Urging our nation's leaders to end hunger
 

Prayers on the Fourth of July

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Wikimedia Commons.

Glorious Lord, on this day, we celebrate our nation’s birth and the symbol of freedom it represents to many. We acknowledge that you have been the author of this nation and that it is your great faithfulness that has brought us this far.  We continue to trust that your hand will guide her into her purpose and destiny.

Right now, we take this time to thank you for the many freedoms and blessings that we have been given:

     We thank you for the freedom we have to worship you and share the Gospel without fear of death.

     We thank you for the opportunity to work, study, and play.

     We thank you for food to eat, clothes to wear, and a roof above our heads.

     We thank you for men and women who have sacrificed their lives on the battlefield to secure the freedoms and blessings that we now enjoy.

     We thank you for teachers who work tirelessly to educate the next generation of our nations’ citizens and leaders.

     We thank you for friendships that enrich our lives and for families and loved ones who love us unconditionally.

Most of all, we thank you for freedom from sin and for the grace and power to live for you.

As we celebrate the Fourth of July, we continue to remember the millions of people in our nation and around the world who live in poverty and suffer from hunger. You care for them always. May we never forget to continue to think of, pray for, and love them as ourselves.

In Jesus’ glorious name we pray. Amen. 

World Prayers for July 5-11: Colombia, Ecuador, and Venezuela

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A view of Cuenca, Ecuador situated in the highlands of Ecuador. Wikimedia Commons.

This is a weekly prayer series that appears each Friday on the Bread Blog.

One aspect of Bread for the World’s new Bread Rising campaign is prayer. The campaign is asking Bread members to pray more, act more, and give more. In this blog series, we will provide a prayer for a different group of countries each week and their efforts to end hunger.

This prayer series will follow the Ecumenical Prayer Cycle, a list compiled by the World Council of Churches that enables Christians around the world to journey in prayer through every region of the world, affirming our solidarity with Christians all over the world, brothers and sisters living in diverse situations, experiencing their challenges and sharing their gifts.

We will especially be lifting up in prayer the challenges related to hunger and poverty that the people of each week’s countries face. In prayer, God’s story and our own story connect—and we and the world are transformed. In a prayer common to all of us—the Lord’s Prayer/the Our Father—we pray, “Give us this day our daily bread.” This line from this prayer can also be a prayer for the end of hunger.

We invite you to join Bread in our prayers for the world’s countries to end hunger. And we encourage you to share with us your prayers for the featured countries of the week or for the end of hunger in general.

For the week of July 5 – 11: Colombia, Ecuador, and Venezuela

Loving God, we ask for your hand of grace over and for your will to be done in Colombia, Ecuador, and Venezuela.

Specifically, we lift up Colombia to you right now. It has been a nation that has experienced much violence and turmoil in the past, which had led to economic instability and government corruption within its borders. This has been due to the pervasive drug trafficking industry as groups of drug traffickers have waged violence as a means to achieve their ends, creating national instability. We, as your people, pray for an end to this drug trafficking industry in Colombia and the violence that comes with it. We ask that there will be a greater number of other means for provision. We also ask for protection over those who are especially vulnerable – the children, women, and those in poverty. We thank you for the recent improvements in the economy and government, and we continue to pray for justice in the government system and for polices that will lead to positive and sustainable changes, including the reduction of hunger and poverty rates.

We also lift up Venezuela to you. Like Colombia, this nation has suffered great violence and turmoil. We need your divine intervention in this nation, as the conditions have worsened in recent years. We pray for a reform in the government system and for an end to drug trafficking that is also prevalent here. We ask for a change in the hearts of the drug traffickers and all those involved in the violence, and for your peace to cover the people. We also plead your protection, especially over the hungry and destitute, and for daily provision for them. We ask for your Spirit to move on each heart that will lead to an outward change and create a safer environment for the people to live there.

We also lift up Ecuador to you. We thank you for the improvements in the economy and the reduction of poverty rates in this nation over the years. We continue to pray for stability and fairness in its economy and for daily provisions for those who suffer from food insecurity. We ask that you will continue to have your way in its government system and pray for wisdom and guidance for the leaders of this nation to make decisions that will positively affect all those living in this nation.

