TRANSCRIPT: Happy Passover! I’m Izzy Waxman, Executive Director of Mazon Canada.
I want to take a few minutes from your day to tell you about how COVID-19 has affected hunger, and what the Jewish community has done about it through MAZON Canada.
For Canada's food support system, 2020 was a disaster. Many organizations lacked the resources to shift their model to protect their staff and clients, and closed their doors at the same time that more people than ever need help.
While many re-opened, they did so facing more requests for help than they'd ever seen. Across the country, we heard heartbreaking stories of elders and toddlers going days without food, and young parents crying on the phone to volunteers.
But when Canadians go hungry, the Jewish community cares.
When you felt scared and confused, you also felt an urgent need to help - and your gifts arrived in our office like mana from heaven. At Pesach 2020, we raised almost twice as much as Pesach 2019.
Your gifts became Emergency Grants that provided $200,000 of support in the first few months of COVID. This kept pantries stocked at struggling agencies, and supported new grassroots food projects popping up in garages and basements.
But still, for a brief moment, our staff and Board wondered - will this be it? One big wave of giving, and then many people will go back to normal, while our most vulnerable are left hungry and scared, unemployed and unsupported?
But we were foolish to doubt you even for a moment. Jewish households at all income levels gave what they could throughout the year.
You talked to your friends about us. You spread the word. You challenged yourselves by asking: Do I have more than I need? Can I give just a little bit more to help someone with less?
By the end of the year, your generosity had provided eight hundred and fifty thousand dollars of grants making it possible to feed 1000 meals a day through almost 200 partner projects.
Across Canada, vulnerable people in 88 towns and cities of all faiths, ethnicities and ages felt the impact of Jewish tzedakah.
Your generosity launched new projects as well, including an expanded community garden program, a brand-new Advocacy Grant to fight for long-term policy solutions, and our first-ever Indigenous education program supporting youth learning to harvest wild fish and game to fill community freezers.
But the project of rebuilding is just beginning. Canada's food system was hit hard, jobs have not returned, and the danger of infection still looms, especially for our ill and elderly.
Our ambitious goal this Passover is to provide 28,000+ meals by raising $100,000!
And so we invite you to do what you have always done: order cards and ecards, donate to the campaign, buy our “digital seder kit” and get a background just like this for your virtual seder.
Most of all, talk to your friends and family about Canada's hunger crisis, so together we can show our nation what Jewish chesed really means.
Thank you so much – and Chag Sameach!