poverty hands

This page provides resources developed by JCRCs across the United States.  We encourage you to use them in your own community, and post questions you have directly to the blog.

Rabbis and Cantors take the Food Stamp Challenge

 As Jews, and as Americans, we are guided by a moral vision of how we must treat the most vulnerable members of our society. We cannot stand idly by. As the prophet Isaiah says, “If you offer your compassion to the hungry and satisfy the famished creature, then shall your light shine in darkness.” (58:10)


In the midst of economic turmoil and threats of severe cuts to government programs to address our nation’s debt and deficit, hunger in America has reached historic levels with no relief in sight. Recent studies by a number of agencies and organizations highlight this disturbing trend: between 2007 and 2009, the number of households struggling with hunger increased more than 33%, with nearly one in four U.S. households with children unable to afford enough food. And the U.S. Census Bureau reported that the U.S. poverty rate rose to 15.1% in 2010, with one out of every six Americans, or 46.2 million, living in poverty.


This fall the Jewish Council for Public Affairs, MAZON: A Jewish Response to Hunger, the Rabbinical Assembly, the Reconstructionist Rabbinical Association, the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism, and the United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism are organizing the Jewish Community Food Stamp Challenge to demonstrate our collective and personal commitment to alleviate hunger in the United States.


Rabbis across the country from all denominations will join together to take the  Challenge and for one week live on the average food stamp allotment of $31.50, or just $1.50 per meal.  The Challenge will begin prior to the high holidays in September and will last through the month of November, with participants encouraged to take the Challenge during one of two suggested times – the week of September 7-13, 2012 leading up to Rosh Hashanah, or November 11-17, 2012 in advance of Thanksgiving.  For more information, or to sign up to take the Jewish Community Food Stamp Challenge, please visit www.foodstampchallenge.com

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Fighting Poverty with Faith 2012: Building Opportunity through Affordable Housing for all


Fighting Poverty with Faith is a nationwide, interfaith movement to cut domestic poverty in half by 2020. The annual Fighting Poverty with Faith mobilization focuses on addressing a root cause of poverty and this year, the theme is “Building Opportunity through Affordable Housing for All” and will run from November 8-November 18, 2012. 

For millions of Americans, safe and decent housing is unaffordable and unavailable.  The faith community cannot stand idly by as too many of our neighbors are forced to make impossible choices among necessities such as food, rent, and medicine. We recognize the importance of decent shelter as a core necessity to overcoming poverty and will educate our communities about this issue and work to increase the supply of and expand access to housing for low income families and individuals.

Each year, Fighting Poverty with Faith has an advocacy push.  In 2012 we are working to increase and preserve the supply of rental housing for extremely low income households through focusing on securing permanent funding for the National Housing Trust Fund.  The National Housing Trust Fund provides communities with funds to build, preserve, and rehabilitate rental homes that are affordable for extremely and very low income households.

Local communities can make a difference by planning community-wide, interfaith, events and actions during the week-long mobilization – such as a Habitat for Humanity build, Poverty Simulation, or screening of the 60 minutes special Hard Times Generation – to both educate the community and elected officials about the issue homelessness and the lack of affordable housing options.  If you are interested in planning an event or learning more about Fighting Poverty with Faith contact:  Robin Rosenbaum, rrosenbaum@thejcpa.org, (202) 212-6037.

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Rhode Island Interfaith Coalition to Reduce Poverty

 The Rhode Island Interfaith Coalition to Reduce Poverty hosted its fourth annual conference addressing the systematic nature of poverty in Rhode Island.  Formed in 2008, the interfaith coalition represents leaders of all faiths and advocacy groups on the full range of poverty issues.  The coalition is a part of Fighting Poverty with Faith, a national interfaith coalition working to cut poverty in half in ten years.  The conference consisted of several educational panels led by faith leaders, lawmakers, and policy experts and brainstorming sessions of the action steps needed to be taken to address poverty in the state. 


Faith leaders including Rabbi Steve Gutow, President and CEO of the Jewish Council for Public Affairs, Rev. Donald Anderson, the executive minister of the Rhode Island Council of churches, Rev Peg Chamberlain, past president of the National Council of Churches, and Imam Mohamed Magid the President of the Islamic Society of North America each offered a national perspective of poverty in our nation.  The conference also included the expertise of Teresa Paiva Weed, the Rhode Island Senate President as well as Gordon Fox, Speaker of the House to share their commitment to addressing poverty in Rhode Island. 


