Urging our nation's leaders to end hunger
 

65 posts categorized "1,000 Days"

Singing Songs for 1,000 Days: Heatherlyn

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Heatherlyn performing at Bread for the World's 2013 National Gathering (Eric Bond).

By Sara Doughton

"I think all of us are artists on some level, because I believe we’re created in the image of the Creator, to co-create this world, each with a different gift that we’re given and unique ways that God wants to manifest love, healing, wholeness, and reconciliation in the world," says singer/songwriter Heatherlyn.

For Heatherlyn, music is more than a job—it’s her calling. It's her way of responding to God’s call to do justice and love mercy in the world. Through "storydwelling" she seeks to honor and amplify individuals and communities relegated to the margins of society.

"We all have a voice, we all have a story, we all have a perspective," she says. "None of us will begin to see the ‘big picture’ without the perspective of others coming from various vantages of personality, geography, economy. Some voices have been marginalized, silenced and dishonored. This is a disgrace to the human race."

When asked to contribute an original song for the Songs for 1,000 Days CD project, a collaboration between Bread for the World Institute and Women of Faith for 1,000 Days, Heatherlyn readily agreed. However, at the time she didn’t immediately notice the connection between her own experiences and the issue of maternal and child nutrition.

"I had a difficult childhood," she says. "I was raised by a single mom, and we were on WIC for awhile. I know there were times in my life when I wasn’t exactly hungry, but our resources were limited…the subsidized, highly processed, non-nutritive foods were a huge part of my younger years. And my mom and I both have suffered a lot of health issues in our lives because of that."

While watching A Place at the Table during the 2013 National Gathering, Heatherlyn heard stories of mothers and children struggling to feed themselves, and increasingly saw how hunger, food insecurity, economic systems, and poverty intersect.  She also recognized the importance of multiple levels of support and interventions for her family.

"One of the reasons we weren’t hungry [in terms of lack of food] is because of community," Heatherlyn says. "Our faith community surrounded us. At the same time, it’s significant to note that there were government programs that we needed for awhile, but my mother didn’t seek to stay on them indefinitely. People have that sort of bias about low-income people… I was very aware of socioeconomic prejudice. But it was a both-and for us. We needed [the financial support], and we needed community. And we needed things to get better."

Community continues to play an important role in Heatherlyn’s creative vocation.  She looks forward to the unfolding of her story as an artist in connection with Bread for the World.

"I felt like all the people from Bread were incredible, really sincerely warm and an embracing presence," she says. "I felt like I was a part of Bread right away…it seems like the relationship is continuing and growing, and I’m really excited.”

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Visit the Songs for 1,000 Days web page to learn more about this project, 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.

Cuts Cost Lives: Nutrition Funding in Danger

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Khato Rana plays with her daughter Rita, 2, at the Nutrition Rehabilitation Home in Dhangadhi, Nepal. The facility, run by Nepali NGO Rural Women's Development Unity Center (RUWDUC), restores malnourished children back to health (Laura Elizabeth Pohl/Bread for the World).

That four in 10 Nepali children are stunted because of malnutrition is outrageous. We have the knowledge to solve widespread malnutrition — but will we?

The 2013 Offering of Letters video "Malnutrition is Everywhere" shows targeted investments in nutrition work. The short video, shot at the Nutrition Rehabilitation Home (NRH) in Dhangadhi, Nepal tells a story of hope. Nutrition interventions result in positive outcomes for mothers and their children in the first 1,000 days between pregnancy and age 2.

“Within a month or so, you can see the change in a child,"said Pinky Singh Rana, board member at the Rural Women’s Development Unity Center. "You can see the positive attitude of the mothers in how seeing a child who had almost died overcoming that. It’s really a such a satisfying feeling for us also.”

The NRH and organizations like it are saving lives and helping children reach their full potential with support from U.S. development assistance. Each year, 3 million children die from causes related to malnutrition and 165 million suffer from its consequences. Food aid, currently in danger of severe cuts, not only mitigates and prevents hunger but also shows that our nation values children all over the world—something Christians strongly believe. 

