At age 28, Joseph Gitler
decided it was time to give back to society. He looked around, assessed
what he saw and found a void that he thought needed filling: the empty stomachs
of those without enough food.
So in February 2003, Gitler left his full-time job and embarked on a new
project, Meshulchan Leshulchan, Table-to Table. The project
collects excess (left-over, uneaten) food from catering halls and delivers
it to meals-on-wheels establishments, soup kitchens and homeless shelters.
The organization seeks to become an umbrella organization for perishable
foods in Israel.
Using the internet and talking to friends, Gitler put together a core group
of volunteers who drive their own vehicles to catering establishments and
between 10 PM and midnight, pack-up left over food from affairs and then
deliver the food to fridges and freezers for storage. In the morning other
volunteers collect the food for distribution.
“I’m very pleased with what we’ve been able to accomplish in a short period
of time,” says Gitler. “We began in the winter and since Pesach, things
have gotten very busy. We are now in a growth stage, expanding the volunteer
base; we want to start the program in other cities such as Jerusalem and
Be’er Sheva. Through word-of-mouth some caterers are beginning to call us
to collect food from them.”
This past week volunteers were scheduled to collect food from some 71 events;
as it turned out 60 of them had enough food to collect for meals the following
Since Meshulchan Leshulchan will soon have a refrigerated vehicle,
it is now feasible for the organization to collect food from corporate cafeterias,
and cafeterias of army bases and police stations.
Meal recipients include the elderly, homebound, families, children in after-school
clubs, people living in homeless shelters, immigrants from the CIS, Ethiopia,
English-speaking countries, France, Argentina, and native Israelis.
The organization is trying to raise funds to purchase industrial walk-in
refrigerators and freezers to use in a warehouse space.
Some interesting facts about Table-to-Table:
- 200 volunteers
- 1 paid driver for
the refrigerated vehicle; rest of workers are volunteers
- 60 catering firms
- Collects from 10-20
events per evening
- Delivered to 33
distribution centers in the Sharon, Gush Dan and Modiin areas
- Provides 10,000
meals a month
Text by Michele Kaplan-Green