JFCS ‘Matza & More’ goes green, seeks help

Nancy Lefkowitz
Nancy Lefkowitz

Jewish Family & Children’s Services of Southern Arizona has coordinated Matza & More, a volunteer-driven program to collect and deliver Passover items to more than 200 local Jewish families and individuals in need, for more than 40 years. Local businesses, syna­gogues and Jewish organizations support the effort.

JFCS is now seeking donations, as well as volunteers for delivering bags on March 29, says Nancy Lefkowitz, a volunteer who for the past four years has helped run the program along with a dedicated committee and several JFCS staff members.

The Matza & More program “allows people who otherwise would not have these foods at their table” to celebrate a traditional Passover seder,” says Lefkowitz. “Everyone, we hope, will be able to celebrate the holiday and appreciate how far we’ve come, and that we are free.”

Monetary donations help purchase food at local supermarkets to supplement items donated by synagogues, which ask their members to contribute a specific food, such as grape juice or matzah ball soup mix. The stores often contribute gift cards that are used toward the purchase of needed food items and produce is donated by Shamrock Foods, says Lefkowitz.

Sending a check can be easier than buying and dropping off heavy food items, she notes.

The weight of the filled bags, which contain potatoes, apples and onions along with other supplies, also contributed to the decision to go green this year with re-usable grocery bags in place of paper bags, says Lefkowitz. Grocers such as Fry’s, Sprouts, Trader Joe’s and Whole Foods will be asked to donate the bags. “The various grocery stores will get the publicity because the recipients will reuse those bags, so we hope they see it as a win-win,” she says.

For packing and delivery, the program is tapping into some younger volunteers via the Jewish Federation of Southern Arizona’s Young Men’s Group and Young Women’s Cabinet, says Lefkowitz, who is also counting on students from the University of Arizona Hillel Foundation, who’ve participated in previous years. She notes that Matza & More also has had strong volunteer support from two groups in Saddlebrooke, the Jewish Friendship Group and the Institute for Jewish Services and Studies.

Along with food items and candles, the bags also contain copies of the “30-Minute Seder” Haggadah, donated by author Robert Kopman.

Participating organizations include Beth Shalom Temple Center of Green Valley, Chabad Oro Valley, Congregations Anshei Israel, Bet Shalom, Chaverim, Chofetz Chayim, Kol Simchah, M’kor Hayim, Or Chadash and Young Israel, Handmaker, Hadassah Southern Arizona, Jewish Federation-Northwest, the Secular Humanist Jewish Circle, Temple Emanu-El and Tucson Hebrew Academy.

To make a monetary donation, go to https://donatenow.networkforgood.org/jfcstucson or mail a check designated for “Matza & More” to JFCS at 4301 E. Fifth St., Tucson, AZ 85711. To volunteer, see http://jfcstucson.org/matza-more-2015/ or call 795-0300.