Urging our nation's leaders to end hunger
 

65 posts categorized "1,000 Days"

Today: Congressional Hearing on 1,000 Days


Children at the Nutrition Rehabilitation Home in Dhangadhi, Nepal, receive their 4 a.m. milk feeding on Monday, April 30, 2102. This Nutrition Rehabilitation Home in Dhangadhi, Nepal, in the western part of the country, is run by RUWDUC (Rural Women's Development Unity Corporation), a Nepali NGO. The Dhangadhi facility serves up to 10 malnourished children at a time for up to 60 days; mothers stay with their child. All services are free. (Laura Elizabeth Pohl/Bread for the World)

By Beth Ann Saracco

Thanks to a growing body of research, and the advocacy efforts of Bread for the World members and others throughout the world, Congress is beginning to recognize the importance of global maternal and child nutrition. Our legislators are paying particular attention to nutrition during the critical 1,000-day window from the start of a woman’s pregnancy through her child’s second birthday.

Last year, funding for global nutrition efforts were increased to $115 million, up from the previous year’s funding level of $95 million. That’s nearly a 22 percent increase in funding. Congress is starting to get it. And for good reason— every $1 invested in nutrition generates as much as $138 in better health and increased productivity.

And today, in the House of Representatives, the Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Africa, Global Health, Global Human Rights, and International Organizations is holding a hearing, “The First One Thousand Days: Development Aid Programs to Bolster Health and Nutrition.” The subcommittee’s chairman, Rep. Chris Smith (R-NJ-4),  and ranking member, Karen Bass (D-CA-37), are holding this hearing to learn more about the health and nutritional needs of women and children during the 1,000-day period. The hearing will also address the role of faith-based organizations in partnering with governments and other non-governmental organizations to promote the 1,000 Days movement, and adequate maternal and child nutrition.

Be sure to tune into the hearing at 3 p.m. ET,  on Tuesday, March25,  to hear testimony from witnesses who have seen firsthand the importance of maternal and child health and nutrition during the first 1,000 Days. Tweet at Rep. Chris Smith (@RepChrisSmith) and Ranking Member Bass (@RepKarenBass), and thank them for their interest in this important issue and for holding this hearing. 

To learn more about the growing 1,000 Days movement, and to become part of the momentum, download Bread for the World's 1,000 Days toolkit. You can also visit Bread for the World’s 1,000 Days Movement page and “like” the Women of Faith for the 1,000 Days Movement Facebook page to receive the latest updates. 

Beth Ann Saracco is an international policy analyst at Bread for the World.

Tell Congress to Support a Global Nutrition Strategy

Pisano program
Paisano
is a USAID program implemented in Guatemala that aims to address child malnutrition and is highlighted in Bread for the World's 2014 Offering of Letters, "Reforming Food Aid." (Joseph Molieri/Bread for the World)

By Eric Mitchell

Thanks to Bread for the World members, Congress is beginning to recognize the importance of global maternal and child nutrition, particularly in the critical 1,000-day window from pregnancy to age 2 of a child's life.

Last year, funding for global nutrition efforts was increased to $115 million compared to the previous year’s funding of $95 million. That’s nearly a 22 percent increase in funding. Congress is starting to get it. And for good reason, because every $1 invested in nutrition generates as much as $138 in better health and increased productivity.

Last year, the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) announced that it would take the lead in developing a comprehensive nutrition strategy that would serve as the basis for a more robust global nutrition approach for the U.S. government as a whole. Through better coordination of nutrition programs and closer evaluation of the effectiveness of these programs, we can help to end hunger by ensuring that more vulnerable women and children throughout the world are living healthy, productive, and hope-filled lives. USAID is set to release this strategy next month, but before it's unveiled, we need more members of Congress to express their support for this nutrition strategy.

Right now, Reps. Adam Smith (D-9WA) and Ander Crenshaw (R-4FL) are circulating a letter to President Obama expressing support for a nutrition strategy.

Call toll-free: 800-826-3688 or email your representative, and ask him or her to sign the Smith-Crenshaw letter in support of a USAID’s nutrition strategy!

