Harvey Kornblum Jewish Food Pantry - St. Louis, Missouri
The Jewish Food Pantry in St. Louis, Missouri, opened in 1991 based on a Jewish Federation Planning grant. At the time, it was difficult for people to believe there were Jewish families who were struggling financially and cutting back on basic food expenses.  Although demographic research showed approximately 12 percent of the Jewish families in St. Louis lived below the Federal Poverty Level, these families did not generally utilize existing food programs. With the opening of the Jewish Food Pantry, the issue of hunger and its impact on the Jewish community opened the door to Jewish families and to the broader community seeking help.  In 2003, Harvey Kornblum, a past board member of Jewish Family & Children’s Service of St. Louis, was approached by a close friend who was also a past president of the Jewish Federation of St. Louis. Harvey was asked to consider a major endowment gift addressing the issue of hunger in the Jewish community. The idea resonated with Harvey and his wife, Gay who established a $1 million endowment administered by the Jewish Federation.  The Kornblum’s gift represented the single largest gift in the pantry’s history and in recognition the Jewish Food Pantry was renamed the Harvey Kornblum Jewish Food Pantry.

When the pantry first opened, it averaged 22 clients per month and distributed approximately 150 food items. Currently, this number has increased to over 1,800 clients receiving food and personal care items each month. Twenty-five percent of the clients served are Jewish. There are two unique services provided by the Harvey Kornblum Jewish Food Pantry. The first service is delivering food to home bound clients. Drivers deliver food supplies and homemade dinners to over 300 people each month, many of whom are mentally and physically challenged. Without such deliveries, these clients would not receive food on a regular basis. A second unique service of the program is its ability to provide for special dietary needs such as kosher, low salt and low sugar.  For over 14 years, the Emergency Food and Shelter program (EFS) has supported both this tremendous growth in demand and a policy of serving any individual in need of assistance. To accommodate our community’s needs, the pantry has recently expanded its hours of operation from six to 40 hours per week. The program staff has grown from three part-time staff to a total of five staff and over 70 direct service volunteers. 

As part of the services offered by The Harvey Kornblum Jewish Food Pantry, the staff and volunteers interview all new clients and existing clients at least once each quarter and connect them with other needed resources. Volunteers are essential to the success of the program and help in a variety of ways. Other volunteer tasks include packing, sorting, stocking, cooking and assembling TV dinners for home delivery. They also create decorative baskets filled with food items for temple and synagogue bimahs as a fund raising activity for the pantry. 

When clients come into the Harvey Kornblum Jewish Food Pantry, they receive not only food, but also a helping hand and hope for a better life.  Through the support of the Jewish Federation of St. Louis and the EFS Program, the pantry has been able to reach out and assist the growing number of people in need in the community.    

For further information, please contact Sue Rundblad, Coordinator, Harvey Kornblum Jewish Food Pantry at (314) 812-9307.