Food sits at the heart of Judaism. It is the bond that will bring us together with loved ones over the High Holy Days period. This set of festivals – from the Jewish New Year to our day of repentance – is a time for reflection and a chance to contemplate the year ahead.
As we think about our food-based rituals and the meals we will share with our loved ones, we should also remember those who do not share our good fortune. Because here in the UK, one of the world’s richest nations, millions are going hungry – unable to afford the food they need to feed themselves and their families.
That’s why I’m asking you to make a donation today to help René Cassin establish a Jewish Food Rights Alliance. We believe that the best way to end food poverty is to work for a Right to Food. Food banks are struggling to cope with a growing problem made worse by the pandemic.
The Independent Food Aid Network saw demand for emergency food parcels more than double in 2020 compared with 2019. Now what it calls ‘a perfect storm’ – a cut in Universal Credit, the end of the furlough scheme, and a sharp rise in energy prices – is about to hit. Together, we need to look beyond food banks for long-term solutions to structural inequality.
Hunger is a pernicious evil. It undermines the fabric of society, parents stressed and anxious, their hungry children unable to concentrate at school, prospects wrecked – and so inequality cascades down the generations.
We cannot go on like this. The need to make the case for a right to food has never been more urgent. Marcus Rashford recently said: “The system was not built for families like mine to succeed, regardless of how hard my mum worked”. We need to change that system.
If ‘build back better’ means anything, surely a priority must be ending the scandal of so many of our neighbours going hungry or facing the humiliation of reliance on charity.
The Jewish community’s engagement in food donation and mobilisation gives us a unique and powerful position in making the case for the right to food.
René Cassin’s Jewish Food Rights Alliance will:
- Convene Jewish food charities and other actors to help build Jewish community understanding of, and action on, food poverty
- Develop skills in, and capacity for, community-based leadership, mobilisation and strategic communications
- Champion a united ‘Jewish voice’ on the right to food
Charity should be an emergency sticking plaster, not a structural solution. Leviticus tells us: “you shall not pick your vineyard bare or gather the fallen fruit of your vineyard; you shall leave them for the poor and the stranger.” Perhaps it is time that we ensured that the poor and the stranger have a few vines of their own.
Please support our work to establish a Jewish Food Rights Alliance by making a donation today.
You can make an online donation now. Or, if you’d prefer, send a cheque of CAF voucher to René Cassin, 853 Finchley Road, London NW11 8LX.
P.S. Establishing a Right to Food will be a long and difficult journey – so if you are able to become a ‘Friend of René Cassin’ by making a regular donation, it would be especially appreciated. To do so click the ‘I’d like to give regularly’ button on the donation link.