Food aid does more than just save lives; it's an investment in a stable and peaceful future. In the briefing paper "Sustaining U.S. Leadership and Investments in Scaling Up Maternal and Child Nutrition," senior foreign policy analyst Scott Bleggi writes, “There is solid evidence that demonstrates that improving nutrition – particularly early in life, in the 1,000 days between a women’s pregnancy and a child’s second birthday, has a profound impact on a country’s long-term economic development and stability.”

Progress on improving nutrition for vulnerable children like those in Nepal would be undermined if proposals to slash food aid become law. In the House version of the farm bill, food aid would be cut by $2.5 billion dollars. The Senate version would reform the food aid program, making it more flexible and able to reach more vulnerable mothers and infants in the first 1,000 days.

Sequestration is also chipping away at global anti-hunger programs. This year has already seen a $1 billion cut to poverty-focused development assistance (PFDA) because of these automatic across-the-board cuts. A recent appropriations bill approved in the House would further slash PFDA by a devastating 26 percent.

Our nation’s leaders have an opportunity to make history with small investments in anti-hunger programs – PFDA comprises less than 1 percent of the federal budget.  Reforms to food aid could save even more lives. But, Congress needs motivation. They need to hear from their constituents that investing in human lives is a priority. During the month of August, reach out to your members of Congress and let them know that cuts can and do cost lives.

Join Us for a Webinar on Maternal and Child Nutririon


Rita Rana, 2, is the smallest of all the children recuperating in the Nutrition Rehabilitation Home (NRH) in Dhangadhi, Nepal. The center, run by Nepali NGO RUWDUC (Rural Women's Development Unity Center), aims to restore malnourished children to health. Forty-one percent of Nepali children under age 5 are short for their age (stunted), according to the preliminary 2011 Nepal Demographic and Health Survey. Photographed on Sunday, April 29, 2012. (Laura Elizabeth Pohl/Bread for the World)

By Rev. Nancy Neal

Reps. Debbie Wasserman Shultz (D-Fla.) and Mario Diaz-Balart (R-Fla.) have introduced a House resolution recognizing the importance of U.S. leadership in addressing global maternal and child nutrition (H. Res. 254). This resolution is an important milestone in the fight to improve the potential of children around the world, but it needs congressional cosponsors and support.

Please sign up for our 1,000 Days Webinar on Tuesday, Aug. 6 at 1 p.m. ET to learn about how you can help move this important pending legislation. We will discuss details of H. Res. 254 and explain why it is so important for the broader movement to bolster nutrition during the 1,000 days between a woman’s pregnancy and her child’s second birthday. We will talk to you about scheduling in-district meetings with your members of Congress during their summer recess and asking them to support efforts to end the scourge of malnutrition. We'll also be reviewing the resources in our 1,000 Conversations Kit (you can order the kit here or download it here).

We look forward to speaking with you on Tuesday, Aug. 6 at 1 p.m. ET.

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

God, Grip Our Hearts

July 2013 Newsletter

(Left to right) Amanda Wojcinski, Wynn Horton, Moeun Sun, Aminata Kanu, Rebecca Land, and Robert Mauger, students at Houghton College in upstate New York, navigate Capitol Hill during Lobby Day on June 11, 2013. The students met with their senators and representative and urged them to preserve funding for food assistance in the farm bill. (Eric Bond)

Recently, Rev. Noel Castellanos prayed, “God, when you grip our hearts we are turned toward our brothers and sisters on the margins of society.”

Rev. Castellanos, chief executive officer of the Christian Community Development Association, offered this invocation as we and our colleagues in the Evangelical Immigration Table gathered for a vigil at the Capitol just before the Senate began voting on the comprehensive immigration bill.

Thanks be to God, our prayers—and your advocacy—worked. The Senate passed its version of the comprehensive immigration reform bill on June 28 with a vote of 68-32. Now we turn to the House of Representatives to see what action it will take. We anticipate a more partisan approach in the House. So we pray that God will grip the hearts of our representatives and bring both parties together to pass immigration reform legislation that will benefit struggling families in our nation.

