WASHINGTON (JTA) — U.S. lawmakers and a White House official participated in a seder bringing attention to the issue of child nutrition and hunger.
Sen. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa) and Reps. James Clyburn (D-S.C.), JoAnn Emerson (R-Mo.) and Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.) all either spoke or did a reading during the event sponsored by the Jewish Council for Public Affairs and Mazon at the Capitol Visitors Center. Susan Sher, who serves as associate counsel to the president and does liaison work with the Jewish community, also participated.
Nearly 50 guests attended the seder, one of 40 across the country held to bring attention to the issue of child nutrition and hunger. Guests included members of Jewish youth groups, anti-hunger organizations and representatives of other faith-based groups.
The event focused on the importance of reauthorizing the Child Nutrition Act this year — with an additional $4 billion a year in new funding — and fulfilling President Obama’s goal of ending childhood hunger by 2015. The seder portrayed hunger as Egypt and adapted the seder service to the issue, with the Four Questions providing information about hunger in the United States and legislative initiatives to combat it, while the Four Sons became the stories behind "four faces of childhood hunger."
Harkin said he has attended a number of seders, but "this is the most unusual one I’ve ever been to." He added, "I hope this catches on — it’s a wonderful idea."
In his speech Harkin discussed two paradoxes — how children in a country "as wealthy as ours" can go hungry and how American youngsters can be both overweight and undernourished.