Together, we are making a difference on Capitol Hill and with the administration. Let’s continue to advance the importance of the 1,000 Days movement for vulnerable women and children throughout the world. Our nutritional investments now in young children can have payoffs for years to come.

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

Addressing Global Maternal and Child Nutrition


A mother and child share a meal in rural Guatemala. (Joseph Molieri/Bread for the World)

By Amanda Bornfree

Where there is hunger and poverty, mothers and children are almost always disproportionately affected. The 1,000 days from pregnancy through a child’s second birthday are the most crucial for a child’s development, but many women around the world don’t have access to proper nutrition for themselves or their children. The United States plays a crucial role in the fight to eradicate maternal and child malnutrition, and our nation's continued commitment is key to ending this global scourge.

In June, Reps. Mario Diaz-Balart (R-Fla.) and Debbie Wasserman Shultz (D-Fla.) introduced House Resolution 254, which recognizes the importance of U.S. leadership in addressing global maternal and child nutrition. Though the resolution is still active, it’s in need of more support. So far, there are 53 co-sponsors, but only six are Republicans. In order for this resolution to pass, we must make sure the resolution remains bipartisan. This means, we need YOUR help!

We’d like to encourage you—especially if you live in a Republican district—to reach out to your representative and ask her or him to co-sponsor H. Res. 254. This resolution will bolster and strengthen our government's efforts to make sure children everywhere have the nutrition they need to grow and thrive. Please use letters and/or phone calls to reach out to your representatives and ask them to support this important resolution. Share the news with your family and friends that live in Republican districts, too— they may also want to urge their representative to support the fight against global maternal and child malnutrition. Submitting letters to the editor of your local paper will also help get the word out to your community.

As always, we encourage you to check out the resources we have on our webpage that may assist you during this process. And please contact Rev. Nancy Neal, Bread's associate for denominational women's organization relations, Beth Ann Saracco, Bread international policy analyst, or your regional Bread organizer for additional information or assistance. We’d also like to know what you hear back from your representatives —please keep us posted!

Thank you for being a supporter of the 1,000 Days movement!

Amanda Bornfree is a consultant in the church relations department at Bread for the World.

WIC: Strengthening Families for 40 years!


To learn more about WIC , and to watch more informative videos, visit the WIC at 40 website.

Parenthood is wonderful and rewarding, but raising thriving, healthy kids is a big job. Since 1974, WIC has been vital in helping parents give their children a healthy start—this year marks the program's 40th year of strengthening families.

When Chicago resident and WIC advocate Amanda Bornfree lost her health insurance shortly after learning that she was expecting her first child, WIC was a lifeline for her and her family. Her story about how WIC helped her included in the new Circle of Protection "Facts and Faces" project. She says that the program fed her determination to succeed: 

When I looked around the WIC clinic, I saw that I was among a community of women that cared for each other. Different generations, complexions, languages, and experiences—all of us present to keep ourselves and our families healthy. We all believed in that, whether we were there to help or to receive help. We all believed that everyone has the right to live a healthy life, and that a healthy life begins during the period from the start of a woman’s pregnancy until her child’s second birthday—the crucial 1,000 days.

WIC, which is funded through the U.S. Department of Agriculture, helped nearly 9 million moms and kids (under age 5) get the nutrition they needed last year. But WIC does more than just provide food vouchers for low-income mothers and their children—the program also provides information on healthy eating, breastfeeding support, and referrals to health care. Families with incomes up to 185 percent of the federal poverty level ($40,409 for a family of four in 2010) can participate.

Bread for the World has campaigned to fully fund and support WIC because we know WIC is a critical tool in the mission to end hunger. Sequestration, the automatic cuts enacted as part of the Budget Control Act of 2011, will continue to erode the effectiveness of the program. The recently-passed 2014 appropriations bill mitigates some of those cuts, and includes $6.7 billion for WIC, which will cover current and projected needs for low-income mothers and children. Bread for the World will monitor future spending bills, and continue to advocate for WIC to receive adequate funding—while pushing Congress to replace sequestration with a balanced approach.

