Helping people stay safe, healthy and nourished during COVID-19 through food delivery

Nearly every day of this pandemic, Bat El Trabelsi wakes up and prepares for a full day of staring at her four walls of her apartment. “I’m getting stir crazy,” admits our Jewish Federation shlicha (emissary from Israel). But once in a while, Bat El rises with a sense of purpose and marches out her front door. Those are the days Bat El performs an essential, life-sustaining service: volunteering for the Jewish Federation’s Mitzvah Food Program. “It only takes about two hours, but it’s the best,” she says, laughing. “I get to do something to help people and I get to leave the house.”

Older adults and families throughout this region rely on nourishing food from our Mitzvah Food Program pantries and Jewish Federation-supported KleinLife — and in the current public health crisis, the need for food has increased. At the same time, the stay-at-home order has meant volunteer shortages. Thus the crucial need for healthy volunteers like Bat El to help pack or deliver food.

On a recent volunteer day, Bat El began her shift by driving to Mitzvah Food Program Center City, where volunteers were ready for her with seven pre-packed grocery bags, a printed delivery route and a pair of gloves. For everyone’s safety, all deliveries right now are “no contact” deliveries, meaning that Bat El called each client beforehand to let them know she was on her way, then knocked on their door and left the bag on their front step. “People are so lovely,” says Bat El. “When I call them on the phone they can hardly believe you’re bringing their meal right to their home. They’re so grateful.”

More volunteers are needed to pack and deliver food, so sign up for a shift today:

  • Mitzvah Food Program: Drivers are needed from the Mitzvah Food Pantry sites in Center City, Main Line and Northeast Philadelphia. Deliveries generally take less than two hours. Once you sign up, someone will be in touch to schedule your exact pickup time. Sign up to volunteer here. 
  • KleinLife: KleinLife Home Delivered Meals program is an essential need for 700 homebound seniors. In the KleinLife loading dock in Northeast Philadelphia you will be given gloves, meals packed in freezer bags, and a delivery route. After delivery, emptied freezer bags should be returned to Kleinlife. Your exact volunteer time will be arranged beforehand. To volunteer, contact John Eskate at

For more Jewish Federation resources on COVID-19, including more ways to volunteer, click here.