MAZON Absorbs ‘Challah for Hunger’ Program

August 17, 2023

MAZON is the new home of “Challah for Hunger,” which for over 19 years has engaged college students around the country in the Jewish tradition of baking challah to build community and raise funds to fight hunger locally and nationally. Challah for Hunger: A Project of MAZON will continue to empower and build leaders committed to social justice.

“We are both gratified and energized to assume responsibility for the remarkable work of Challah for Hunger,” said Abby J. Leibman, MAZON’s President and CEO. “MAZON was proud to have been a central part of the initial years of Challah for Hunger’s work, and we are eager to again bring our leadership — both in the Jewish community and the anti-hunger community — to this remarkable program. There are so many opportunities to build and grow the reach of current Challah for Hunger leaders, deepen their engagement and impact in advancing solutions to hunger, and cultivate a robust network of leaders committed to systemic change.”

Based in Los Angeles with offices in Washington, DC and Israel, MAZON is absorbing the Challah for Hunger program previously operated by the Philadelphia-based organization Nazun, which is closing its doors at the end of this month.

“While the Board sincerely wishes that Nazun could have survived a post-COVID world, we are thrilled that the programming for college students combating hunger will continue to thrive at MAZON,” said Wendy Rhein, Nazun’s Board Chair. “College students are vital voices to bring to bear in the national efforts to end food insecurity, and I am grateful to Abby and the team at MAZON for embracing their efforts and passion.”

Since 2004, Challah for Hunger chapters across the country have raised over $2 million for the fight to end hunger. These chapters will continue to organize challah bake sales and other activities to raise funds for local and national anti-hunger organizations. During the first year of the transition, 80 percent of the funds raised by chapters will be donated to local organizations fighting hunger, as chosen by chapter leaders, and the remaining funds will enable MAZON to operate the program and advance policies to fight college hunger.

“As we transition the Challah for Hunger program to MAZON, I am so thankful and filled with hope for the continued impact this program will have on the lives of students who participate throughout the country,” said Rebecca Bar, Nazun’s CEO. “I was honored to lead Challah for Hunger through the challenging years of the COVID-19 pandemic and am proud of the legacy we are handing off to MAZON to care for, nourish, and grow in this new iteration.”

MAZON has spotlighted college hunger as one of its key public priority issues for many years prior to integrating the Challah for Hunger program, hosting the first-ever legislative briefing on this issue in Washington, DC in 2017 and advancing several state- and federal-level policies to increase access to federal nutrition programs like SNAP (formerly food stamps) for college students. In 2019, MAZON helped orchestrate a pivotal report from the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO), which revealed that a shocking 39 percent of all undergraduates in the U.S. — almost 7.3 million — were at risk of hunger. This marked the first time that the federal government acknowledged the scope of this problem.

“This is a critical moment to build and cultivate leaders who understand that truly addressing hunger means speaking truth to power,” Leibman added. “We know that programs like SNAP provide the most effective and efficient response to college hunger, and we’re deeply concerned that college students and others are falling off a ‘hunger cliff’ now that emergency SNAP allotments are expiring and some in Congress want to limit life-saving benefits. We are eager to channel the passion, creativity, and dedication of the Challah for Hunger community to fight for comprehensive solutions to this shameful problem.”

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