Resolution Outlining Legislative Priorities to Combat the Food Insecurity Crisis in the United States

Posted on: Monday March 15, 2021

לֹ֧א תְאַמֵּ֣ץ אֶת־לְבָבְךָ֗ וְלֹ֤א תִקְפֹּץ֙ אֶת־יָ֣דְךָ֔ מֵאָחִ֖יךָ הָאֶבְיֽוֹן...   כִּֽי־פָתֹ֧חַ תִּפְתַּ֛ח אֶת־יָדְךָ֖ ל֑וֹ
פָּ֠תֹחַ תִּפְתַּ֨ח אֶת־יָדְךָ֜ לְאָחִ֧יךָ לַעֲנִיֶּ֛ךָ וּלְאֶבְיֹנְךָ֖ בְּאַרְצֶֽךָ׃  

Whereas we are commanded to, “not harden your heart and shut your hand against your needy kinsman. Rather you must open your hand…. to the poor and needy kinsman in your land.” (Devarim 15:7-8, 11), and

וּֽבְקֻצְרְכֶם֙ אֶת־קְצִ֣יר אַרְצְכֶ֔ם לֹ֧א תְכַלֶּ֛ה פְּאַ֥ת שָׂדְךָ֖ לִקְצֹ֑ר וְלֶ֥קֶט קְצִֽירְךָ֖ לֹ֥א תְלַקֵּֽט׃
וְכַרְמְךָ֙ לֹ֣א תְעוֹלֵ֔ל וּפֶ֥רֶט כַּרְמְךָ֖ לֹ֣א תְלַקֵּ֑ט לֶֽעָנִ֤י וְלַגֵּר֙ תַּעֲזֹ֣ב אֹתָ֔ם אֲנִ֖י ה׳ אֱלֹהֵיכֶֽם׃

When you reap the harvest of your land, you shall not reap all the way to the edges of your field, or gather the gleanings of your harvest. You shall not pick your vineyard bare, or gather the fallen fruit of your vineyard; you shall leave them for the poor and the stranger. (Vayikra 19:9-10); and 

Whereas the Covid-19 pandemic and its economic consequences have devastated the 40 million American adults and children who were already struggling to put food on the table on a regular basis; and 

Whereas 29 million adults — 14% of all adults in the country — reported in December 2020 that their household sometimes or often did not have enough to eat, including 18% of households with children; and

Whereas charitable organizations play a vital role in addressing hunger, the overwhelming majority of food assistance in the United States has historically come from—and must continue to come from—federal programs because the charitable food sector is in no way equipped to respond to the scope of food insecurity in America; and 

Whereas the Rabbinical Assembly is a founding partner of Mazon; and

Whereas we recognize the efforts of the Biden-Harris Administration to work with Congress to take bold and impactful steps during this urgent and unprecedented time to address both the immediate food insecurity crisis and the persistent and unique barriers to food security, particularly those disproportionately impacting Black, Indigenous, and other communities of color; 

Whereas the Rabbinical Assembly has passed numerous resolutions (2012, 20122014, 2019, and 2020) repeatedly calling our members to advocate, strengthen, and care for the poor and vulnerable; 

Now therefore, be it resolved that the Rabbinical Assembly call upon the United States Congress and Administration to pass new legislation that will, among other things:

  1. Increase Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) to help millions of families to safely put food on the table during the COVID crisis by, for example, raising both the minimum and maximum benefits and suspending the time limit of benefits for jobless adults as well as making financially feasible costs that are newly associated with food security, such as food delivery or service fees;
  2. Address the scourge of food insecurity among military families by prioritizing the Military Family Basic Needs Allowance in the next National Defense Authorization Act; 
  3. Support the capacity of Tribal governments to administer federal programs and work towards greater food sovereignty by supporting the Tribal Nutrition Improvement Act; and 
  4. Create SNAP-linked child-care supports to address the needs of single parents/guardians.

 

Be it further resolved that we ask each of our members to create opportunities to teach about Jewish responses to food insecurity such as, but not limited to, a dedicated Shabbat, school lessons, Hillel programs, and food drive campaigns; 

Be it further resolved that the Rabbinical Assembly encourage each of our members to use their voices to amplify the Jewish values of feeding the hungry and how the above policies are necessary to reduce food insecurity and hunger in the United States of America; this could be accomplished by writing “letters to the editor” or editorials in local newspapers, lobbying local lawmakers, or circulating petitions, or other such means;

Be it further resolved that we encourage our members to support and partner with the efforts of Mazon in advocating on an international, national and local level on the issue of food insecurity;

Finally, be it resolved that the Rabbinical Assembly encourage our members to advocate for the founding and support of local farms, Jewish social service organizations, soup kitchens, food pantries and any organization or group doing the vital work of increasing food security.