Category Archives: MAZON Grantees

Hurricane Ida: Crisis in El Salvador


Courtesy SHARE Foundation (

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 (

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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Filed under International Relief, MAZON Grantees

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

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

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…

Continue reading

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Filed under Hunger Advocacy, Hunger Fighters, MAZON Grantees

Idaho Hunger Relief Task Force – A MAZON Success Story

Image courtesy Idaho Hunger Relief Task Force

Image courtesy Idaho Hunger Relief Task Force

The Idaho Hunger Relief Task Force envisions that in a “state as abundant as Idaho, hunger will not exist“, and works to put public and private resources into action statewide to eliminate hunger and provide food security for all Idahoans. MAZON: A Jewish Response to Hunger understood the challenges and possibilities of ending hunger in Idaho and invested start-up funds in 2007 to support the new Idaho task force.

Over the past two years, with continued support from MAZON, the Idaho Hunger Relief Task Force experienced important successes, including: completing a profile of hunger in Idaho – county by county; raising awareness about food insecurity; reducing barriers to participation in food stamps; conducting advocacy work to support reauthorization of the Child Nutrition Act and WIC; and organizing a statewide Summit on Hunger and Food Insecurity. In August 2009, the task force requested one-time-only bridge funding from MAZON – which was granted. Because of leveraging MAZON’s funding, the Task Force just learned in September 2009 that the Idaho food stamp program would donate $10,000 to support their work.  Although the Idaho Hunger Relief Task Force is young, it has a very big agenda and MAZON is very proud to partner with them!

Written by Elaine Himelfarb, MAZON Program Officer for the Southwest, Mountain Plains & West Regions. She can be reached at

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Filed under MAZON Grantees

The Carrot & The Shotgun

Courtesy Flickr user Steve Rhode (

Courtesy Flickr user Steve Rhode (

Recently, MAZON welcomed Bob Forney, former President & CEO of the Chicago Stock Exchange & America’s Second Harvest (now Feeding America) into our offices to share the successes of his current efforts with The Global Foodbanking Network. Founded in 2006 as a collaboration between Feeding America, Food Banks Canada, Red Argentina de Bancos de Alimentos & Associación Mexicana de Bancos de Alimentos, The Global Foodbanking Network (GFN) establishes & supports food bank networks serving over a billion people worldwide who suffer from hunger and malnourishment. Mr. Forney has personally been involved with GFN programs in Jordan (which, besides hungry Jordanians, has seen an influx of a million Iraqi refugees in recent years), Turkey, Argentina, Canada, South Africa & Israel (these last two funded by MAZON seed money).

Why food bank networks, as opposed to more localized service centers? Mr. Forney offers a real-world example from his experience working with food suppliers. If Kellogg’s has a defective batch of Rice Krispies that tastes fine but doesn’t snap, crackle & pop to perfection, they can’t ship it to grocers, but it costs them money to dispose of it themselves. If Kellogg’s were to donate it to a single organization, that group would need access to a secure warehouse, industrial equipment & staff capable of receiving, storing, sorting & distributing 300 metric tons of rice before it goes bad. Few groups can manage that, and unfortunately the Rice Krispies goes to the dump – but with a food bank network, an infrastructure exists that can meet everyone’s needs across different regions.

The problem with some well-meaning organizations, according to Forney, is their inability to break barriers & collaborate. Nobody’s mission statement requires them to work alone, and ending hunger is one of the few things all people agree on – from everyday citizens, farmers & grocers to large-scale suppliers & politicians – but long-term change can only occur with a committee of the whole.

This is where you, the donor & concerned citizen, come in. You have the carrot & the shotgun to entice and, if necessary, force organizations to work together. Without your donations of time & resources, no organization can function, but with your help, ideas & pressure, organizations can break barriers, work together & end hunger once and for all. Hunger’s greatest ally is distance – the distance between the poor & accessible food, and the distance between organizations looking to save the universe by themselves. That distance separates a billion people, and it’s our responsibility to close the gap and bring everyone back together.

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Filed under Hunger Advocacy, International Relief, Interviews, MAZON Grantees

Teach A Man To Fish

While we all understand that feeding the hungry is an essential step toward repairing the world, effectively battling hunger requires not only treating the symptoms but also giving individuals the tools to control their own lives.  In the U.S. and around the globe, MAZON supports not only food providers but programs that work to build sustainable growth within communities that have slipped through the cracks of the modern world.

One of our newest grantees, Ikamva Labantu, operates out of Cape Town in South Africa. Ikamva Labantu, which means “The Future of our Nation,” traces its origins to the work of Helen Lieberman during the era of Apartheid. Lieberman worked with impoverished women in townships surrounding Cape Town to build solutions from the inside-out, rather than outside-in.

From those humble beginnings was born Ikamva Labantu, which now serves as an umbrella, funding and supporting over one thousand projects around South Africa that focus on building and maintaining sustainable development. They aid children, youth, adults, families, seniors and the disabled, supporting programs such as foster homes for orphans, food garden projects, home-based care training programs, youth life-skills programs, and training seniors to care for seniors.

Taken as a whole, Ikamva Labantu employs a novel and much needed strategy to tackling hunger in these impoverished townships, adopting a business model to focus on building social accountability. The trustees and Board of Directors are successful businessmen and women who bring corporate expertise to financial & management issues, including constantly auditing all funding.

As Ikamva Labantu states: “It is only by handing individuals control of their own lives that we can set them free to support themselves in a meaningful, sustainable way.” In other words, “Teach a man to fish…”
-Written by Peter Gjerset, Donor Services Associate at MAZON

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Filed under Food For Thought, International Relief, MAZON Grantees

MAZON-Funded SOVA Food Pantry Sees Record Numbers In July

Image courtesy SOVA Community Food & Resource Program

Image courtesy SOVA Community Food & Resource Program

The following was written by Leslie Friedman, MAZON’s Vice President. She can be reached at

My first official blog as Vice President of MAZON: A Jewish Response to Hunger is prompted by recent news from Fred, my friend and former colleague at the SOVA Community Food and Resource Program in Los Angeles.  In 2002, when I became SOVA director, our three food pantries were providing free groceries for about 2500 people a month.  A couple of weeks ago, Fred, now SOVA Director of Operations, emailed a simple and jarring message: “8,239 (That’s the preliminary client count for July.  40% above July ‘08.  93% above July ’07).”

The news was staggering.  8,239 people a month are now relying on SOVA for food assistance.  Unbelievable.  I don’t need to know their names to know who they are.  You may not realize it, but regardless of where you live, you know who they are, too.  You see them waiting for the bus as you drive by, or standing in front of you in the grocery store line or clearing the tables at your neighborhood restaurant.  It’s the man who cleans your office after hours, the clerk at the drugstore and the single mother with two teenagers whose car is their home.  It’s the elderly couple who live in the apartment at the end of the hall. They are people who are homeless, people with disabilities, people who followed all the rules and still got sideswiped by life, people who worked their whole lives only to see their savings evaporate and people who fell through the cracks of the “safety net” because they weren’t poor enough.  They are people who don’t know when or whether they will have another meal.

The people behind the statistics are the reason I work to end hunger, not only in my community, but in yours, too.

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Filed under Food For Thought, MAZON Grantees