Tag Archives: Hunger

Who Counts? A Census Report That Calls for Economic Justice In The Year To Come

As we approach Rosh Hashanah, the start of the Jewish New Year, we will think about how we have changed from one year to the next: how we have grown, and we can do differently in the year to come. This evaluative work is also done by the federal government through the United States Census (an official count or survey of the population.)

Earlier this week, the U.S. Census Bureau issued its report on Income and Poverty in the United States for the year 2013. This report presents crucial metrics that can be utilized to evaluate the past year’s policies and ultimately improve current ones for the future. This most recent census report showed some signs of positive development. The U.S’ official poverty rate declined from 15.0% in 2012 to 14.5% in 2013, indicating that there has been some reduction in poverty. The poverty rate for children under the age of 18 declined from 21.8% in 2012 to 19.9% in 2013, making 2013 the first time that the child poverty rate has declined since 2000. Read more…

Rabbi Jeremy Master

Helping the Poor One Relationship at a Time

We recently became a host congregation for our local Family Promise affiliate, Greenville Area Interfaith Hospitality Network.  Our involvement with an interfaith hospitality network has afforded our congregation the meaningful opportunity to fulfill our mission to bring justice to the world by providing food and shelter to the homeless.  Almost as important as providing these families with food and shelter this project has allowed us to create real relationships with families in need of support.  I have had the honor of sitting and sharing dinner with numerous people hearing about how they have found themselves homeless. 

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Double Booked: Perspective on Food Insecurity in National Security

By Josh Protas

Like many modern couples, when it comes to the numerous responsibilities and duties that keep our household organized and running as smoothly as possible, my wife, Abby, and I divide and conquer.  It’s a constant juggling act of school drop offs, concurrent after-school activities, carpools, laundry, meals, shopping, and laundry that (surprise!) leaves us drained and weary.  One of my regular tasks is making school lunches – far and away it is the task I dread the most.  Is it really that big of a deal? No. I just have to concoct and prepare a healthy and nutritiously balanced meal that includes protein, fresh fruit, and some type of whole grain so that Eli, Noah, and Rosie have the energy they need to power through the school day.  And the lunch has to be something they will find at least palatable. (No pressure!) But I make it worse for myself because I always seem to put off making lunches until right before I am ready to wearily slink off to bed.  The cycle – including the exhaustion from staying up too late and the predictable kvetching that ensues – repeats for five days.

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Michelle Obama speaking at a podium with "Let's Move" written on it

Congress Backtracks on Health and Nutrition Standards

In 2010, Congress passed a landmark reauthorization of child nutrition programs, the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010. Along with as the expansion of the free lunch and after school meals programs, the law significantly improved nutritional guidelines for school meals in line with scientific consensus on reducing obesity and improving the health of our nation’s children. Unfortunately, some members of Congress are hard at work attempting to roll back some of the law’s standards. Read more…

Double Booked: Lessons Learned When Life Throws You Curveballs

By Abby Leibman

In 1989, I co-founded the California Women’s Law Center with two friends, Sheila Kuehl and Jenifer McKenna, to work to change law and policy for women and girls.  Then, one horrible day in 1995, my world turned upside down when my twin sister Nina was murdered by her husband Ken Donney, leaving their two small children – Philip (7) and Laura (4) – to come to live with me in Los Angeles. Overnight, I learned what it was like to experience the stereotypes and the challenges I had been working to eliminate for others. I also learned a whole lot more.

That first year, my younger sister, Marjorie, cut short her tour of duty with the Peace Corps and joined me, Philip and Laura in my two-bedroom condo. I learned to share all over again.  We enrolled Philip and Laura in school, found them therapists, and I bought a house. Then Marjorie found a great job in San Francisco, and I was on my own. When she died of cancer in 2003, I lost my dearest friend and Philip and Laura suffered another incalculable loss.

