National Hunger Seder in U.S. Capitol Urges Congress to Restore Full Funding to WIC

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Benjamin Suarato
Jewish Council for Public Affairs 
bsuarato@thejcpa.org
202-212-6031 (o); 518-810-7225(c)

National Hunger Seder in U.S. Capitol Urges Congress to Restore Full Funding to WIC

Washington, D.C. (March 20, 2013) – With 600,000 women and young children slated to be cut off from vital nutrition assistance, the Jewish Council for Public Affairs (JCPA) and MAZON: A Jewish Response to Hunger (MAZON) hosted Members of Congress, Administration officials, and national faith and anti-poverty leaders at the National Hunger Seder today at the U.S. Capitol Visitor’s Center. Seder participants made the case for protecting and strengthening funding for the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Children and Infants (WIC) by replacing the arbitrary cuts of the sequester with more responsible alternatives.

“At the Passover Seder, every participant experiences slavery and freedom as though she or he were there” said JCPA President Rabbi Steve Gutow. “Today, we are bringing the experience of hunger to Congress. But freedom will not come until Congress acts to replace the sequester and restore the senseless 5.1% cut to WIC. It is impossible for us to celebrate our freedom when 600,000 of our most vulnerable – women and children unable to afford a healthy diet – are being denied the nutrition and education necessary for a decent life.”

The National Hunger Seder is an adaptation of the traditional Passover Seder, telling the story of the Exodus with emphasis on the moral imperative to end hunger in America. The National Hunger Seder is the kick off to the 5th Annual MAZON/JCPA Hunger Seder Mobilization, taking place in 27 communities around the country, which is designed to encourage participants to advocate to restore the 5.1% cut to the WIC program mandated by the sequester. 

“It is stunning that in 2013 poverty persists as a women’s issue,” says Abby J. Leibman, President & CEO of MAZON. “Women are disproportionately represented among the poor, and record numbers of women are living in extreme poverty. Women and their children, regardless of race or ethnicity, are more likely than men to be living below the poverty line, and over twice as many elderly women as men are poor. The poverty gender gap is itself an outrage, and we cannot allow our policymakers to undermine one of the few safety net programs actually designed specifically to address this.”

Participants in the National Hunger Seder included US Rep. David Cicilline (RI-1), Rep. Ted Deutch (FL-21), Rep. Jim McGovern (MA-2), as well as representatives from the White House, US Department of Agriculture, and the US Department of Health and Human Services. Also attending were delegates from the National WIC Association, Food Research and Action Center, Congressional Hunger Center, Alliance to End Hunger, Center for American Progress, Bread for the World, National Council of Churches, US Conference of Catholic Bishops, Islamic Relief, American Jewish World Service, Bend the Arc, National Council of Jewish Women, The Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism, JCPA, MAZON, Jewish Primary Day School and more. 

For more information, please visit hungerseder.org.

About the Jewish Council for Public Affairs

JCPA, the public affairs arm of the organized Jewish community, serves as the national coordinating and advisory body for the 15 national and 125 local agencies comprising the field of Jewish community relations.

About MAZON: A Jewish Response to Hunger

MAZON: A Jewish Response to Hunger is a national nonprofit organization working to end hunger among people of all faiths and backgrounds in the United States and Israel. For more information, please visit mazon.org.