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Archive for : Hunger & Food Access

Food Justice Resources for Yom Kippur

Yom Kippur is perhaps the best known Jewish holiday. It’s the biggie – the holiday of repentance when Jewish people across the country head to synagogue, even if it isn’t part of their regular practice. And, of course, it is a fast day. Unlike most other Jewish holidays, which are centered around what to eat, Yom Kippur is centered around not eating.

This ritual fasting is meant to help people focus less on the material world and more on spiritual matters – to purify the body in a way that makes it fit for the work at hand. But it also brings to mind the millions of people around the country and world who fast every day, and not by choice. This Yom Kippur, which falls during Hunger Action Month, take a little time during the holiday to think about food justice on a deeper level. Here are some great resources to get you started:

Isaiah and the Food Stamp Challenge This article, by Rabbi Edward Bernstein draws connections between the words of the Prophet Isaiah on fasting with the contemporary Food Stamp Challenge that many people are taking. It’s a compelling read!

Sacred Table: Creating a Jewish Food Ethic Put out by the Reform Movement, this anthology talks about the connections between faith, food, and justice. There are many fascinating essays specifically related to food justice, but we suggest reading the whole thing.

Food For Thought Hazon’s sourcebook on Jews, food, and contemporary issues would make great reading for Yom Kippur day.

Jewish Perspectives on Food Justice URJ has made available an interesting webinar all about ethical eating and how it relates to Jewish tradition. Download the full recorded session and the Power Point presentation that went along with it.

#TomatoRabbis T’ruah: The Rabbinic Call for Human Rights is well known for its activism around securing fair wages for tomato workers. Find out more about their great work, and download this handout of sermon topics.

How to: Rock Hunger Action Month with Repair the World

September is Hunger Action Month -30 days dedicated to fighting against hunger in our communities. It is also the month of Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, the two most sacred days on the Jewish calendar. Coincidence? Maybe. Opportunity? Definitely.

This year, in conjunction with Hunger Action Month, Repair the World’s Inspire Service campaign is focusing on food justice. Throughout the high holidays, September 13-23, we and our amazing team of movement leaders are cooking up all kinds of events and opportunities to help people make our food system healthier, more sustainable, and more just.

There are tons of events going on, from garden plantings at local schools, to delivering for Meals on Wheels, to volunteering on an urban farm. To get you psyched, here’s a snapshot of four events working with food banks in Feeding America’s national network. Food banks play a huge role in closing the hunger gap. They provide people in need with nourishing food and support when they need it most. Here’s how you can help:

San Francisco: On Sept 16, volunteer at the San Francisco Food Bank warehouse, sorting and packaging food to be distributed to food pantries across the city.

Kansas City: On Sept 10, help food pantry clients shop for Rosh Hashanah in the Jewish Family Services food pantry.

Pennsylvania: On Sept 24, help stock the West Chester Food Cupboard, a food pantry based in West Chester, PA.

North Carolina: On Sept 17, volunteer to help sort, inspect, and pack food for distribution at the Food Bank of Metrolina in Charlotte, NC.

Don’t live near one of the events listed above? Don’t fret. Check out this nifty map to find an event in your community, and help Repair the World Inspire Service this September and beyond!

Meet Our Inspire Service Movement Leaders: Zoe Feder

Repair the World is talkin’ about a revolution! Our Inspire Service campaign aims to mobilize a movement of volunteers inspired to act on pressing national issues. Our first campaign is focused on food justice: working to foster stronger local food systems, self reliant communities, and a healthier environment.

Of course, movements don’t just happen in a vacuum. They happen because passionate, driven people get together and DO something. So this month, we want to introduce you to Repair the World’s Movement Leaders – some really cool folks who are making it happen. Between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, they are organizing their communities around the issue of food justice. They are creating opportunities to serve and recruiting peers to join their projects (find one near you!), to talk about important issues, and to change the world for the better. Meet…

Who: Zoë Feder

Where: Austin, Texas

When: September 19

What: I organized a Hashtag Lunchbag project. Our group of around 20 teens are going to make lunches to pass out to people who might not have every meal guaranteed to them. Each lunch will have a sandwich, water bottle, note, and whatever else is donated! We will also be the ones passing out the lunches in our community.

#Excited: I am really excited to discuss food justice issues with my fellow volunteers and to help the people in our community in a very direct and tangible way.

Find out more about the Hashtag Lunchbag project Zoe is planning on the event website, and learn more about Repair the World’s Inspire Service Movement Leaders at our site.

Repair Inspiration: The Food Stamp Cookbook

This fall, Repair the World is building a movement to Inspire Service, focusing on the critical issue of food justice in conjunction with Hunger Action Month.

It is no secret that eating well on a budget is challenging – particularly when that budget is dictated by SNAP Benefits (that’s the new term for food stamps). Recently, NPR ran a story about a woman named Leanne Brown who wrote a cookbook to help people cook nutritious, creative, and tasty meals while spending very little money. Check out an excerpt below and read the whole story on NPR’s site.

