More than 650 Jewish organizations and clergy have already asked the federal government and policymakers to use every tool to ensure access to nutrition programs in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. And now you can lend your voice to this effort. Join National Council of Jewish Women and MAZON: A Jewish Response to Hunger in a broad effort calling on governors and all policymakers to use every tool at their disposal to increase and expand nutrition assistance for all those struggling with food insecurity in the wake of the COVID-19 crisis. Sign your name here by 12pm ET on April 3, 2020.
The coronavirus crisis is not only a global health pandemic, but a time of urgent concern for those who are most vulnerable in our country; those at economic risk are facing dire consequences right now. I call on all policymakers at the federal, state, and local level to work together to increase and expand access to nutrition assistance for Americans struggling with food insecurity in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Jewish texts and traditions command us again and again to feed the hungry, care for the poor, and safeguard those who are most vulnerable — to not “harden [our] heart[s] or shut [our] hand[s] against [our] poor brethren” in need (Deuteronomy 15:7). This has never been more important than now.
I believe that a democratic society must provide for the needs of those unable to provide for themselves. Nearly 40 million Americans struggle to put food on the table on a regular basis; COVID-19 has real potential to exacerbate their struggles. While charitable organizations will continue to play a vital role in addressing hunger and poverty, I know that the overwhelming majority of food assistance in this country has historically come from — and must continue to come from — federal programs.
Therefore, it is critical that all governors and policymakers prioritize the following issues in their robust response to the COVID-19 crisis:
Suspend all SNAP work requirements — certainly for the duration of this pandemic and indefinitely during this time of economic distress and long-term recovery;
Employ flexibility to waive the congregate feeding requirements for child nutrition programs and home-delivered meal service models for seniors; and
Increase benefit amounts and expedite applications for programs like SNAP, as well as waive all in-person application requirements.
Jewish tradition is based in the understanding that each person is made in the image of God and that we are all responsible for one another, particularly in the darkest times. I urge you to show leadership and compassion in this moment to ensure that no matter a person’s circumstance, they will not go hungry as a result of this crisis.