Surfside popup kitchen providing thousands of kosher meals daily to victim families and first responders asked to close down

In the aftermath of the Surfside tragedy The Surfside community center was transformed into a family reunification center.

SURFSIDE, Fla. – In the aftermath of the Surfside tragedy The Surfside community center was transformed into a family reunification center.

Eli Ginsburg has the lease to a small snack shop there and wanted to give back to the community.

“That’s all I want to do, I want to give back to the people who are here for us in our town,” he said. “I think you can tell by my voice I’m devastated, I’m heartbroken.”

Joe Zevoluni told Local 10 News he invested his own money to transform the small kitchen into a bistro that eventually delivered.

“Since then, we have ramped up to 3000 meals every 24 hours,” Ginsburg said.

Every day they prepare 3000 kosher meals and provide them to families awaiting word of their loved ones and to first responders.

They didn’t charge a penny for the food. In total, they have delivered over 50,000 meals so far.

“We were offered help by other government agencies,” Zevoluni said, adding when asked how much he has invested, “I don’t want to get it into it, but a lot.”

On Friday, Ginsburg received notice that the expanded food operation at the community center had to be shut down by Monday at 5 p.m.

“I’m sad,” Zevoluni said. “Not sad, crushed.”

Ginsburg told Local 10 News there are many orthodox Jewish organizations working the recovery scene that rely on his kosher food, which he is not selling and was privately funded through donations.

Surfside Mayor Charles Burkett said that they have to close due to safety concerns.

“It became a safety issue,” Burkett said. “They scaled up so much and so fast that they had propane tanks, electrical cords, fumes from generators.”

The Town of Surfside said there is another food cite closer to the collapse and that first responders are being fed.

In a statement sent to Local 10 News, Surfside Town Manager Andrew Hyatt said, in part, “In an effort to reopen the community center to the public and restore some normalcy to the daily routine of our Surfside community, the Town has requested the concessionaire cease their expanded food operations on community center property. The Town of Surfside would like to thank the concessionaire for their kindness to the community and their cooperation on this matter.”

Ginsburg and Zevoluni are not convinced.

“The letter says Miami-Dade Fire Rescue has enough. That’s a lie that’s a blatant lie,” said Ginsburg. “Nothing of these concerns were ever mentioned to me prior to receiving a 72-hour notice.

“It’s never been in history that during a humanitarian disaster you had service of 100 percent kosher food to all of the operations. And the Town of Surfside has a priority to have a few residents swim again, and that is so painful. Their priorities are wrong.”


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About the Author:

Reporter Rosh Lowe has been covering news for nearly two decades in South Florida. He joined Local 10 in 2021.