No More Food Inspections And For Some No More Food

By Meteor Blades from Daily Kos:

As my colleague Laura Clawson noted last week, the Republican shutdown of the federal government is literally taking food out of babies’ mouths. In North Carolina, the state has stopped issuing vouchers for the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC). This provides money for healthy food as well as infant formula and a support program for breast-feeding.

But, Patrick Center reports, WIC is not the only nutrition program that’s being held hostage to the tea party’s crusade. So is the USDA’s Commodity Supplemental Food Program.

More at Daily Kos.

JCPA: Government Shutdown Is “Insult to Our Democratic System”

Programs like the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) will run out of money, leaving 9 million women and children without nutrition assistance. WIC office in Kings County, Cali.

— by Benjamin Suarato

Unable to agree on a new appropriations bill, Congress has instead opted for a government shutdown, “which its impact will be felt most by the vulnerable among us,” according to the Jewish Council for Public Affairs.

“This government shutdown is a product of a dysfunctional Congress,” said JCPA President Rabbi Steve Gutow.

And once again, our most vulnerable must suffer. Because of this dysfunction, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) has announced that programs like the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) will run out of money, leaving 9 million women and children without nutrition assistance. Head Start, which creates opportunity for children, would also suffer an immediate reduction. Not to mention the hundreds of thousands of furloughed federal employees in each of our communities, who will still be expected to meet their financial obligations even as we, as a nation, neglect ours. It is a callous abdication of our political leaders’ responsibility, and an insult to our democratic system, to ask those with the least to suffer from an inability to compromise.

More after the jump.
Last month, JCPA Vice President and Washington Director Jared Feldman sent a letter to Congress urging them to “craft a federal appropriations bill that prevents a government shutdown and furthers fiscal equity.” Citing the Biblical command that “there shall be no needy among you,” the letter specifically called to protect WIC and Head Start, among other programs, and for a restoration of the cuts from the sequester.  

“The clock is ticking on how long dysfunction can rule,” said JCPA Chair Larry Gold.

States can temporarily shoulder extra burdens, but as the days continue, the effects of a government shutdown will grow more serious. The stakes are too high for our leaders to be focused on political posturing, instead of serious governing. We call on Washington to quickly end this shutdown by passing a budget that restores funding to critical programs, promotes opportunity, helps to lift our most vulnerable, and ends the cycle of a country that lurches from crisis to crisis.

Food Stamp Challenge: The Week The Rabbis Went Hungry

— by Eric Harris

This week Rabbi David Saperstein, Director of the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism, and other members of the RAC staff, is taking the Food Stamp Challenge. Part of “Fighting Poverty with Faith’s” initiative to focus people of faith on issues of economic justice and the need to sustain vital social safety net programs, Food Stamp Challenge participants live for seven days on the standard weekly food stamp allotment of $31.50. Rabbi Saperstein will participate in the Challenge from October 27th through November 2nd, joining a half dozen prominent Jewish leaders and ten Members of Congress in this effort to call attention to anti-hunger programs and educate the faith community on the plight of hunger.

We are honored to be able to participate in the Food Stamp Challenge, and experience even for a brief time the ongoing struggle of the millions of Americans nationwide who are confronting hunger on a daily basis. We have long advocated for anti-hunger programs, like SNAP and WIC that meet the needs of the 49 million food-insecure Americans but the Challenge places in stark relief how difficult it is to obtain enough food and nutritious food on a food stamp budget – and why we must do better as a nation.

Jewish tradition teaches that feeding the hungry is a vital responsibility. The Midrash 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.’

Participating in the Food Stamp Challenge will not, by itself, end hunger in America; that will take a sustained commitment by our nation and its leaders. To that end, we are hopeful that our participation in the Food Stamp Challenge this week will inspire others to advocate for policies addressing families and individuals who confront hunger nationwide. During these difficult economic times, easing the burden on those who are most vulnerable must be our number one priority.

All members of our congregations are being called to register online, and join us in the Food Stamp Challenge and use it as an opportunity to educate your synagogue and community.

Other food stamp challenge participants are listed after the jump.

Who else is taking the challenge?

Ask your Member of Congress to take the challenge too.