Lunch for a Bunch

In early 2013, a group of women from the Women’s Philanthropy division were seeking to fill a need in the community: there were children arriving at school regularly with nothing to eat. Working with Agence Ometz, they created Lunch for a Bunch, packing and delivering lunches to the schools of these children before the first recess bell. 

It is early Thursday morning at Federation CJA, and while most of the city hits the snooze button just one last time, a dedicated group of Women’s Philanthropy Tikun Olam Volunteers (TOV) has created an assembly line of sorts in one of the boardrooms. What they assemble, with more precision than a fine automaker, are perfectly packaged, delicious, kosher lunches. These are the women of Lunch for a Bunch.

Lunch for a Bunch is an innovative program started and executed by women. Volunteers include: (back) Sara Levy, Joanna Noikin, Brooke Cromar; (front) Shelley Sherman, Adele Orleans, Carole Rubin, Robin Farber Steinberg.

The lunches, each of which are packed in nondescript bags, are delivered to 14 day schools across the city before the first recess bell, where school administrators discreetly slip them into the knapsacks of 83 children who were arriving at school regularly with nothing to eat.

“As women, we like to nurture and nourish our families through food,” said Jodi Mintz, Chair of TOV. “As mothers, hearing about a child who’s hungry, that just broke our hearts.” By the time Mintz finished presenting the story to the Women’s Philanthropy executive, four women eagerly expressed their support.

“I got the first group of volunteers by just posting on my personal Facebook page,” says Robin Farber Steinberg, Chair of Lunch for a Bunch.  “We took it from there. It’s been an amazing program which has been successful; it has grown; the volunteers have grown.”

Starting with a group of 45 students at 7 schools in March of last year, the program has almost doubled to an average of 83 students with the addition of 7 new schools.  The LFB ladies have already packed 1,075 lunches this year… and it’s only March!

“This program really gives our donors the opportunity to participate in two different ways,” explained Kim Garzon, director of Women’s Philanthropy at Federation CJA. “In addition to raising money for the community, Women’s Philanthropy is about connecting and engaging women. We provide meaningful volunteer opportunities, where women can really make a difference – in a hands-on capacity.”

The feedback from the schools has been overwhelmingly positive. “I can’t tell you how many children would show up at school without lunches. It was heartbreaking trying to discreetly find a way to feed them,” explained a teacher from one of the schools (who preferred to remain anonymous for the sake of the students involved), “receiving these lunches has been unbelievable. Thank you, thank you.”

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