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65 posts categorized "1,000 Days"

Voices of Hunger: How WIC Supported My Decision to Breastfeed

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A lactation consultant discusses proper breastfeeding techniques with parents at the Dallas Community Baby Café, held at a city WIC office. (Photo: USDA)

By Amanda Bornfree

Even before my first visit to a WIC office, I knew that I wanted to breastfeed my baby. I had only read a little on the importance of breastfeeding, but it was enough for me to realize that I wanted the best for my little one. Breastfeeding offers a host of benefits for both mother and baby. A breastfed baby is less likely to catch pneumonia, develop asthma and allergies, experience diarrhea or constipation, become jaundiced, or die from SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome). A mother who breastfeeds is less likely to have postpartum depression and develop certain cancers, and is more likely to shed her “baby weight." I was in. Sign me up. I was going to breastfeed.

In the waiting room of the WIC office that I visited monthly for my vouchers while pregnant with my first child, there were various wall posters that promoted breastfeeding. It was encouraging to see them. There were posters in both English and Spanish, catering to the diverse demographics of my Chicago neighborhood. The posters displayed information regarding hunger cues from infants, charts that compared infant formula to breast milk, and also the standard FAQ in regard to breastfeeding.

When I spoke with WIC employees they made a point to share facts about the benefits of breastfeeding, and that made me excited about the great nutrients that my body was developing. I learned that if I chose to breastfeed, I could continue to receive vouchers for up to a year after the birth of my baby, if I continued to qualify for the program—if I decided to formula-feed, the maximum amount of time would be six months. If I chose to formula-feed my baby, my vouchers would also have fewer food items on them, in order to make up for the cost of formula. WIC vouchers supply a certain amount of formula for babies, but not enough to cover the total cost of all of the food an infant needs. Breast milk, on the other hand, is not only better for the baby, but free. Wow!

It was at a WIC office that I was first introduced to the role of a breastfeeding counselor. During one of my visits, a WIC employee told me that if I had any questions about breastfeeding, or any difficulty with breastfeeding, there were breastfeeding counselors that I could call for advice. My eyes widened as she explained the details of WIC's breastfeeding program: “Once you give birth, if you are breastfeeding, we have a form that you can give to your doctor to fill out to receive a free breast pump," she said. "You have to be covered by the state to qualify. Since you’re on Medicaid, you do qualify. This will make it much easier for you to return to work or look for a job and continue to breastfeed your baby.”

Once again, I knew that WIC had my back. I knew that they truly cared and had the resources to help mothers during this critical time.

When I think of how devastating it would be to lose the circle of protection around WIC, my heart sinks. I was fortunate enough to know a little about the benefits of breastfeeding prior to visiting my local WIC office, but plenty of women are introduced to these benefits at a WIC office. I had decided that I would breastfeed prior to visiting WIC, but plenty of women have come to that decision because of WIC.

Once my daughter was nine months old, I became a breastfeeding peer counselor myself, through AmeriCorps. I wanted to do for others what was done for me–I wanted to educate and promote the facts about breast milk, and support women on their breastfeeding journeys.

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

Voices of Hunger: My First WIC Office Visit

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A mother talks to a WIC nutrition counselor outside of a farmers market in Martinsburg, West Virginia. (Photo: USDA)

By Amanda Bornfree

A couple of weeks after I found out my husband and I were expecting our first child, we lost our health insurance. We were disappointed, as is to be expected. I had been excited about going forth with my prenatal check-ups with a doctor I had chosen for her directness, serious demeanor, and expertise.

Due to our sudden shift in income, we now qualified for Medicaid and I was eligible for WIC (Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children) benefits. The doctor who I had imagined would deliver our baby did not accept Medicaid. I had to look elsewhere.

A caseworker contacted me and invited me to a WIC clinic. I was a little nervous. I didn’t know what to expect and, ultimately, I wanted what would be best for my little baby. I thought, would I find it there? I didn’t want to stress.

When I arrived at the clinic, I was greeted by a sweet woman with sandy brown hair and a light voice. She was my caseworker. After filling out important paperwork, she went over my options for doctors and midwives. She spoke of each professional with respect and honesty. She shared with me the various options I could choose from. I was a little surprised that I had choices. Once I selected the professional I wanted to visit, my caseworker picked up the phone and made my first appointment. I wanted to open my arms and embrace her. But my first WIC appointment wasn’t over with yet.

“Are you taking prenatal vitamins?” she asked.

Yes, I nodded.

She pulled out a pamphlet about the nutrition that I needed as a pregnant woman. She talked me through it, and answered all of my questions. She then informed me of the WIC monthly vouchers. I would be able to receive foods with essential nutrients for my body and my baby.

Finding out that I could use some vouchers at farmers markets made me smile.  I remember thinking, my baby and I are just as important as the family that is fortunate enough to frequent farmers markets. Though I’ve never believed that I was less than anyone, I was indeed vulnerable—I was pregnant for the first time and my household income had plummeted. The assistance I received made me feel loved and important. It gave my husband and I more faith in our belief that everything was going to be alright. And that faith fed our 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.

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

A Jar of Conversations

Memory-Jar---Notes (2)by Amanda Bornfree.

