Urging our nation's leaders to end hunger

12 posts from November 2005

New Twist to an Advent Wreath

Blessings to you all during this Advent season.  I for one am struggling a little bit with that fact that we've already entered into Advent - it's not even December.  I had to preach at my church this past Sunday and having to vocalize what Advent meant to me and why it connected to hunger and justice helped me to see Advent with new eyes.  I've always struggled with what the "waiting" means in Advent.  Why do we wait?  Waiting seems so passive.  Aren't we supposed to be "living" our faith?  As I was reflecting on this (and doing some Internet research) it hit me, waiting doesn't have to be passive, we are called to be alert in our waiting.  Waiting also doesn't mean we stop working - if we believe that Advent is having hope in a God that hears the cries of those struggling and brings deliverance - then while we wait we also still work for justice.  Maybe this is clear to the rest of the world, but my own personal epiphany has made me thrilled about fully celebrating the meaning of Advent each of every day - I feel sort of liberated and renewed!

Okay, that was a long intro to get to my real reason for writing this.  Bread for the World has worked with several denominations to create a wonderful Advent resource.  One of my favorite pieces is the Advent wreath piece.  Instead of doing the usual Bible verse and little reflection, the reflections in this piece relate to current justice issues.  So this week for the first candle of hope, we remember the 40 million people living with AIDS in our world.  For me it makes the whole Advent wreath ritual relevant and meaningful to our world today, so check out the resource!

Movie on G8

Over the Thanksgiving Break, recovering from pies upon pies, I saw the movie, The Girl in the Cafe.  It was a fictional, but realistic account of the 2005 G8 Summit.  I was utterly impressed with how accurate all the jargon of the G8 was, as well all all the facts on hunger poverty, and discussions of the Millennium Development Goals, and even each nations views of poverty, development, economics, and the MDGs.

Being the dork that I am, I would have wished they showed more of the political discussions, and less of the romance, but for an HBO film, the level of political ethics discussed was quite impressive. In the movie, the American delegation wanted to end poverty by making the rich richer, which I thought was a quite realistic (but sad) view of American politicians currently in power. 

All in all, an excellent movie to get a realistic view of how political decisions are made.  Maybe a little slow at first, but it's worth the wait.  The DVD also allows you to watch the ONE video, which is always an inspiration!

Faith and Global Justice Seminar

I was on fieldwork for 10 days in the Seattle and Portland area.  One of the events I attended was a seminar sponsored by Bread for the World focused on the Millennium Development Goals.  It was held at Seattle University and fabulously attended with over 500 people including lots of students from Washington and Oregon!  Rev. Mpho Tutu (daugther of Archbiship Tutu) and Rick Steves both spoke.  Holly has already summed up this event really well at her blog, check out Hunger for Justice to read more about the event and what the speakers shared with us.

I'm also attaching a wonderful resource created for this event.  It highlights each Millennium Development Goal and provides a Biblical vesre to connect to it.  I like it a lot, so I hope you too find it useful!  Download connecting_the_millennium_development_goals_to_faith.doc

Thanksgiving Prayers

Happy Thanksgiving!  BFW's offices will be closed Thursday and Friday, so you may not see another blog posting until Monday.  Once we're back, I owe you postings on the NSCAHH conference, my trip in Seattle and Portland, and my new idol, Dr. Paul Farmer!  Until then, here are some lovely Thanksgiving prayers my colleague collected:

I send prayers of gratitude to all

That has given of itself on this day.

The strong beans, and the hardy grains,

The beautiful leafy green plants and the sweet juicy fruits.

I thank the sun that warmed and vitalized them,

Just as it does me,

And the earth that held and nourished them, as it does me,

And the waters that bathed and refreshed them, as they do for me.

I thank the fire that transformed them,

Just as I wish to be transformed by the fires of Spirit.

I thank the hands that grew and prepared this food,

Just as I thank all those that have touched me.  Amen

For food in a world that knows hunger,

For friendship in a world that knows loneliness,

For peace in a world that knows conflict,

We thank you O Lord.


Continue reading "Thanksgiving Prayers" »

Pre-turkey Activities

What to do while the turkey is in the oven

In the spirit of Thanksgiving and the release of Bread for the World Institute's 16th annual Hunger Report, Frontline Issues in Nutrition Assistance, our VP Jim McDonald will be appearing live on Thanksgiving on C-Span's Washington Journal.

Since he'll be appearing from 9:30-10 am EST, you'll only miss a bit of the Macy's Thanksgiving Day parade. Football games and turkey won't be affected at all. (BONUS: You'll actually be able to concentrate on the important issues Jim'll be discussing since the tryptophan won't have entered your blood stream yet.)

Learn more about the Frontlines in Nutrition Assistance, order your copy, download a study guide, or read the executive summary.

