With business closures and supermarket shelves stripped of their food, getting necessities has proven to be a challenge during the pandemic. Milwaukee’s East Side, a notoriously more affluent area, has just one food pantry operating out of the Milwaukee Synagogue. Although the synagogue itself is closed for operations, the food pantry is still up and running behind closed doors out of safety for the community. Rather than having individuals come and get the food, the pantry is now delivering, especially to the elderly, one of the most at-risk groups of the pandemic.
However, with the increased need for the pantry’s services and the commitment to deliver for the safety of everyone involved, the pantry is facing challenges in maintaining this need for the community during the pandemic. Because resources are strained, the pantry started a fundraiser to help continue to provide these crucial services.
Rabbi Alexander Milchtein and his wife Ester Milchtein along with their children run the food pantry.
“My husband was just amazed,” says Ester. “He wanted to do it as a continuation of a service and didn’t think much about it until people were calling and saying how appreciative they were and that’s beautiful. They were just so afraid to go out. It’s an awful situation.”
As their GoFundMe page explains, “The unprecedented combination of soaring demand and decreasing food reserves is stressing an already-taxed system that feeds the hungry in Milwaukee.”
Their resources are limited.
Safety is one of the pantry’s biggest concerns when it comes to keeping their operation running. “My family primarily, they’re the only ones who are doing this,” explains Ester. “They go to the food bank and get the food and put it in bags, then go to the elderly housing that’s in Shorewood. They actually just take it in and leave it by their door, they don’t even knock or anything.”
So far with the fundraiser, the Milchtein’s have raised over $1,000 in just two days with the fundraiser being shared 95 times.
“I think it’s a really good lesson that everybody can find something that they can do,” says Ester. “Some people can help with money and some people can help by doing something physically or supporting causes.”
With all that is happening in the world right now, the Milchtein’s love to see the beautiful things people are doing for others amongst a hardship like the pandemic.
“There’s so much that we can do with our acts of goodness and kindness on an individual level, on a family level, on a community level, and it’s limitless. I think that’s the takeaway I want people to get whether they’re helping us, or helping someone that’s close to them, or helping a stranger in a safe way,” says Ester.