The program's 40th anniversary offers an opportunity to celebrate the dedication of WIC staff, the health of thriving WIC children and their families, and also the efforts of faithful advocates who continue to urge Congress to fully fund this investment in the future of our nation.

 

Protecting Foreign Assistance

During the upheavals over the budget in recent years, Bread for the World and our partners have been successful in maintaining funding for U.S. programs that help hungry and poor people around the world. We have driven a major U.S. initiative focused specifically on hunger, and we have helped to improve the quality of U.S. foreign assistance. Bread will continue to advocate for the protection of programs that provide lifesaving food aid, help thousands of farmers learn increase their yields and incomes, and educate children.

Aid Remains Strong in Tough Budget Climate

During the George W. Bush and early Obama years, U.S. funding for programs that help reduce poverty around the world tripled to $22 billion annually, in part because of the persistent advocacy of Bread for the World members.

This poverty-focused development assistance (PFDA), which accounts for less than one percent of the federal budget, along with increased aid from industrialized nations, has supported rapid economic progress in poor countries.

Despite huge budget pressures, we have managed to protect foreign assistance programs that help poor people.

There was a tragic surge in hunger in 2008, driven by the global financial crisis and soaring prices for rice, wheat, and corn. The incoming Obama administration responded, leading the world in increasing investment in agriculture and nutrition in the most-affected countries. Bread for the World and our members rallied around this initiative, called Feed the Future.

In 2011, more than 4.3 million farmers around the world benefitted from U.S. agricultural development assistance through projects like Feed the Future.

In 2008, major research findings gave the world new knowledge about how to tackle the scourge of child malnutrition. One conclusion was that nutrition assistance should target the 1,000 days from the start of a woman’s pregnancy through her child’s second birthday. Bread for the World Institute played a leadership role in urging U.S. and international officials to incorporate this new knowledge into the global food security program. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton launched the 1,000 Days initiative, and Bread for the World organized a network of U.S. women across Christian denominations — Women of Faith for the 1,000 Days Movement — to support this effort.

Bread for the World Institute convened international meetings on nutrition during Bread’s 2011 and 2013 National Gatherings. At this year's meeting, Dr. Rajiv Shah, administrator of the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), told Bread advocates, "You form one of the greatest movements alive today—the fight to make hunger, malnutrition, and extreme poverty permanently a thing of the past."

This year, world leaders committed $4.15 billion over three years to scale up direct nutrition interventions and an additional $19 billion for nutrition-sensitive programs in agriculture and other sectors. Shah is leading a review of nutrition-related programs in the U.S. government in order to use available dollars most effectively.

The number of hungry people in the world has dropped below the pre-2008 level and is continuing to decline—partly because of U.S. leadership in promoting agriculture and nutrition among the poorest countries of the world.

When President Bush decided to increase assistance to poor countries, he set up new institutions within the U.S. governmen t— the Millennium Challenge Corporation and the President’s Emergency Fund for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR). Bread for the World helped secure congressional support, and both of these institutions have been effective.

Still, the entire U.S. foreign assistance system was badly in need of reform. In response to this, Bread helped set up the Modernizing Foreign Assistance Network (MFAN), a foreign assistance reform coalition that has been supported by both the Hewlett and Gates foundations.

In 2009, Bread for the World's Offering of Letters campaign was a push for foreign assistance reform. When the legislation Bread supported passed the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, the Obama administration announced it would work on the issue.

The administration has since improved coordination among the government agencies that work in developing countries, and President Obama issued a directive that established international development policies and priorities for the entire government.

USAID has set up an excellent system of evaluation, and information on the aid projects of U.S. agencies is now available to the public at www.foreignassistance.gov.

"Those of us who push for more dollars for programs of assistance need to work just as hard to make sure those dollars are used well," says Bread for the World President David Beckmann. "Bread for the World's members have been willing to study up on these issues and push for both funding and effectiveness."

Mary’s Story: An Advent Bible Study

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By Amanda Bornfree

The season of Advent is a time of great expectation, filled with hope and promise. Advent calls us to gather in preparation for the birth of our savior, Jesus Christ. We bring our gifts in praise, and our songs in celebration as we express our endless love for Jesus, and our support for Mary.

