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Saperstein: The passage of the Farm Bill, alone, will not end hunger in America. It will take a sustained commitment by our leaders and our nation. But the Farm Bill is a crucial step forward in the fight against poverty.
Washington, June 23, 2008 – In response to Congress’ override of President Bush’s veto of the Farm Bill Reauthorization, Rabbi David Saperstein, Director of the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism, issued the following statement:
We commend the House and Senate for overriding President Bush’s veto of the Farm Bill. Congress has been at work on this legislation for a year and a half and the 35 million Americans—one-third of them children—who suffer from hunger have waited long enough. For 30 years, the minimum monthly food stamp benefit has remained at $10. Until now, the average food stamp benefit was only $1 per person per meal. Food pantries across the country have found their shelves empty or their supplies at historically low levels.
While imperfect, the Farm Bill makes vital investments in the Food Stamp Program, the nation’s most effective anti-hunger program, and The Emergency Food Assistance Program, which does so much to stock our nation’s food banks.
Jewish tradition teaches that feeding the hungry is one of our most important responsibilities. One Midrash, or legend, says: “When you are asked in the world to come, ‘What was your work?’ and you answer: ‘I fed the hungry,’ you will be told: ‘This is the gate of God, enter into it, you who have fed the hungry.’”
The passage of the Farm Bill, alone, will not end hunger in America. It will take a sustained commitment by our leaders and our nation. But the Farm Bill is a crucial step forward in the fight against poverty. Because of Congress’ actions, fewer children will go to bed hungry; fewer seniors will be forced to choose between paying for food or for medicine. During this time of economic hardship, we applaud Congress for working across the aisle and helping the people who need it most.
The Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism is the Washington office of the Union for Reform Judaism, whose more than 900 congregations across North America encompass 1.5 million Reform Jews, and the Central Conference of American Rabbis, whose membership includes more than 1800 Reform rabbis