Author Archives: mazoned

Fed Up With Hunger: Blueprint to End Hunger in Los Angeles

 

MAZON Board Member Neil Salowitz shows Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack we're Fed Up With Hunger! (Courtesy http://givelifemeaning.org)

The USDA reports that 49 million Americans – 1 in 7 – went hungry in 2008. Nearly a million in Los Angeles face hunger every day. Fed Up? You’re not the only one.

Everyone deserves the right to eat healthy and live free of hunger. On a national level, Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack and the Obama administration strive to improve school nutrition programs, increase access to nutritious foods and eliminate childhood hunger. Here in Los Angeles, Fed Up With Hunger works to end hunger in one of the nation’s largest cities. Both share the same goal – 2015 – and Fed Up With Hunger already has an ambitious, yet attainable, Blueprint to End Hunger in Los Angeles.

Fed Up With Hunger launches the Blueprint this Monday, November 23rd, at 8:30 a.m. at The Jewish Federation’s Goldsmith Headquarters at 6505 Wilshire Blvd. The comprehensive Blueprint is a collaboration between anti-hunger organizations across Los Angeles, and aims to bring the community together to address this hunger crisis. We hope that the success of the Blueprint to End Hunger and Fed Up With Hunger program can provide a model for other communities as well.

A core recommendation of the Blueprint is that Los Angeles County, City and LAUSD focus additional energy on hunger issues and increase coordination of services. County Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky, City Councilmember Paul Koretz and School Board Member Steve Zimmer are already on board for the Blueprint’s launch, and will continue to support its vision of a city free of hunger by introducing motions in their respective branches of government. Immediately following the launch is an Anti-Hunger and Food Advocates Roundtable discussion at 9:00AM. Community leaders will discuss ideas on how to best implement the Blueprint’s anti-hunger and sustainable food goals and objectives.

RSVP to David Lee at DLee@JewishLA.org or (323) 761-8165. Download & read the Blueprint to End Hunger in Los Angeles from Fed Up With Hunger.

Fed Up with Hunger is the Jewish Federation-led partnership to end hunger in Los Angeles. The core partners in the initiative are MAZON: A Jewish Response to Hunger and SOVA, The Community Food and Resource Program of Jewish Family Service. Learn more & get involved at http://givelifemeaning.org.

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Hurricane Ida: Crisis in El Salvador

 

Courtesy SHARE Foundation (http://share-elsalvador.org)

Last week, we tweeted that Hurricane Ida hit the heart of El Salvador. Subsequent updates from the field have showed us how bad things really are. The storm destabilized weather patterns. Torrential rains & terrifying floods ripped through the capital city of San Salvador and 60% of the countryside. Nearly 200 people lost their lives, and over 10,000 lost their homes. Neighboring cities became islands, inaccessible except by helicopter. Crops were decimated, and those lucky enough to keep their homes lost access to vital services, health care, and food.

 

The SHARE Foundation, the Salvadoran Red Cross, and international aid workers work tirelessly for short term relief, but the real challenge comes after their efforts, with rebuilding and reconstruction. With worldly possessions washed away, how will Salvadorans live? With food stocks completely wiped out, how will Salvadorans eat? Looking forward to the second and future phases of recovery, the SHARE Foundation plans to restore agricultural production, emphasizing family farms & women’s co-operatives.

 

Courtesy SHARE Foundation (http://share-elsalvador.org)

For over a decade, MAZON has partnered with the SHARE Foundation to support agricultural programs & initiatives. Now, at this time of Salvadoran crisis, we ask you to partner with us for an emergency grant. Your support enables us to feed families in the short-term, and stay involved in the region in the long-term, as we have after Hurricane Katrina, to insure a healthy, sustainable recovery.

 

Please donate now. Under special instructions, tell us your donation is for El Salvador.

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Introducing MAZON’s New Site A.C.T.: End Hunger & iPhone App!

