We’re all familiar with the much-dreaded leftovers. But how ‘bout the good kind of leftovers?

“I recently received a call from a local caterer who had fresh food left over from a simcha,” recounts Mordy Spero.  “It turned out the food from that one evening helped many struggling families with dinner for a full week.”

Mr. Spero is the volunteer head of “Shearis Haplate,” a division of the Chicago Chesed Fund which collects kosher food left over from parties and events and distributes it to families, simchos, and organizations that could use it.

“I’m the grandson of Holocaust survivors, so waste was unacceptable growing up. As a result, I was incredibly bothered by the amount of food that was being thrown away,” says Mr. Spero, explaining why he got involved in the program. “I knew caterers who didn’t want to throw away food, and I knew people who needed it. It’s a win-win for both sides.”

Shearis Haplate is in contact with a wide array of shuls, caterers and restaurants who alert them whenever extra food becomes available. While the amount of food collected varies from week to week, Mrs. Estie Spero, Program Director, calculates that Shearis Haplate averages 80 pickups a month.

“We typically help between 25 and 30 families a week and have supplemented over 100 simchos in the past year,” she estimates.

Shira Feder* remembers, “It had been a crazy, hectic week – my kids were overtired, and my house was upside-down. Getting a phone call from Mrs. Spero saying they ‘had extra dinners and could I use it?’ was a complete lifesaver.”

Aviva Applebaum, an event planner in the Chicago area, contacts Shearis Haplate whenever there is extra food at her parties. Together with her staff, they wrap up whatever food they can and bring a car-full of food over to the Speros’ home.

“It is such a privilege to be able to go to the ba’al simcha at the end of their event and tell them that we have a place to donate their extra food,” she says. “The host always enjoys the fact that their simcha can continue by helping people in the community with extra meals.”

If you or someone you know could either benefit from or donate to this program, please call or text (312) 515-5335.

*Names have been changed to protect identity.

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