In one strong voice, the Rhode Island Interfaith Coalition has successfully joined together out of a deep commitment, that we must do more to reduce the numbers of people who live in poverty in our country and to give them the chance to reach their full potential and to live in dignity.  Following the conference, there is an immediate call to action on May 23rd for community members to join in an anti-poverty advocacy day, where participants will meet with state lawmakers regarding legislative affecting those most in need.


Special thanks to Marty Cooper, CRC, Jewish Alliance of Greater RI and Maxine Richman, Co-chair RI Interfaith Coalition for their tremendous leadership and commitment to confronting poverty in their state

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Miami inter-generational Hunger Seder

 On Tuesday April 3rd the Jewish Community Relations Council hosted the second annual Intergenerational Advocacy Seder. The program was made up of high school and college students, young adults and seniors, and integrated them into discussions. Overall I think that the program was a great success; there were over 50 people that attended. Putting together the program with Lori was challenging, but we were able to deliver an amazing Seder. 

 The Seder is a really important program that we have every year, and I would love to see it continue to grow and improve. In October of 2011, I participated in the Food Stamp Challenge -which challenges the participants to live on around 30 dollars a week for food. I had difficulty with the challenge, which in turn opened my eyes and made everything that I was learning about hunger and poverty seem more real. I understood what people go through everyday because they don't have enough money to buy a healthy meal. In the Seder we talked about different issues of hunger and poverty and what we as a community can do to help end it. 

At the Seder I was seated with two seniors who shared their stories and views about hunger with me. I was able to listen and learn from them, the husband was a Holocaust survivor and he had a direct look into what being hungry means. During the discussion portion it was very interesting to see what their views and opinions were about hunger. They taught me various things, and I was able to share with them what SNAP does and how it benefits the United States. Also at my table was a staffer from Congresswoman Wasserman Shultz’s office, who had an insight on what goes on in Washington with hunger issues. Having all these different opinions and views at the Seder made the program more successful and informative. 

 This Seder also had another goal, we wanted to advocate for the needy so we made postcards for Congress. The postcards had room for the participants to fill in their own stories or thoughts about hunger and poverty. The hope is that these postcards can encourage law makers to give more help to the needy, and keep funding welfare programs that help millions. As we continue to advocate for the less fortunate, the Seder is one vital tool that will help bring an end to hunger.

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Rhode Island's 2009 "Fighting Poverty with Faith Conference"

by Jeff

As a founder of the Rhode Island Interfaith Coalition to Fight Poverty with Faith, Rhode Island's CRC is working with the coalition to cut poverty in half in Rhode Island within 10 years.  Last year, the kick-off to these efforts was a day-long conference held in Providence.

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Touring the Twin Cities' Summit Academy

by Jeff

As part of the 2009 Fighting Poverty with Faith mobilization, the Jewish Community Relations Council of Minnesota & the Dakotas (JCRC) and its partners planned an educational program at the Summit Academy, which is the leading institution in the Twin Cities for training low-income minority community members for Green Jobs being created in the Minneapolis/St. Paul metropolitan area.

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Fighting Poverty with Faith 2009 Event: Memphis

by Jeff

For those who might be seeking inspiration as we plan for 2010's Fighting Poverty with Faith mobilization, the JCPA is happy to present 3 great examples of interfaith programming undertaken during last year's campaign.  In 2009, the Memphis CRC ran a successful program entitled "Go Green, $ave Green."

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Nashville's Poverty Reduction Plan

Check out Nashville's Poverty Reduction Plan, created by a community coalition lead by the CRC of Nashville.  The genesis of this work stemmed from community members, policy makers, and advocates participating in the Food Stamp Challenge promoted by JCPA and organized by the Nashville CRC and subsequent Poverty Simulations CRC/Catholic Charities partnered on in the community. 

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Fed Up with Hunger


Check out this power point from the Los Angeles federation.  It showcases their Fed Up With Hunger program and explores poverty and hunger in Los Angeles.

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