On Sunday, BJE Teen Service Corps led a program for teens and parents at the North Hollywood Interfaith Food Pantry that included three components: hands-on service, Jewish learning and reflection, and activism. Students were primarily middle school age and received community service hours for their participation. Participants came from across the region, and attend a range of public, private and Jewish day schools. It was a fully subscribed day with a long wait list, and the group had a robust and rewarding day. The program was supported by the BJE Service Learning Fund in Memory of Barbara Yaroslavsky.
“This was some of our participants' first exposure to food justice issues. It was a great opportunity to offer them this hands-on opportunity, and to share the Jewish context for doing this kind of work,” shared Lily Khalili, BJE Program Director for Teen Experiential Education. “It was exciting to bring young teens and families together to be part of this experience, and helped expose a new, younger audience to a community service where their engagement is so badly needed.”
The group assembled packages of dry goods like cereal, pasta, and chips, pet food and supplies and personal hygiene items such as shampoo and deodorant. The North Hollywood Food Pantry offers pickups daily for those in need and seeks support from area groups to assist with the packaging. BJE developed the meaningful program for the group that included Jewish learning and activism.
BJE staff shared how the Torah instructs us to leave some of our fields unharvested, to allow for those in need to pick for themselves. They considered how even though living in Los Angeles we don’t interpret this literally, empowering people to help themselves is part of an effort to address global poverty, and discussed Jewish values of social responsibility, humility, gratitude and kindness.
Afterwards, the group also learned about becoming advocates for those in need. They wrote letters about food insecurity to their local elected officials and learned about how to use social media as a force for advocacy and change.
For information about BJE Teen Service Corps or to find about more about volunteering opportunities with BJE or the North Hollywood Interfaith Food Pantry, contact Lily Khalili, BJE Program Director for Teen Experiential Education.