By Marley Kronenberg ‘21
Doesn’t it sound great to save the environment and feed the hungry at the same time? Heschel students now have the opportunity to do just that. This past year, High School Israel and Hesed Educator Ilana Sidorsky discovered a non-profit organization, Rescuing Leftover Cuisine, that provides a simple and environmentally-conscious solution to the problem of hunger and food waste. RLC’s website stated that research showed that 40% of food in America is being thrown out everyday, and one in seven people are food insecure. To address these problems, RLC helps companies and individuals distribute food that would otherwise be discarded to people who need it.
Sidorsky brought this organization to the Hesed council at the beginning of the school year and it has become part of a larger initiative for hesed opportunities to happen more consistently, not just on Hesed days. “We don’t get that many Hesed opportunities, so I was really interested in volunteering during school hours,” said sophomore Tova Segal, who has already volunteered multiple times.
“It is really important for students to have an opportunity for ongoing engagement in hesed opportunities, and for Heschel to be building long-lasting relationships with organizations such as RLC,” said Machar Fellow Carl Haber. Currently, there are two different slots during which Heschel students can volunteer. Interested tenth graders can go during their gym period, and eleventh graders go on Wednesdays during a free period. The eleventh grade students are building independence with RLC so they will eventually be able to volunteer on their own.
For the volunteer work itself, students go in pairs with a teacher to pick up, or ‘rescue’ all different types of food that would have been thrown out from restaurants and offices nearby. RLC’s website explained that rescuing food reduces the emission of methane gases that are thirty times worse than carbon dioxide typically resulting from food waste in landfills.
“There were once around fifty croissants that we picked up from a cafe near Lincoln Center,” recalled sophomore Sabrina Zbar, who has volunteered three times. After retrieving the food, volunteers walk to a specific place, like a church or a shelter, to drop the food off so it can be used to feed people who desperately need it. Once the food is dropped off, it is weighed to see how many pounds were rescued. As of now, Heschel students have rescued 91 pounds of food, and that number is rapidly increasing! “It doesn’t take anything away from the day except missing P.E.; you still get home at the same time or even earlier. There is no reason not to volunteer,” Zbar reflected. Heschel’s partnership with RLC is the start of integrating hesed into the culture of the school by providing more in-school volunteering opportunities. If you are interested in volunteering with RLC, email Carl Haber for more information on how you can get involved.