This season has much in common with the times in which our loved ones are expecting new additions to their families. We find ourselves taking care of the expectant mother by giving her food, and showering her with attention. We find ourselves in prayer for a safe and healthy delivery. And, of course, we pray for a healthy baby, blessed to live a life filled with happiness, love, and great opportunity. 

Bread for the World's Advent Bible study, Mary’s Story, explores the relationship between Mary and Jesus in light of the movement to improve nutrition for women and children and ensure that all children everywhere can reach their full potential. Mary’s Story focuses on the window of opportunity that is the 1,000 days between a woman’s pregnancy and her child’s second birthday — this is the most vital time for receiving nutrition for a healthy future. 

The Bible study calls us, as Christians, to use our faith, gifts, and resources to advocate for better health and nutrition for all. As God’s children, we believe that preparing for the birth of a child should always be a time filled with great expectation, hope, and promise.

We encourage you to use Mary’s Story for your Advent Bible study. Every hour of every day, 300 children die as a result of malnutrition — please dedicate just one hour each week during the season of Advent to learn more about how you can advocate for better nutrition during the 1,000-day window. Order this free resource today at www.bread.org/store , and visit the Women of Faith for the 1,000 Days Movement Facebook page to engage in conversations about the Bible study and maternal and child nutrition.  

Amanda Bornfree is a consultant in Bread for the World's church relations department.

Lean Just a Little: Food Aid Reform in the Farm Bill

Screen Shot 2013-10-31 at 1.09.46 PMIn a 2010 interview with PBS, Bread for the World President David Beckmann talked about how small reforms to food aid  can help more hungry people. "If we just lean a little bit," Beckmann said, "we can make it a lot easier for people to escape from poverty and feed their children."

Bread for the World continues to urge Congress to make simple reforms to food aid, and our efforts are apparent in farm bill negotiations. Over the years, U.S. generosity and compassion have saved billions of lives, and right now we have an opportunity to make this valuable assistance even better.

A conference committee began negotiations this week to merge House and Senate versions of the farm bill. The Senate version includes common-sense reforms that include allowing food to be purchased in or near the community in need. Language in the bill also grants more flexibility to purchase food aid products with better nutritional quality, which will help target the most vulnerable populations, such as women and children. Locally purchased food builds economies and helps farmers, which in turn helps stabilize regions and  allows them to build defenses against future emergencies. These reforms function as a hand up, not a hand out, and are an essential part of a long-term solution to ending hunger.

Currently, the majority of food aid products provided by the United States must come from this country and be shipped on U.S. vessels. As Bread for the World notes in a new fact sheet on international food aid reform, this practice can add to program costs and delay arrival of food aid, when compared to local purchases. Another current practice, monetization–purchasing U.S. commodities for resale in local markets to fund development projects–meant 800,000 people could have, but did not, receive aid in 2012.

Two lawmakers in the House are leading the charge to modernize U.S. food aid: Reps. Ed Royce (R-Calif.-39) and Eliot Engel (D-N.Y.-16), and both are on the conference committee. An amendment they authored was narrowly defeated in a House farm bill, but they continue to work toward inclusion of food aid reform in the final bill.

In a statement submitted to the conference committee, Royce encouraged policy change that includes the flexibility to address each unique situation and eliminate monetization. “In fact, “ he wrote, “if we eliminated the requirement to monetize and provided just 20 percent in flexible funding, we could generate over $500 million in efficiency savings, reduce mandatory spending by $50 million, and reach millions more people in need during the life of this bill.”

In a guest contribution to Politico yesterday, Engel pointed out that food aid policies have stagnated since 1954, and must to catch up to modern needs. He saw firsthand the effect our current law has had on Haiti, and his experience supports the need for reform. “I’ve seen how the well-intentioned sale of American rice has driven local rice farmers out of business, making it harder for Haitians to feed themselves," he wrote. 

It’s time for international food aid to respond to the realities of today’s world. Call or email your member of Congress today and tell them to protect hungry people in the farm bill.

