Outreach Program Supplies Washington Hebrew Congregation’s Hunger Project

October 26, 2015

Rick McNary, Co-Chair, Outreach, Inc.

When Floyd Hammer and Kathy Hamilton founded Outreach Program in 2004, they saw an opportunity to help other meal packaging organizations. Outreach purchases product, ingredients, and equipment in large volumes and passes those savings along to other organizations at significantly reduced prices.

The Washington Hebrew Congregation Hunger Project, in DC, is one of those organizations that Outreach supplies.

Senior Rabbi M. Bruce Lustig said, “This project allows us to live the prophetic words: ‘to feed the hungry.’ We all use food as a social instrument. We meet over food in social settings; all holidays have a meal as well. The hunger project allows us to say caring can come from a simple meal. When we pack a meal we show we care. When someone eats that meal, we hope they can taste the love and the care we have for them.”

Jeff Bergman of The WHC Hunger Project says, “Tikkun olam is a Hebrew word which means repair the world. We started The WHC Hunger Project as our way of fulfilling tikkun olam. We started eight years ago packaging meals for international aid like the Haiti disaster, but three years ago we saw a need for helping with local hunger. We switched to packaging Outreach’s kosher domestic meals so we can feed people in our own city.”

Outreach has three domestic meals created in partnership with Iowa State University’s Food Science Department to be nutritious and tasty. Those three meals are: Mac & Cheese; Rice and Bean Casserole; and a new one, Pasta with Tomato Basil Sauce.

“We recently switched from the Mac & Cheese to the new Pasta and Tomato Basil Sauce meal and are getting a great response from people,” Bergman said. “We package 150,000 meals each year in twelve to fourteen smaller packaging events, then give them to our partners with Capital Area Food Bank, Maryland Food Bank, SOME (so others may eat), and Manna in Gaithersburg.

Bergman continued, “We package the meals on Sunday and tell the volunteers who are packaging them that these meals will be eaten by Friday. These events are a powerful intergenerational transfer of values from grandparents to their children and their grandchildren.”

Members of the congregation also use the meal packaging events as a way of celebrating personal milestones.

“One twelve-year-old boy was getting ready for his Bar Mitzvah and invited forty-five guests to support The WHC Hunger Project by helping him package meals,” Bergman said.

Outreach founder Floyd Hammer said, “Through the WHC Hunger Project, over one million meals have been packaged for the hungry. They are a perfect example of what steady and consistent efforts can to do help change the world.”

For more information about Outreach Program, contact: office@outreachprogram.org or call: 641-486-2550.

For more information about The WHC Hunger Project, visit their website or email them at: hungerproject@whctemple.org