By Sarah Lauing, Director of Jewish Life
Food insecurity in West Stockbridge is higher than you’d think. Sustainable Berkshires reported this February that 11.4% of the Berkshires population is living in poverty, and 14,550 residents of Berkshire County residents are considered food insecure, meaning that they do not know where their next meal is coming from. According to Dan Lewis, one of the co-founders of the West Stockbridge Community Garden, around 30 families right in our own backyard of West Stockbridge are food insecure. That’s why he and his wife Megan started the Community Garden—to be a source of produce for hungry families in West Stockbridge.
During their training this summer, our senior staff volunteered at this incredible new initiative just down the street from camp by helping to clear soil and plant about 70 eggplant and squash. The produce we planted will become a direct source of food for our neighbors who might otherwise go hungry.
The senior staff was modeling one of Crane Lake’s core values of Tikkun Olam, repairing the world, which will be highlighted this summer as one of our Jewish values of the week. Our Jewish tradition urges us to feed the hungry by explaining that we should leave the gleanings and corners of our fields to those in need. Campers will again have the opportunity to volunteer at a farm and warehouse affiliated with the Regional Food Bank of Northeastern New York, and Chaverim campers will again participate in a teen foundation, allocating real tzedakah money sponsored by the Jewish Teen Funders’ Network. We are also adding a layer of meaning to our Eisner and Crane Lake half marathon this year by asking runners and bikers to run for a cause, and creating a camp-wide Walk-a-Thon for causes we all believe in, run by our Upper Bonim campers who will be engaging all year in Limud (Jewish learning) about Tikkun Olam.
As we give thanks for our brand new Chadar Ochel which will allow all of us to eat healthful food together as a community, we also reach out to care for those in our immediate community who need our support. We hope to continue the partnership with the West Stockbridge Community Garden as we embark on this summer’s task of repairing the world!