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Synagogue Hosts Healthy Dinner to Fight Hunger

In the spirit of welcoming a stranger, Bnai Keshet invites the community on Wednesday March 12, 7:-9:30 p.m. to enjoy a vegetarian meal and hear from local educators about the need for using healthy foods to fight hunger.

A fresh hot meal will be prepared from original recipes by Toni’s Kitchen in Montclair, and served by local high school students. The evening, including dinner will cost $18 a person; $54 for a family (any size); or whatever a person can afford to pay. Tickets available at www.bnaikeshet.org

The theme of the evening is fighting hunger. On tap are speakers: Toni’s manager, Anne Mernin, and Livingston High School teacher Chris Bickel of a townwide Healthy Help Program.

Mernin is the director of outreach at St. Luke’s and has managed Toni’s Kitchen for the last four years. She previously did management consulting, project management and organizational design. Mernin describes the mission of Toni’s Kitchen as “a hot nutritious meal served in the warm embrace of hospitality.” Healthy food on a full belly, Mernin says, enables people to examine other fundamental human needs: Health care, independent living to name but two. 

Bickel, the supervisor of social studies for Livingston Public Schools, also serves as the district’s liason to Livingston’s Food Day Committee, which devotes the month of October to promoting the use of healthy food to fight hunger. Along with Community Hunger Outreach Warehouse, Bickel filled a school bus of donated healthy food for a countywide so-called Stuff-the-Bus event. 

A big proponent of healthy food donation, Bickel is inventing an app to make food donation easier.

For his part, Bickel knows from hunger. He was the second youngest of eight kids growing up near Atlantic City, and his family relied on food stamps. He learned the difference between processed and fresh food from experience.

“Fresh food is really what makes people feel better," says Bickel.

Attendees are invited to bring a bag of healthy food items which will be donated to local food emergency programs. Suggested food donations include boxed milk (dairy, soy, almond, rice), brown rice, whole wheat pasta, canned and dried beans, canned fruit in their juices, canned tuna fish in water, low or no sugar cereals such as Wheetbix, Oatmeal, Shredded Wheat, low sodium canned vegetables and soups, sugar free peanut butter, red pasta sauce, low fat mayonnaise, olive oil, and spices.

Bnai Keshet is a Reconstructionist synagogue serving the greater Essex County area. The synagogue is located at 99 South Fullerton.

Submitted by Bnai Keshet

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