We ask these things in the Almighty Name of Jesus, Amen. 

Percentage of the population of these countries living below the national poverty line (2014 figures):

Colombia: 32.7
Ecuador: 25.6
Venezuela: 25.4

Source: World Bank World Development Indicators as found in the new 2015 Hunger Report.

Prayer is a central part of Bread for the World’s work. To learn more about how you can get involved with prayer at Bread, please go here.

 

 

 

On Charleston: A Perspective from an African-American Pastor

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A makeshift memorial outside Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, S.C. Angelique Walker-Smith/Bread for the World.

Editor's note: The shootings at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, S.C. have left the country reeling and coming to grips with a myriad of feelings. Bread Blog presents two perspectives from the church relations department at Bread for the World. Go here to read the other blog post.

By Rev. Dr. Angelique Walker-Smith

Thousands of people have gathered in the past several days to mourn, bury, and celebrate the lives of the nine martyrs of faith from Mother Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, S.C.  I was among those who gathered because the denomination that Mother Emanuel Church belongs to is a member of Bread for the World.

These recent events have raised a larger question about how our dear brothers and sisters died in the faith.  The great suffering and violent death of the nine, while exercising their faith during Bible study, is a clear indicator of their martyrdom. Yet, it is the powerful legacy of their lives of faith, shared through the testimonies of family and friends left behind, that help us understand the importance of these last moments of the dearly departed. The legacy of their lives now rests with their family and friends, and us, as we see how their testimonies affect the spirit and the legal process. What will be the outcome of the alleged shooter’s fate? And will there be a renewed movement to tear down the strongholds and symbols of racial hatred and bigotry in South Carolina and other places?  

Hebrews 12:1-3 states:

“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.  Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.”

The writer of Hebrews refers to both the departed and those left behind. During the alleged shooter’s bond hearing, some family members of those victims begged him to turn to God, prayed for his soul, and invited him to repent.    

African-American people of faith have historically not given up the hope they have found in God and the possibility of change, despite the horror and violence of racism in this country.

May the legacy of the Emanuel AME martyrs and the testimonies of their descendants feed our souls and actions so that we can more fully receive the invitation to join the great cloud of witnesses of love and action.

Rev. Dr. Angelique Walker-Smith is Bread for the World’s national senior associate for African-American and African church engagement.

On Charleston: A Perspective From a Daughter of Charleston

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A makeshift memorial outside Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, S.C. Angelique Walker-Smith/Bread for the World

Editor's note: The shootings at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, S.C. have left the country reeling and coming to grips with a myriad of feelings. Bread Blog presents two perspectives from the church relations department at Bread for the World. Go here to read the other blog post.

By Rev. Nancy Neal

The tragedy in Charleston, S.C., just two weeks ago still sits heavy on my heart. I’m a native of Charleston, and when I visited my family home there the weekend after the shooting, the message of unity was pervasive. I heard it from the mayor, from the preacher at Mother Emanuel Church on Sunday morning, from the cashier at the grocery store, and from my childhood friends. I hadn’t experienced that type of unity in Charleston since 1989, when the city was struck by Hurricane Hugo, and even then there were disparities in the responses to communities based on racial and class lines.

We see and feel hope from the responses of the community in the packed house at Mother Emanuel Church the last two weekends; in the unity march across the Cooper River Bridge; in the packed house for Rev. Clementa Pinckney’s funeral; and in donations pouring in from major companies like Blackbaud, the state’s electric and gas utility, and even kids with lemonade stands. What is most hopeful in all of this is the courageous response of the families who stood up one by one and offered forgiveness to the young man who brutally shot and killed their family members. This is the response of deeply faithful people who are able to draw on their experience and knowledge of God’s love.

And for this unity to last, it will require white folks like me to have the courage to look deep in our hearts for those ugly thoughts and assumptions that swim in our conscious and unconscious minds. It will take listening to our sisters and brothers of color to understand how our assumptions and attitudes affect their daily experiences, which can be quite different from ours. And it will take trusting that their experience is real and true.