House Farm Bill Fails

We have another major reason to be thankful to God and to you for your faithful advocacy. On June 21, the House version of the farm bill was voted down, 234-195. Had it become law, it would have meant a $20 billion cut to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, formerly food stamps). More than 47 million Americans depend on this vital food assistance program.

When the current farm bill was authorized in 2008, we won the largest increase ever for food assistance. Since then, the nutrition portion of the farm bill has been targeted for cuts. We are thankful that God has gripped the hearts of our representatives, until now, and stayed those cuts.

As you read this, Congress is be preparing to recess for the summer. This means that your members of Congress will be back in your district. I encourage you to visit or call them, referring to their voting record on amendments to the new farm bill and other food and nutrition bills (see Bread for the World's 2013 Midyear Congressional Scorecard). If they voted in favor of hungry people, thank them. If they did not, still thank them for being your public servants, but express disappointment for the way they voted and remind them that you are counting on them to vote on behalf of hungry and poor people.

International Coalition Pledges to Fund Maternal and Child Nutrition

We are also thankful that God has gripped the hearts of President Barack Obama and other world leaders to increase investments in maternal and child nutrition in developing countries hardest hit by malnutrition. Since we started our work on this issue four years ago, much progress has been made. Last month, at a high-level event in London, world leaders pledged $21.9 billion for maternal and child nutrition programs between now and 2020. The United States pledged $10 billion through fiscal year 2014 toward eliminating malnutrition in the 1,000 days between pregnancy and age 2—and it promised to continue funding nutrition programs at this level beyond 2014.

On June 10, during Bread for the World’s 2013 National Gathering in Washington, D.C., Bread for the World Institute and Concern Worldwide hosted an international meeting to mark the progress that has been made over the last 1,000 days and to recognize the important role that civil society has played in building the political will to scale up nutrition. The event marked the official launch of the Civil Society Network of the Scaling Up Nutrition (SUN) Movement, which will help coordinate the efforts of the 40 SUN countries.

Dr. Rajiv Shah, administrator of the U.S. Agency for International Development, recognized the role that activists— like the Women of Faith for the 1,000 Days Movement— have played in elevating the voices of poor and hungry people as policy makers set priorities. In addition, Bread for the World and partners hosted a congressional briefing on maternal and child nutrition to raise awareness on Capitol Hill about the critical role of U.S. leadership.

After the briefing, Reps. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-Fla.) and Mario Diaz-Balart (R-Fla.) introduced a bipartisan resolution to draw attention to the scourge of malnutrition during the critical 1,000-day window.

This will be a busy autumn and winter for Bread, with important advocacy work around sequestration and other budget issues. We will also be finalizing our plans for the next three years—the first triennial plan within the framework of our long-term vision to end hunger. We will be planning our campaigns for 2014 and launching the 2014 Hunger Report, Ending Hunger in America.

As we enjoy the summer, I give thanks to God for your faithful support and for gripping all our hearts to advocate with those whom Jesus calls “the least among us.”

[This piece originally appeared in Bread for the World’s July-August newsletter.]

Singing Songs for 1,000 Days

By Tracy Howe

Would musicians volunteer to write, sing, and donate songs about the importance of nutrition and food security during the crucial 1,000 days between the beginning of a woman’s pregnancy and a child’s second birthday? I pondered that question when Bread for the World asked me to produce a CD on the theme. After all, the general public gravitates to some concerns more than others. Would artists be willing to sing about this issue?

Worldwide, poor nutrition causes 45 percent of deaths in children under age 5, according to the latest studies published in the Lancet. Stunting occurs in 40 percent of children living in poor countries. Yet low interest in maternal and child nutrition reveals general lack of knowledge about the effects of poverty and poor prioritizing by governments. This situation compels groups like the Women of Faith for the 1,000 Days Movement and Bread for the World Institute to raise awareness.

