Category Archives: In the News

That’s a Wrap: What We Won in the Farm Bill

Photo credit: Nehanda Radio

Photo credit: Nehanda Radio

When we launched the Reverse Hunger campaign on World Food Day 2011, we set out to ensure that the U.S. Farm Bill reflected our Jewish values, ensuring that our international food aid programs feed more hungry people and support local farmers abroad. Never could we have imagined how incredible, sometimes dysfunctional, and downright comical this journey would be.

Today is the culmination of that journey. Later this afternoon, the President will sign the U.S. Farm Bill (officially known as the Agricultural Act of 2014) into law. While AJWS does not have a position on the entire bill, a massive piece of legislation that shapes the majority of U.S. food and agricultural policies, we welcome the modest, yet critical improvements to international food aid programs.

The changes in this bill are aimed at increasing flexibility: making it easier to utilize alternative food aid approaches and to move away from inefficient practices that slow down delivery and sometimes undermine our goals of helping people for the long-haul. Read More »

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Activism in Asia – Link Roundup

April, May and June have unleashed a firestorm of media coverage for our grantees in Asia. Check out this roundup of the most significant stories:

For the first time ever, our Burma grantees garnered tremendous media coverage in major outlets around the world. But what’s so significant about this coverage? Our grantees are speaking and the world is listening. More than ever before, our grantees are being tapped by policy makers and journalists for their on-the-ground experience and their decades-long work on documenting human rights abuses. Though our grantees are excited about the changes happening in the country, they are quick to remind the international community that human rights abuses abound and there is still tremendous work to be done. Here are a few of the stories:

  • The Bangkok Post wrote a piece about the underbelly of an “open” Burma, highlighting that though cosmetic political changes have been made, activists are drawing attention to the stream of constant, brutal abuse committed by Burmese authorities against ethnic minorities and political prisoners. The first part of the article is told from the perspective of Moon Lay Ni, coordinator of Kachin Women’s Association Thailand (KWAT). Formed in 1999, KWAT works with vulnerable refugees and migrant workers from Kachin state in Thailand and Burma to provide leadership training and educational programs to increase awareness of women’s rights, health and environmental protection.
  • On June 5, The Nation ran an opinion piece by Jackie Pollock, director of Map Foundation, an organization that strives for Burmese migrant workers to be free from discrimination and live safely and securely in Thailand. Pollock’s article calls for Thailand to include domestic and migrant workers in national labor laws in addition to “act quickly improve the pay and conditions of domestic workers” in the country, particularly with the number of arrests that will follow any kind of nationality verification processes.

Sexual and reproductive health and rights has also been a critical topic this spring. From sex workers to LGBTI communities, AJWS grantees are making waves in the news:

  • In April, when a pregnant Indian sex worker was assaulted by the police and miscarried, SANGRAM organized a vast cross-section of organizations (including AJWS partner Awaaz-E-Niswaan) to protest the human rights violations that sex workers suffer at the hands of the police. Read the article about the protest in The Hindu here. Sign the petition here.
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The Famine in East Africa Rages On and Community-Based Organizations Still Need Our Support

The ongoing famine and food crisis in Somalia, Kenya and Ethiopia has fallen out of the headlines. But it continues to have devastating effects on communities. The international community is still responding to the crisis, but resources are limited.  Most relief efforts are focusing on the regions of Somalia where the famine has resulted in a rising death toll and a refugee crisis. Read More »

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A Closer Look at the 2012 Farm Bill

Originally posted on The Jew and the Carrot.

While headlines about the Farm Bill focus on the role of commodity subsidies in creating the ubiquity of processed foods in the U.S. (and increasingly in the global) food system, on the final day of the 2011 Hazon Food Conference, some of the most passionate and committed members of what some are calling the “new Jewish food movement” got a deeper look at the details of the policy landscape that shapes the way the U.S. food system functions and influences the rest of the globe.

Read More »

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Drought = Hunger? Not an Inevitable Equation

Originally posted on AlertNet.

Headlines tell us that a severe drought in the Horn of Africa is responsible for creating “the most severe food security emergency in the world today.” But is it?

Images of emaciated children and desperate parents have flooded the news. More than 10 million people in Somalia, Kenya and Ethiopia are in need of assistance. Levels of malnutrition are rising rapidly. Some 1,600 Somalis are arriving daily at refugee camps in southeast Ethiopia, and thousands of Somalis are trekking by foot to the already over-crowded Dadaab refugee camp in northern Kenya. The crisis has invoked the specter of Ethiopia’s famine, a calamity that took the lives of nearly one million people in the mid-1980s. Scientists are debating whether this drought is a direct result of climate change or a natural progression of changes in the environment. Regardless of the causes, the effects—widespread hunger and food insecurity—are anything but natural.

Read More »

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Fish and Filth: The Dangers of Tilapia Farming

Do you love tilapia? I do. But after reading yesterday’s New York Times article about unregulated tilapia farming, I’ll think twice before I order my next fillet. Last year, more than 52 million pounds of fresh tilapia were exported to the United States, mostly from Latin America, as well as 422 million more pounds of frozen tilapia, both whole and fillet, nearly all from China. It’s a booming industry, but it’s doing a lot of damage to the natural world, not to mention the survival of a species. Read More »

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Mexican Maize Controversy, Kitchen Gardens, Biofuels and More – Link Round-Up

This week’s food justice highlights from around the globe:

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I’m Eating Again, But the Fast is Not Over

Yes, I am eating again—but I’m, not eating the same way as before. I started slowly and am using this experience to change my eating habits. So, so far, I’m eating less and lighter, and with more consciousness of my food choices, and of when and where I eat. Hopefully that will continue, and I will continue to fast during the day on Mondays—I fast every day in solidarity with the people of Darfur—for the consciousness that this has brought me these last few years. Read More »

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Final Thoughts about My Fast… and Moving Forward

The fast ends with me feeling good, having had a powerful personal experience. Had my first wine, solid food and diet coke in a week last night, ate moderately, and am still thinking about what I have learned about hunger, about focused thinking, about empathy toward others, about what creatures of habit we all are. Read More »

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More Reflections on my Fast in the Final 48 Hours

I’m in the middle of the sixth day of my fast and I’m quite amazed at how possible it is to do this. After finishing my speaking engagements for the weekend, I went into relaxed mode (saw a movie—without popcorn—for a real escape). Relaxation aside, I have experienced some very physical, philosophical and spiritual reactions to this fast. Read More »

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