All of this will make us feel really uncomfortable, and we won’t want to hear it because the stories will go against the narrative we were taught that everyone is treated equally and justice is blind. But the good news is that when we expose the ugliness in our hearts and the injustices that we participate in every day to the light of God’s love, we are changed and moved forever. We can take comfort that God loves us anyway—even though we don’t deserve it. And that will move us and give us the courage to examine policies that disproportionately impact communities of color and then change those policies. Then we can stand in together truly united in Christ.

Rev. Nancy Neal is the deputy director of church relations at Bread for the World.

Strategic Mobilizing Builds Momentum for the Global Food Security Act

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U.S. Rep. Randy Hultgren (R-IL-14), right, and U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL), center, speak about global hunger with Lisa Bos of World Vision at the Justice Conference in Chicago, Ill. Jared Noetzel/Bread for the World.

By Rev. Douglas L. Meyer, Pastor Quentin Mumphery, and Rev. Brian Roots

“If you pour yourself out for the hungry and satisfy the desire of the afflicted, then shall your light rise in the darkness and your gloom be as the noonday” (Isaiah 58:10).

Sometimes an intentional effort from faithful advocates is all it takes to move our members of Congress. That has been our experience in Illinois, where Bread for the World members and faith leaders in the Chicago area and across the state are working to get the entire Illinois congressional delegation to cosponsor the Global Food Security Act, a bill that would secure and advance our historic gains against hunger and poverty around the world.

The bill passed the U.S. House last year but was held up in the Senate for procedural reasons. So getting as many cosponsors as possible this time around will help push this bill across the finish line.

Here in Illinois, our strategy has been simple. Leaders have been identified in every congressional district, and they have reached out to the appropriate congressional staffers with a simple message: Along with Bread for the World, I want to make sure my member of Congress is aware of the Global Food Security Act and would like him/her to cosponsor the bill. Can you look into this, and let me know what your boss thinks about the bill, or if there are any questions or concerns?

Leaders began with a phone call, sometimes talking with the intended staffer, and other times leaving a voice mail. Then we followed up with an email and shared Bread’s bill analysis. After that, we followed up again as needed. We have stayed in communication with each other, sharing updates and tips, and encouraging one another as we keep our eyes on the goal. If we are not hearing back from a particular staffer, we adjust accordingly, either having more leaders call, or trying a different staffer.

Before this campaign, there were no members of the Illinois delegation listed as cosponsors of the bill. As a direct result of the work of these Bread members and faith leaders, seven out of 17 representatives (both Democrats and Republicans) and one of our two senators have signed on so far! We thank U.S. Reps. Bobby Rush, Mike Quigley, Danny Davis, Jan Schakowsky, Bob Dold, Randy Hultgren, and Cheri Bustos, and U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin, for their leadership in cosponsoring the Global Food Security Act, and we are now calling on U.S. Sen. Mark Kirk and the remaining representatives to join their colleagues in cosponsoring the bill.

Across the country, over the past couple months, the list of cosponsors has grown exponentially! Right now, there are 51 cosponsors of the House version, H.R. 1567, and seven cosponsors of the Senate version, S. 1252.

Where do your members of Congress stand on the Global Food Security Act? Click here to see if your U.S. representative is a cosponsor, and here to see if your U.S. senators are cosponsors. If they are, be sure to thank them. If they are not, encourage them to cosponsor the bill!            

ACT NOW: Feed the Future can save lives. But it's important to act right now to ensure it continues. Call or email your U.S. representative today. Urge your U.S. representative to co-sponsor The Global Food Security Act.

The blog post was written by Rev. Douglas L. Meyer of Lutheran Church of the Holy Spirit in Lincolnshire, Ill., Pastor Quentin Mumphery of New Hope Covenant Church in Chicago, Ill., and Rev. Brian Roots of Christ United Methodist Church in Deerfield, Ill.

Tell Congress: There's No Vacation for Hunger

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Joseph Molieri/Bread for the World.