So I enthusiastically agreed to direct the CD project, knowing that I would find artists who also respond to this vital issue. I approached activists and artists with an international presence who understood the importance of nurturing life at every stage. I asked that they write songs that embody the 1,000 Days campaign, and I searched for existing songs that would help people connect nutrition, advocacy, and faith.

 The result is Songs for 1,000 Days, a compilation project that unites 14 artists around maternal and child nutrition, faith and justice, and God’s love—with tunes ranging from acoustic balladry to new gospel ruckus to Colombian folk.

The CD demonstrates the power of a diverse coalition sharing its passion, knowledge, and talents to live God’s call for peace and justice in the world.

Music, advocacy, and faith have enriched my life from my earliest years. When I began playing and writing music full time, I understood that this was not only my work, but my calling—to serve and love people. I played traditional venues, but I also played prisons, drug rehabilitation centers, and homeless shelters.

We have to remind each other that transformation is possible. We have to show that reality to each other in ways big and small. We have to continue making that which is beautiful in the face of ruin, and so doing, transform it.

As Songs for 1,000 Days reaches an audience of potential allies in the movement to end hunger, I hope that artists and listeners alike will consider how they can make justice, love kindness, and walk humbly with God, whatever their vocations.

Listen and learn more about Songs for 1,000 Days at www.bread.org/1000days.

Tracy Howe is the founder of Restoration Village Arts, a nonprofit that facilitates international artistic collaboration and mobilizes artists as effective advocates for positive change.

Double Your Impact: Protecting Food Aid and WIC

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At Bread for the World, ending malnutrition is an essential part of the work to end hunger at home and abroad.

Globally, an estimated 165 million children under the age of five are stunted. Inadequate nutrition during the 1,000 day-window from a woman's pregnancy through her child’s second birthday impairs development. Research shows that adults who did not receive adequate nutrition as children can lose up to 10 percent of their lifetime earnings. In the United States, child poverty rates are on the rise, yet the WIC program, proven to lower infant mortality rates and improve school performance, is in danger of losing funding because of sequestration. When a nation’s children begin their lives with challenges created by malnutrition and hunger, it becomes more difficult to make good on the promise of a prosperous future.

But faithful advocacy has the power to change the future.

To advance the millennium development goals of eradicating hunger and extreme poverty while also reducing child mortality and malnutrition, food aid with improved nutrition that targets vulnerable mothers and children must be central to development programs—and it must be properly funded. Yet, unless Congress acts to end sequestration it is estimated that more than 571 thousand children could lose food interventions that can prevent the irreversible damage caused by malnutrition.

God’s kingdom is without borders; nutrition during the first 1,000 days matters as much if you live in Bangladesh or Baltimore. The WIC program provides nearly 9 million pregnant or nursing mothers and vulnerable children access to adequate nutrition, education, and health care referrals.  As sequestration continues, it will erode the effectiveness of the program.  Congress must replace the automatic cuts with a balanced plan that includes revenues.

Both chambers of Congress are working on spending bills, and the House numbers assume sequestration is here to stay. And unlike the provision in sequestration whereby cuts are split evenly between defense and non-defense programs in the budget, the House proposal moves all cuts to non-defense programs. A unified and faithful chorus of voices must again tell Congress that the federal budget cannot be balanced on the backs of the most vulnerable.

Being faithful advocates during one of the most polarized political periods in history, with a constant barrage of proposals to cut programs for poor and hungry, is difficult, but we know that your advocacy on behalf of hungry and poor people works. Even with $2.7 trillion in deficit reduction already enacted, programs that help hungry and poor people have been largely protected. Calls and emails helped stop a recent proposal to cut the SNAP program by $20.5 billion, protecting the program at current levels, for now.

These victories and the challenges ahead in the journey to end hunger are possible because of the engagement and support of Bread for the World members. Please consider joining our summer effort to help hungry people by making a gift to Bread. Because of a few generous donors, between now and July 12 your donation will be doubled!

