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VBS Food Bank

05/01/2020 03:41:00 PM


Over the next several weeks, we will spotlight initiatives undertaken by our members and staff in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

This week we are proud to highlight the critical efforts of the VBS Food Bank.

For the last twelve years, Valley Beth Shalom has operated a Food Bank serving the San Fernando Valley. Volunteers, led by member Michael Wolf and staff Nitzan Barlev, organize the food donations, stocking shelves, and preparing bags to the food insecure across the community. The VBS Food Bank works in partnership with SOVA, a program of Jewish Family Service, sharing resources and clients.

Typically, the VBS Food Bank provides about 400 meals per week – to needy San Fernando Valley residents of all faiths.

Not surprisingly, during the first few weeks of the COVID-19 outbreak, the need for food relief rose considerably, leading to a sudden shortage in the Food Bank supply. By early April, supplies were depleted to less than two-week’s worth of food. 

As the Food Bank faced these dire circumstances, under Rabbi Noah Farkas’ leadership, we were able to secure new supplies and donations. Our amazing community dropped off food and purchased items through our Amazon Wish List. Thanks to cash donations and gift cards, Michael Wolf was able to make strategic grocery store purchases on behalf of the Food Bank. Staff members, Nitzan Barlev and Eric Levine, are also using the Food Bank’s cash donations to purchase wholesale goods through LA Kosher’s bulk order suppliers.

To date, Rabbi Farkas was able to secure $17,000 in grants from the following organizational partners: United Way, Sempra Energy Foundation, Jewish Community Foundation, the Conrad Hilton Foundation and Supervisor Sheila Kuehl's LA County Board of Supervisors Office. State Assemblymember Adrin Nazarian arranged for major grocery store chains to donate gift cards, and an additional $5,000 in individual donations from our community in the past month. 

These important efforts have turned the corner, allowing the Food Bank inventory to increase and ensure that the valley’s most needy residents have food to eat. Given the uncertainty and challenge of the current COVID-19 environment, we are looking to further expand the Food Bank inventory living up to our greatest Jewish ideals. 

Long-time member Michael Wolf has been a remarkable volunteer and leader of the Food Bank initiative. Without him, the Food Bank could simply not serve the community as it does. He keeps track of the data, and spends countless hours finding the best food deals across multiple stores to make sure Food Bank operations remain sustainable. Thank you Michael for your dedication!

VBS members can continue supporting our Food Bank through in-kind donations. Each week, we list our most urgently needed items in the emailed VBS Weekly Update. Food donations can be dropped off with our security guards or at the bins at the security entrance on Densmore at the following times: Monday-Thursday from 7:00am to 5:00pm and Friday-Sunday from 7:00am to 3:00pm. You can also support the Food Bank by donating online at

Learn more about the Food Bank at

Article written by Bart Pachino.

Sat, October 24 2020 6 Cheshvan 5781