On Thursday, January 28, students gathered in the Kosher Kitchen of Union College Hillel to make 750 sandwiches that were donated to Bethesda House on State Street in Schenectady.
A week prior to the event, Hillel began collecting donations in the Bookstore from students, faculty, and Union’s campus community.
In total, roughly 20 loafs of bread, 80 jars of peanut butter, 30 jars of jelly, and 10 jars of fluff and nutella were donated.
Some of the biggest donations came from the Summer Lunch Program and West Dining, with Hillel paying for any other necessary materials.
Hillel Co-President Ariella Honig ’17 and Hillel Public Relations and Social Media representative Hannah Gotoff ’18 planned and organized the annual Sandwich Brigade event.
Since the brigade was first conceived, over 3,000 sandwiches have been made by hundreds of Union volunteers and donated to Bethesda House.
To Honig and Gotoff, the event is an important way of practicing the Jewish Value of Tikkun Olam – performing acts of kindness to repair the world.
Helping to repair the community of Schenectady through food donation is a step in the right direction. Food insecurity in Schenectady County is a constant problem that continues to affect many residents.
According to the Schenectady Inner City Ministry, a total of 451,071 meals were served to those in need in 2014 alone. The pantry also serviced 50,119 individuals, including 18,739 children on a regular basis.
Hillel partners with Bethesda House, an interfaith organization, for the Sandwich Brigade because the house works to service the homeless, the disabled, and the poor in Schenectady by offering free meals, shelter, and counseling services.
In order to negate the lowest level of available food at Bethesda House by the end of the month, the Sandwich Brigade sandwich making and donations is purposely scheduled for this time.
At the event, Honig and Gotoff’s planning and preparation proved to be successful. With the help of 70 volunteers including representatives from ten Greek organizations, about 750 sandwiches were made in a little under an hour.
Both Honig and Gotoff shared some memorable moments from organizing one of the biggest on campus volunteer events at Union.
“My most memorable part of organizing Sandwich Brigade was that at our most recent Sandwich Brigade we made our 750 sandwiches in less than an hour, which never happens! It is always amazing to see everyone working together and having fun for such a good cause,” said Honig.
Gotoff’s favorite memory struck the same chord. “My most memorable part of organizing and planning Sandwich brigade was definitely seeing the amount of people that came out to help. We had 70 volunteers, many of which were familiar faces, which just goes to show how tight-knit our Union community really is. Seeing all of the students in our little Hillel was also a special memory that we hope to reciprocate next time,” she said.
The success of the annual Sandwich Brigade shows that combating food insecurity in Schenectady Country and uniting members of the Union community can be done with one sandwich at a time.