MAZON Applauds ‘Historic Opportunity’ of White House Conference on Hunger, Nutrition, and Health

May 4, 2022

This morning, President Biden answered the call of congressional leaders and anti-hunger advocates like MAZON: A Jewish Response to Hunger in announcing a White House conference on hunger, nutrition, and health. Abby J. Leibman, MAZON’s President & CEO, applauded this announcement and urged the Administration to center the conference around ending hunger once and for all:

“In convening a White House conference on an issue as persistent and pervasive as hunger, the Biden Administration has taken a vital step toward lasting policies that can end hunger in America. MAZON looks forward to participating in meaningful conversations about how the government can fully meet the needs of all those facing hunger. We at MAZON shine a spotlight on issues and communities who struggle with hunger and are too often overlooked. From military families, to single mothers, to Tribal Nations, the drivers of hunger are complex and unique — as must be the solutions. This conference is an historic opportunity to engage directly with such communities on the causes of hunger and at long last articulate impactful policy solutions to those causes.

The first, last, and only, conference of this kind convened in 1969 and resulted in dramatically expanded and improved federal nutrition programs, which transformed our country’s social safety net. And it almost worked — we almost ended hunger. But that was over 50 years ago, and in the interim, many policymakers have dismantled essential support while racist and sexist stereotypes and myths dominate public perceptions of people facing hunger and programs like SNAP that help them survive. 

It is long past time to have a second White House conference on hunger. For years, Congressman Jim McGovern, Chairman of the U.S. House of Representatives’ Rules Committee, has been a stalwart and powerful champion calling for this White House conference on hunger. It is just and fitting that it be held by this Administration, as President Biden continues his work to build back America so that it works for all Americans.  

Fifty years ago, we learned that a strong and comprehensive national approach to ending hunger can work. As it was undermined and circumscribed, the number of food insecure Americans began to rise; the charitable sector has tried to fill the gaps — but as tens of millions of Americans struggle with hunger every day,  it’s clear that charity alone is not enough to end hunger in this country. 

Fifty years ago, we learned that together as a nation, when we use our collective wisdom and compassion, we can create policies that work — policies that get at the causes of hunger, provide meaningful support, and protect the possibility of a brighter future for all Americans.

But we don’t need to look to America in the 1960s to know where our discussions must begin.  In the past two years, we witnessed the tremendous impact that federal government can have in the fight against hunger. 

As Chairman McGovern often says, we know we can end hunger in America — we just need the political will. At MAZON we know that we must use this historic conference as an opportunity to build consensus around common-sense policies that will change how it is to how it should be.”

Last year, MAZON led 28 national faith-based organizations in calling on the Biden Administration to host a White House conference focused on hunger. MAZON has also partnered with Chairman McGovern on his campaign for a White House conference — Ms. Leibman testified in the May 2021 House Rules Committee Roundtable on “examining the hunger crisis among veterans and military families.”