While the COVID-19 crisis has shown us the vital importance of nonprofit organizations, it's also presented them with tremendous challenges. Our partner agencies are making a huge impact when it comes to food insecurity, poverty, and issues facing seniors and people with special needs. But they're also being hit with a surge in demand and shifting guidelines for safety and social distancing.
That's why the Jewish Federation announced a groundbreaking change to our grant structure. We've released $6.3 million to over thirty organizations in Greater Philadelphia, plus an additional $2.3 million for organizations in Israel. "Releasing" the money means that funds are now totally unrestricted—allowing nonprofits to use them however they need to get through the current crisis.
Feeding Low-Income Seniors
For organizations like KleinLife, a bustling community center in Northeast Philadelphia, the grant change will provide a highly needed lifeline for the food insecure throughout the region. Before COVID, the center generally distributed over 1,500 meals every week, 80% of which were prepared by volunteers in community kitchens. However, due to social distancing guidelines, KleinLife had to close the kitchens and is now relying solely on meals from outside caterers. Simultaneously, demand for food skyrocketed—during the week of April 20th, KleinLife saw a 166% increase in demand, delivering 3,992 meals to local families.
Prior to the crisis, KleinLife was set to use its funds from the Jewish Federation to support its active adult life program. Now, Kleinlife can use those funds to directly purchase meals and distribute them throughout the Northeast to anyone, Jewish or non-Jewish, who needs them.
Providing PPE For Food Banks
Similarly, the Jewish Relief Agency (JRA) originally intended to use their funding from the Jewish Federation to help alleviate the everyday burdens of poverty for nearly 4,000 high-need Jewish clients in Philadelphia. Now, the funding will be used to support JRA's response to the COVID-19 pandemic, such as hiring necessary warehouse personnel to pack delivery boxes in lieu of volunteers and purchasing Personal Protective Equipment.
Some of the funds will also be used to purchase food and essential hygiene products like soap and toilet paper. JRA estimates that since the beginning of the pandemic, they have seen about a 20-30% increase in the cost of food, making the need for more funds even more critical.
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