As hundreds of people travel back and forth through the central hallway of the main building of VBS every day, few are aware that the center of crucial service to the community lies just below them on the lower level —the VBS Food Bank. Thanks to the efforts of Michael Wolf and a dedicated team of volunteers, our Food Bank proudly offers a 24-48 hour supply of food for the hungry in our community, including VBS members and members of the local community. In 2017, the Food Bank prepared over 1,300 food bags, a 51% increase over 2016. The Food Bank is sustained by donations of food and cash from VBS congregants, as well as support from the synagogue.
Michael is an Accounting Supervisor at Kinecta Credit Union. He and his wife Ellen Kamon joined VBS in 1992 for their son Brian to attend the VBS ECC and Day School. Michael served on the VBS Day School Board for seven years (including as Finance VP), and volunteered for many years at SOVA (Jewish Family Services food program), but had not really gotten involved in the VBS synagogue community until the Food Bank was started in 2009 by Rabbi Noah Farkas. Due to his experience with SOVA, Michael had the passion and talent to get the VBS Food Bank up and running. For the past eight years, Michael has coordinated a team of six to seven volunteers, often including his wife and son, who prepare the food bags and sort food donations; he also keeps track of inventory (each bag includes canned meats or fish, canned soup, canned or dried fruit and vegetables, pasta, rice, dried milk, cereal and peanut butter), and arranges for the purchase of food and supplies needed to replenish.
When asked what being a member of the VBS community has meant to him, Michael says that VBS has been a wonderful place to meet people, enjoy friends, and get involved. He is proud to be active in a synagogue that offers so many opportunities to learn, participate, and give back to the community. His favorite VBS memories include Rabbi Ed Feinstein’s High Holiday sermons and Brian’s Bar Mitzvah (when the family was lucky to have Rabbis Schulweis and Feinstein, and Cantor Fox participate in their photographs).
When asked what he wants people to know about VBS, he wishes that more people will participate in the Food Bank either as volunteers or by donating funds to help underwrite the program. He noted that the High Holiday food drive was low this year, and that food items and donations are needed all year long. The Food Bank is currently located on the lower level of the main synagogue building, near the new Day School Boudai Innovation Lab and Infant-Toddler and Family Center. He’s hoping the Food Bank will continue to grow and expand to a larger space in the years to come.
Donations of non-glass non-expired canned and dried foods are kindly accepted all year long. Items may be dropped off in the main VBS hallway. Thank you to the ECC and Day School students who bring canned food items for SOVA each week as part of their weekly tzedakah. To learn more about the food bank or to donate, visit vbs.org/foodbank or call 818.788.6000.