Urging our nation's leaders to end hunger

19 posts from September 2007

the gift that keeps on giving...

Clinton by Mike Batell - Faith Outreach Organizer in Minneapolis

Interesting, the things you stumble upon when you’re just trying to kill some time.  So I was in DC’s Union Station waiting for my train back to Minneapolis…..I know, a whole ‘nother story, maybe for another time.  Anyways, in the bookstore right next door, I started flipping through a copy of former President Clinton’s new book “Giving”.  As I’m paging through, all of a sudden the words “Bread for the World” jump out at me.  In his chapter entitled, “What About Government?”, he gives high praise to the work of Bread:

As Clinton writes on pages 188-189:

An “important anti-poverty advocacy group is Bread for the World, a bipartisan faith-based group with 58,000 members, including three thousand churches.  Bread for the World writes nearly 250,000 letters to Congress every year on behalf of initiatives to reduce poverty, hunger, and AIDS in the world’s poorest countries.  For the last two years, it has supported President Bush’s proposal to change the way American food aid is delivered.  Current law requires all aid to be in food grown in the United States, with three-fourths of it to be shipped on US flag vessels.  Rising energy costs, complicated logistics, and administrative costs now consume more than 60 percent of our main food aid program….Canada and Europe have been moving away from shipping their own food to Africa and Asia in favor of giving cash to buy food in developing countries closest to places with severe hunger problems.  That buys more food, gets it delivered more quickly, and helps poor farm economies….President Bush has proposed doing the same thing with 25 percent of US food aid.
            Unfortunately, farm groups and even some charities opposed the idea at first and for two years it’s gone nowhere in Congress.  Bread for the World hasn’t given up.  It has already converted some of its opponents and will keep trying….If you agree, you should contact Bread for the World and offer to help."

Way cool!  To give your voice and the gift of citizenship to Bread and those facing hunger and poverty, visit our TAKE ACTION page.

To give a financial offering to Bread, visit our giving page.

Hunger on the rise in Los Angeles

LA Food Bank - Los Angeles, CA
Originally uploaded by bbayless00

Working parents are increasingly forced to make tough choices between food, transportation, adequate housing and life essentials.  A recent article about the rise of hunger Los Angeles states:

Although in recent years the number of poor people across California and nationwide facing unreliable food sources has remained steady, the population going hungry in L.A. County has been on the rise, particularly among Latino families, the disabled or unemployed and those with children. Public health officials have largely attributed the jump to the number of low-wage workers living in a region with a high cost of living. Full text.

High cost of living is right.  I browsed LA Craigslist today and I found a LOFT apartment in downtown LA going for $1600/month. It's outrageous. Granted, downtown is in the process of a major gentrification, but what is the city doing to build affordable housing or encourage families to live there?  Not much.

Global Poverty Act in da House!

The House passed the Global Poverty Act of 2007 today by voice vote.  I was encouraged to hear that no one rose in opposition to the legislation.  The act was originally sponsored by Reps. Adam Smith (WA) and Spencer Bachus (R-AL) and it requires the president to create a comprehensive strategy for reducing global poverty as part of our foreign policy.  You can view a full list of co-sponsors here. 

The bill still needs to be introduced and passed in the Senate, but this is a huge step forward.  Read more about the bill here.

The ONE blog has a great summary of the Global Poverty Act, included below:

What the Global Poverty Act does:

  • Declares it official U.S. policy to promote the reduction of global poverty, the elimination of extreme global poverty, and the achievement of the U.N. Millennium Development Goal of cutting extreme global poverty in half by 2015.
  • Requires the President to develop and implement a comprehensive strategy to carry out that policy.
  • Includes guidelines for what the strategy should include - from aid, trade, and debt relief, to working with the international community, businesses and NGOs, to ensuring environmental sustainability.
  • Requires that the President’s strategy include specific and measurable goals, efforts to be undertaken, benchmarks, and timetables.
  • Requires the President to report back to Congress annually on progress made in the implementation of the global poverty strategy.

