Urging our nation's leaders to end hunger

42 posts from October 2007

Drawing Attention to Injustice

By Nick Mele - Bread for the World activist from Bellingham, Washington

Now that this forty day fast is almost over, I am grateful for the opportunities to reflect on this fast people have given me by asking about it.  This fast re-focused my attention on vulture funds and the debt issue. That focus led to more advocacy work with individuals in my family and in my community, but fasting works in several additional ways:

1) Fasting gives us some sense of what it is to be always hungry, always lacking, and so increases our compassion;

2) Fasting takes food and food preparation out of our daily routine, leaving time for advocacy and prayer;

3) Done prayerfully, fasting can draw attention to injustice--this is one of the things Gandhi did in his fasting; and

4) Those who fast in this way are also attempting to share the pain and deprivation of those who are treated unjustly, resulting in more compassion and awareness. 

For myself, I am reminded of how rich I really am, and become both more generous and more grateful because of that renewed awareness of the gifts I have been given.  We live in such abundance in the US that it is easy, like the rich man in the story of Lazarus, not to see the poor at our gates, and even easier to not see that our wealth is built on exploiting them.

The 40-day fast ended today! A new senate bill on debt cancellation was introduced today.  Read about it here.

The Jubilee Blog has other great reflection on the Rolling Fast.

Daily Justice: Sr. Miriam Therese Winter

How beautiful, our spacious skies, our amber waves of grain;
Our purple mountains as they rise above the fruitful plain
America! America! God’s gracious gifts abound.
And more and more we’re grateful for life’s beauty all around.

Indigenous and immigrant, our daughters and our sons
O may we never rest content till are all truly one
America! America! God grant that we may be
A sisterhood and brotherhood from sea to shining sea.

How beautiful, all continents, and islands in the sea
That dream of peace, nonviolence, all people living free.
America! America! God grant that we may be
A global sphere where people here all live in harmony.

- Version of “America the Beautiful” updated in 1993 by Sr. Miriam Therese Winter, SMM

Blog for the Earth

Bloggers Unite - Blog Action Day

Today, Bloggers around the world are doing what we do best - blogging - to raise awareness about the environment.  I posted about global warming last week and how the sustainability is directly linked to the fight against poverty.

Here is a round up of great posts on this subject:

How to Start a Compost Bin in the City (with Little Money) - gathering in light
Holy Spirit Sustainability - Brian McLaren on God's Politics blog
How Can We Help Save the Earth? - Freelance Folder
Items You Never Thought to Recycle - Tips for Life

Learn more about Blog Action Day

Stories from the Rolling Fast

This week, Bread Blog will feature reflections from the Rolling Fast.  The following is a re-post from Cindy's Anti-Poverty Blog.  Cindy is an active Bread for the World member from Chicago.

Reflections on the Rolling Fast

October 10 was the day I participated in Bread for the World's rolling fast. Members fasted on different days between 9/6-10/15 to pray & fast as witness against global poverty. This was the 1st time I'd fasted for a cause instead of a holy day tradition. It was also my first time [to fast] as a mom.

First off, I'll confess...I broke the fast. My toddler grabbed a bagel & without thinking I broke it in chunks for her and ate what she didn't eat. Ack! Not even 9:30AM! I was disappointed, but I didn't scrap the whole day. I thought about why it happened. The key here is "without thinking." Too many times, eating is a habit and not even enjoyable. Did I want it? Was I hungry? Was the bagel yummy? healthy? no, no, no, kinda. How blessed I am that food is often available to me for free! The only redeeming thing is that my act stemmed from not wanting to waste. But in general, when food is eaten without thought or conscious choice it leads to waste, overweightness, and separation from natural & spiritual order. Moving on, I was hypersensitive and extra prayerful. Not in the "Don't smite me" way, but the "Help us to help others" way. And it got easier.

Until lunch. I've never prepared food while fasting before. Additionally, my youngest fell asleep and missed lunch, so I had to do it twice. Each time, I was aware of how I usually eat with them, taste everything before they do, eat portions they won't. Each time, I listened to their happy smackings, tried to write my senators, & thought about parents who sacrifice every day like that. And then dinner came. By then I was irritable because I was hungry and ashamed at my irritability. When I first worked at a soup kitchen, I had the audacity to wonder why some homeless people were snappish with those trying to help. I've understood more over the years, but watching my kids eat while hungry myself gave me an emotional taste of the frustration the poor feel all the time.

Despite my failing in the morning, it was my best fasting experience. The reflections were deeper, the prayers more sincere, letters to Congress were mailed and I am even more committed to my work than before!

Daily Justice: Frederick Kirschenmann

Doing agriculture within the context of spirituality will lead us to pay attention to all of the relationships in which farming is involved. How do our farms affect the birds and bees and earth worms and air and water and soil micro-organisms? How do our production systems affect the cows and corn and native grasses on our farms? We must, in other words, begin paying attention to relationships.

- Frederick Kirschenmann From a paper prepared for The Concord School of Philosophy, Concord, MA, October 8, 2005, pg. 7-8.

Daily Justice: Booker T. Washington

I will permit no man to narrow and degrade my soul by making me hate him.

- Booker T. Washington

Fresh Baked Bread...sort of


Do you love Fresh Bread!?  Well, you're probably thinking about fresh baked bread, but this is almost as good.  ;)  Fresh Bread is our periodic online newsletter that includes legislative and policy updates.  For October, we provide an update on our Seeds of Change campaign to reform the farm bill, advocacy efforts for increased anti-poverty funding and ways to take action.  Read the October edition.

Click here to sign up for Fresh Bread.

Seeds of Change Action Alert

Call your senators and ask them to push for broad reform of the farm bill when they take up the bill in the coming weeks.  Find out who your Senators are.

Points to make:

  • Please ensure that the farm bill that comes to the Senate floor includes:
  • Changes to commodity programs that will provide more help to U.S. farmers of modest means and make it easier for farmers in poor countries to feed their families.
  • Increased food stamp benefits so that U.S. families can afford a healthy diet.
  • More investment in rural development, especially resources targeted to the U.S. communities in greatest need.

Washington, DC 20510

Capitol Switchboard: 202-224-3121

Send an email


Syndicated columnist E.J. Dionne, who writes for the Washington Post, had a very interesting column this week about the dialogue between evangelical Christians and political progressives over issues that have traditionally divided them. Dionne's column is entitled A Culture War Treaty  It's a really encouraging piece.

Here is an excerpt:

What matters more is that a new generation of evangelical leaders, tired of the rancid partisanship, is breaking away from the culture wars. The reach of this new evangelical politics will be tested with the release tomorrow of a statement under the very biblical title "Come Let Us Reason Together." The question for the future is how many in the evangelical ranks will embrace this call.

Organized by Third Way, a group that is close to many leading moderate Democrats, the statement calls for "first steps toward bridging the cultural divide between progressives and evangelicals."

Daily Justice: Vandana Shiva

If we are serious about ending poverty, we have to be serious about ending the system that creates poverty by robbing the poor of their economic wealth, livelihoods and incomes.  Before we can make poverty history, we need to get the history of poverty right.  It’s not about how much wealthy nations can give so much as how much less they can take.

- Vandana Shiva

Oxfam launches farm bill ad campaign

Oxfam America launched an ad campaign today about the farm bill.  Check it out:

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