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November 5, 2020

Jewish Family & Children’s Service of Greater Mercer County [JFCS] held its second annual event for the JFCS Women’s Alliance, a membership-based collaboration of women focused on addressing hunger in Mercer County.

To date, the Women’s Alliance had raised $80,478 in donations and pledges. The funds raised can support over 10 weeks of distributions through the JFCS Mobile Food Pantry. The Mobile Food Pantry has benefitted over 11,000 individuals since its launch in January of 2020.

This year the JFCS Women’s Alliance introduced tiered giving levels to open membership to more women, particularly to include those whose giving abilities may have been impact by the pandemic, but still wanted to be a part of the group and support the JFCS Mobile Food Pantry.

“We were so impressed with the response to the Women’s Alliance this year,” said Michelle Napell, Executive Director of JFCS. “From the overwhelming response, it is clear people want to give, they want to have their dollars make an impact in their community.”

The pandemic has dramatically increased need for food across all communities, including Mercer County. According to Feeding America, the food insecurity rate in Mercer is expected to reach 13.6% by the end of 2020, representing over 50,000 individuals.

On October 29, all 126 Women’s Alliance members were invited to tune in live to the virtual event, “Community & Resilience” an interview with Joanne Canady-Brown, owner of The Gingered Peach (Lawrenceville, NJ) and Women’s Entrepreneurial Leadership Fellow, James Beard Foundation.

“When planning our event, we not only wanted to share about our mobile pantry program, but also take this opportunity to highlight the theme of ‘community and resilience’ through a local story,” said Napell. “Joanne, as a local, small-business owner, certainly showed resilience as she has kept her business going through the pandemic, and through the challenges of this year, she never hesitated to give back to her community despite facing her own obstacles.”

Canady-Brown shared her personal story including her journey in opening The Gingered Peach six years ago, the challenges of navigating the pandemic as a small business owner, and her family inspirations that led to her career in baking and developing a resilient spirit.

“Joanne spoke about her upbringing, and the role food played in building that sense of family and community. She reflected that her family was economically challenges and food was the ‘only vehicle to celebrate’ and used as a way to show love,” noted Napell. “This message resonates with how JFCS approaches our pantry distributions, it is not just about handing out food items, we give with care and compassion to those we serve. We take pride in offering fresh, healthy food items that can truly be a center of a family celebration.”

To learn more about becoming a member or supporting the Women’s Alliance, contact Helaine Isaacs at 609-987-8100 Ext 104 or HelaineI@jfcsonline.org.

See this story in the November 11 edition of Town Topics.