Take Action:  Check the list of co-sponsors.  If your representative signed on as a co-sponsor, be sure to send him/her a note of thanks for supporting this vital piece of legislation.

Podcasting for Justice

On Friday, our office headed to San Marcos, CA for some studio recording time.  Cory Verner with Christians Ending Poverty and the awesome Hour Challenge blog graciously offered to record and edit audio content for us.  (Cory is also the founder of Christian Audio - a company that records Christian books.  Be sure to check out their website and amazing library of audio books.)  We hope to use segments from our time for the Bread for the World podcast.

Yes, that's right!  Bread's launched a podcast.  Check it out.  Each podcast will focus on a specific topic related to hunger advocacy and provide a legislative update about our current campaign.  Be sure to subscribe through iTunes and write a review.  Let us know what you think of the podcast by writing a comment or sending an email - hhight@bread.org. 

Here's a picture of me after we recorded a segment on campus organizing.   I'm on my way to becoming the next Jim Dale!! ;)


Eliminate our dependence on gasoline by 2050? (But not with corn)

National Geographic online has a comprehensive article about ethanol, and how it can be produced without the use of corn or other food.  Here is a great quote from the article:

"We can create ethanol in an incredibly dumb way," says Nathanael Greene, a senior researcher with the Natural Resources Defense Council. "But there are many pathways that get us a future full of wildlife, soil carbon, and across-the-board benefits." The key, Greene and others say, is to figure out how to make fuel from plant material other than food: cornstalks, prairie grasses, fast-growing trees, or even algae. That approach, combined with more efficient vehicles and communities, says Greene, "could eliminate our demand for gasoline by 2050."

Check it out

Another Opportunity to Get Involved

Nscahh_logo_final2 The National Student Campaign Against Hunger and Homelessness has put together a terrific conference on Nov. 2-4 at the University of Wisconsin in Madison, WI. 

According to the group's organizer Stacy Hafner, this year's conference will be broken into four issue tracks focused on some of the most pressing poverty-related issues including:

  • Hunger and Famine
  • Housing and Homelessness
  • International Development and Trade
  • Humanitarian Crises such as the conflict in Darfur, Sudan, and Hurricane Katrina Recovery Effort

This sounds like a great opportunity to learn more about these issues and find ways to get involved.

Click here for more information about the program, logistics, registration, transportation and housing.  (Note: there will be free on-campus housing on the gym floor for all attendees).

How do I involve my campus in advocacy?

Welcome back to campus!  I had an excellent conversation today with Heather from Creighton University in Omaha Nebraska.  She has teamed up with an organization called The Campus Kitchen Project to raise awareness about nutrition and hunger in the surrounding community.  As part of Creighton's direct service efforts, they also want to discuss the importance of advocacy  Heather was asked to organize two workshops about the farm bill and advocacy. 

We came up with a few ideas for workshop activities:

Heather is reaching out to the service learning chairs of the Greek Organizations on campus with hopes that the message with expand among these groups.  Way to go, Heather!

Are you involved with any upcoming advocacy events on your campus?  Do you have any other ideas for Heather?

"why the hungry refuse help"

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Below is an editorial that appeared last week in the New York Times.  Although it talks about the situation of hungry people in New York City specifically, the subject is one that correlates to the rest of the country.  Moreover, it touches on a key point of reform that Bread for the World and its partners are pushing for this year in the farm bill - highlighting that improving and increasing nutrition assistance isn't just about increasing funds for the programs.  Read on for more...and remember, this is an editorial, so feel free to editorialize yourself in the comments section below!

Editorial -September 13, 2007

As many as 1.3 million New Yorkers, about one-quarter of them children, do not have enough to eat. These are precisely the people, many from working families, whom federal food stamps are supposed to help. But bureaucratic hassles imposed by the city may be discouraging hundreds of thousands of eligible New Yorkers from getting the help they need.

