Rachel's Table, a food rescue program for the homeless and hungry of Worcester, is a volunteer based service project of the Jewish Federation of Central Massachusetts. Established in 1989 by the Women's Coalition and Synagogue Social Action Committees, Rachel's Table responds to the critical need for food for the homeless.
Hundreds of hungry people in Worcester seek food assistance daily. Often they are families with young children whose paycheck doesn't stretch far enough to cover the basic necessities. More than 13,000 children (23% of all children in Worcester) are affected by this problem. Agencies report that the number of individuals seeking food has risen this year by 22%. Deep budget cuts in programs of the welfare system will increase the need even more.
Rachel's Table utilizes volunteers of all ages and backgrounds to help meet critical food needs in Worcester. More than 80 volunteers work as dispatchers, drivers and solicitors of food donations. Drivers transport donated food in their personal vehicles and at their own expense. In 1997, Rachel's Table distributed more than 337,000 pounds of food which included cooked food, produce, pantry items, baked goods, milk, infant formula and eggs. Rachel's Table collects surplus food donations from more than 140 participating food service operations, including hotels, restaurants, corporate cafeterias, caterers, schools and hospitals. The volunteers distribute this food to 45 shelters in the area. In addition, Rachel's Table also created a "Children's Milk Fund," which distributes fresh milk weekly to more than 2,000 needy children.
Since its inception, Rachel's Table has provided more than 2 million pounds of food, valued at more than $4 million, to thousands of hungry people. In addition, Rachel's Table has greatly reduced the waste of nourishing food.