A.C.T.: End HungerTo end hunger, we must A.C.T. – Achieve Change Together.

Today, MAZON proudly launches our year-end campaign A.C.T.: End Hunger (http://actendhunger.org). A.C.T. reflects our core beliefs: that we can achieve a world without hunger, we can change lives, and we can work together to increase our impact. Join over 50,000 annual donors and help us raise $3 million in 3 months for the fight against hunger.

We’ve been listening to your suggestions & requests, and brought them to A.C.T.: End Hunger –

  • An easy-to-assemble MAZON tzedakah box for religious schools, kids & families. Print, fold, decorate, and send us pics of your mitzvah masterpiece! We’ll share your creations on our Flickr feed and blog!
  • Inform friends and family about ending hunger, and why it’s important to you. Email the site to a friend, tweet a link, or share it on Facebook, MySpace and many other social networking sites.
  • Our most exciting project is MAZON’s pioneering iPhone App. Stay involved wherever you go, with instant access to MAZON news, advocacy alerts, local volunteer opportunities & hunger facts. There’s also a giving calculator & easy donation link, so you can give back whenever you break bread. Available now at the App Store!
  • Stay tuned for even more exciting developments!

Need to get a head start on Thanksgiving and holiday greetings? Use MAZON’s new and improved online donation system to send tribute cards or e-cards simply and quickly to your friends and family. Tribute requests received by this Friday, November 20th at noon PST will be sent before Thanksgiving.

With our new donation system, make a one-time gift as a guest, or use your existing MAZON.org log-in to access your new myMAZON account. More features are being developed for myMAZON to make giving even easier! Soon, you’ll have instant access to your entire gift history, and create fundraising pages for family & friends to honor you at important life events.

We can Achieve Change Together! We can end hunger in our lifetime!

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3 Ways to Fight Hunger With Your Thanksgiving Menu

White Earth Land Recovery Project

Courtesy White Earth Land Recovery Project / Native Harvest (http://nativeharvest.com)

Thanksgiving is America’s most famous meal, a time to gather with friends & family to share love, reflections and delicious food. Every time you share a meal, you can make a difference. Here are three ways to fight hunger at your Thanksgiving table – without switching out the traditional menu!

  • White Earth Land Recovery Project, a MAZON grantee in Minnesota, works to restore sustainable farming & green wind-power at the White Earth Reservation. Statewide, they work to prevent GMO rice crops from overtaking wild rice. Traditional land practices enable local farmers to provide for their own elderly, disabled & families. Their projects are so successful that they have surplus stock of wild rice, organic coffee, fruit jellies & other crops available for sale through the Native Harvest online catalog. Purchasing organic crops keeps the community & its traditions alive. What better way to echo that first Thanksgiving than with delicious Native-grown food? Contact Native Harvest to see if they’re still taking orders & can ship yours in time.
MANNA

Courtesy MANNA (http://mannapa.org)

  • Another MAZON grantee, Philadelphia-based MANNA, makes dessert even sweeter with Pie In The Sky. The yearly fundraiser provides critical support for their programs, which deliver nourishing meals to people with acute nutritional risk. One MANNA client, Jeannine, was 80 pounds when she started receiving meals, due to HIV & depression over the loss of her husband. MANNA helps her access proper nutrition, put on weight & provide for her family when she is too sick to cook herself. MANNA pies can be ordered online until Friday, November 20th, with pick-up locations all over Philadephia & New Jersey.
Oregon Produce

Courtesy Oregon Food Bank (http://oregonfoodbank.org)

  • If you live outside of the Philadelphia area, there are sweets of a different sort. Naumes Fruit Gifts donates a pound of fresh fruit for every gift basket sold. Produce is always in short supply at food banks, and one of their recipients is MAZON grantee Oregon Food Bank, which distributes 34 million pounds of food a year to food pantries, soup kitchens, shelters & other nutrition programs throughout Orgeon. Give a gift & feed the needy!
We’d love to hear about other great hunger-fighting groups & programs. Leave a comment here, on Twitter @StopHunger, or on MAZON’s Facebook page.
And if your menu’s already set in stone (or you’ve got very picky eaters), you can always support these and other programs by donating to MAZON. We’re thankful for all you give us year-round.

