Service Learning- Casserole Challenge

Jewish Value: Hakarat HaTov (Gratitude)

The casseroles you will be making for the 2023 Casserole Challenge will be donated to several shelters, resource centers, and schools to benefit individuals and families who might not have access to a healthy and filling meal right now. Casseroles should be delivered cooked and frozen, labeled with key ingredients and reheat instructions.

What is Hakarat HaTov? The Jewish value of Hakarat HaTov means “recognition of the good” or gratitude. The Casserole Challenge presents volunteers with an opportunity to prepare beloved recipes for others who might be experiencing food insecurity. During this season of gratitude, we should be grateful not only for what we have, but also for the opportunity to help others. 

Why is this project important? 

Food insecurity refers to USDA’s measure of lack of access, at times, to enough food for an active, healthy life for all household members and limited or uncertain availability of nutritionally adequate foods. Food-insecure households are not necessarily food insecure all the time. Food insecurity may reflect a household’s need to make trade-offs between important basic needs, such as housing or medical bills, and purchasing nutritionally adequate foods. (

Consider this quote: 

“Hunger is caused by poverty and inequality, not scarcity. For the past two decades, the rate of global food production has increased faster than the rate of global population growth. The world already produces more than 1 ½ times enough food to feed everyone on the planet. That’s enough to feed 10 billion people, the population peak we expect by 2050. But the people making less than $2 a day — most of whom are resource-poor farmers cultivating unviable small plots of land — can’t afford to buy this food.” – Eric Holt-Gimenez, Executive Director of Food First 

The sentiment above is echoed in the prayer after eating called the Birkat Hamazon. In this prayer, we give thanks to God for giving enough food for every person. 

You give food to all flesh, for your lovingkindness endures forever. Through your great goodness food has never failed us: may it not fail us for ever and ever…, since you nourish and sustain all beings and do good unto all, and provide food for all your creatures whom you created. Blessed are you, Sovereign, who gives food unto all. – Birkat Hamazon 

Discussion Questions 

How did it feel to make a casserole for someone who needs it? How did you select your recipe?

What does it mean to you that there is enough food being produced in the world, and yet there are people who are hungry? 

Rabbi Tarfon used to say, “It is not your duty to finish the work, but neither are you at liberty to neglect it.” Reflect for a moment on Rabbi Tarfon. Why might we have a duty to make a casserole, even if it does not address the systemic issues of hunger and food insecurity?  

During this season of gratitude, share with your family or friends what you are grateful for. 

How else can you help your community? 

Go Deeper

MAZON: A Jewish Response to Hunger is a national organization fighting to end hunger among people of all faiths and backgrounds in the United States and Israel. Click here to check out Mazon’s bookshelf, full of book suggestions for readers of all ages to learn more about the issue of hunger.

PJ Library books:

Hanukkah Cookies with Sprinkles

Bagels From Benny

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