By Eric Mitchell

Hunger won’t be taking a vacation this summer. While our senators and representatives are back home for the Fourth of July, five of every six low-income children who received a school lunch daily will not receive those meals during summer vacation. But together we can make sure those meals don’t disappear — and it starts with a phone call. 

Call your U.S. senators and your U.S. representative today. Urge them to cosponsor two important child hunger bills:

  1. Summer Meals Act of 2015 (S.613/H.R.1728)
  2. Stop Child Summer Hunger Act of 2015 (S.1539/H.R.2715)

Together, these two bills would help close the child hunger gap. The Summer Meals Act would strengthen and expand access to summer meal programs, while the Stop Child Summer Hunger Act would provide low-income families with additional resources to purchase groceries during the summer months while children are out of school.

Whether you’re a parent of a young child or just care about the children in your local community, we need everyone’s voice to close the child hunger gap. As a father of two myself, I believe this is fundamental.

Throughout the month of July, we will be asking you to join us in taking weekly advocacy actions to end child summer hunger. Start today by calling your U.S. senators and your U.S. representative. Tell Congress to cosponsor the Summer Meals Act and the Stop Child Hunger Act.

Thank you for raising your voice again. Together, we can move Congress to ensure that children are fed through the summer months — and year-round. 

Eric Mitchell is the director of government relations at Bread for the World.

Broad Coalition to Congress: Lift the Ban on SNAP and TANF

By Bread Staff

Last week, Bread for the World and several of our partners delivered a letter to members of Congress in both chambers urging them to lift the ban on benefits that help the formerly incarcerated rejoin their families and resettle in their communities after serving time in prison. 

Federal bans on SNAP (formerly food stamps) and TANF (Temporary Assistance for Needy Families) for those with felony drug convictions are a recipe for hunger and recidivism. Bread for the World believes that reforming our country’s mass incarceration policies and practices is crucial to ending hunger and poverty. 

Tell your members of Congress that it is time to lift the ban. It is time to do the right thing.

Read the full letter below and to learn more about the intersection between mass incarceration and hunger, read our fact sheet here.

Dear Senator/Representative:

As Congress debates criminal justice reform policies this year, we urge you to consider the impact that crime and incarceration have on poverty and hunger. Individuals leaving prison and with criminal records already face significant obstacles to successful reentry. Access to effective assistance programs, like SNAP (food stamps) and TANF, which enable individuals with criminal records to put food on the table and provide for their families, is essential. Therefore, we call upon you to:
(1) Lift the lifetime bans on SNAP and TANF for those convicted of federal drug offences, and
(2) Forcefully oppose any efforts to further restrict federal benefits for individuals with criminal records.

As a broad collection of faith-based organizations, service providers, policy centers, and advocacy organizations, we join together in concern over the ways certain criminal justice policies keep people in poverty. As a practical issue and as a moral one, we ask you to correct existing laws and oppose legislative proposals that prevent those who have served their time from starting a new life and attaining a sense of economic security.

SNAP and TANF effectively help individuals with criminal records get back on their feet. Already, significant barriers exist to formerly incarcerated individuals and individuals with criminal records finding employment. A criminal conviction makes many ineligible for various professional licenses and keeps others from accessing financial aid for higher education. These bans punish the families of individuals with criminal records. They push some of the most vulnerable, including people with severe illness, pregnant women and new moms struggling to get out of poverty, into desperate situations that could lead to recidivism. Moreover, if someone was in prison for a substance abuse disorder but has since enrolled in a treatment program, it does not make sense to continue to deny them the very benefits that foster economic security and mobility.

Programs like SNAP and TANF help formerly incarcerated individuals and individuals with criminal records afford the most basic necessities while searching for work. SNAP is an extremely efficient program. It has less than a three percent error rate, the lowest on record, boosts income for low-wage workers, and a majority of beneficiaries only receive the benefit for nine months.

