This Passover reminded us again of how food and freedom are inextricably linked. It’s not just that, around day six or seven, one wishes to be liberated from yet another meal of fried matzo and Seder leftovers. It’s that we are commanded to eat differently to better understand exodus, deprivation, longing and the need not only to be free but to act as free people.
This season, the connection is even deeper, since the economic downturn has left so many hungry. As the Israelites learned wandering the desert, it’s difficult to behave like responsible, autonomous people when bellies are aching for food. The need is especially acute for children — there are an estimated 12 million hungry kids in America today.
President Obama has pledged to end child hunger in America by 2015, not as far away as it sounds. Some Jewish groups are pushing for additional federal funding for the Child Nutrition Program — a tough sell for an already bloated budget. But unless and until families can provide for their own, government has an obligation to nourish the next generation. Consider it manna by another name.