Photo credits: Israel Peskowitz
Since the inauguration of the Lev Aharon Community Food Pantry in early February of this year, Chazaq and Met Council have used the food distribution to help feed families in need. As many still seek steady job placement, the site has continued to see a record number of people seeking food security.
“We established the Lev Aharon Community Food Pantry as a resource for the entire community to keep their families nourished,” said Rabbi Yaniv Meirov, CEO of Chazaq. “We are grateful to the partnership and wonderful staff of Met Council for allowing us to continue in our mission. It brings much relief to residents of Kew Gardens Hills and the greater Queens neighborhoods to rely on our pantry as a means for food stability.”
On Tuesday afternoon July 13, Queens District Attorney Melinda Katz joined Rabbi Meirov and the pantry staff to distribute food essentials like apples and eggs to a winding line of needy residents, including many seniors.
“Queens is home to some of the best non-profit service organizations and Chazaq is no exception, hosting food drives, sponsoring social events, and providing youth programming,” said DA Katz to the Bukharian Jewish Link following the distribution. “It was a pleasure visiting their kosher food pantry and meeting with local residents who benefit greatly from Chazaq’s humanitarian efforts.” The district attorney, who widely has the support of the Kew Gardens Hills neighborhood served by the pantry, wasted no time in getting down to the business of serving customers. “They serve anyone in need, and I thank Rabbi Yaniv Meirov for his continued leadership,” noted Katz, adding, “I also extend my gratitude to the Met Council and Tomchei Shabbos of Queens for their valuable partnership.” Shimi Pelman, president of Tomchei Shabbos of Queens, was present for the distribution and joined in the efforts to oversee a smooth process for all.
“As the Managing Director of External Affairs for Met Council on Jewish Poverty, we continuously feel proud of our partnership with Chazaq and the Lev Aharon Community Food Pantry,” said Aaron Cyperstein. “We hope to grow our relationship as the needs for the community evolve.” Cyperstein was on hand to represent his organization and see the fruits of labor in action as the community was served.
Other community leaders were also available alongside DA Katz. “Ensuring that every Queens resident has access to affordable and nutritious food remains a priority for my office,” said Assembly Member Daniel Rosenthal, who is the chair of the Task Force on Food, Farm and Nutrition Policy. “I am grateful to the selfless volunteers and organizations that make events like this possible, but it shows that there is more work to be done, especially as the City begins to recover from the pandemic. I am committed to working alongside my colleagues so that New York is at the forefront of combating food insecurity.”
“It was a pleasure to join our District Attorney Melinda Katz at the pantry,” said Victoria Zirkiev, president of Chazaq’s women’s division. “To see her care and concern for our community’s less fortunate families is very inspiring.” Zirkiev is not alone in these sentiments. Chazaq is indebted to the leadership of Aviv Simantov, who alongside his mother and a crew of volunteers, seamlessly registers and executes countless distributions monthly.
By Shabsie Saphirstein
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