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JCPA and MAZON Launch National Child Nutrition Mobilization

03:16 PM Apr 02, 2009

Yesterday, the Jewish Council for Public Affairs (JCPA) and MAZON: A Jewish Response to Hunger kicked off a nationwide mobilization around the 2009 Child Nutrition Reauthorization with a program, "Let All Who Are Hungry Come and Eat: The Child Nutrition Seder."

The initiative was launched in the nation's Capitol, where Jewish leaders, Members of Congress, faith and anti-hunger advocates, and local teenagers gathered to underscore the moral imperative of investing in Child Nutrition Programs. These programs include School Breakfast and the National School Lunch Programs, the Summer Food Service Program (SFSP), the Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP), and the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC). Millions of children rely on these programs for nutritious meals, as well as for educational enrichment activities.

JCPA President Rabbi Steve Gutow led the Seder, and Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA), Chair of the Senate Agriculture Committee, and Representative Jo Ann Emerson (R-MO) keynoted the bipartisan event. Honored guests, including Representatives James Clyburn and Rosa DeLauro, read from a special Hagaddah developed just for this initiative. The Haggadah takes traditional Passover symbols and translates them into alternative meanings that educate participants about child hunger in America and how we can address it. JCPA encourages you to take a look and see if there are any elements you'd like to incorporate into your Passover Seders at home next week!

If you are able to bring a piece of the Child Nutrition Seder into your home next week, you will not be alone. Over the next week, nearly 30 cities across the country will hold 40 Child Nutrition Seders, bringing together legislators, community members, and children to build momentum around the reauthorization and President Obama's goal of ending child hunger by 2015.

The Seder could not be timelier. Congress is poised to pass a budget with only a deficit-neutral reserve fund for Child Nutrition Reauthorization, meaning that there is NO GUARANTEE of new funding for these critical safety net programs. A reserve fund means that unless Congress can find money through cuts to other programs or increases in revenue, it will be very difficult to make any significant improvements in the bill that enhance children's ability to access and participate in the programs.

ACTION: Over the next several months as we work on this bill, it will be important not only to work on the policy improvements, but also in finding the funding to make those improvements possible. You can check out JCPA's Child Nutrition Resource Page, where you can find a template letter to Congress. Please consider sending this template or a similar letter to Congress over the next several weeks, urging them to be champions for new funding for the Child Nutrition Programs.

You can also be an advocate through the media. Rabbi Steve Gutow, JCPA President, and Dr. H. Eric Schockman, President of MAZON: A Jewish Response to hunger published this op-ed on the nationally-recognized site and resource page, "Spotlight on Poverty." Consider publishing your own op-ed or letter to the editor in the coming weeks to highlight the important of these programs.

Then, when you say, "Let All Who Are Hungry, Come and Eat" at this year's Passover Seder, it can take on a whole new meaning.

If you have any questions, or would like additional information about the Child Nutrition Reauthorization, please contact Melissa Boteach at mboteach@thejcpa.org.

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