MAZON Invests in Local Advocacy In Four Strategic States

July 26, 2022

After a year of historic momentum at the federal level in the fight against food insecurity in the United States, MAZON: A Jewish Response to Hunger today announced an expansion of its Emerging Advocacy Fund, an investment initiative to build a sustainable national anti-hunger movement through strategic support of on-the-ground, grassroots organizations in some of the most food-insecure states in the country.

With this announcement, MAZON expands its presence to 13 new partners in four new states: Alaska, Florida, Georgia, and Hawai’i, bringing the total number of Emerging Advocacy Fund partners to 51 across 19 states and Puerto Rico. These organizations partner with MAZON on a wide array of projects related to policy change, community organizing, coalition building, statehouse lobbying, direct advocacy, and strengthening food justice in their communities. The newest round of partnership grants from MAZON increases its five-year total giving in the U.S. and Puerto Rico to more than $9.1 million, in addition to its investments to improve food security and food sovereignty in Indian Country and combat hunger in Israel.

MAZON refocused its U.S. partnership grants in 2018 after three decades of seeding, supporting, and strengthening the anti-hunger movement. The Emerging Advocacy Fund currently prioritizes strategic partners in states with the highest rates of food insecurity. Its projects are specifically designed to build capacity among local advocates and experts confronting the unique, immediate obstacles that drive food insecurity in their communities. Rather than apply a cookie-cutter solution to fighting hunger, MAZON and its partners enable a customized approach that builds long-term capacity in communities across the U.S.

“With nearly four decades of experience fighting hunger in this country, we know that people in some states face greater barriers to food security, but no one deserves to be hungry — regardless of circumstance or zip code,” said Mia Hubbard, Vice President of Programs at MAZON: A Jewish Response to Hunger. “We understand the value and vitality of building a strong, resilient anti-hunger advocacy infrastructure, and we are more committed than ever to listen to, learn from, and support communities facing high rates of food insecurity.”

In Alaska and Hawai’i, the states’ remoteness poses unique challenges to anti-hunger programs that combat hunger in the continental U.S., while state policy in Florida and Georgia prevent many low-income households from accessing nutrition benefits from programs like the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP).

“By supporting local organizations in Florida, Georgia, Alaska, and Hawai’i, MAZON is investing in the force-multiplying effect of local advocates, who are often best-equipped to push for sustained, policy-based solutions to these unique hurdles,” continued Ms. Hubbard. “Outside of Anchorage, schools in Alaska are not able to provide afterschool and summer meals without racking up big deficits, in large part due to the high cost of food and woefully inadequate level of federal funding for meals. In Hawai’i, there were no federally-reimbursed afterschool meals at all in 2020. At the same time, the sizable Indigenous populations in both states face unique challenges relative to their non-Native neighbors, including access to traditional foods and the protection of subsistence rights.”

“Alaska Natives hunt, fish, and gather year-round to survive,” said Julie Kitka, President of the Alaska Federation of Natives. “Without the subsistence harvest, our 200 rural Tribal communities would become food insecure overnight. MAZON’s support today is going to preserve our peoples’ tomorrows.”

MAZON’s new investments in Florida and Georgia will build power among local advocates fighting misguided state policies that penalize poverty and create a vicious cycle of neglect and economic struggle — including among new immigrants and other vulnerable populations.

“We know from direct community engagement that approximately 41% of immigrants in Georgia worry about getting enough food for their families,” said Gilda (Gigi) Pedraza, Executive Director of the Latino Community Fund in Georgia. “Anti-hunger policies and program design are core to the ability for our community to have consistent and dignified access to nutritious and culturally appropriate food. We are committed to be additive to current efforts and ensure nobody gets left behind in this space.”

MAZON’s Emerging Advocacy Fund partners include (***new grantees in bold***):

  • Alabama Arise (Montgomery, Ala.)
  • Alabama Food Bank Association (Huntsville, Ala.)
  • Alaska Federation of Natives (Anchorage, Alaska)
  • Alaska Food Policy Council (Homer, Alaska)
  • Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium (Anchorage, Alaska)
  • Arkansas Advocates for Children and Families (Little Rock, Ark.)
  • Arkansas Hunger Relief Alliance (Little Rock, Ark.)
  • Center for Rural Affairs (Lyons, Neb.)
  • Centro para la Nueva Economía (San Juan, PR)
  • Children’s Action Alliance (Phoenix, Ariz.)
  • Espacios Abiertos (San Juan, PR)
  • Feeding Indiana’s Hungry (Indianapolis, Ind.)
  • Feeding Kentucky (Frankfort, Ky.)
  • Feeding Louisiana (Baton Rouge, La.)
  • Feeding Northeast Florida (Jacksonville, Fla.)
  • Florida Impact (Tallahassee, Fla.)
  • Florida Policy Institute (Orlando, Fla.)
  • Food Justice Lab/ West Virginia University Research Corp. (Morgantown, W.Va.)
  • Good Shepherd Food Bank (Auburn, Maine)
  • Hawai’i Appleseed (Honolulu, Hawai’i)
  • Hawai’i Children’s Action Network (Honolulu, Hawai’i)
  • Hawai’i Foodbank Collaborative (Honolulu, Hawai’i)
  • Hawai’i Public Health Institute (Honolulu, Hawai’i)
  • Hunger-Free Oklahoma (Tulsa, Okla.)
  • Indy Hunger Network (Indianapolis, Ind.)
  • Instituto del Desarollo de la Juventud (San Juan, PR)
  • Kansas Action for Children (Topeka, Kan.)
  • Kansas Appleseed Center for Law and Justice (Lawrence, Kan.)
  • Kentucky Center for Economic Policy / Mountain Association for Community Economic Development (Berea, Ky.)
  • Kentucky Equal Justice Center (Lexington, Ky.)
  • Latino Community Fund of Georgia (Atlanta, Ga.)
  • Legal Aid Society of Middle Tennessee and the Cumberlands (Nashville, Tenn.)
  • Louisiana Budget Project (Baton Rouge, La.)
  • Mississippi Center for Justice (Jackson, Miss.)
  • Missouri Budget Project (St. Louis, Mo.)
  • MomsRising (Raleigh, N.C.)
  • Nebraska Appleseed Center for Law & Public Interest (Lincoln, Neb.)
  • North Carolina Alliance for Health (Raleigh, N.C.)
  • North Carolina Justice Center (Raleigh, N.C.)
  • Oklahoma Policy Institute (Tulsa, Okla.)
  • Open Sky Policy Institute (Lincoln, Neb.)
  • Operation Food Search (St. Louis, Mo.)
  • Preble Street (Portland, Maine)
  • Partnership for a Healthy Mississippi (Flowood, Miss.)
  • Poverty Solutions Group (Florida)
  • Regional Food Bank of Oklahoma (Oklahoma City, Okla.)
  • Tennessee Justice Center (Nashville, Tenn.)
  • Voices for Georgia’s Children (Atlanta, Ga.)
  • West Virginia Center on Budget and Policy (Charleston, W.Va.)
  • West Virginia Healthy Kids and Families Coalition (Charleston, W.Va.)
  • William E. Morris Institute for Justice (Phoenix, Ariz.)