Similarly, TANF is often the only source of support for families who receive it. Absent those benefits, they often have no cash income to meet their individual, and in many cases, their children’s, basic needs. The Sentencing Project estimates that more than 180,000 women may be affected by the TANF ban. SNAP and TANF are barriers against poverty and springboards into the middle class. Banning SNAP and TANF for individuals with a felony drug conviction for life is overly harsh, doesn’t reduce drug use, and can actually increase recidivism. We urge you to include a provision lifting this ban in any relevant legislation.

Furthermore, we believe instituting additional barriers that prevent formerly incarcerated individuals and individuals with criminal records from accessing safety-net programs is ill-advised and immoral. Restricting federal assistance for formerly incarcerated individuals can promote recidivism. A significant proportion of the prison population has a history of substance abuse, mental health issues, homelessness, or physical or sexual abuse. Many are likely to continue struggling with these problems when leaving prison unless they have the proper support. Federal assistance that helps individuals provide for their basic needs is essential to this support. Therefore, we will forcefully oppose any proposals or legislation that institute additional benefit bans for formerly incarcerated individuals and individuals with criminal records.

The prison population is already disproportionately poor. Two-thirds of those detained in jails report annual incomes below $12,000 prior to arrest. Denying federal assistance programs to people leaving prison—programs that successfully help millions of families climb out of poverty every year—can mean an additional sentence of poverty and a recipe for recidivism.

If our country is to embody the values of redemption and renewal, we must give individuals leaving prison and with criminal records a fair shot at a new start. We cannot deny them the tools that millions of Americans employ each year to escape poverty and find economic opportunity.

Sincerely,

Alliance for a Just Society
Ameinu
9to5
Boston Workmen's Circle
Center for Jewish Culture & Social Justice
Bread for the World
Center for Community Change Action
Center for Law and Social Policy (CLASP)
Central Conference of American Rabbis
Christian Community Development Association
Office of Social Justice of the Christian Reformed Church
Church of the Brethren, Office of Public Witness
Church of Scientology National Affairs Office
Citizens United for Rehabilitation of Errants (CURE)
Coalition on Human Needs
Community of Christ
Conference of Major Superiors of Men
Drug Policy Alliance
Ecumenical Poverty Initiative
The Episcopal Church
Evangelical Covenant Church
Families for Justice as Healing
FedCURE
Friends Committee on National Legislation
Habonim Dror North America
JCRC of Greater Boston
Jewish Community Action
Jewish Community Relations Council of Greater Boston
MAZON: A Jewish Response to Hunger
Mennonite Central Committee U.S. Washington Office
Bishop W. Darin Moore, Presiding Prelate, Western Episcopal District and the North Carolina
Conference of The AME Zion Church
Moishe Kavod Jewish Social Justice House
National Advocacy Center of the Sisters of the Good Shepherd
National African American Drug Policy Coalition, Inc.
National Association of Social Workers
National Council of Churches
National Employment Law Project
National Health Care for the Homeless Council
National Immigration Law Center
National LGBTQ Task Force Action Fund
National Women’s Law Center
NETWORK, A National Catholic Social Justice Lobby
Peace Alliance
Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)
Reconstructionist Rabbinical Association
RESULTS
The Salvation Army National Headquarters
Senior Bishop Lawrence Reddick, Christian Methodist Episcopal Church
Sisters of Mercy of the Americas – Institute Justice Team
SOME (So Others Might Eat)
Student Peace Alliance
Treatment Communities of America
T’ruah: The Rabbinic Call for Human Rights
Union for Reform Judaism
United Church of Christ, Justice and Witness Ministries
The United Methodist Church – General Board of Church and Society Uri L’Tzedek
USAction

Scriptural Manna: 'Jesus Hasn't Forgotten Me'

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Editor's note: Bread Blog is running a year-long series exploring passages from The Poverty & Justice Bible published by the American Bible Society (Contemporary English Version). The intent is a theological exploration at the intersection of social justice and religion. The blog posts will be written by members of the church relations staff at Bread for the World.