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Project Elijah: Open The Door & Feed The Hungry

1257361190127_665e8It wasn’t even Passover, yet on Sunday, October 18th at West Hills, California’s Milken Jewish Community Campus, an innovative program called  “Feeding the Hungry Project” opened the doors and Project Elijah, a MAZON-funded hunger response nonprofit, walked through it.

Project Elijah’s Executive Director, Julie Kaufman and its founder, Alan Zuckert flew into town from Des Moines, Iowa, with crates of supplies and packaging equipment. With local organizers, they set up assembly lines and bag-sealing stations in the auditorium and proceeded to set the stage for a transformative experience for the hundreds of volunteers that would soon arrive.

From 10am and 2pm, two shifts of volunteers, mostly from Temple Ahavat Shalom in Northridge, California, donned bright orange t-shirts, aprons, gloves and hairnets and began to scoop, measure, package and seal a nutritious blend of grains into 4-serving bags.  Rabbi Barry Lutz blew a shofar to launch the event and as each 5000-meal milestone was achieved, he blew the shofar again to the cheers and applause of the volunteers.

The “Feeding the Hungry” project came together because Temple Ahavat Shalom member Stephanie Howard believed it was possible. It became reality with guidance from MAZON and grants from the Los Angeles Jewish Federation’s Valley Alliance and other funders.  It generated over 35,000 meals for beneficiaries of the SOVA Community Food and Resource Program, a long-time MAZON grantee, because more than 1,000,000 men, women and children in Los Angeles are at risk of hunger and SOVA’s three food pantries are among the premiere front line responders to the hunger crisis in Los Angeles.

Here are Ms. Howard’s reflections on the event:

Wow!  Four hundred volunteers + four hours = 35,000 meals for SOVA!  That’s what we can accomplish with some long-range planning, a passion to feed the hungry and a little Chutzpah.

We did it!  And we didn’t have to “reinvent the wheel.”  All we had to do was “roll in” a high-protein, vitamin-packed food product and assembly line system developed by Project Elijah in Des Moines, Iowa.  Temple Ahavat Shalom started dreaming about this one-day event years ago.  Thanks to grants from the Los Angeles Federation Valley Alliance and the Ted and Sarah Seldin Family Fund we were able to pay for the food and shipping of the equipment to package the meals.

Of course, the best part of the equation is the volunteers.  There was so much enthusiasm for Feeding the Hungry that we had to close down the sign ups weeks ahead of time when we reached our maximum of 400 volunteers. People brought their patience, passion and willingness to do a great mitzvah so we could meet our goal to help the needy.

Thanks, MAZON, for co-sponsoring Feeding the Hungry and for fighting the battle every day to draw down hunger.

She also has event photos available on Flickr.

Anyone can open the door and end hunger.  Start by opening the door to MAZON: A Jewish Response to Hunger at www.mazon.org.

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Filed under Guest Blog, Hunger Advocacy, MAZON Grantees, Site Visits

In loving memory: Rabbi Mark Loeb

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UPDATED 10/15/09 as tributes continue to come in from our board & staff. For more tributes & information on the life and career of Rabbi Loeb from those who knew him best, please visit Beth El Congregation.

We are heartbroken to report that Rabbi Mark Loeb, a former MAZON Board Chair and longtime board member, passed away on Wednesday. Loeb, Rabbi Emeritus at Beth El Congregation in Baltimore, was in Milan, enjoying his favorite things – opera & Judaism. Beth El issued the following statement:

It is with a profound sense of loss and sadness that we share with you the following news.  Our Rabbi Emeritus, Rabbi Mark Loeb, died last night in Milan, Italy.  He was there serving a congregation as its interim rabbi enjoying Milan’s culture, opera, and the many other things that he loved.  We mourn his loss as a congregation and a community, and offer our sincerest sympathies to his family.

