On Rosh Hashanah, we say Shana tovah u’metukah (a good and sweet new year). And while we are nearly four months into 5774, we are only seven days into 2014 and it’s not shaping up to be a good or sweet year for millions of Americans. Congress has yet to extend unemployment insurance for those desperately seeking work, the House and Senate are locked in an appropriations battle to keep the government open past next Wednesday and the Farm Bill has languished for months.
And as Washington, D.C. scrambles to start working on their ever-growing to-do list, states are beginning their budget processes to fund hundreds of necessary programs ranging from education and environmental protection to housing and food assistance. The clock is ticking in New York State, where the budget must be passed by March 31st (if it is passed on time this year, it will be the fourth year in a row!)
In past budget seasons, Reform Jewish Voice of New York State has urged the state legislature to pass a fair and just budget, including calling for a minimum wage increase (which went into effect last week), the so-called “millionaires tax” and an expansion of affordable housing. With state funds for vital programs dwindling with each successive budget cycle, RJV is stepping up to urge the legislature to prioritize anti-hunger programs as they begin their budget discussions.
In 2010, 2.8 million New Yorkers—14% of all New Yorkers—lived below the poverty line and millions more struggled to put food on the table. Emergency food assistance programs are a lifeline to so many across the U.S., including individuals and families in your community. Funding for these programs stem from both private donations and government assistance, but private contributions are no match. Federally, for every $1.00 donated by a private citizen, the government contributes $24.00–without government funding, most of these essential programs would cease to exist.
Ensuring that programs like New York’s Hunger Prevention and Nutrition Assistance Program reach as many New Yorkers in need as possible is a priority for Reform Jewish Voice of New York State this season and we’re asking you to take action to fight hunger. If you live in New York State, urge your members of the Assembly and State Senate to protect HPNAP from budget cuts.
This New Year can be good and sweet—but we need to raise our voices and call for justice and equality. Visit RJV’s Hunger in New York page to discover more ways to be involved with this crucial issue and download our hunger info graphic.