Cheap Eats: A Cookbook For Eating Well On A Food Stamp Budget
By: Molly Roberts
Read more

Food Justice Interview: Gidi Kroch of Leket Israel

This fall, Repair the World is building a movement to Inspire Service, focusing on the critical issue of food justice in conjunction with Hunger Action Month.

Meanwhile, we’re spotlighting the work of awesome food justice organizations around the world. First up: Leket Israel – the country’s National Food Bank and largest food rescue network. Leket’s mission is to lead the safe, effective, and efficient collection and distribution of surplus nutritious food in Israel, to those who need it. We spoke with Leket’s CEO, Gidi Kroch, about what makes their work so critical, what he finds most challenging, and what inspires him.

Why is the work you do around food so important in Israel right now?
There is a lot of food waste all around the world, including Israel. At the same time, Israel is in line with the world’s largest agricultural production, even with its limited space. In addition, like other western countries, unfortunately, the need is growing and the gap is widening. Our government is not doing its part to financially support the food insecure. All of this contributes to the criticalness of Leket Israel’s work in food rescue and redistribution to those in need across the country.

Can you share a story that demonstrates Leket’s impact?
In addition to Leket Israel rescuing more than 30 million pounds of produce and perishables that would have been destroyed annually, we advocate for the nonprofits we serve and many others providing food to the poor. A recent example of this was our appeal to the Ministry of Health regarding a bill they were planning on passing that would have negatively affected the work the nonprofits were doing.

We were successful, and the Ministry of Health granted a four year extension which allows NPOs the ability to continue their work feeding those in need. Another important step that Leket is taking is to encourage resistant food donors who currently do not donate their surplus food by drafting and promoting the passing of Israel’s first Food Donation Act. Modeled after the U.S. Good Samaritan Law, this would protect all donors’ food donations given in good faith. We hope that this will pass in Israel in the immediate future as we believe it will not only minimize waste but will greatly enhance the amount of food currently being rescued.

In what ways do volunteers get involved?
Leket Israel enlists over 60,000 volunteers each year. They lend a hand in a range of projects such as volunteering with Project Leket (gleaning in the fields), picking fruits and vegetables for distribution to Leket’s nonprofit partner agencies, and sorting food at Leket Israel’s main logistics center in Ra’anana. There, the volunteers sort produce from the large agricultural bins and repackage them into smaller crates in preparation for delivery to the NPOs. Volunteers are also an integral part of Leket to Table, Leket Israel’s meal rescue program. Volunteers go out during the day and at night to collect excess meals from corporate cafeterias, restaurants, event halls.

What are your biggest challenges? And what inspires you most?
One of the biggest challenges we face is that there is just so much more surplus food out there, and we can not get to all of it – knowing that fresh, nutritious food is going waste instead of feeding someone who is food insecure. On the other hand, it has been truly inspiring to witness the willingness of Israeli farmers to donate their produce to Leket. The farmers, in many cases, are struggling themselves but this does not prevent them from giving their excess fruits and vegetables to help others.

Find out more about Leket Israel’s work around food justice on their website.

Repair Inspiration: Libraries Launch Summer Meal Programs

Public schools have long provided free or reduced price lunch (and in some cases breakfast) programs for students in need. While not a perfect system, these meals make a big difference in making sure all students have access to enough food during the school day. That’s great for the 9 months a year when class is in – but what about the summer? Now, public libraries across the country have started to fill in the gap during the warmer months, providing well-rounded meals to kids that come from low-income families.

Recently, the Huffington Post published an inspiring story highlighting 5 of these lunch libraries. Check out the excerpt below, and read the whole story on the Huffington Post’s website.

Eat Up! 5 Public Libraries’ Successful Summer Lunch Programs
By: Jordan Lloyd Bookey

Last summer, Nina Lindsay was walking through the Oakland Public Library (OPL) where she works when she saw what she describes as “the best kind of trash.” On the floor was a peach pit sucked bone dry. It had been served for lunch earlier that day, and for Nina the image of that pit serves as a reminder of the importance of the library’s summer meals program.

This is not just happening in Oakland. Libraries around the country are starting similar initiatives. During the school year, 22 million kids receive a free or reduced price lunch at school according to Lucy Melcher, the Associate Director of Advocacy for Share Our Strength; but during the summer months, those numbers drop dramatically. Only 1 in 6 of those kids gets that meal when school is out. These programs are designed to change that.

“The biggest challenge we hear from organizations operating the summer meals program is that it doesn’t provide enough options to reach kids in hard to reach areas,” Lucy told me. Libraries can reach eligible children who are not getting their summer meals. “Libraries were a hidden gem. They are a natural place in the community where kids are already congregating during the summer. They have great spaces to provide meals in a fun environment for kids. Libraries are also trusted places in their communities and have the ability to do outreach through schools and other community organizations about the summer meals program.”

Hearing about these amazing programs got me excited and I wanted to hear more. So I spoke with five public libraries about their summer meal sites. It was inspiring to learn what they were doing, how these programs were growing–and especially to hear the feedback from children and families who have benefited. Here are a few of the things they told me:

Finish reading the story on the Huffington Post.