The details for Rabbi Loeb’s funeral are yet to be determined as we are waiting for information from Italy and his family.  In the meantime, tonight, Thursday, October 8 between 6:30 – 7:30, we will be creating an opportunity for people to come together and to be with one another during this time of loss.

The following comes from current MAZON Board Chair Joel Jacob & MAZON President Eric Schockman:

He was truly an icon in his community. His ‘retirement’ party lasted over several days and it was evident that the universe loved this endearing, gentle soul. He was a visionary and non-conformist to the principles of Judaism he lived and breathed every day. He took great joy for example in boasting how he was one of the first Conservative rabbi s in the country to perform a ‘commitment ceremony’ for a same sex-couple who were long time members of his congregation. Mark bestowed the full dignity of the sacred vows we hold so dear in the Jewish religion. Just a few weeks ago, Joel and I received an email from Mark when we learned he would not be joining us for the upcoming board meeting. His email was typical Mark: he was excited about being in Milan, excited about administering pastoral care to a small Jewish community there and being in the epicenter of the world of opera he loved. We deduced from his short email that:  his feet were grounded in the Judaism he relished and his head was in the melodic sounds of one of the birthplaces of musical opera.

Leonard Fein, MAZON’s founder, offers the following tribute:

Those of you who remember Mark know what an unusual and a thoughtful person he was.  Others should know that he was an uncommonly broadminded man, whose love of Judaism at its best was only exceeded by his love of opera.  (True.)  I was startled and deeply saddened to receive Leslie’s grim news, and I very much hope that for all who knew him, his memory will, indeed, be for a blessing.

Former MAZON chair Rabbi Arnold Rachlis of University Synagogue in Irvine, CA, has these words:

Mark was an engaging, humorous and thoughtful “Renaissance man.”  He was devoted to his congregants, MAZON, interfaith dialogue and a large, pluralistic, inclusive world.

Zichrono livracha.

MAZON board member Rabbi (Dr.) Richard Marker of Marker Goldsmith Philanthropy Advisors shares these memories:

Mark was a year behind me in the JTS rabbinical school. Back then, he was one of the most memorable student activists – at a time of student activism.  He was forthright, and public, in his advocacy for civil rights legislation, and more than most, demonstrated verbally and personally the conviction of the natural alignment between commitment to the Jewish Tradition and liberal values. This character trait and passion, which I recall from 40+ years ago, were with him during his entire professional career. Zecher tzadik livrachah.

Though I was never lucky enough to meet Rabbi Loeb, I bore witness to his commitment to humanity & social justice through the many tributes received in his honor from Beth El members, during his retirement last year, and annually during the Passover & High Holy Days seasons. I close with a quote he gave last year to the Baltimore Sun, upon his last Passover at Beth El:

“Being released from suffering is not enough. The result of suffering is to come away with respect for those who suffer and not join those who offend them. You learn from your suffering and find a way to dedicate yourself to something important.”

Rest in peace, Rabbi Loeb. May your memory always be for a blessing.

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Filed under Food For Thought, Hunger Fighters, MAZON News

This Thursday: Learn About LA’s New Food Policy Task Force

We have a wonderful problem at MAZON… we’ve had so many donations in honor of the High Holy Days that we’re completely swamped just trying to process them all.

These funds allow us to support organizations like Hunger Action Los Angeles, who sent us the following regarding their monthly meeting this Thursday. These meetings are a great place to brainstorm ideas & learn about steps and events by various organizations and individuals to end hunger in Los Angeles and statewide (through collaboration with the California Hunger Action Coalition).

