Resolution Adopted by the CCAR

On Hunger and Food banks

Adopted by the CCAR at the 94th Annual Convention of
the Central Conference of American Rabbis
Los Angeles, March 13-16, 1983

One of the most significant mitzvot in our tradition calls upon us to feed the hungry and clothe the naked. Despite this prophetic mandate, experts in the area of poverty and hunger inform us that malnutrition in America, which had been eliminated in the late 1970's, in large part because of poverty and food-stamp programs, has re-emerged. They cite Reagan Administration budgetary cuts, especially pressure upon the Department of Agriculture by the Office of Budget and Administration, as the main reason for the increasing levels of illness, infant mortality, and starvation in American households.
We see repeated examples of farmers, supermarkets, and corporations being prevented from distributing their surplus foodstuffs to those in need. We learn about the plight of millions of impoverished families and individuals being denied food stamps and medical care where once they were available. We know of many cases such as the court order demanding that Department of Agriculture officials spend unused funds to feed 47,000 poor women and children in Georgia and New York. We view the long lines of people waiting for supplies from local synagogue, church, and civic food banks. We hear the fears expressed about increased malnutrition and starvation if food and medical projects are returned to State governments by the Federal government, considering that such efforts were created because of individual States' inability and/or unwillingness to provide for their impoverished citizens and residents.
In 1975, the Central Conference of American Rabbis resolved that the issue of hunger be given high priority by synagogue and communal institutions. In 1981, the Pacific Association of Reform Rabbis urged its constituent members to create "food banks" and similar projects for collection and distribution of nourishment and clothing within their local communities. In 1982, the Central Conference of American Rabbis decried budget cuts which further limited foods subsidies and health care.

THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that because conditions have only grown worse since the passage of these resolutions, and since the future portends even greater hardships for the poor, we urge the CCAR membership to reinforce and strengthen those guidelines enumerated in 1975 and 1981 for education and action. Further, we urge our membership to create "food banks" and food collection and distribution projects and to work in cooperation with other religious and civic organizations to share our bounty and our blessings with those who lack the essentials of life: food, clothing, medicine. and shelter.