A study by the Urban Justice Center , a nonprofit group that advocates for the poor, found that of 9,500 recipients surveyed, more than 5,800 had their benefits cut off within 20 months of enrollment. The vast majority remained eligible for food stamps, but, in most cases, they simply did not show up to get their aid renewed. Many said they could not deal with the paperwork and long waits, or get time away from work or children to reapply at a city office.

The city’s Human Resources Administration, which manages the program, disputes the findings. Official statistics, however, show that something is seriously wrong with the program. While poverty levels in New York City remained fairly constant, the number of people receiving food stamps fell in July by nearly 7,000. That was the fourth decline in the last five months.

If the moral imperative to address hunger in the shadow of privilege isn’t enough, the economics should be. By failing to maximize enrollment — anti-hunger groups say about 500,000 eligible people are not receiving food stamps — the city is losing hundreds of millions of dollars in aid from Washington. With fewer New Yorkers receiving the benefit, more are forced to turn to soup kitchens and other emergency food sites, which the city spends millions to support.

Food stamp participation has increased under Mayor Michael Bloomberg, but it had fallen significantly under his predecessor, Rudolph Giuliani, who did all he could to discourage enrollment. Mr. Bloomberg listened to critics, and the city has streamlined the initial application process, expanded office hours and generally cut red tape. That’s a good start.

Now it’s time for a more aggressive approach. Allowing reapplication by telephone would help. The mayor should also consider requiring recipients to reapply only every 12 months, which is the federal standard, rather than every six. Of course, applicants should continue to be carefully screened. Since most errors on benefits are the fault of city workers, not applicants, better training may be needed. The zeal to fight fraud should not push people deeper into hunger.

Walk the Walk

The leaves are turning and the air is beginning to feel cool and crisp.  This could only mean that the annual CROP Walk is around the corner in many communities across our great land.

The walks, sponsored by Church World Service, are a fun multi-generational activity, offering the opportunity for churches, congregations or civic organizations to get their members involved in raising funds for CWS's local and international anti-hunger and disaster-relief programs. Here in New Mexico, we have five CROP Walks scheduled in October and three in November (plus one that was held in April and another whose date is to be determined).  Our neighbors up north in Colorado have 23 CROP Walks scheduled.

But far too often we think of Church World Service in terms of its CROP Walks and its charitable activities and not enough of its great educational programs.                                                             


Did you know that CWS is one of dozens of organizations that are partners in The ONE Campaign?   

As part of its commitment to ONE, CWS has created a great resource called  Making Poverty History.   You can order the resource online or download a .pdf version 

A global chorus of voices is calling to make poverty history. We have the resources, we have the knowledge, but do we have the will? The activities collected here are meant to help build that will by providing a glimpse into the lives and struggles of impoverished people around the world. The simulations, skits, and other elements can be used as a part of CROP Hunger Walks, Tools & Blankets events, overnight events or retreats, mission fairs, church camps, and other learning events on hunger and poverty. 
  -From CWS Making Poverty History

This resource offers a great opportunity to add another level of meaning to your walk.  For our Colorado-New Mexico two-state area, this means 33 opportunities!
(Above photo by Paul Jeffrey/ACT-CWS)  

Fasting for Justice

I posted earlier about the Rolling Fast for Jubilee.  Thousands of people are participating in the fast as a way to raise awareness and pray about the situation of debt cancellation in the world. 

Crystal Espinoza, a local Bread for the World member and activist from Ft. Collins, had a letter to the editor published in her local paper - The Coloradoan about the Fast.  She writes:

The central event of the 2007 Sabbath year is the 40-day Cancel Debt Fast calling for debt cancellation and an end to global poverty.

I am participating in Cancel Debt Fast by committing to fast for a week and will contact Sen. Ken Salazar to ask for support of the Jubilee Act as well as just trade and poverty-focused development assistance to fight global poverty. During the 40-day Cancel Debt Fast, advocates across the United States and around the world will be engaging in this powerful act of solidarity with those who are bound by the chains of unjust and oppressive debts. Read the Full Text

Way to go Crystal!

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