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One of the programs that benefits from your support of the JFO Annual Campaign provides daily lunches for underserved students at the ORT School in Chernivtsi in western Ukraine.

The program’s goal is serve lunch to all 350 students at the Chernivtsi ORT School, ensuring they eat a nutritious meal. The program also provides special Jewish ceremonial food such as challah and matzah to the students and their families to encourage holiday observance.

Many students remain at the school after classes end to participate in workshops, extracurricular activities, and the Zofim Jewish youth club. ORT’s provision of the lunches is aimed to increase the students’ ability to focus on their coursework in school and encourage engagement in afterschool activities. The free lunches also serve as an added incentive for prospective students and families.

The lunches themselves are hot, and contain proteins and vegetables. They are provided by a vendor, and the menus and food disbursement is done by the school itself. The meals abide by the Ukrainian governmental food standards.

“These healthy meals will keep the students’ energy levels high, allowing them to fully engage in seven to eight lessons per day and to participate in educational afterschool activities,” said James Lodge, the project’s grant manager.

Each student’s family receives the holiday foods before the holiday so that they can prepare to celebrate at home. The donations enable the school to provide matzah on Passover, apples and honey on Rosh Hashanah, Israeli fruits on Tu Bishvat, and challah on Shabbat.

“[The ceremonial food] serves a Jewish identity-building purpose as well as a nutritional one,” Lodge said, “as these families would not otherwise have the financial resources or time necessary to purchase these items and would not likely celebrate these traditions without the school’s help.”

The pandemic has halted school for much of the past academic year, but the money donated will be put to use for the upcoming year. 

ORT, the organization that runs both the school in Chernivtsi and the lunch program, is driven by Jewish values. It is one of the largest non-governmental education and training organizations in the world and educates more than 300,000 people.

Your support in the JFO Annual Campaign makes a difference not only in local and national lives, but also in the lives of Jewish populations across the world. Thank you to the donors who have supported the campaign.