I entered her office.

Instead of a jar of candy, she had a jar of pretty strips of paper.

She offered me one.  I pulled one out.

There were words on it:

“Where there is hunger and poverty, there is almost always poor access to maternal and child health care.”

And then we had a conversation about the 1,000 Days.

The 1,000 Days Jar is a useful tool for starting conversations about the 1,000 Days movement.  It’s practical, creative, and fairly easy to make. Having conversations about the importance of maternal and child nutrition during the 1,000 day window between pregnancy and a child’s second birthday can be challenging at times. A 1,000 Days Jar can introduce the issue of maternal and child nutrition to those unfamiliar with it, or spark new conversations surrounding the 1,000 Days Movement.

What You Need:

  1. Computer and printer OR time and good penmanship
  2. Recycled colored paper
  3. Scissors or paper cutter
  4. A medium-sized jar of your liking, preferably a mason jar
  5. A location for the jar, such as an office desk, coffee table, etc.
  6. An informational list of nutritional facts and reasons why the 1,000 Days is important (provided below).

Steps:

  1. If using a computer, cut and paste the provided list to a document. If using pen and paper, write the list out by hand.
  2. If using a computer, print out the list.
  3. Cut out each statement.
  4. Fold each statement in half and put them in the jar.
  5. Place the jar in your location of choice.

 Suggestions:

These suggestions may inspire more conversations on how to make a difference for the many women and children who don't get the proper nutrition during the critical window of 1,000 Days.

1. Create the 1,000 Days Jar with:

  • Fellow church members during Sunday school
  • Friends and family who don’t know about the 1,000 Days Movement
  • Preteens and teenagers in your family
  • The youth director at your church

2. Step it up:

  • Either with a group or on your own, make jars for gifts and give them to friends, family members, or colleagues
  • Add Bible verses and/or spiritual quotes about hunger to The 1,000 Days Jar
  • Visit the Thousand Days website and check out their resources. Add additional facts to the Jar.

Continue reading "A Jar of Conversations" »

Why 1,000 Days?

ITD blog 8.27.12
In early 2011, Desire came to Omoana House, a rehabiliation center in Njeru, Uganda, as a malnourished young girl. But with proper healthcare and feeding – including nutrition supplements provided by USAID, she has grown healthy. (Photo by Laura Elizabeth Pohl/Bread for the World)

by Inez Torres Davis.

Nutrition for the pregnant woman and her child through the age of two years is such a critical window of opportunity. Women with our own children or women who have never given birth, but have participated in nurturing children “get” how critical this is. And, maybe it’s easier for us to have these conversations for this reason, but I would really like to see men of faith step up for this one and make the commitment to have these conversations!

The 1,000 Days Movement addresses the need for those who “have” to be sure that child-bearing women, women who are pregnant, and infants from birth to two years of age receive the nutritional diet they require to avoid life-threatening physical and mental health issues such as stunting, protein deficiency, and cyclical starvation. Cyclical starvation is when the body has a hunger season each year in which important nutrients are completely lacking from their diets thus providing short term and long term health problems and in many cases, death.

While visiting three countries in Africa with Bread for the World in 2011, I saw the raw and measurable difference nutritionally caring for pregnant women and infants makes in the life of a community as well as in the life of a child. One Malawi village had not had a single case of cholera since learning how to secure clean water, sanitation, and create supplemental nutrient-rich feedings for pregnant women and babies. Dozens of Zambian infants are receiving healthy starts in health clinics and through the campaign for non-HIV positive mothers to nurse their babies.

Here in the United States, programs like the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC) and the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, formerly the food stamp program) provide a nutritionally sound base for children who would otherwise suffer the debilitating effects of malnutrition. Dollar for dollar supporting the nutrition of pregnant women and babies is money “best” spent whether it is spent domestically or as international development aid.

The call of the gospel is the call to be present with the disenfranchised. I can’t think of a more disenfranchised or disempowered person than the infant born to a malnourished woman. Simply put? This is the work of the gospel. Start to share this good news!

 

Ineztorres-davis-230wInez Torres Davis is director for justice at Women of the ELCA.

Bread Activists on the Ground in Oklahoma

OK 8.14.12

(Photo by Margaret W. Nea)

by Keaton Andreas.

It is critical that we raise our collective voice on behalf of poor and hungry people as Congress debates funding for anti-poverty programs, which is exactly what a Bread for the World Covenant Church did this past Saturday.

Hunger was the topic of discussion this weekend at St. Charles Borromeo Catholic Church in Warr Acres, Okla. The Covenant Church hosted the forum “Fighting Hunger in Oklahoma.”

Oklahoma is the fifth hungriest state in the United States, with 47,871 families living in extreme poverty (less than $11,057 a year for a family of four) and a poverty rate for children under five of nearly 28 percent.

Continue reading "Bread Activists on the Ground in Oklahoma" »

Activity for Children:
A Person Who Has No Food Has Only One Problem

8.10.12 children activity

(Photo by Flickr user cnishiyama)

by Robin Stephenson

Hunger is a frequent companion for too many children. Around the world, 178 million children under the age of 5 are stunted because of inadequate nutrition during their first 1,000 days of life. Closer to home, one in five U.S. children face hunger every day because they live in households struggling to put food on the table.

