69 posts categorized "1,000 Days"
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.
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.
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.”
Sara Doughton, a former intern in Bread for the World's church relations department, is a student at Yale Divinity School.
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.
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.”
+Sara Doughton, a former intern in Bread for the World's church relations department, is a student at Yale Divinity School.
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.
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.
(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
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.]
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.
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!
Get updates on issues and actions to take on behalf of hungry people.