From the Negotiating Table to the Dinner Table

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In November, many struggling Americans will find it even more difficult to put food on the table as they face the expiration of a temporary increase in food stamp benefits. Congress is negotiating a farm bill that would make even deeper cuts to the vital nutrition assistance program (movie still from A Place at the Table, courtesy of Participant Media).

This week brings Halloween and the arrival of November. The fall season includes a number of holidays that center on food for Americans. But for many people, Friday will bring new hardship and worry. On Nov. 1, a temporary increase in food stamp benefits will expire, making it more difficult for 47 million people to put food on the table. A family of four could see its benefit decrease by as much as $36 per month. 

“Thirty-six dollars a month may not seem like much, but if you are a family of four with an income of $22,000 per year, $36 means several missed meals or increased difficulty in providing for one's children,” writes Rev. David Beckmann, president of Bread for the World, in a piece on the Huffington Post Politics Blog. “And if this $11 billion reduction isn't devastating enough, members of the House and Senate have begun to finalize a farm bill that will impact vital anti-hunger programs.”

Today, 41 lawmakers will meet with the goal of merging two versions of the farm bill—one that proposes a nearly $40 billion cut to SNAP over 10 years, and another that includes a $4.1 billion cut. If any of your members of Congress are sitting at the negotiating table, you have an opportunity to influence their decisions and urge them to protect the nation’s number-one defense against hunger from deeper cuts. As food prices increase and benefits decrease, more families will likely find themselves in need of charitable food donations earlier in the month, but any cuts to nutrition assistance will leave a hunger gap that cannot be closed by churches, pantries, or food banks.  

The staff and volunteers at Oregon Food Bank are concerned about cuts to SNAP and made sure that one member at the conference table–Rep. Kurt Schrader (D-Ore.)–knows they can’t fill the gap. In a recent op-ed, Oregon Food Bank CEO Susannah Morgan and board member Lisa Sedlar point out that deep cuts to food stamps would increase hunger for 100,000 Oregonians. "[T]he total meals lost in Oregon would be equivalent to the entire statewide food bank network shutting its doors for more than five years," they write in the article.

It's also important to remember that there are real people behind these cuts. The Orlando Sentinel reports that Floridian Robin Petersen, who works full time, can't afford to put enough food on her family’s table without nutrition benefits. “If I didn't get food stamps, we'd be at the food pantries every week," Peterson says in the piece. In the same article, hunger relief organization Second Harvest reports that food distribution in the area has already increased by 34 percent in the last six months.

In addition to debating cuts to food stamps, members of the committee must also make choices about international food aid. Beckmann says we must hold members of Congress accountable for their actions. “Any policies that create additional poverty among the working poor, or further impoverish hungry people around the world, are reprehensible,” Beckmann wrote in the Huffington Post piece.

On Friday, the first day of a month in which we celebrate bounty with a national feast, it is disheartening to think that some Americans will be have much less food on their tables when they gather to give thanks this year. 

Singing Songs for 1,000 Days: Carrie Newcomer

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Carrie Newcomer is one of the artists who generously contributed music to Bread for the World's Songs for 1,000 Days CD (Publicity photo, Rounder Records).

By Sara Doughton

For singer-songwriter Carrie Newcomer, a long-time activist for causes such as peace-building and protecting the environment, food insecurity and malnutrition are fundamental barriers to a more just and peaceful world.

“Hunger is bracing,” Newcomer says. “It gets right down to the center of the community, because if a child is hungry, they can’t grow, they can’t develop, it’s more difficult to learn. There are a lot of systemic things that happen when a person is hungry.”

When approached about contributing music to Songs for 1,000 Days, the CD compilation dedicated to maternal and child nutrition in the critical window between the beginning of a woman’s pregnancy and her child’s second birthday, Newcomer readily agreed. The Rounder Records artist offered a song from Everything is Everywhere, a joint effort with celebrated Indian sarod masters Amjad Ali Khan, Amaan Ali Khan, and Ayaan Ali Khan. All proceeds from Everything is Everywhere benefit Interfaith Hunger Initiative (IHI), a not-for-profit organization bringing together two dozen Indianapolis faith communities working to end child and family hunger.

