A Perfect Blend of Ingredients: Meet CfH at University of Illinois

This post comes to us from Leah, a sophomore at the University of Illinois-Urbana Champaign serving as her chapter’s Social Media Chair. Here, Leah shares how she got involved with CfH, how her chapter operates, and how they’re continuing to grow.

In high school, baking was my stress reliever – a blend of effortless, yet mindful, actions that presented delicious treats. The combination of individual ingredients to create something that tasted nothing like its bland components added an element of appreciation to the art of baking. As a student studying Animal Sciences and Psychology, with a minor in Business, it can be difficult to find clubs that meet at convenient times. Challah for Hunger was not only a convenient addition to my schedule, but also an outlet to relieve the tension of my demanding course load. Being able to spend time with friends while giving back is as rewarding as it is enjoyable. Our Challah for Hunger chapter consists of an incredibly close, supportive group of volunteers who all feel personally responsible for baking for change.

We attribute our chapter’s success to our passionate volunteers and consistent customers. Over two days, we make and braid the dough, then spend an evening baking, bagging, and distributing all of the fresh challahs. In solidarity with individuals and their families impacted by breast cancer, our Challah for Hunger chapter at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign braided and baked pink dyed challah for the month of October.

“It says a lot about a person who chooses to set aside 4+ hours a week to dedicate themselves to a cause greater than oneself,” said Emily Kopka, chapter president of CfH at University of Illinois-Urbana Champaign.

With over 100 orders placed for our most recent baking event, we were hard at work, preparing plenty of each challah recipe — an assortment of banana chocolate chip, cinnamon sugar, and traditional challahs.

“Being able to spend time with my friends while baking for a cause is super therapeutic and very rewarding,” commented Ashley Levin, who has volunteered with the chapter throughout her time on campus.

With proceeds going to MAZON: A Jewish Response to Hunger and The Eastern Illinois Food Bank, order numbers are incredibly important and rely on satisfied customers and word of mouth. Jamie, a senior who has been ordering challahs for the past four years, always sets a reminder on her phone to make sure to pick up her challah.

“I love Challah for Hunger because it’s a great way to give back, while enjoying such a delicious treat that’s made with lots of love!” Jamie commented.  

To maximize our chapter’s presence on campus, we teamed up with The Shabbat Project for a community-wide challah bake on October 26th. The bake in Champaign-Urbana was one of many happening worldwide. With pre-rationed ingredients, delicious desserts, and the warmth of the community, our chapter proudly shared in the tradition of challah making. Being able to involve members of a larger community in a fun, spiritual experience speaks to the inclusiveness and authenticity of our chapter.

“I can’t think of much else that’s better than the combination of service and food,” said Rebecca Ainis, the chapter’s Vice President.

We can all bake a difference and Challah for Hunger gives us that chance.