“Mary took a very expensive bottle of perfume and poured it on Jesus’ feet. She wiped them with her hair, and the sweet smell of the perfume filled the house. A disciple named Judas Iscariot…asked, ‘Why wasn’t this perfume sold for three hundred silver coins and the money given to the poor?’ Jesus replied, ‘Leave her alone! She has kept this perfume for the day of my burial. You will always have the poor with you, but you won’t always have me.’” (John 12:3-7, selected verses)

We all know that this passage is used frequently to shirk off responsibility for addressing the needs of poor and hungry people both in the U.S. and around the world. And we probably wouldn’t be surprised to learn that Jesus is actually referencing a passage in Deuteronomy 15 that says the poor will always be with you because of the constant presence of human greed.

The Deuteronomy passage says in the beginning that if the people would just follow God’s law, there would be no poor people. But later it says there will always be poor people…because the people don’t follow God’s law. Essentially, we are called to care for those who are vulnerable in our communities. We are called to provide support for people in the midst of crisis. We are called to show God’s love to those who need to feel it - and even those who don’t. And often we just don’t do it for a variety of reasons.

Lately, I’ve been trying to pay attention to who I identify with in the biblical narrative. In the passage from John, I think it’s easy for me to identify with the disciples looking on. On deeper reflection, as a woman, I definitely identify with Mary. But what if I identified with “the poor?” How would I read this if I was struggling to put food on the table for my children or working long hours at low-wage jobs and barely having time to see my children? What if I heard, day in and day out, from politicians and the media, that I am to blame for my poverty? What if I heard over and over again that I just need to pull myself up by  my bootstraps even though I don’t have any boots? What if it were demonstrated in each election that middle-class people are important, but I really don’t fit into the definition of middle class?

If I sat and thought really hard and filtered out all of the messages of society around me, I think I’d be comforted in the notion that Jesus hasn’t forgotten me. And I think I’d fight like crazy to get the world to remember me. 

REV. NANCY NEAL is the deputy director of the church relations department at Bread for the World.

Closing the Summer Hunger Gap

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A mural depicting the history of Shaw, Miss. The mural is across from the community center that houses the summer meals site. Lane Riley for Bread for the World.

By Jennifer Gonzalez

A year ago, Lane Riley took a leap of faith. She moved from her home in South Carolina to operate a summer meals site for children in rural Shaw, Miss.

One pastor helped secure a community center to serve as the site and she recruited another pastor to be the cook. She and that pastor worked together to make lunches for the children.

Last summer, roughly 30 children were fed lunch twice a week. This summer, Riley expanded the program, which is serving a lunch and snack daily to approximately 100 children. Children also participate in various activities at the site, including reading, Bible study, art, and recreation. Lane and Joe

Because the site now serves almost three times the number of children compared to last summer, Riley needed help. So, she trained 12 high school students to be leaders for the different age groups.

“Teenagers in Shaw aren’t given a lot of opportunities for leadership development, and this is an amazing way of creating leadership skills and mentoring older kids,” Riley said.

Riley is a program director at Delta Hands for Hope, which runs the summer feeding site. The Cooperative Baptist Fellowship of Mississippi (CBFMS) is the financial sponsor of the Summer Food Service program in Mississippi.

This summer there are now five additional summer feeding sites in Mississippi run by Delta Hands for Hope. The CBFMS uses reimbursement funds it receives from the U.S. Department of Agriculture to support the feeding sites. The six sites are projected to serve about 10,000 meals this summer, Riley said.

Summer feeding sites are crucial to the health of children, especially those who come from low-income families. During the academic year, those same kids receive either a free- or reduced-price lunch at school. But the summer is different.

Accessing meals during summertime can be hard for children, especially for those living in rural areas. Lack of transportation and long distances make it difficult for them to get the meals they need to grow into healthy adults.

The need for a summer feeding site in Shaw is great. The city is located in the Mississippi Delta, where poverty is high. In fact, about half of the adult population in Shaw lives below the poverty line ($23,624 for a family of four with two children).

And roughly 70 percent of Shaw’s children live below the poverty line, according to the U.S. Census.

“Having this feeding program takes the stress off parents,” said Riley, who studied sociology and Spanish at Lander University in South Carolina. “They’ll know that their kids will be getting a meal in the summer.”

