Grab a Taste of Tikkun Olam at the Hunger Museum (The JUF Magazine)
This piece originally appeared in The JUF Magazine on April 28, 2023.
Hunger affects 1 in 8 American men, women, and children-and it persists not because of a lack of food, but because of too few societal programs ensuring that vulnerable people have equal access to nutritious food.
For almost 40 years, MAZON: A Jewish Response to Hunger-a national organization inspired by Jewish values-has been shining a light on hunger and fighting to end it among people of all faiths and backgrounds in the U.S. and Israel. And now, through its newly opened virtual Hunger Museum, MAZON is making it easier than ever to educate the public about food insecurity.
With the click of a mouse or tap of a screen, visitors can explore six galleries cataloguing the history of hunger from 1865 through the present-including a time in the 1960s-70s, when the national hunger rate was down to 3%.
“Our motivation behind the museum is that when people first start thinking about hunger in America, and grapple with how many people are food insecure, it feels overwhelming or hopeless,” said Naama Haviv, MAZON’s Vice President of Community Engagement. “We realized we had this story that Americans by and large didn’t know-that during that time, activists, the media, and bipartisan political leaders worked together to create a robust enough system that people were supported, stabilized, and able to move up and out of poverty.”
The MAZON team originally set out to educate people about this pivotal time in hunger history through a timeline that could be shared with schools. But when the pandemic hit, they realized a virtual project would improve accessibility for visitors and enable a much wider reach.
Anyone with an internet connection can visit the museum-which lends itself to tours for school groups, synagogues, adult education classes, and anyone interested in moving the needle on this pivotal issue.
Liza Lieberman, MAZON’s Vice President of Communications, explains: “Once we started figuring out this story about American society at large, and how everyday Americans can interact with policymakers and live according to their values, we realized this is a story for everyone who cares about history, government working for the people, equality, equity, and justice. Every American should be able to see this museum.”