In its third year, Boston University’s ‘Challah for Hunger’ has transformed from a neglected student group into a thriving community that demands the attention it needs to grow — and it’s all thanks to current president Jordan Rozenfeld.
As a national non-profit organization, Challah for Hunger divides itself into local collegiate chapters who bake and sell challah, a traditional Jewish braided bread, in order to garner community support for hunger relief programs across the United States and Israel. Half of each chapter’s proceeds are donated toward the organization’s primary cause, MAZON: A Jewish Response to Hunger, while the other 50 percent supports local charities dedicated to hunger relief.
Last year as a freshman, Rozenfeld saw Challah for Hunger as an outlet for her love of baking and a way to connect back to her Jewish roots. By second semester, she recognized many of the challenges the organization faced and sought to change those by taking charge as the club’s president.
“Challah for Hunger had kind of been neglected — no one really knew how to bake Challah, or they didn’t have the time to give to it — so I really wanted to get more involved,” Rozenfeld said. “I decided to take over Challah for Hunger and just try to vamp it up and be more proactive in the community — get the word out when events are happening, make sure we have people here to make the dough and braid and sell, and just spread the love of challah. People learn through their stomachs, so it’s really become an opportunity for me to teach other Jews and other people in the BU community about challah and the tradition it carries.”
However, one of the challenges Rozenfeld faced was that the group was relatively unknown throughout the BU student body, making it difficult to recruit both volunteers and consumers. To fix this, she revamped the club’s recipe, replacing it with the one she grew up using at home, and added a “flavor of the week” (all while reducing the cost from $5 to $3 a loaf) to keep students coming back. Facebook events and flyers helped bump up publicity around campus, and by keeping in constant touch with volunteers, Rozenfeld was able to fill all baking and selling spots each event.
“This year, sales have been going really well,” she said. “People have taken to seeing the different flavors every time and are getting more interested in purchasing. Three dollars seems to be a good price because people tend to have a couple singles on them and they know it’s going to a good cause, so they’re more likely to donate. And our sellers have been more interactive with people walking in; when you get people involved a little more, they tend to be more willing to pay.”
This semester her goal was to raise $500, and while they fell short at $409, Rozenfeld’s adjustments still helped the club overcome previous numbers. Last semester’s events raised roughly $300. Rozenfeld said she hopes to continue pushing the numbers higher, but ultimately the club’s success depends on Hillel’s schedule and the number of events they can host each semester.
As Challah for Hunger expands, Rozenfeld is looking to other successful chapters on where to go next. Her next step? Creating an executive board so that more students can take on a more permanent role in the mission.
“For some chapters it’s a big operation and they have an entire board — a president, secretary, treasurer, everything,” she said. “Right now I do a lot of the work, so I’d like to pass it on to other people and make them more passionate about this, and really just have a solid volunteer base.”
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