Riley first visited Shaw several years ago as part of a volunteer trip with Wilton Baptist Church in Wilton, Conn. The church’s pastor, the Rev. Dr. K. Jason Coker, is originally from Shaw and would take teams of volunteers to the city during the summer to work with children.

Riley began to visit the church after moving from South Carolina to Connecticut to work as a nanny. When the idea to start a summer feeding site in his hometown of Shaw surfaced, Coker thought Riley would be a good candidate to spearhead the project.

“There are a lot of people who are needed to create generational and systemic change, and the people of Shaw are only a small handful of people who are trying to combat hunger and poverty,” Riley said. “But by working in Shaw, with CBFMS, and many other churches and organizations, we are noticing a difference, and creating a positive environment for the kids of Shaw.”

The United States is one of the wealthiest countries in the world, but nearly 16 million children are food-insecure. Act now! Call (800/826-3688) or email your U.S. representative and your U.S. senators to close the hunger gap today.

Jennifer Gonzalez is the associate online editor at Bread for the World.

Photo inset: Lane Riley, left, with cook and pastor, Joe Jackson. Lane Riley for Bread for the World.

 

 

 

The PUSH to End Hunger

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University leaders meet at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C., to discuss ways to address hunger and malnutrition. Photo courtesy of Auburn University.

By Shalom Khokhar

Universities are known for being places of concentrated education and research. So when it comes to the issue of hunger, universities are institutions that can engage in agriculture, nutrition, environment, and other related disciplines. To that end, university leaders have an official group to address hunger.

Scores of university leaders from Presidents United to Solve Hunger (PUSH) gathered earlier this month to begin to implement the group’s action plan, which will leverage the collective power of the universities to address hunger and malnutrition.

Nearly 80 universities spanning six continents are now members of PUSH, having signed the Presidents’ Commitment to Food and Nutrition Security. Among the universities are Iowa State University, The Ohio State University, Texas A&M University, Stenden University (Netherlands), University of California System, Cornell University, William V.S. Tubman University (Liberia), and University of Miami.

David Beckmann, president of Bread for the World, attended the operational meeting and hunger forum, which took place at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C., on June 17. The Alliance to End Hunger, an affiliate of Bread for the World, is a PUSH supporter, along with other organizations such as the World Food Program and Stop Hunger Now.

PUSH was spearheaded by Auburn University’s Hunger Solutions Institute in Auburn, Ala. The PUSH action plan involves four core areas: teaching, research, outreach, and student engagement.

“PUSH is an effective mechanism for education, advocacy and engagement across national borders,” said Jay Gogue, Auburn University’s president.

Honduran President Juan Orlando Hernandez gave the Hunger Forum featured address. Hernandez has prioritized solving hunger and poverty in order to provide new hope to the youth of his country – many of whom flooded the shores of the United States last summer as illegal unaccompanied minors.

"I would never forgive myself if I had taken office as president and let slip a number of opportunities such as the one PUSH is offering the world," said Hernandez to the gathering of university, government, international organizations, business and civil society leaders.

Two Honduran universities are current PUSH members – Universidad Nacional de Agricultura and Zamorano University.

Food insecurity requires significant strides in areas like public policy, nutrition assistance, agricultural productivity, and community empowerment. These things can not only improve people’s lives locally, but can help us stay ahead of the hunger curve as global population increases and climate change affects harvest.

For instance, the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) (a PUSH supporter) is calling for a 70 percent increase in food production to meet the rising demands of an additional 2.3 billion people by 2050. In the words of attendee Shenggen Fan, director general of the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI), “Ending hunger will not be achieved unless there is a strategy supported by knowledge and research. Research institutes and universities play a key role in this endeavor.”

Now is the time to engage our resources and find sustainable solutions to hunger and malnutrition! Want to let your voice be heard and make a difference? Call/email Congress and ask them to protect and improve current nutrition programs such as SNAP, WIC, and the child nutrition bill.

Shalom Khokhar is a summer communications intern at Bread for the World. This post includes contributions from onsite reporters and press releases.

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