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Kosher Meals on Wheels expands to Falmouth

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Kosher Meals on Wheels expands to Falmouth

PORTLAND — Jewish Family Services will soon be delivering kosher Meals on Wheels to Falmouth residents after winning a $10,000 grant from the Sam L. Cohen Foundation.

The program, which will initially provide free hot meals twice a week, is set to start after Passover, which begins at sundown March 29 and ends April 5.

"We're very excited to be able to offer this to our clients," said Karli Jaffe, director of Jewish Family Services.

The program already exists for about 20 households in Scarborough, Old Orchard Beach and Portland, but will be offered for the first time in Falmouth after JFS received several requests from retirement communities in the town.

"We're expecting to add 15 or 20 families. That's what prompted us to apply for the grant," said Jaffe.

The service is run almost entirely by a team of 40 volunteers, who pick up, pack and deliver the hot meals.

"It's really a privilege and a pleasure to connect with people and get to know the older generation in the community," said volunteer Rosie Wohl, who has been delivering kosher Meals on Wheels for more than six years.

Wohl said many of the people on her route receive very few visitors, and that she not only provides them with a brief, but welcome visit, she is also another set of eyes in case they need help.

Wohl and other volunteers can report concerns about clients' health or well-being to Jaffe, who will then make a house call and check in on them as needed.

"For a lot of our clients, it's a really comforting thought, getting a kosher meal. It's something they look forward to and it's something I look forward to. People are really appreciative," Wohl said.

To qualify for the kosher Meals on Wheels service, a person must be more than 60 years old or disabled, primarily home-bound, without consistent daytime help to prepare meals, and be making his or her best attempt to live a kosher lifestyle.

For many, living a kosher lifestyle on a fixed income can be a challenge.

"In Maine, kosher food can be very hard to come by. The Jewish dietary laws are a huge piece of the culture. For somebody older, or home-bound, the costs to maintain a kosher lifestyle can be out of reach," Jaffe said.

While many associate kosher rules with not eating pork and shellfish, or not mixing meat and dairy, the rules are much more in-depth than that, and can be challenging for elderly or disabled people to maintain.

"You can't use the same mixing spoons to mix meat and then dairy," Jaffe noted.

Jewish Family Services purchases the kosher meals from The Cedars, an assisted-living facility in Portland, which prepares them using strict kosher rules.

At first, the meals will be delivered twice a week to residents of Falmouth. Frozen meals can also be provided to those who need them on interim days. Anyone interested in receiving the meals or volunteering for the service should call Jewish Family Services at 772-1959 or e-mail Jaffe at kjaffe@mainejewish.org.

Jewish Family Services is an agency of the Jewish Community Alliance of Southern Maine.

Emily Parkhurst can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 125 or eparkhurst@theforecaster.net