Hunger Seder in U.S. Capitol Demands an End to Childhood Hunger in America

by Jared Feldman

‘Let all who are hungry, come and eat.’ This invitation, part of the traditional Passover seder, inspired a call for Congress to provide nutrition support for child hunger at the 6th annual National Hunger Seder in the U.S. Capitol. The event, organized by the Jewish Council for Public Affairs and MAZON: A Jewish Response to Hunger, brings together Members of Congress, Administration officials, and faith and anti-hunger groups for a model Passover seder designed to raise awareness and inspire advocacy around the pressing need of ending childhood hunger. 
 
Using a specially adapted Passover haggadah, the attendees will call on Congress to support critical investments and improvements in federal child nutrition programs as part of the Child Nutrition and Reauthorization process. 

“This year we turn our attention to the persistent heartbreak of childhood hunger in America. As policymakers debate what is to be done with no movement forward, we have heard members of Congress say: ‘hunger is a good motivator’ and, even more shocking, for children on subsidized lunch: ‘maybe sweep the floor of the cafeteria.’  This is why MAZON calls on the Jewish community to extend the message of the Hunger Seder and join us in asking a Fifth Question at our family seder tables this year – Why do we tolerate leaders who spend more time belittling hungry children than they do trying to fix the problem of hunger?” said Abby J. Leibman, President and CEO of MAZON. 


 
The National Hunger Seder is part of the MAZON/JCPA Hunger Seder mobilization, which this year will include more than 10 Hunger Seder events taking place in communities across the country around the Passover holiday. Resources and materials for the Hunger Seder mobilization are available at www.HungerSeder.org 
 
“Passover is a celebration of freedom for the Jewish people. I am not sure all the meanings of freedom but I am absolutely certain that freedom from hunger is as basic to living a decent life as loosening the chains of enslavement. How can we, particularly our children, live freely and productively and dynamically if we walk through our lives wondering if those young people are going to have enough food in their bodies? ” said JCPA President Rabbi Steve Gutow. “Every one of us is responsible to do all we possibly can in our own homes and our own communities,  but, let’s be honest, only Congress can provide the funds necessary to end this enslavement. Our children are way too valuable and way too holy and we are way too wise and way too powerful to permit this scourge to continue.”  

 
“The National Hunger Seder brings together a diverse range of independent communities who can, together, make a difference in the fight to end child hunger,” said Congresswoman Lynn Jenkins (KS-02). “During Passover, Jews back home in Kansas and across America will take time to celebrate freedom and it is my hope we can use this time to also find solutions to make sure our children are free from hunger.”


“It is unconscionable for any child in the United States, the richest and most powerful country in the world, to go hungry. I want to thank the Jewish Council for Public Affairs and MAZON for their call to action against childhood hunger as a part of the National Hunger Seder. Hunger is a solvable problem if we work together to find solutions,” said Representative Jim McGovern (D-MA 02 and honorary co-chair). 

 
 
 “Food insecurity is a crushing problem in America, where it affects one in every six households.  In the United States – the richest country in the history of the world – this does not have to be the case.  We can provide full federal funding and support private charities to make sure that every child, every adult and every senior has enough nutritious food to eat.  Every year I look forward to the traditional Passover Seder and to the National Hunger Seder.  I appl

aud everyone involved and pledge to do whatever I can to make sure that we act now to end hunger in America,” said Representative Jan Schakowsky (D-IL 09)
 
“No child can be expected to reach his or her full potential on an empty stomach, yet this is the reality for the nearly 40 percent of children in my Ohio district living in poverty.  The National Hunger Seder is an opportunity to raise awareness of this issue and our moral imperative to end hunger in America.  We have the tools.  We simply need the political will,” said Representative Marcia L. Fudge (D-OH 11). 

 
“Parents who work hard all day should make enough money to provide for their children. But as many Americans gather around the Seder table today, millions more are struggling to feed their families. I’m proud to stand with the Jewish Council for Public Affairs and MAZON in their mission to provide adequate nutrition to all Americans. In the richest nation in the world, no child should go to bed hungry,” said Representative Keith Ellison (D-MN 05). 

 
 
Participants in the National Hunger Seder include, Rep. Debbie Wasserman-Schultz (D-FL 23), Rep. Virginia Foxx (R-NC05), Rep. Bobby Scott (D-VA 03), Rep. Marcia Fudge (D-OH 11), Rep. Donna Edwards (D-MD 04), Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-IL 09), Rep Jim McGovern (D-MA 02), Rep Keith Ellison (D-MN 05), Rep. Randy Hultgren (R-IL 14), Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee (D-TX 18), Rep. Lynn Jenkins (R-KS 02). Representatives and delegates from the White House Office of Faith Based Relations, United States Department of Agriculture, JCPA, MAZON, Alliance to End Hunger, Jewish Federations of North America, Islamic Relief USA, Jewish United Fund, Food Research and Action Center, Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism, Jewish Women International, DC Central Kitchen, and the Jewish Primary Day School. 
 
The National Hunger Seder will take place on Thursday, March 26, 2015.
 
 
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About MAZON: A Jewish Response to Hunger
MAZON: A Jewish Response to Hunger is a national nonprofit organization working to end hunger among people of all faiths and backgrounds in the United States and Israel.

About the Author


Jared Feldman