Linking Nutrition with HIV/AIDS and Other Health Services

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Efforts to reduce malnutrition in Rwanda help to thwart the rise of HIV and AIDS, saving the lives of countless infants and young children. (Photo: Bill McCarthy for EGPAF)

By Lior Miller

For the past 10 years, Rwanda has made significant achievements in scaling up its health system to address the HIV/AIDS epidemic and maternal and child mortality. As the Rwanda Country Officer for the Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation (EGPAF), I have witnessed many of these transformations firsthand. While Rwanda is often cited as a success story for infectious diseases – deaths from tuberculosis, malaria, and HIV/AIDS dropped by 80 percent in the past decade – not enough people know about the remarkable improvements in reducing the country’s high malnutrition rate.

Malnutrition is a state resulting from too little food, inadequate nutrient intake, and frequent infections or disease. It can manifest in a number of ways, but the most common is stunting, which affects 165 million children under the age of ive worldwide. In 2005, more than half of Rwanda’s under-five population was stunted. Just five years later, the stunting rate had dropped to 44 percent. This number is still high, but due to concerted efforts by the national government and its partners, progress is expected to continue.

The first 1,000 days of a child’s development – from pregnancy to 2 years of age – are a critical period for health and survival. Adequate maternal and child nutrition during this period is crucial for both cognitive and physical development. Stunting, in particular, affects brain development and is associated with lower cognitive abilities, poor school performance, and lower earnings throughout the lifetime.

In response to the country’s high malnutrition rate, the Rwandan Ministry of Health developed the National Multi-sectoral Strategy to Eliminate Malnutrition in Rwanda. One of the key strategies outlined was the scale-up of community-based interventions to prevent and manage malnutrition in children under five years of age and in pregnant and lactating mothers. In this intervention, community health workers use behavior change communication to teach women about optimal feeding practices through a package that EGPAF and PATH harmonized with Rwanda’s national plan. The health workers counsel mothers, fathers, and other caregivers to promote social and behavior changes, including improved maternal diet, early initiation of breastfeeding, exclusive breastfeeding for six months, safe water and hygiene, how to care for a sick child, and growing kitchen gardens and learning small animal husbandry for diet diversity.

Counselors also discuss nutrition in the context of HIV, since malnutrition threatens the health of HIV-positive mothers and their children. Malnutrition weakens the immune system and causes faster disease progression. Inadequate food intake can affect adherence to antiretroviral medication and drug effectiveness. Because HIV progresses faster in children than it does in adults, the risks posed by malnutrition make them even more vulnerable to mortality. Moreover, because HIV-positive pregnant women are less likely to gain adequate weight than non-infected women, counseling on maternal nutrition during pregnancy enables them to give birth to normal weight babies, increasing their chances of survival.

Malnutrition has more detrimental effects than hungry bellies, and efforts to reduce stunting rates also improve maternal and child survival, decrease HIV-related mortalities, and increase economic productivity. Rwanda’s success in reducing malnutrition, and eventually eliminating it altogether, is due to a number of factors, including a strong health system with universal health coverage, integrated health services, and an emphasis on vulnerable populations. In addition, the importance of the government’s political and financial commitment cannot be underestimated. With more families being reached at the community level through the concerted efforts of the Government of Rwanda, EGPAF, and other partners, I have no doubt we can achieve the elimination of malnutrition and new HIV infections in children in Rwanda.

To learn more about the Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation's work in Rwanda, click here.

Lior Miller is Country Officer for Rwanda for the Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation, based in Los Angeles, CA.

VIDEO: Highlights from Sustaining Political Commitments to Scaling Up Nutrition

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USAID Administrator Raj Shah at the Sustaining Political Commitments to Scaling Up Nutrition event (Joe Molieri/Bread for the World).

On Monday,  international government representatives, global nutrition experts, activists, and civil society leaders assessed progress made since September 2010—nearly 1,000 days ago—when the United States and Ireland launched the 1,000 Days Call to Action and the Scaling Up Nutrition Movement.

