A Night of Impact: MAZON’s Hunger Bites Gala Celebrates Advocacy and Action

May 29, 2024


Last week, MAZON: A Jewish Response to Hunger held a gala at Union Station in Washington, DC — steps away from the U.S. Capitol, where Members of Congress were debating key anti-hunger policies for the next Farm Bill. MAZON’s event, Hunger Bites, convened a large group of advocates and supporters to honor the remarkable contributions of leaders who work to build a future in which no one goes hungry, and where those who struggle are not shamed, judged, or ignored.

At the event, MAZON’s leadership presented the Justice Award for Advancing The Response to Hunger to three individuals and one institution — Senator Debbie Stabenow, Chair of the Senate Agriculture Committee; Congressman Jim McGovern, Ranking Member of the House Rules Committee and Co-Chair of the House Hunger Caucus; Josh Protas, MAZON’s former Vice President of Public Policy who recently became Chief Advocacy and Policy Officer at Meals on Wheels America; and CEO Action for Racial Equity, which brings together top talent and resources to advance public policies and corporate engagement strategies to address systemic racism and social injustice.

MAZON was also honored to be joined by the legendary cookbook author Joan Nathan, who generously donated signed copies of her new memoir, My Life in Recipes, for event guests. The book provided a stunning centerpiece to the “Gift Shop” station that was inspired by MAZON’s all-digital experience, The Hunger Museum™. MAZON’s Hunger Museum illuminates over 100 years of hunger and anti-hunger public policy in the U.S., alongside cultural touchstones that accompany that history.

“It was a powerful moment to be with so many members of MAZON’s community at Hunger Bites, right when Congress was debating the highly divisive proposal for the next Farm Bill,” said Abby J. Leibman, MAZON’s President & CEO. “The Farm Bill is the legislative vehicle that authorizes and sets policy for signature federal safety net programs like SNAP. With over 44 million Americans facing food insecurity, the need is huge, and therefore our government response — through programs like SNAP — must be robust, generous, and compassionate. We are committed as ever to defending this program and strengthening it for all of us — those who are struggling now, those who have struggled in the past, those who will need the safety net in the future, and all those who care about growing food insecurity in this country.” 

“I can bond so much with the values of the nutrition community,” said Senator Debbie Stabenow, who has been a longtime leader in protecting, strengthening, and expanding our country’s nutrition safety net programs like SNAP. “But unfortunately, every five years, the politics of nutrition and SNAP rear their ugly heads. We have never taken money out of the nutrition title to fund the Farm Bill and we are not going to do it this year either!”

“If you want a Farm Bill, Democrats and Republicans have to work together, and that’s not what’s happening in the House,” declared Congressman Jim McGovern, whose decades of advocacy for the nutrition safety net have been a beacon of hope and inspiration for MAZON and all those in the anti-hunger field. “When we talk about the Farm Bill, we are talking about billions of dollars. We are talking about the foundation of how we support every aspect of food — its production, the distribution of it, and making sure everyone gets enough of it. There are 44 million people in this country who do not know if they are eating breakfast tomorrow. But we will do what’s right for all people in this country who struggle to put food on the table.”

Two days after Hunger Bites, the House Agriculture Committee held a contentious markup of Chairman Glenn “GT” Thompson’s proposal for the next Farm Bill, which would cut an estimated $30 billion over the next 10 years from anti-hunger programs like SNAP, The Emergency Food Assistance program (TEFAP), Puerto Rico’s Nutrition Assistance Program (NAP), and the new Summer EBT program. MAZON and other anti-hunger advocates expressed deep concern about the bill that advanced through the House committee on May 23. MAZON strongly supports Chairwoman Stabenow’s visionary Farm Bill proposal, which will protect and strengthen SNAP while also advancing several important provisions to help military families, support Tribal food sovereignty, and promote equity for the people of Puerto Rico.

See photos of the evening below!