Hillary Clinton may not have had my life in Los Angeles in mind when she first said, “it takes a village to raise a child,” but I learned that Los Angeles was my village.  My friends had busy and important lives of their own, but when I asked for help (and boy was it hard for me to learn to ask for help!) they put everything aside and schlepped Phil to soccer games and Laura to play dates, and selflessly gave me the love, comfort and support I so desperately needed.

Nothing was easy. But nothing was impossible. I had to learn to cook -for children.  I tried making the things Nina had, thinking it would be familiar. But they refused to eat those meals — it brought back all too clearly that their beloved mommy was gone. I made up new recipes. I learned to be creative.

I learned to worry.  I still do this very well.

I learned that working moms have to make incredibly difficult choices.  I learned that no amount of explaining makes it easier to say no to your child. But I also learned that if you are 100% present when you are with them, they know, and that’s what really matters. I learned that people will say hateful and stupid things about single moms, and I learned to ignore them.  But it still stings.

I learned that sometimes there was nothing else I could do but take them with me.  So Philip and Laura learned how to charm a bunch of lawyers at a fundraiser.  If you’ve never seen a 6- and 8-year old work a room, you’ve missed something special.

I learned that it’s OK for your children to have only one after school activity – that just because everyone else is overbooked and over committed, they didn’t have to be.  I learned to accept that I was only one person, and I could only manage so much.  And even though they took only one enrichment class or played one sport, they both still graduated from great colleges — Phil from UCSB and Laura from NYU.  Yes, your first grader can drop piano lessons and still be a successful human being!

I looked at others with envy and thought they made parenting look so natural and so very easy, and I thought I was so inept. Then people began to tell me that I was that natural and easy parent and I learned that I had to trust myself.

Most important, I learned that children raised by single moms (and a village of friends) grow to be the most remarkable adults I have ever met.


Abby Leibman still lives in the village of Los Angeles where she is the President & CEO of MAZON: A Jewish Response to Hunger, Phil is a social worker with Child Protective Services and Laura is an actor and writer.

Comments are an important part of the conversation. Share your thoughts in the comments sectionThis blog is part of a special RACBlog series, “Double Booked: A Conversation about Working Families in the 21st Century,” dealing with the many issues that affect working families, and featuring everything from personal stories to policy analysis. Visit the Double Booked portal to read more posts, or join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook with the hashtag #doublebooked.


Hunger Continues to Haunt America

By Rabbi Jonathan A. Stein

For one in six Americans, hunger is a daily reality. That’s right—1 in 6, close to 50 million of our citizens! As you are reading this article, nearly 13 million families in America are struggling with food insecurity. And most of these do not match the stereotype that we too often conjure up in our minds: instead they are normally hardworking families who simply cannot make ends meet and are forced, for lack of sufficient funds, to cut back on the amount of food they eat—sometimes it just the adults, too often the entire family. Read more…

Seder plate

A Tomato on the Seder Plate?

Passover is holiday full of symbolism. We eat the bitter herbs to remind us of the bitterness of slavery. We dip parsley in saltwater to recall the tears of our ancestors in Egypt. The charoset is meant to resemble the mortar the Israelites were forced to use while building structures for Pharaoh and their Egyptian oppressors. These traditional symbols have paved the way for contemporary symbolism, allowing modern Jews to use the Seder plate as a place for social or political expression.

In recent years, placing an orange on a Seder plate has become a statement with various interpretations. Introduced by Jewish feminist and scholar, Susannah Heschel, the orange has come to represent the inclusion of women and LGBT people in the Jewish tradition. In general, the orange is meant to symbolize the rejection of the notion that “a woman, [gay person or other historically marginalized person] belongs on the bimah as much as an orange belongs on the seder plate.”

This year, I invite you to include another item on your Seder plate, a symbol of food justice. Read more…

Students receiving school lunch

Ensuring Access to School Lunch in Minnesota

At the beginning of this year, a school in Utah made headlines after throwing away students’ meals because they had a deficit in their school lunch accounts. Unfortunately, this problem is not unique to Utah and occurs nationwide. But in one state, Jewish advocates are making a big push to do something about it. Read more…