August 29, 2014   3 Elul 5774
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Fain-Worthy Food: B'nai Yisrael (Armonk, NY)
Apr. 13, 2010

At B’nai Yisrael, the conversation around food justice took off years before the Green Table, Just Table initiative. When the clergy began exploring issues of diet and food justice five years ago, they quickly realized that a Jewish approach to ethical eating extends far beyond that which we typically consider kashrut. The members of B’nai Yisrael responded by starting a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) partnership with nearby Roxbury Farm to ensure access to healthy, fresh food for their famillies, support the local economy, and provide high-quality food for those in their community who would not otherwise have acess to it.

The community and congregation work together to manage the CSA, and all share in the fruits of their labor; clergy actively advertise the program, volunteers facilitate weekly pick-up, and members of other faith communities in Armonk have joined in. The synagogue maintenance staff receives a CSA share for their work in keeping the program running smoothely, and each week leftover produce goes directly to a nearby workers pick up site and immigrant center, which runs nutrition classes and distributes fresh produce to participants.

The B’nai Yisrael-Roxbury Farm CSA is currently in its fifth season, with over 70 families sharing in the weekly harvest. The program embodies a three-fold approach to food justice: nurturing a culture of healthy and responsible food consumers, encouraging families to come together in preparing, cooking, and eating meals, and sharing healthy food with those who often lack access to it. Buying local food also greatly reduces energy used to transport food and supports living wages for local farm workers, honoring Jewish values of stewardship and fair labor standards.

In 2009 B’nai Yisrael won the Irvin J. Fain Social Action Award from the Religious Action Center for their outstanding project. For more information contact Rabbi Seth Limmer.

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