Joint Cluster Call, June 2012

by Robin Rosenbaum

On Wednesday June 20th at 3 PM (EASTERN time) we hosted a conference call featuring Sheila Crowley, President and CEO of The National Low Income Housing Coalition to discuss solutions to help the millions of families and individuals living in American without access to decent shelter.  The 2012 Fighting Poverty with Faith theme, “Building Opportunity through Affordable Housing for All,” focuses on protecting and strengthening access to safe, decent, and affordable housing during the week of action November 8-18, 2012.  On the call we heard more about the ways your community can get involved around the issue of affordable housing.  Please let Robin Rosenbaum, know if you would be interested in hearing more about the call and how to participate in the Fighting Poverty with Faith mobilization. 

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Calling all Champions of Change, US Department of Agriculture

Calling All Champions of Change

Posted by Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, on June 6, 2012 at 3:04 PM

Hunger is an issue that touches the lives of people all around us. Whether it’s the single mother struggling to feed her family of four while simultaneously making ends meet or a person living in rural America who has to drive 50 miles to the closest grocery store, hunger affects us all.

That is why I am calling upon all community leaders who have committed themselves to ending this struggle to apply to the “White House Champions of Change:  Alleviating Hunger at Home and Abroad” program.  The purpose of this program is to recognize individuals who are using innovative community-based approaches to reduce hunger and ensure that people have access to enough food both in the United States and internationally.

Some examples of a champion’s work include:

  • Organizing a community-based emergency food delivery network.
  • Reaching food insecure families and individuals via outreach around federal nutrition assistance programs (such as SNAP, WIC, or school meals).
  • Supplying food to underserved populations through a community garden, farmers market, or other local food project.
  • Running a summer or after-school meal program for kids or helping to support that program with activities, transportation, outreach, or healthy meals.
  • Implementing community-based strategies to increasing access to healthy, affordable food for underserved populations.
  • Running a nutrition education program for low-income citizens to stretch the food dollar and heighten awareness of the connection between diet and health.
  • Expanding access to and quality of school feeding programs.
  • Researching innovative solutions to challenges that limit farmer productivity.
  • Increasing agricultural productivity, especially with small landholder farmers internationally.
  • Improving nutrition for children, especially during the first 1000 days of life.

If you know folks in your community that fit this description, I urge you to nominate them. The struggle to end hunger is great, but thanks to these committed individuals, progress is being made.

Please submit your nominations by midnight on Friday, June 29th through this form.


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Rhode Island's 2012 Fighting Poverty with Faith Conference

by Robin Rosenbaum

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

by Mica Cohen

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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2012 Hunger Seders

by Robin Rosenbaum

This year all over the United States, in over 50 communities in 23 states, Hunger Seders are being held creating a groundswell of support for the vital nutrition safety net programs at the heart of the Farm Bill.  On Thursday, March 29th, the JCPA and MAZON:  A Jewish Response to Hunger hosted the National Hunger Seder at the U.S. Capitol.  Joined by members of congress, anti-hunger leaders, members of the faith community, and students from the Jewish Primary Day School, we successfully translated Passover’s anti-hunger message into an opportunity to educate and activate our community around a strong Farm Bill Reauthorization.


The Farm Bill is an omnibus piece of legislation reauthorized every five years.  It broadly impacts how food is grown and distributed domestically and around the world. The policies laid out in the bill impact agricultural production, as well as, federal food assistance programs including SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Programs).  SNAP is the cornerstone of the nutrition safety net, providing over 46 million low-income participants with monthly benefits via a grocery debit card.  Another example of a program affected by the Farm Bill includes the Commodity Supplemental Food Program (CSFP)CSFP is an incredibly successful program which provides nutritious food packages to approximately 599,000 low-income people each month, 97% of whom are seniors.  Through our Hunger Seder mobilization, we call attention to the programs that assist hungry Americans each day and we are confronted with a unique opportunity this year, to protect and improve programs like SNAP and CSFP.


For the fourth consecutive year, we continue to bring the issue of domestic hunger to the forefront and engage the Jewish community around the urgency of addressing food insecurity in America.  Together we can make a difference to protect and strengthen anti-hunger and nutrition programs by calling on Congress to support a Just Farm Bill.  Visit for more information. 

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Joint Cluster Call, April 2012

by Robin Rosenbaum

On April 18th we held a call with Jennifer Beeson of FamiliesUSA to discuss recent debates about the Affordable Health Care Act.  Jen Beeson is the director of government affairs at Families USA, where she has worked since 2006. Families USA is the national voice for health care consumers and is dedicated to the achievement of high-quality, affordable health care for all Americans. While at Families USA, Jen’s efforts centered on the reauthorization of the Children are Health Insurance Program and the enactment of the Affordable Care Act.   Jen has worked on a range of public policy issues, all aimed at improving the lives of low-income families. Prior to Families USA, she was employed at the Coalition on Human Needs, the Children’s Defense Fund, and the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. She served on the Democratic staff of the House Committee on Ways and Means and was at the U.S. Department of Labor during the Clinton Administration.

How will recent Supreme Court hearings affect the Affordable Care Act?


                                          i.    During the debate justices were freely speaking about policy rather than the legal aspects, specifically Justice Kenney and Justice Roberts.  A decision will be reached by the end of June.  A debate was had by some on the call as to what the Obama Administration was doing actively to protect the law.

                                        ii.    From March 26 to 28, 2012, the United States Supreme Court heard arguments in Florida, et al., v. Department of Health and Human Services, et al., the challenge brought by 26 state attorneys general.  The Supreme Court’s consideration of the Affordable Care Act is a unique opportunity to explain the benefits of the law and what is at stake if the law is struck down.

                                       iii.    Striking down the Affordable Care Act would take away protections that Americans already have or are about to gain, including:

1.    Rules prohibiting insurers from denying coverage to people, including children, with pre-existing conditions.

2.    Tax credits that are helping small businesses provide coverage to their employees.

3.    Rules prohibiting insurers from canceling coverage when people get sick.

4.    Rules prohibiting insurers from dropping young adults from their parents’ coverage.

5.    Rules prohibiting insurers from imposing annual or lifetime caps on coverage.

6.    Improved prescription drug coverage and preventive

d.    What is in the Ryan budget and how does it affect health care?

                                          i.    Cuts $205 billion from the program over the next 10 years, puts people in Medicare at risk of paying up to an additional $6,000 in drug costs per year by 2020, fundamentally restructures the program

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