If you can’t make the meeting or live outside of Los Angeles, there are some fantastic snippets about food waste & conservation in a major metropolis and increased food stamp access in California towards the end. Frank Tamborello of Hunger Action Los Angeles also runs a weekly e-newsletter, “To All Those Interested In Food and Justice” chock full of hunger information & news articles. Check out this week’s issue, and learn of even more ways you can help hungry Angelenos & Californians!

Take it away, Frank…

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Avoiding Darfive

It is often in the absurd that poignant insights are provided.  In his new movie, Brüno, Sacha Baron Cohen’s character responds to a question regarding his social involvement:  “Darfur is old news…what about Darfive.”  He is commenting on our need to move on to what is fashionable and that human tragedies go in and out like the latest clothing designs. Painful as it might be, the suffering of the Darfuri people has not ended like an episode of a television drama. It has been a six-year long human catastrophe, and sadly there is no end in sight.

I just returned home to the Bay Area after spending 10 days in Eastern Chad, observing Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year, in Darfuri refugee camps.  There are no Jews there, but there are millions of humans struggling to survive.  Having lived my life as a middle class American, I will never be able to communicate what life as a Darfuri refugee entails. I can only tell you what I have just seen.

I’ve seen hundreds of children under the age of six born in the camps, whose only experience of life so far is one of poverty, food rations and houses made of sheets and mud. I’ve seen women being wheeled miles back to the camps on wooden platforms over pitted roads, just hours after giving birth in an aid clinic. I’ve seen families building dirt shells around UN tents to protect themselves from ravaging heat, wind, and rain.

Since my first trip to the area in 2004, the camps now look like a village but a village without freedom, security, education or jobs. Because the people have had no choice but to live this way for so many years, things have normalized in a sense—if I can even connect such devastation and loss to anything normal.

Since 2003, four hundred thousand Darfuri people have lost their lives. Three million have lost their homes and all that a home represents.  For me, as a rabbi, there could be no better place to welcome in a new year.  Here, I am reminded of the brightness of human compassion and connection.  These are people often forgotten, living in the remotest part of the earth. They are surviving because of their resilience, their courage, and their refusal to give up hope.  Somehow they go on with minimal food, water and shelter. Their battle is not a political one; they are simply victims of ethnic cleansing, of genocide.  They wonder: Does the civilized world care? Have we been left to die?

I believe that our lives are inextricably linked. As long as we are allowing people to suffer this way, not just in Darfur, but in so many places in this world, our lives cannot really flourish.  Indeed, we can take great pride in so many human accomplishments.  Yet in terms of how human beings treat each other, perhaps all we can feel is embarrassment.

What can we  do in our own communities to help? We can first remember the wisdom of Martin Luther King Jr. who wrote from his Birmingham jail cell: “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.” If we allow such cruelty to take place anywhere in the world, might we also allow it here, in our home?   We are known as Americans for being being a community with a social conscience; does that conscience only extend to our immediate local concerns?  If we can’t find ways to help, who will?

There is much that can be done. We can provide financial support and aid. We can send letters and simple reminders to let them know we care. We can educate ourselves and stay informed. We can keep the plight of the Darfuri people on the minds of our families and friends. We can urge our country’s leaders to do more.  The tragedy of Rwanda did not need to unfold as it did; we failed to put pressure on the White House to act.

Darfur has been called the first genocide of the 21st century.  What a horrific attribution with an implication that there will be others.  Are we doomed to have others?  I believe not, if we can find the courage to see that human dignity and human rights are worth our sustained support.  It is time now to end the suffering of Darfur, lest we have Darfive, six and seven.

Ultimately, it is about the world we leave our children. When our grandchildren ask us, what did you do to help the Darfuri people, will we be embarrassed or will be able to say that we did everything within our power to help.

Like many holidays, the Jewish New Year is meant to shake us to our core and to remind us of our personal responsibility to be engaged global citizens.  Nowhere on earth could this message have been more deeply felt than sitting with the Darfuri refugees.

