Caring For New York’s Vulnerable Seniors

Metropolitan New York Coordinating Council on Jewish Poverty (Met Council) has advocated for the poor and working poor of New York City for over 50 years. As the country’s largest Jewish charity, they primarily serve seniors, who make up one third of their constituents. The organization’s services include the largest free kosher food distribution, affordable housing and Holocaust survivor assistance. The Met Council expanded its reach in 2020, a growth made possible by two grants from the Sephardic Foundation On Aging (SFOA) totaling $70,000.

2020: Responding to Extraordinary Times

Met Council’s food delivery program is its flagship service, with 101 food pantries. Faced with the challenges of the pandemic, it expanded its food programs by 400% to meet the increased needs of constituents across NYC. SFOA’s $20,000 grant boosted the program to reach over 305,000 constituents in 2020, including 2,000 Holocaust survivors, many of whom live in poverty.

2021: Keeping Senior Homes Safe & Secure

The tried-and-tested “Home Safety Repair for Low-Income Seniors” program provides home repairs and maintenance services such as changing locks, raising toilets, placing treads in bathtubs and more. Due to the pandemic and a lack of funding however, the Met Council had to pause it. SFOA’s $50,000 grant in 2021 kicked it back into gear and helped relaunch it. Thanks to the donation, the Council hired handymen and retrofitted one of its vehicles into a food delivery truck.

“It Would Have Been Impossible” Without Support

SFOA’s grants propelled a rapid expansion that helped the Met Council provide 15.2 million pounds of food in 2020 throughout the five boroughs. “Seniors were hit incredibly hard [by the pandemic],” said Met Council Managing Director of Development Brian Tregerman, ”and thanks to SFOA’s grants, we were able to provide them with all of their food needs.” The pandemic exposed the plight of seniors in NYC. SFOA was instrumental in reviving initiatives that serve them. “If we didn’t have people [like SFOA] who supported us, it would have been impossible,” said Tregerman.