Free Food Distribution Program Begins In Lakehurst

Ezi Levi, the director of social services for Chai4ever stacks food items from boxes that are provided to Lakehurst and area residents as part of the USDA Summer Food Supplemental Program. (Photo by Bob Vosseller)

  LAKEHURST – The first of a summer-long distribution of food began recently in the parking lot of Beacon of Life, formerly known as La Bove Grande restaurant/banquet hall at one of the circles on Route 70.

  Ezi Levi, the director of social services for Chai4ever said the USDA’s Summer Food Supplemental Program has a borough distribution point. “During the pandemic, they have relaxed restrictions and have opened it up to anyone who has children under the age of 18. There is no income eligibility required.”

  Lakehurst and area residents are eligible to receive items from Chai4ever which is coordinating the program each Monday this summer at 5 p.m. at The Beacon of Life parking lot.

  Levi noted that the USDA “partnered with social service organizations such as ours to help distribute the food to the public. Locally, we have found someone who wants to give back to the community and has partnered with us by donating the use of his parking lot for distribution.”

  “The food boxes will be given out on Mondays throughout the summer months with enough food for seven days per person for breakfast and dinner as per the USDA guidelines,” Levi added. He is urging residents to “spread the word locally and allow our neighbors and friends to take advantage of this program.

  “The USDA gives us a limited number of meals to distribute and we give it out on a first come first served basis. In addition, we offer the option for those who want to get a weekly email notifying them as to the day and time of that particular week’s distribution,” he said.

  “We have been in existence for seven years. We are still young by way of organizations but we have been around the block and we help families all around the United States. We are based in Lakewood. Our mission is to help people. We began as an organization that helped families who had a member with cancer, MS, Lou Gehrig’s disease, Parkinson’s and other health problems,” he said.

  “It is hard enough to raise children when you are healthy but when you are a single parent or a married parent whose spouse is not well and you have to take care of the spouse and the kids how do you manage everything? The kids get affected just as much as the parents. I call them the lost population because they walk around and physically, they are fine. No one can tell anything is wrong but inside, emotionally, they are crumbling.” Levi said,

  He added, “we have hundreds of volunteers. The way we work our volunteers is that we have certain specifics that people do. With our message and chat boards you can have a lot of people who sign up and then when you need something done you send out a message and then whomever is available goes and does it.”

Two Chai4ever workers unloaded boxes of food and milk that were later distributed to residents at a Lakehurst distribution site at 800 Route 70 at the Beacon of Life parking lot. (Photo by Bob Vosseller)

  “People love to help and be community minded. I would say locally we have a few hundred volunteers,” Levi said. He and two workers distributed boxes of food and quarts of milk during the first distribution. “The items in the box are based on nutrition and there has to be a vegetable, fruit and other healthy items. Every week will be different. It won’t be the same. We will switch it up every week. This week we have chickpeas, tomatoes, crackers, bagels, avocado, clementine, garlic knots, turkey and cottage cheese. The government requires with each meal that you serve to have milk. The challenge we have is that a lot of people don’t want all the milk.”

  Levi said, “we figure our menu to their requirements and we submit it to each week and generally they approve the menu. We never tell people we can solve their problems we just tell them that no matter what happens, we will be there for you.”

  “If you would like a weekly email reminder of the day and time of Chai4ever’s Food Distribution Program at our Lakehurst, location, send an email with your name, email address, and number of children that you are picking up for to,” Levi said.

  Levi noted that “registration does not require you to take food boxes from us. Registration gives you a specific time slot and less waiting if you do choose to take a box from us.”

  For more information or if you have questions call 646-519-2193.