Jewish Values Informing MAZON’s Fight to End Hunger (Alliance to End Hunger)
This article first appeared in Alliance to End Hunger on April 27, 2021.
MAZON: A Jewish Response to Hunger is a national organization working to end hunger among people of all faiths and backgrounds in the U.S. and Israel. Rooted in Jewish values of tzedek (pursuing justice) and b’tselem Elohim (respecting the inherent dignity of every person), we engage and empower a broad network of Jewish community partners, synagogues, clergy leaders, and individuals committed to addressing the root causes of hunger and changing the circumstances that allow hunger to persist.
We are grounded in a central belief: regardless of a person’s circumstance, no one deserves to be hungry.
For MAZON, hunger is a civil rights and economic exclusion issue, informed by the fundamental belief that unreliable and inadequate access to nutritious food undermines people’s opportunity and weakens their ability to succeed in life. In our 36 years, MAZON has fought for systemic change — developing policies, leveraging research, advocating for populations that are often overlooked, educating community partners, and investing in strategic partnerships to end hunger.
MAZON has prioritized understanding, exploring, and addressing ways we can steer government leaders — at the federal, state, and local levels — to create, protect, and grow an effective food safety net. Today, almost every state has dedicated staff pursuing policy change to solve hunger, seeded by MAZON, where few staff positions, if any, existed several years ago. Long-term solutions require structural changes to address the systems that cause and exacerbate food insecurity; MAZON’s work has built a consensus that charity alone cannot solve hunger and has changed the goal from alleviating hunger to ending hunger.
MAZON is also unique, not only as the singular Jewish voice in the anti-hunger space, but as a leader in the field, spotlighting issues and populations where larger organizations and the government have yet to turn their focus. These priorities include hunger among military families, veterans, Native Americans, single mothers, LGBT+ seniors, and Americans in Puerto Rico. We work to shine light on these groups and implement tailored strategies that address the unique barriers each population faces to access federal nutrition safety net programs.
Another important element of our mission includes personifying hunger and offering accessible resources on it – through our website, you can find educational materials and curriculums, Jewish holiday and learning materials, and more tools that offer a deeper understanding of hunger. Also, MAZON’s groundbreaking project, This Is Hunger, explores who struggles with hunger in America and why. You may be surprised to learn what hunger looks like for military families like Ashley’s, Native Americans like Dorothy, or LGBT+ seniors like Barbara. This is Hunger resets the narrative about hunger, illustrating the profound prevalence of hunger and reiterating the political will needed to end it. The entire immersive experience is also available as a digital resource for classrooms, community groups, or individuals.
In addition to our ongoing advocacy and education initiatives, MAZON continues to amplify our priorities through news outlets, podcasts, and reports. Our recently released report, “Hungry in the Military: Food Insecurity Among Military Families in the U.S.” details MAZON’s decade of striving to understand and develop policies to address the persistent and unique food insecurity challenges among military families.
We are more motivated and hopeful than ever that we can accomplish long-term systemic policy change that addresses food insecurity. We know that ending hunger requires hard work and political will. We are proud to be part of the Alliance to End Hunger and energized by our shared commitment to building the public and political will required to end hunger.
Learn more at MAZON.org.