"Hunger Doesn't Take a Vacation"
Lauren Weissman is a participant in the Religious Action Center's Machon Kaplan summer program for college students. She is a student at the University of Florida and an intern at the Food Research and Action Center.
Last week in Machon Kaplan class we were given an insider's explanation of DC. Apparently there are four quadrants of the city: NW, SW, NE and SE. As a reference point, we were informed that the exact center lies in the middle of the capital building, and while this is an extremely interesting fact, it does not really help those of us that are directionally challenged. I will freely admit to anyone that I am horrible at directions and have a tendency to get lost. Navigating the same roads that I have lived on for my entire life was hard enough, let alone trying to comprehend an entire city grid. Personally, I am just praying that I make it to 21st and Connecticut without accidentally ending up on 22nd and New Hampshire (You would be surprised at how easy it is to make this mistake.)
Now, sprawling and confusing city streets are not the only things that have been holding my focus lately. Having only spent a few days with my internship at the Food Research and Action Center (FRAC) my eyes have already been opened to an expanding social issue in America, that of hunger and child nutrition. Unfortunately, due to the recent recession, a growing number of people have found themselves and their families below the poverty line. People who used to worry about whether they should order pizza or Chinese food for dinner are now forced to choose between buying groceries and paying bills. These people are simply new additions to the group of low-income families that must struggle daily just to put food on the table.
This is where the FRAC comes in. The FRAC is the largest national non-profit organization working to end hunger and under nourishment in the United States. As an intern, I have been focusing on helping to spread the word about the Summer Feeding Programs to members of Congress across the country. Summer Feeding programs provide breakfast and lunch to low-income children at specific summer enrichment sites such as camps, parks and summer schools. In this way we can begin to fight hunger in America, because "Hunger Doesn't Take a Vacation" so neither should those of us rallying against it.
My new role as a social justice advocate thrusts the Jewish belief in Tikkun Olam, repairing the world, onto center stage. I finally understand the true meaning of giving of myself to others and trying to do mitzvot as often as possible in order to affect as many people as I can. Now, my knowledge of what my place in the never ending social justice movement is truly becoming clear to me.