Bono on 60 Min

For all those loyal U2 fans, be sure to check this out on Sunday:

The members of the Irish rock band U2 have always believed that their group was about something more than making records and playing concerts. The themes of their music -- often about social injustice, ranging from the American Civil Rights movement to genocide in Bosnia -- have helped them sell over 130 million albums around the world and gross nearly a billion dollars on the concert trail. And offstage, their lead singer, Bono is equally impressive. His political activism -- working to help erase third world debt and supplying Africa with AIDS drugs -- has made him a political force. Ed Bradley takes a closer look at U2 and the double life of their lead singer on 60 Minutes, Sunday, Nov. 20, 7PM et/PT on CBS.

And the link:


Hunger Report time

The Institute is pumped about our upcoming 2006 Hunger Report, set to be released in PDF format on the Bread website next week. I'm excited! The HR team has been working their butts off on this report, so hats off to all of them.

The report is a great source for analysis and statistical information on domestic and international nutrition assistance programs. Numerous sidebars, written by experts in the field and HR members, are wonderful and provide glimpses into how specific nutrition programs work.

The study guide, released alongside the report, is also a good resource for study groups interested in further discussion. More about all that later, but here's a preview from the introduction of the report:

"Hunger 2006: Frontline Issues in Nutrition Assistance argues for improving nutrition assistance programming in the United States and in the developing world. Nutrition assistance programs have had an astonishing impact in places where hunger could have, but has not, thankfully, robbed people of their potential."

"Nutrition is often a missing piece in discussions about hunger. Sometimes that makes sense. In life or death situations, good nutrition may seem like a luxury. People must eat what is available to survive. Over the long term, however, not eating the right kinds of food has serious health consequences. More than two billion people across the world suffer chronic vitamin and mineral deficiencies. Their health is at risk because they are not getting the right kinds of food. Many will die as a result. At least six million children die each year because of various forms of malnutrition."

Summer Food Program and Child Hunger

I recently did a briefing memo for my "Children/Science/Policy" seminar at GU.  Since I have been learning about hunger-related issues at BFW, I wanted to focus on child hunger, and I decided to focus on the Summer Food Program.  A major problem I found is that the level of child hunger increases during the summer months as compared to school months.  Legislation has put in place programs like the National School Lunch Program to feed poor children that attend school, but the Summer Food Program, which is meant to take over NSLP during the summer months, is not reaching the amount of hungry children that it should and could.  During the school year, about 15 million low-income children depend on the National School Lunch Program (NSLP) and/or School Breakfast Program (SBP) for nutritious, free or reduced-price meals.  But research shows that only 2 million children in low-income areas receive free meals during the summer months, as provided by the Summer Food Service Program.  A major problem with the Summer Food Program that I encountered, in addition to administrative burdens, is the problem of awareness of local programs that offer Summer Food. I found it so interesting that many efforts have been made to combat child hunger during  the school year, but the same children that are fed through these school programs, go hungry during the summer months. Originally, I was going to go into depth about my briefing memo in this blog, but the main point I want to get across is how there is always a bigger picture when it comes to hunger-issues. Those people that believe poor children are being adequately fed through their schools have to also realize the need to provide food to these same children all year long.  Strides may be made in combating hunger amongst America's youth, but there is still so much that needs to be done year round before child hunger will be a thing of the past.

Do the Numbers

Lets do the numbers.  OK, yes, I may be a Policy-dork, but I am proud of it, and love to share with everyone including my roomates who patiently listen to me.  I've been way too much into this chart I've been puting together for work, comparing the poverty-focused development assistance funding the US currently gives, to the promises Bush made at the G8 in June, to what the US must give to reach the MDGs by 2015. 

Bush promised to double aid to Africa and globally by 2010, from 2004 levels.  OK, so in 2004 the US gave $8.68B to help poor people globally.  That means that to meet President Bush's promises in 2010, the US must give $17.3B.  Soooo....lets say that we DO fulfill these promises, ok? $17.3B in 2010 is only HALF of the money the US must provide inorder to meet the Millennium Development Goals. The US must give $37.5B in 2010 to reach the MDGs.    Yes, we can certainly say that the Promises Bush has made are a good step in the right direction, but we must go farther.  An additional 1% of the federal budget would meet the MDGs, the $37.5B in 2010, and this goes above and beyond the President's promises.

World AIDS Day

In order to raise awareness on Baylor campus, this year on December 1st, World AIDS Day, Student Global AIDS Campaign is trying to get 2,600 students, faculty, staff, friends, etc. to where an orange shirt that says "HIV +  Educate Yourself!"  Everyday we learn more and more about the effects of this horrible disease, yet we continue to take no action.  This small, conscious-rasing and advocacy campaign is important in educating peers about AIDS.  By having 2,600 people wearing the shirts on 12/1 will serve as a visual representation of Zimbabwe and several African nations where 20% of the population lives with HIV/AIDS.  Getting 20% of our student body to wear these shirts will be an amazing feat, and I hope it will also make impact.  It is a suttle thing that can have a hige influence.

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