Answering President Obama’s Call

By Debra Kozikowski

“Let all who are hungry come and eat.”

One week before the first night of Passover, the Jewish Council for Public Affairs (JCPA) went one step better to honor the ageless words offered by their ancestors. JCPA held a Seder in the nation’s Capitol on April 1, 2009 and helped coordinate about 40 more across the country to raise awareness of the Child Nutrition Act. Young and old delivered a message of hope to leaders of Congress, among them US Rep. Rosa DeLauro of Connecticut.

The Child Nutrition Act came into existence in 1966 during the administration of President Lyndon Johnson. School breakfast and lunch programs, are among the feeding programs that depend on Congress to set in motion the anti-hunger initiative with a reauthorization vote every five years. The committee charged with the task is led by Senator Tom Harkin, a Democrat from Iowa.

There is both an historical and agricultural aspect to the celebration of Passover. It represents the beginning of the harvest season in Israel, but for Jews around the world the centerpiece of the Passover table is the celebration of freedom with family and friends. It is a time of reflection and recognition that to be good one should aspire to do good.

JCPA serves as the umbrella group for Jewish community relations councils across the country and works to encourage individual communities to lobby lawmakers and policy makers on issues and legislation to support a variety of humanitarian concerns, including a special focus on anti-hunger efforts.

The Haggadah, which means the telling of the story, scripted for the event offered an anti-hunger twist to familiar Passover rituals. For example, one reading focused on the “grocery gap” which recognizes that many poor families, particularly in urban and rural areas, lack access to decent quality, nutritious foods at affordable prices.

This year’s Seder educated younger participants on the general state of hunger in America and older participants on legislation that helps to combat childhood hunger. Using a traditional Seder format, emphasis was on the Jewish community’s responsibility to help end hunger. Participants made calls and wrote letters to legislators in support of a stronger Child Nutrition Act.

The goal: to put all of us on the path to ending child hunger by 2015 as called for by President Obama.

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3 Responses to “Answering President Obama’s Call”

  1. What an appropriate way to celebrate Passover.

    Also, on the second night of Passover the Obamas hosted what is probably the first-ever seder in the White House. Community members and Jewish staff members were invited.

    I hope this new openness extends in time to other religious faiths. The White House is indeed on its way to becoming the people’s house, as it was meant to be.

  2. Never should the health and development of another human being be left to chance.  It is incumbent on us all to take ownership of taking care of the future by taking care of our young ones who represent that future.

    I had not heard of the efforts in the Jewish community and want to congratulate the leaders of this project as well as let them know this: the work will not be finished until every child in every corner of the world is supplied with the basics, a diet that is more than life sustaining .  Every child should have a diet that is healthy for mind and body. 

    I think it is something we all can agree on.

  3. This story is so timely especially with all the attention being paid to childhood obesity and other eating disorders. We need to realize it is not just being hungry but eating badly that hurts kids.

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