Our ability to respond and to care is immense—limited only by our own fears and doubts.  The people of Darfur are waiting for us to be bold, imaginative and do whatever we can to help restore their lives.

Lee Bycel is Executive Director of the Redford Center, based in Berkeley, CA. The Redford Center inspires positive social and environmental change through the arts, education and civil discourse.  He raised $100,000 for humanitarian aid prior to his recent trip.

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Shabbat Shuvah

'Shabbat Shalom' courtesy Flickr User: _PaulS_

'Shabbat Shalom' courtesy Flickr User: _PaulS_

The Shabbat between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur is called Shabbat Shuvah. For many it is also considered the Shabbat of Returning, repentance, and focused prayer.  It is a special Shabbat because Jews are instructed to examine their deeds and focus their attention on how their behavior affects themselves and others.

In light of the season, this Shabbat can be a useful time to examine the genuine effort we make to improve ourselves, either in reflection of the past year or with hopes for this new year of 5770. Using the ten days between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur only for repentance and prayer would overlook one further examination: of charity.

Let this week be a time of reflection.

In Judaism our Sages have taught that G-d will forgive the sins of Israel, but what of the sins we commit against others and against humanity. Using precious time idly or neglecting those in need are considered great grievances in Judaism. A question is then posed: How can Jews ask humanity for forgiveness?

Rabbi Tarfon reminds us in the Talmud, “It is not up to you to complete the work, but neither are you free to desist from it.” While problems of hunger and poverty in the United States may appear too large for one individual to solve, it is our responsibility as a community, and under Jewish commandment, to act together for positive change. When one individual feels the responsibility to act, even in the smallest ways, their work can make a difference.

Let this year be a year of action.

Please consider a contribution to MAZON: A Jewish Response to Hunger. Your gift will help provide for people who are hungry while at the same time advocating to end hunger and it’s causes.

Rosalie Licht, Donor Services Associate. Rosalie can be reached at rlicht@mazon.org.

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Tweet For Child Nutrition

The Child Nutrition and WIC Reauthorization Act of 2004 expires September 30, next week! This provides crucial funding for School Breakfast ProgramsWIC (Women Infants & Children), CACFP (Child & Adult Care Food Program) & Summer Food Service Programs. Additionally, it allows hungry children & working families easier access to existing School Lunch Programs & even Farmer’s Markets. More information about specifics can be found here.

It’s more important than ever that you express your support for H.R.1324 (House Bill) & S.934 (Senate Bill), The Child Nutrition Promotion and School Lunch Protection Act of 2009. We’ve shown you how to advocate (speak out) for hungry kids through letters, emails & phone calls andsteered you towards online petitions. Now there’s another way – Twitter.

Twitter is a perfect advocacy tool. It allows any user direct access to their representatives (more and more of whom are joining everyday – see Tweet Congress for a full list), and, with 140-character messages and grouping via hashtags (#), it’s easier for representatives and their aides to hear constituents and track support.

Here’s an example we featured on our Twitter @StopHunger yesterday:

Rep @BuckMcKeon please support H.R.1324. Child Nutrition Authorization expires next week! #hr1324

(Not to single out Rep. McKeon, but he’s a local representative & a member of the House’s Committee on Education & Labor)

Now it’s your turn:

  • Sign up for Twitter (if you haven’t already).
  • Go to Tweet Congress. Find your reps using their zip code search.
  • Address your rep directly using @
  • Ask them to support H.R.1324, The Child Nutrition Promotion and School Lunch Protection Act (if they’re in the House) or S.934, The Child Nutrition Promotion and School Lunch Protection Act (if they’re in the Senate)
  • If you have characters to spare, ask your followers to RT (retweet) or include the hashtags #hr1324 or #s934 so we can track your support.

There are currently 15 million hungry children in the United States. Tweeting your support takes a couple minutes, but means the world to them.

Thanks for all you do. For more ways to help on Twitter, follow MAZON (@StopHunger) and Twitter For Food (@HungerNoMore).

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