This year, one in four households in Michigan will receive federal food assistance. To build awareness about the prevalence of hunger and malnutrition in the United States, and to inspire activism on the issue of hunger, the Jewish Community Relations Council and Gleaners Food Bank are partnering to present an Interfaith Hunger Seder. The Hunger Seder will take place on Sunday, April 17th at 3:00 p.m. at the Gleaners Community Food Bank Detroit Headquarters & Distribution Center.
The symbolism of a shared meal is central to many faith traditions, as is a hunger for justice. The Jewish holiday of Passover, a festival of freedom, provides the ideal context for a discussion on hunger in Michigan and across the country. Passover is observed by recounting the story of the Exodus from Egypt as told in the text of the Haggadah. The Haggadah begins by beckoning “All who are hungry come and eat. All who are in need, come and partake in the Paschal offering.”
Community leaders of many faiths, along with elected officials and invited guests, will participate in the Interfaith Hunger Seder. It was designed to be a powerful educational program that makes the issue of hunger personal. Participants will use a special Haggadah that explores the realities of hunger, utilizing the Seder’s traditional structure of Passover symbols, the Four Questions and the Ten Plagues.
No food will be served at the program, which is sponsored by the Jewish Community Relations Council and Gleaners. This year’s Haggadah, drafted by MAZON: A Jewish Response to Hunger, and the Jewish Council for Public Affairs, specifically addresses hunger issues faced by those who have served in the military.
The goal of the Hunger Seder is to encourage grassroots advocacy. And Hunger Seder participants will leave the program with an action plan for anti-hunger advocacy and activism.
Specifically, the community is asked to advocate for restoring funding to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) that helped pay for the Child Nutrition Reauthorization, to protect funding for SNAP (formerly food stamps) in the Farm Bill (and other legislation), and to fully fund the Women, Infants and Children (WIC) program.
An earlier Hunger Seder will be held on April 13th, 2016 from 5:00 – 6:00 p.m. at the Michigan State University Hillel in East Lansing. This event is sponsored by Yad Ezra, Michigan’s only kosher food bank, the National Council of Jewish Women, JCRC and the MSU Hillel. The event is being underwritten by the Judge Michael L. Stacey Trust. A bus will be available to transport participants from Yad Ezra’s Berkley facility to and from the Seder in East Lansing.
The Hunger Seders are part of a national effort launched by the Jewish Council for Public Affairs. There is no charge for either program. For reservations and more information about the April 17 Interfaith Hunger Seder, contact JCRC, 248-642-2656. For reservations and more information about the April 13 Hunger Seder at MSU Hillel, contact Yad Ezra, 248-548-3663.