activity program even starts with an orientation film about the importance of their food distribution work, helping all participants to appreciate the importance of the volunteer work and to get pumped up to do it. It’s also a great activity for teaching the value of working as a team toward a concrete goal.

Operated by Eshel, the food distribution division of Colel Chabad, Panty Packers provides volunteers with the opportunity to do something different that helps poor Israelis in a tangible manner. The project distributes 80 assorted food items to 5000 families across Israel every month. Colel Chabad, which operates a complex network of food distribution and social service programs, has been helping the poorest families throughout Israel, regardless of age, gender, ethnicity or degree of religious observance, since 1788. It’s Israel’s oldest charity.