As a long-time Quaker, Newcomer immediately understood the connection between Bread for the World’s Christian faith and its efforts on behalf of poor and hungry people in the United States and abroad.

“There’s a Quaker idea—the light of God in everyone," Newcomer says. "Each person has a piece of the light within them. Every person. No one is excluded. And when you see the world that way, something like Bread for the World just makes sense. If all the people who are walking around in this world are sacred, then treating them as such becomes an important idea. And when people aren’t doing well, or they’re struggling – if they’re hungry –we can’t ignore it.

“Caring for those who are vulnerable is one of the beautiful things about our spiritual tradition," she continues. "We have to pay attention to that and work toward eliminating hunger, poverty, and injustice whenever we can. It’s the work of the compassionate heart.”

In her work as an artist and advocate, Newcomer relies on lyrics and melodies to call for greater compassion, opportunity, and equality.

“I tell a human story…often when you stand on a soapbox, the doors to people's hearts close immediately," she says. "But, if you sing them a song that’s honest and human…then people will leave their hearts open just a little bit longer. And in that moment there’s an opportunity, and also a responsibility, in terms of what you have to offer.”

As Newcomer opens her listeners’ ears and hearts to those in need, she looks forward to partnering with Bread to raise awareness about the importance of maternal and child nutrition.

“Organizations like Bread for the World give me hope,” Newcomer says. “Sometimes people say hope and mean wishful thinking, or optimism. [But] I think of hope as being an incredibly courageous act – hope is about getting up every morning and working toward that better, kinder, more compassionate world. Hope is about not knowing how it’s going to turn out, and not even knowing if you’re going to see it in your lifetime, but working toward it anyway.

“Bread for the World is really a wonderful example of hope and love made visible. And so I’m excited to be part of this, working in community with Bread.”

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Visit the Songs for 1,000 Days web page to learn more about this project, listen to sample clips of songs on the CD, and order a copy of the CD through Bread for the World's store.

Sara Doughton, a former intern in Bread for the World's church relations department, is a student at Yale Divinity School.

Bread for the World at the Wild Goose Festival

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Heatherlyn, one of the artists features on the Songs for 1,000 Days CD, performing during the Wild  Goose Festival in Hot Springs, N.C. (Nancy Neal)

By Rev. Nancy Neal

As in years past, Bread for the World was represented at the Wild Goose Festival, which was held in Hot Springs, N.C., in August. With upwards of 3,000 participants and a booth space along the main entrance to the camp ground, we got to see lots of familiar faces and to make some new friends.

Our booth featured the Songs for 1,000 Days CD, and with the daily afternoon rains, it became a little oasis where folks could stay dry and visit with each other. The festival this year was not only on the camp grounds of the Hot Springs Resort and Spa, but it spilled into the surrounding small town with events in its community center and other venues.

I was interviewed on the Doug Paget Radio Show to talk about Bread for the World, the CD, and the 1,000 Days movement. Heatherlyn, who wrote an original piece for Songs for 1,000 Days was the featured musician for the show. We also sponsored a concert featuring the CD. The artists with us included Tracy Howe, who also wrote a song and produced the CD, Heatherlyn, and Bryan McFarland, who is a long-time Bread activist and singer-songwriter. A nice crowd of folks gathered, interested to learn more.

Wild Goose is a community gathered at the intersection of justice, spirituality, music, and art. The main annual event is a four-day, outdoor festival hosted each summer in North Carolina. This year, artist such as Indigo Girls and Speech from Arrested Development were on the main stage; speakers included Vincent Harding, Krista Tippett, Nadia Bolz-Weber, and William Barber.

The Songs for 1,000 Days CD is an initiative that came out of our presence at last year’s festival. It is a collection of songs from 14 artists, four of whom wrote original songs with themes around advocacy and the 1,000 days movement to improve nutrition for women and children in the 1,000 days between the beginning of woman’s pregnancy and her child’s second birthday. The CD is available for order in the Bread store.

Rev. Nancy Neal is Bread for the World's associate for denominational women's organization relations.

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