On Shavuot we must remember our obligation to care for all

Inaction Boggles the Mind: We Must End Child Hunger

48.8 million Americans—including 16.2 million children— live in households that are food insecure. In particular, food insecurity is especially present in communities of color. Nearly one in four (24%) Latino households are food insecure and over than one in four Latino children (30%) live in food insecure households. In addition, of the top 10 US counties with the highest child food-insecurity rates for children, three are majority Hispanic counties. Hunger also disproportionately impacts African American communities. One in four (25 percent) African American households are food insecure and African American households are over two times as likely to be food insecure as white, non-Hispanic households. Further, counties with majority African American populations are disproportionately represented among the top 10 percent of counties that have the highest rates of food insecurity.

As Reform Jews, we have an obligation to advocate for those who are hungry.  “When you are asked in the world to come, ‘What was your work?’ and you answer: ‘I fed the hungry,’ you will be told: ‘This is the gate of the Lord, enter into it, you who have fed the hungry’” (Midrash to Psalm 118:17). Deuteronomy 15:7-10 elaborates on our commitment to helping the hunger person amongst us. The text states, “If there is among you a poor man, one of your brethren…you shall not harden your heart or shut your hand against your poor brother, but you shall open your hand to him, and lend him sufficient for his need, whatever it may be.” Our tradition is explicit in commanding that we feed the hungry, and we must work to make that a reality. We need to act to ensure that no one suffers from a lack of food or nourishment in today’s society.

We need to support child hunger programs that can help all students succeed. Though child nutrition programs like the National School Lunch and School Breakfast Programs, already exist, these programs need to be strengthened. When a child doesn’t have enough food to eat, they cannot focus as well in school, leading to lower performance. Kids experiencing hunger thus are kept in a cycle of poverty, making it hard for them to advance in society. Three out of four public school teachers say that students regularly come to school hungry. Breakfast is connected to benefits in the classroom: a majority of teachers see students paying better attention in class and having improved attendance.

The Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010 – which includes programs such as the National School Lunch and School Breakfast Programsthe Summer Food Service Program and the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC) – will sunset in September 2015. It is essential that these programs stay funded so that children can get the support that they need.  Urge your Members of Congress to fund important child nutrition programs today!

Check out the RAC’s economic justice page to learn more.

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Melanie Fineman

About Melanie Fineman

Melanie Fineman is a 2014-2015 Eisendrath Legislative Assistant at the RAC. She graduated from Brown University in 2014 and is originally from Newton, Massachusetts, where she is a member of Temple Shalom of Newton.

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