Kosher food pantry fills need in Jewish community


PROVIDENCE – There’s a unique food resource in the Rhode Island Jewish community.

The Louis & Goldie Chester Full Plate Kosher Food Pantry, now celebrating its 10th anniversary, operates out of the North Main Street home of Jewish Collaborative Services (JCS).  The pantry serves between 100 and 150 people each month with one full-time staff member and about a dozen volunteers. It is open Tuesdays and Fridays for “shopping.” For those who are homebound, there is a delivery option.

Marcie Ingber is the pantry director. A longtime member of Providence’s Jewish community, she’s working hard to raise awareness of the Kosher food pantry.

“I think there are a lot of people who need to be reached,” she said. “Having a local Kosher pantry… not having to look at labels that someone has already looked at [for Kosher symbols] … that is amazing.”

“We couldn’t do it without our volunteers,” she says.

Ken Schneider, of East Providence, has been a volunteer from the beginning. He makes deliveries, does pickups and helps where needed.

Right now, there are about 15 deliveries once or twice a month, depending on demand, he said.

Over the years, Schneider has seen the benefits of volunteering at the pantry. He says you get to know some of the regular clients pretty well.

In addition to providing all-important groceries, delivered in reusable bags, the volunteers often spot problems in the homes of clients and can refer them for services.

Said Schneider: “When you bring people food, there are often other issues involved. We try not to be too intrusive.

“We have about 30 seconds to spend some time in the apartment or house and we get to look around to make an assessment to see if everything looks OK.”

This is true at the pantry on North Main Street as well.

“We have to watch and listen,” said Ingber.

Despite its name, the Kosher food pantry serves everyone in the Jewish community, not just those who keep Kosher.

“We are here for the community. If you are Jewish or halal, you can utilize the pantry,” she said. “But less than a dozen [clients] keep strictly Kosher. Part of my goal is to increase that number and increase awareness.” 

The pantry gets funding from JCS, the Jewish Alliance of Greater Rhode Island and other private donors. Community members have been very generous as well.

The funding goes to purchase some items from the Rhode Island Community Food Bank; kosher chicken from Zayde’s Market in Canton, Massachusetts; and other items from Davis Dairy Products, on Hope Street in Providence.

In addition to monetary donations, food donations are also welcomed; everything must have an acceptable heksher (Kosher symbol). Items that don’t are re-donated to the R.I. Community Food Bank.

What food items are needed most? Canned fish, such as tuna, salmon and sardines; cold cereal; oatmeal; peanut butter or other nut butters; sugar-free and no-sugar-added items like jelly. Personal toiletries are welcome as well.

The Louis & Goldie Chester Full Plate Kosher Food Pantry is located at 1165 North Main St., Providence, and is open Tuesdays and Fridays from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. or by appointment  For more information, call 401-621-5374. To donate or volunteer, contact Marcie Ingber at

FRAN OSTENDORF is the editor of Jewish Rhode Island.

JCS, Pantry, Kosher pantry, Full Plate Pantry