‘Great American Deli Schlep’ rides into Rhody

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Jewish motorcyclist Steve Goode was met with a large sandwich and even larger smiles from the Rhode Island Jewish community as he pulled up in front of Providence’s newest Jewish deli, Bubbie’s Market & Deli, on June 11.

Goode stopped in Rhode Island as part of his cross-country trek, visiting Jewish-style delis in nearly every state, to call attention to persistent food insecurity in the United States that has been intensified by the pandemic. Goode, whose 16,000-mile trip began on June 1 and will run for 75 days through the summer, is partnering with national advocacy organization Mazon: A Jewish Response to Hunger. The hope is to raise awareness and funds for the organization’s fight to end hunger in the United States and Israel through structural policy change.

“The definition of food insecurity is sometime during the past 12 months, a person did not know where their next meal was coming from. Since the pandemic started, one in four Americans have experienced this. One in four!” says Goode. This is a crisis that has doubled from 40 million people to 80 million as a result of COVID-19. In Rhode Island specifically, the number is 77,000 people.

Wanting to spread the word, see the country, and provoke change, Goode set out on his journey. His “Great American Deli Schlep” was inspired by and mapped out according to “The Top Jewish Deli in Every State” as defined by The Nosher, a project of 70 Faces Media focused on “Jewish foods with a modern twist.” In some areas of the country, Goode says, the delis are plentiful, and in New England specifically they are close together and accessible across state lines. But the schlep from Seattle, Washington, to Fargo, North Dakota, goes nearly 1,500 miles without a Jewish deli.

Goode compares the idea of structural policy change to his rides on interstate highways, stating: “We didn’t build an interstate highway system one state at a time. We developed it at a federal level to oversee all 50 states. In my analysis, that’s the same thing that has to happen with food.”

Here in Rhode Island, Bubbie’s Market & Deli owner Jeffrey Ingber was happy to host Goode on day 11 of his journey and provide him with a Yonah Stacker sandwich – named after Ingber’s son – made up of the classic Jewish combo of corned beef, turkey, Russian dressing, pickles, and coleslaw. Goode was Bubbie’s first customer as they prepare for their grand opening on June 20.

Ingber says, “After six months of strategic planning and cooperation from a lot of people, including the city, the state, Bristol County Savings Bank, and a lot of help from the Davis and Glazer families, who kept Kosher food in this city for over 100 years, we’re very excited to take the torch and bring a 21st century Kosher market into Providence. Not just for the Jewish community, but for the Providence community and folks who are interested in the famous New York style deli. Bubbie’s tastes like home.”Inspired by Jewish values and ideals, MAZON is a national advocacy organization working to end hunger among people of all faiths and backgrounds in the United States and Israel. For more information on MAZON, please visit mazon.org.

Follow updates on Steve Goode’s journey on the road and see what delis are on the schlep by visiting https://www.facebook.com/mazonusa.

HANNAH ALTMAN(haltman@jewishallianceri.org) is the content producer for the Jewish Alliance of Greater Rhode Island and writes for Jewish Rhode Island.