Key Members of Congress Join National Hunger Seder to Discuss Growing Food Insecurity

April 15, 2024

Last week, MAZON held its 15th annual National Hunger Seder on Capitol Hill, which brought together Members of Congress, government officials, and anti-hunger advocates to participate in Passover traditions while calling attention to food insecurity.

“Each year, the National Hunger Seder gets better and better — and this was the best one yet,” said Abby J. Leibman, MAZON’s President & CEO. “This annual event allows us to create a unique space for community, which is one of the core themes of Passover. The Passover story illustrates how community created bonds and purpose, so that our ancestors could move toward the promised land — together. It was the strength and courage of community in action that allowed our ancestors to find freedom. Today, it is the strength and courage of our community in action that can bring an end to the pain and indignity of hunger.”

This year’s National Hunger Seder was held in conjunction with the House Hunger Caucus, and eight Members of Congress attended the event: Reps. Tracey Mann (R-KS), Jim McGovern (D-MA), Becca Balint (D-VT), Suzanne Bonamici (D-OR), Jahana Hayes (D-CT), Jan Schakowsky (D-IL), Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-FL), and Mary Gay Scanlon (D-PA). All Seder participants read from MAZON’s 2024 Hunger Seder Haggadah, which frames the Passover rituals around hunger issues. Many also contributed individual commentary about the importance of fighting hunger in the U.S. and around the world:

“Hunger is a political condition. We have enough food to end hunger for everyone in this country forever — what we lack is the political will to get it done,” said Congressman Jim McGovern, co-chair of the House Hunger Caucus. “As Americans gather around the seder table, it’s important for us to continue asking how we can take a stand against the injustice of hunger and demand that our leaders prioritize the needs of those who do not have enough. Together let us bring attention to this issue as we continue the fight to end hunger once and for all. There’s not a faith I know of that doesn’t prioritize feeding people, yet we live in a country with 40 million people who are hungry […] Food is a fundamental human right and we ought to prioritize that.”

“I am proud of the work MAZON is doing to break the bonds of hunger,” said Congressman Tracey Mann, who also co-chairs the House Hunger Caucus. “For nearly a century, Kansas farmers, ranchers, and agricultural producers have paved the way to ensure international food aid around the world. As global challenges drive food insecurity to unprecedented levels, Congress must ensure our international food aid programs remain strong by reauthorizing a strong, five-year farm bill. When we mitigate hunger, America is safer, our allies safer, and the world is safer. Feeding people globally is the morally right, strategically wise, and fiscally responsible thing to do.” 

Each year, MAZON also creates and distributes a Fifth Question to accompany the traditional Four Questions of Passover. This year’s question — How will we find our way to freedom and justice? — highlights the fact that 44 million Americans are “bound by the burden of hunger” and policymakers must learn from the effectiveness of pandemic-era protections, flexibilities, and benefit boosts for programs like SNAP. 

“The Passover Seder is understood to be a moment of imagination and a suspension of reality,” said Rabbi Joel Pitkowsky, MAZON’s Board Chair. “We transcend time and space by placing ourselves back to that moment thousands of years ago when our people were on the verge of being freed from Egypt. We are commanded to feel what it was like to be a slave in Egypt and what it felt like to be a newly freed person. Our tradition holds on to this ritual so that we never lose sight of the importance of freedom and the dignity of each human being.”

Below are several photos from the National Hunger Seder, and the full suite of MAZON’s Passover materials can be found at

Members of Congress, government officials, and anti-hunger advocates gathered in Washington, DC for the 15th annual National Hunger Seder hosted by MAZON: A Jewish Response to Hunger. Participants included Representatives Jim McGovern of Massachusetts, Tracey Mann of Kansas, Jahana Hayes of Connecticut, Jan Schakowsky of Illinois, Suzanne Bonamici of Oregon, Becca Balint of Vermont, Debbie Wasserman Schultz of Florida, and Mary Gay Scanlon of Pennsylvania. The Seder was co-led by Rabbi Hazzan Rachel Hersh, MAZON’s Board Chair Rabbi Joel Pitkowsky, and MAZON’s President & CEO Abby J. Leibman. Photo Credit: Lacey Johnson.