Elizabeth Smulian, Board Chair
Chad Stender, Vice Chair
Loren Shatten, Assistant Director
Challah for Hunger involves more than 6,000 youth annually in Jewish activism and advocacy for social justice through 80 student-led, college-based chapters. Every week, volunteers embody the values we teach: they gather to bake and sell challah as a community, raise tzedekah for hunger non-profits, and advocate to help those in need in their community. As community leaders, students also inspire others to engage in tikkun olam through service and advocacy. CfH is pluralistic, and we make a point of reaching out to all students regardless of affiliation. Participants identify as Jewish (all denominations), culturally Jewish and non-Jewish.
Three specific Jewish sensibilities describe the Jewish wisdom our students apply weekly:
B'tzelem Elohim: Challah for Hunger isn't just about the challah baking. Challah is the vehicle by which our students pursue justice for all people. Our specific mission seeks to address injustices within the food system and our students apply this wisdom by raising much needed funds to support anti-hunger organizations and by educating their communities. Every year, our students share that the ability to help others is what keeps them involved and motivates them to pursue careers in justice-work after college.
Na'aseh V'Nishmah: Challah for Hunger is also a learning experience for young Jews to participate in Jewish wisdom and rituals. The welcoming nature of our program encourages students to come to Challah for Hunger with an open and eager mind. Students learn through doing - baking challah, teaching about hunger, participating in giving circles - often taking on leadership roles for the first time as young adults.
Brit: Our chapter program is built around partnerships and relationship building locally and nationally. We do everything as a community. Locally, students build relationships with other campus groups and non-profits in order to meaningfully raise funds and awareness to fight hunger. Nationally, our students partner with our staff, MAZON, alumni and other students to further our movement through programs like The Campus Hunger Project, which seeks to address the growing problem of food insecurity among college students.
There are three ways that we make this wisdom accessible:
1. The Marketplace is our online platform (it's also an app) where students can access educational resources the explore Jewish rituals and values. This platform is open to all students and targeted specifically at our student leaders (those 5-6 students who are leading each chapter). We are updating our resource library weekly, but a couple of core resources that explore Jewish wisdom include our Giving Guide, a resource guide developed by our alumni that discuss Jewish values around giving and philanthropy, and the Advocacy Tool Kit, a resource we designed with MAZON to help students incorporate Jewish values into their anti-hunger work.
2. Through our staff and chapter advisors, who are alumni volunteers, we provide 1-on-1 coaching and mentorship for all of our student leaders. Coaching sessions, which typically happen once a month during the school year, offer students a chance to reflect on what they've learned as leaders of their chapters. During these sessions, we also help students set goals and problem solve. All staff and advisors are trained in our educational resources.
3. At least once a year, we gather students and alumni for leadership trainings. The Summit is the largest of these gatherings, bringing together 100 participants for a weekend of programs that explore our core values of community, philanthropy and advocacy. At this year's summit, we have several programs that specifically discuss Jewish Wisdom. This year's summit will open with an activity by Jon Woocher from the foundation, who will lead our students in an activity to identify how Jewish sensibilities connect to their work with Challah for Hunger. Students will also learn about and apply Jewish wisdom through sessions lead by representatives from MAZON, Avodah and One Table.
The most important tool we have in making wisdom applicable are the students themselves. Because our chapters are student-led, the students are responsible for demonstrating the relevancy that this wisdom has in their daily lives and using their understanding to recruit other students to get involved. Students learn from each other and openly discuss how each lesson applies to their lives on campus.
Each year we conduct a survey that evaluates impact on Jewish identity, understanding and application of our core values (Community, Philanthropy, and Advocacy) and skill development. From that survey, we know that:
As result of participating in Challah for Hunger:
68% students felt that Challah for Hunger positively contributed to their Jewish identity to a good or great extent.
65% of students deepened their connection to the Jewish community by a good or great extent.
60% of students found an outlet for Jewish practice.
33% of students had their first Jewish experience on campus.
Connecting with Challah for Hunger’s Core Values: Philanthropy, Advocacy and Community
84% of students say the experience increased their likelihood to stay involved in leadership, philanthropy and advocacy after college.
83% of students feel connected to a larger cause.
81% of students feel prepared for other leadership roles.
80% of students increased understanding of the importance of giving by a good or great extent.
78% of students increased their awareness of issues related to hunger & food-insecurity by a good or great extent.
70% of students feel connected to a local philanthropy.
85% of students have increased their communication skills by a good or great extent.
83% of students have increased their leadership skills by a good or great extent.
80% of students have increased their organizational skills by a good or great extent.
73% of students have increased their marketing skills a good or great extent
72% of students have increased their advocacy skills by a good or great extent.
62% of students have increased their fundraising skills a good or great extent.
We've learned that the best way to engage young adults is by respecting them as partners and giving them a high degree of ownership in their own learning. Through this approach, they take the responsibility of learning and applying wisdom very seriously.
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