Congregation Beth Shalom, located at 706 Bryan Rd. in Brandon, has opened a food bank that is available to anyone in need in the community.

Congregation Beth Shalom in Brandon recently opened a food bank for the Greater Brandon area. Food insecurity can affect anyone: neighbors, friends, children and the elderly. Many working people are finding themselves struggling to put food on the table with the rising prices of groceries and other necessary items. A large population of people in the community are simply one layoff, tragedy or natural disaster away from needing assistance. According to Meral Ginsberg, the congregation’s food bank outreach coordinator, Beth Shalom honors and serves the community compassionately and free of prejudice.

“We are asking for food donations and other personal products such as soap, feminine supplies, toothpaste, shampoo and deodorant,” said Ginsberg. “Our new rabbi, Robert Lefkowitz, is very supportive of this new mission. We have a whole classroom that is dedicated to the food bank supplies and we are hoping to fill the entire room with donations.”

Some of the other items needed are boxed food, canned goods, can openers, boxed milk, boxed juice as well as cleaning products and laundry detergent. People can also donate via check (with food bank noted) or by gift card. Donations are being accepted on Fridays from 11 a.m.-8 p.m. with a donation box located at the entrance to the temple. If you would like to donate and cannot drop off on Fridays, the food bank volunteers can arrange for a pickup.

Ginsberg is also reaching out to the community in hopes of seeking additional volunteers by a local Scout troop or students looking for volunteer hours to assist in the distribution on Sundays.

The food bank is normally open for distribution of the donated items to those in need on the third Sunday of each month from 1-3 p.m. including January 16, February 20, March 20 and May 15. With the conflict on Easter, the pickup date in April is Sunday, April 10. There is no need to call ahead or to register. Those in need can simply drive to Congregation Beth Shalom on the dates/times listed and the items will be loaded into your car by food bank volunteers.

“When you give from the heart, you get back,” said Ginsberg. “Congregation Beth Shalom is here for the community and to help the community. It’s a blessing to give and help.”

Congregation Beth Shalom is located at 706 Bryan Rd. in Brandon. For further information about donations or volunteer opportunities, contact Ginsberg at 690-5713.

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Kelly Wise Valdes
Kelly Wise Valdes has been writing for the Osprey Observer since 2008. She graduated in 1989 from Florida Southern College with a B.S. in Communications and enjoys writing and traveling. She currently resides in northern Hillsborough County with her husband, David. When not traveling and writing, Kelly and her husband enjoy spending time with their five grown children (as well as their grandchildren) that still keep them very busy.