UPDATED Letter to Congress

April XX, 2009

Dear Senator ________ /Representative ________

On behalf of the [insert your organization’s name], I urge you to support a strong investment in Child Nutrition Programs in the FY2010 Budget Conference report. As negotiations proceed on the Congressional Budget Resolution, our community hopes that you will be an advocate for America’s more than 12 million hungry children, pushing for the highest possible funding levels.

The Budget Resolutions that passed the House and Senate contained only a deficit-neutral reserve fund for Child Nutrition Programs without any guarantee of new investments. We are therefore asking you to be an advocate with your colleagues on the House Ways & Means and Senate Finance Committees, who can help to find offsets to increase funding to these critical programs. The Jewish community had hoped for $4 billion/year in NEW funding for Child Nutrition Programs in the Budget Resolution. We now urge you to help secure such an investment through championing these programs with your colleagues and working to help find ways to pay for them that will not add to the deficit. Significant new investments in these programs would represent a strong down payment on President Obama’s goal to eliminate child hunger in America by 2015.

The organized Jewish community has long demonstrated a commitment to ending hunger.  Our faith informs this tradition as our oral law teaches, “Do not neglect the children of the poor, for from them will go forth the law” (Nedarim 81a). This mandate reflects that ending child hunger is not only a moral imperative; it is an economic imperative. Child poverty is estimated to cost the United States over $500 billion/year, as hungry kids are more prone to have health problems, less likely to succeed in school and work, and more likely to end up in the criminal justice system.

Next week, Jews will celebrate the holiday of Passover, declaring at our Seders, “Let all who are hungry come and eat; let all who are in need come share our Passover” (Haggadah). This year, this statement is taking on a whole new meaning. Our community is working with The Jewish Council for Public Affairs (JCPA) and MAZON: A Jewish Response to Hunger, to hold a “Child Nutrition Seder.” Our goal is to translate Passover’s anti-hunger message into an opportunity to educate and activate our community around a strong Child Nutrition Reauthorization, starting with a significant investment in the FY2010 budget. Four billion/year in new funding would help remove barriers to access and participation so that all of America’s children have the nutrition they need.

Leading pediatrician Dr. Deborah Frank has said, “Economies are written first on children's bodies before they're written in the indicators." While we recognize that this is a tight budget year, failure to invest in Child Nutrition Programs now will have lasting impact on eligible children who cannot access these programs. Failure to commit the necessary resources will leave millions of children out of programs which have proved so successful in getting nutritious food, health services, and educational enrichment activities to disadvantaged kids across the country.

When the history of this recession is written, we hope it will read: “In 2009, recognizing the moral and economic imperative of ending child hunger, Representative ___ /Senator _____ led an effort to make historic new investments in child nutrition programs.” We want to be your partners in writing that history.

Thank you for your consideration,

[Title], [Organization]