The Chesed Program will provide short term financial assistance to Jewish community members living in the Tri-Cities, Maple Ridge and Mission areas

Jewish Family Services is launching a new program to provide short term financial assistance to Jewish community members living in the Tri-Cities area, including Maple Ridge and Mission.

Called the Chesed (or Compassion) Program, the project responds to recommendations made by the Jewish Food Security Task Force, a a joint collaboration between JFS and Jewish Federation, that identified the lack of regionally based Jewish food options as one of its top priorities to address. This program is funded by a grant from a private donor through Jewish Federation.

According to a report from the Jewish Federation, 4200 Jews in the Lower Mainland earn less than $30,000 annually and live below the low-income cut-off. Approximately 20% of these households live in the Tri-Cities, Mission, Langley and Maple Ridge. Another 5% of households in these areas earn less than $50,000. This means there are approximately 1,000 people living in these communities, many of whom are single parent working families and considered food insecure. This is the largest concentration of poor Jews outside the City of Vancouver.

Richard Fruchter, JFS CEO, says that for those living in this situation, their day to day reality is dire. “Many do not have enough food to last the whole month without accessing a food bank,” he explained, and “some parents go without so that their children have enough to eat. Still others have poor diets lacking sufficient income to purchase fresh fruit and vegetables.”

Nearly all Jewish programs and services are located in Vancouver and despite the number of low income Jewish households in these geographic areas, there are no Jewish run social services available to them. Many are families that have requested assistance from JFS but because of the distance to Vancouver or the Jewish Food Bank’s limited hours of operation, they are not getting the help they need. In addition, a significant number of these households are new immigrants, the majority of which are Russians or Russian-Israelis. They would benefit from being connected to the Jewish community and having access to social and educational programs that are offered in these areas. The Chesed Program is a small but significant step in creating access to these vital social services.

The program is designed to offer up to 6 months’ short-term assistance for people in crisis where no other source of funding is available.

Who is eligible: Jewish community members, 18 to 65 years old; residents of the Tri-Cities, Maple Ridge, or Mission who can demonstrate financial need (i.e. bank statement, rent receipt, income tax statement, social assistance cheque, proof of income); residents who are willing to develop a long-term plan for addressing their financial needs, where possible.

Individuals/families who meet the eligibility criteria will receive a loaded credit card that can be used for purchasing basic needs items.

For questions and to apply, please contact: Tanja Demajo, Director of Family and Adult Resources: 604.637.3316.