These sobering facts can be changed with enough political will, but the first step is education.

How do you teach young children in church or at home about hungry children?  Bread’s Hunger No More Web page offers several effective resources. Here’s one activity that helps children learn by doing:  

Continue reading "Activity for Children:
A Person Who Has No Food Has Only One Problem" »

Global Hunger Awareness: Going for the Gold

Olympics Hunger Summit

Students play together outside at Lott Carey Mission School in Brewerville, Liberia. (Photo by Laura Elizabeth Pohl/Bread for the World)

by Sarah Dickey

The Olympics brings together the most physically fit athletes from nearly every country in the world. It is a time of joy and celebration. But with eyes on the world’s strongest athletes, viewers might easily forget that 925 million people in the world remain hungry. In July, the Guardian reported that the average Olympian eats six meals and consumes 6,000-10,000 calories daily—a foreign concept to people without enough food. The prospect of ever competing in the Olympics is bleak to the 178 million children around the world who suffer from stunting.

Continue reading "Global Hunger Awareness: Going for the Gold " »

Church Women United Delivers 1000 Days Petition to the State Department

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(Left to right) Nancy Neal, Associate for Denominational Women's Organization Relations at Bread for the World; Blanche Smith, National Chair of the Action/Global Concerns Committee for Church Women United; and Robin Fillmore, Advocacy Coordinator for Church Women United, pose for a picture while delivering a petition to the State Department on Thursday, July 26. The petition thanks U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton for her work on the 1,000 Days campaign and encouraging her to continue her focus on the issue. The petition, which had about 5,000 signatures, was presented to Jonathan Schrier, special representative for global food security in the State Department. Photo by Bread for the World.


Bread for the World has partnered with denominational women's organizations to create the Women of Faith for the 1,000 Days Movement. As part of that advocacy work, Church Women United delivered a petition to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton thanking her for her work in the movement and asking her to continue to champion nutrition for women and children in the 1,000 days between pregnancy and a child's second birthday.

The women collected 5,000 signatures on the petition, which was circulated through their membership network, posted online, and shared with other denominational women's groups. 


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Blanche Smith, National Chair of the Action/Global Concerns Committee for Church WomenUnited and Robin Fillmore, Advocacy Coordinator for Church Women United joined Nancy Neal, Associate for Denominational Women's Organization Relations at Bread for the World to deliver the petition on Thursday, July 26. They met with Jonathan Shrier, the Special Representative for Global Food Security who received the petition on behalf of Secretary Clinton.

Ms. Smith told Mr. Shrier that Church Women United joins with other women's organizations to express their support for the initiatives of the U.S. Government to improve nutrition for mothers and children. Mr. Shrier responded that Secretary Clinton is very passionate about the 1,000 Days Movement. He thanked the Church Women for the petition, explaining that the support of the public helps the Secretary and the administration to continue to keep 1,000 Days in the forefront of their work.

How Can We Get There Without a Map?

7.24.12 blog.Roadmap
Photo by Anne Poulsen/ World Food Programme

Did you ever try to get to a far-off destination without a map?  It’s not easy.

Today, Bread for the World will join a coalition of 50 faith-based, humanitarian, and advocacy groups to present A Roadmap for Continued U.S. Leadership to End Global Hunger. At a Capitol Hill event later this afternoon, members of Congress, policymakers, and NGO leaders will officially unfold the Roadmap, charting a course for a hunger-free world through smart investments.

The document reviews progress over the last three years towards the goals set out in the original Roadmap and offers recommendations to ensure continued effectiveness of U.S. global food security programs.

The Original Roadmap

In the wake of the global food price crisis of 2008, a broad-based coalition of non-governmental organizations, advocacy groups, and faith-based organizations developed a document titled the Roadmap to End Global Hunger, which was endorsed by over 40 organizations and became the basis for legislation introduced in the House of Representatives (H.R. 2817).  The Roadmap presented a vision for a comprehensive and integrated U.S. strategy to increase global food security, including suggested levels of financial support for emergency, safety net, nutrition and agricultural development programs over five years. 

Hunger remains one of the world's most pressing challenges, with almost a billion people—or one in seven worldwide—suffering chronic hunger.  In addition, each year up to 100 million more may face acute hunger brought on by natural disasters and conflicts.  Women and children are disproportionately affected by hunger and malnutrition.  With population growth placing a strain on a limited natural resource base, and changing weather patterns creating more droughts and floods, feeding the world of the future presents a serious challenge.

Continue reading "How Can We Get There Without a Map?" »

Hunger QOTD: Norman Borlaug

Hunger QOTD 7.23.12
Women in Jombo village, Malawi, take group cooking classes as part of the USAID-funded Wellness and Agriculture of Life Advancement (WALA) project designed by Catholic Relief Services. The women learn how to prepare nutritious meals for their families. Photo by Racine Tucker-Hamilton/Bread for the World

"Food is the moral right of all who are born into this world." 

Norman Borlaug, Nobel laureate and "father of the Green Revolution."

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