At the "Sustaining Political Commitments to Scaling Up Nutrition" meeting, United States Agency for International Development (USAID) Administrator Dr. Rajiv Shah reaffirmed the U.S. Government’s financial commitment to addressing maternal and child malnutrition and committed to building a partnership with U.S. nongovernmental organizations to leverage private resources in this fight.

“Today, we have the opportunity to join our voices together-to draw strength from the past 1,000 days and seize the next 1,000 days to achieve progress that was unimaginable in the past,” Dr. Shah said. “The vision that guides our mission starts with the people our governments represent and who are reflected in our invaluable civil society partners who have long championed efforts to advance global nutrition.”

During the meeting, Interaction, the largest alliance of U.S.-based NGOs international , announced that its members have pledged more than $750 million in private funds over the next five years to improve nutrition—including efforts that focus on the 1,000-day window between a woman's pregnancy and her child's second birthday.

For more highlights from the meeting, watch the brief video below.

 

Conversations That Matter

Tohomina Akter attempts to feed her daughter Adia, 17 months, in Char Baria village, Barisal, Bangladesh, on Thursday, April 19, 2012. Tohomina finished 7th grade and hopes she can help educate her daughter to be a doctor. (Laura Elizabeth Pohl/Bread for the World)

By Mary Pat Brennan

Do conversations matter? Do my conversations matter? Do yours? If conversations are about connecting with others then the morning conversation with my housemate over coffee, the Skype chat with my daughter, and the small talk I make on the elevator all matter, even if only to me and perhaps one other person.

But some conversations matter more than others. Some have the power to inform and plant seeds for the future–and even contribute to making the world a better place.

When we discuss maternal and child nutrition during the critical 1,000-day window between pregnancy and a child’s second birthday, we’re having a conversation that could change the world.  According to information in Bread for the World Institute’s 2013 Hunger Report , “[h]unger during this time is catastrophic, because the resulting physical and cognitive damage is lifelong and irreversible.”

Continue reading "Conversations That Matter" »

Lenten Reflections: Answering the Church Door

Isaac_eating_fruitWednesday, March 27

By Amanda Bornfree

Her eyes held a weariness that I hadn't seen before. She was tired. She sat quietly, with her shoulders slouched, as she held her young boy in her arms. He was restless; hands scratching his head, eyes wandering up toward the ceiling. I could tell he was not eating well. Neither was she. 

I was working late at the church and was the only person to hear the buzz that came from the side door. I had immediately welcomed in the young woman and child. Now, we were in the church’s kitchen. My head was dizzy, from work and the surprise of the unexpected visitors.

It was an early autumn day. No one was yet used to the sky darkening shortly after 5 o’clock. The heat of the summer days was dwindling and the idea of colder days approaching made bodies crave sustenance.

I found three cold apples in the refrigerator, a quarter block of sharp cheddar cheese, half a loaf of bread and some caramel dipping sauce. There was a can of French onion soup in the cupboard. I made her a bowl of soup with shaved cheese on top. She dipped the bread in the broth and fed it to the boy. When he was through, she ate. They were quiet, as most of us are when we eat. I sat across from them at the wobbly coffee-stained kitchen table. Once she had enough, she thanked me and told me about her situation.

40-for-1000_logo_blogHer mother had kicked her out of the house three days earlier. She didn’t share the reason. She was 17 years old and her son was almost 2. She used to come to our summer youth programs when she was 10 and 11. She was trying to reach a teacher that was a member of the church. She mentioned the teacher’s name—I knew her. I had actually spoken to her earlier that day on the phone. So we called her up. After all of the caramel sauce and two of the apples were gone, the teacher arrived. The young woman thanked me again. The little boy had stopped scratching his head and gave me a smile before he rested his cheek on his mother’s shoulder.

I exhaled as the teacher thanked me. At the time, I didn’t really understand why I was receiving so many thanks, but now I thank God for blessing me with the stamina to work late that evening. Now, I’ve realized the importance of that simple act of feeding a mother and a child. And, once again, I thank God for blessing me with the ability to do that, and much more, for women and children.

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

Photo: Isaac, enjoying fresh fruit. (Laura Elizabeth Pohl)

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