Urging our nation's leaders to end hunger

8 posts from February 2008

If bread could talk and all of you could listen...

We'd call it something like a 'breadcast'.  If only bread could talk...oh wait...

Give us feedback on 'breadcast' and win a Bread for the World iPod Nano(!)

We released an especially excellent breadcast yesterday. It features excerpts from Bono’s historic speech at the National Prayer Breakfast, an interview on the Millennium Development Goals with Eric Muñoz of the Bread for the World Institute, music from Opiyo Bilongo and Extra Golden and reminds listeners that the deadline for applying to be a Hunger Justice Leader is fast approaching.

And, we invited listeners to give us feedback on the podcast by sending us an email telling us what you’ve enjoyed and what else you’d like to hear to breadcast@bread.org. One lucky podcast listener who gives us feedback will win their very own limited edition iPod Nano with the words “Have Faith. End Hunger.” engraved on the back. So, be sure and send us your thoughts today!

You can listen here on your computer, or better yet, just search Bread for the World on iTunes and subscribe to the podcast for free. Then you’ll automatically receive breadcast each month!  

U.S. Soccer League and WNBA Help with Anti-Malaria Efforts in Africa

Major League Soccer (MLS), the US based soccer league, and the Women's National Basketball Association (WNBA) do not get the same exposure with the U.S. public as the big four sports leagues: the National Football League, Major League Baseball, the National Basketball Association or the National Hockey League.   

But the MLS and the WNBA have been growing in popularity in recent years.  The two leagues are using this newly found exposure for a good purpose.

I happened on a great story involving the MLS and the WNBA the other day about the involvement of athletes from the two leagues with the United Nations Foundation with a campaign called Nothing But Nets.  This is a grassroots campaign to save lives by preventing malaria, a leading killer of children in Sub-Saharan Africa.  Through the campaign, many families in poor countries in the region receive insectide-treated bed nets.  This helps reduce mosquito bites, which is the most common way in which malaria is transmitted.  This ties in very closely to the Sixth Millennium Development Goal to combat HIV/AIDS, Malaria and other Diseases as part of the effort to address global poverty.

The symbolism of nets is important in other ways for the players of the MLS (or any soccer player for that matter).  Whenever the ball touches the net (on the inside), someone has scored a GOOOL.  By participating in this program, MLS players like Dwayne de Rosario of the Houston Dynamo, Diego Gutierrez of the Chicago Fire and the league itself have scored a different kind of GOOOL.  Both recently players traveled to Mali as part of the program,  Here is a great article in ESPN.com.

"One of the reasons that we get involved in things like this is to make a difference," said Gutierrez.  "We fully realize that sometimes people listen to professional athletes a little more than they would anyone else. We have an ability and a platform to get a word out there."

Ruth Riley of the San Antonio Silver Stars of the WNBA, who has also become very involved with the program, also went on this trip to Mali. She talked about her experiences to students at Brown Elementary  School in San Antonio.

They have been working hard to raise money for the Campaign, and the students are extremely enthusiastic about saving the lives of children an ocean away!"

Read her full blog post

So there are many ways in which all of us, famous or not famous, can do our part to promoting the MDGs.  Some of us do it by organizing a letter-writing campaign as part of Bread for the World's 2008 Offering of Letters to increase poverty-focused development assistance by $5 billion..  Others do it by joining other campaigns involving direct service. Many people do both. Ultimately, we all have the same goal: to greatly reduce global poverty by 2015 and beyond.

Need Offering of Letters-to-Editors!

President and Laura Bush are in Africa this week highlighting successful U.S. aid projects.  An Associated Press story quoted Mr. Bush, from Tanzania's Meru District Hospital, proclaiming: "The power to save lives comes with the moral obligation to use it."

The media coverage of the trip provides a perfect ‘hook’ for letters to editors, and the timing is ideal for the Offering of Letters campaign.

If you have never submitted a letter to a newspaper, try it now!  Make it a Lenten project.  Click here for tips.


Recruit a flock of friends to write, too.  Several of my friends are willing to submit letters if I ask them directly, one to one.  I explain what the ‘ask’ is ($5 billion for poverty-focused development aid and Senate passage of the Global Poverty Act, S. 2433), why the issue is important, why the timing is critical, what the local angle is, and I provide background material.  I just submitted a letter to my state paper, the Des Moines Register, and persuaded three friends to submit letters to our city paper, the Cedar Rapids Gazette; we don’t know the results yet.

These friends are members of the United Nations Association, so they already support the MDGs.  Letters are needed now while the press is focused on successes in Africa, and because the Congressional budget process is ramping up.  One of our senators (Chuck Grassley) is on the Budget Committee and the other (Tom Harkin) is on Foreign Operations Appropriations, so we have a local connection.  I mentioned that if members of Congress are named in published letters, their staff is likely to ensure the member sees it.

I tried to cut out all the extra steps for my friends to make it as convenient as possible for them to write and submit their letter.  I provided the newspaper’s email address for letters, the maximum word count, and the requirement for including the writer’s name, address, and daytime phone number.

I provided my friends with some background info to help them get started:
1) A link to our local newspaper’s coverage of Pres. Bush’s trip that they can reference or respond to when writing their letter.
2) Bread for the World’s 2008 Offering of Letters Campaign page: ‘What We Want to Achieve in 2008
3) A background paper on the Millennium Challenge Account, because Pres. Bush was signing an MCA grant in Tanzania.

I’m hoping to see your letters posted soon on Bread for the World’s press page!

Ellen Fisher
Cedar Rapids, Iowa

"I want to be part of the problem"

Good morning!

We first posted about applying to be a Hunger Justice Leader a month ago or so, but today we have a special added bonus in case you were on the fence about whether to apply or just hadn't gotten around to it yet -

Check out this link or watch the embedded goodness below today and then make sure you post it to your Facebook profile, share the link with all of your friends, etc!  They're bound to at least be intrigued - and maybe they'll "wanna be part of the solution"...

What are you hungry for?

Last Sunday, I had a chance to worship with St. Alban's Episcopal Church in Albany, CA.  I was invited to the welcome breakfast before the service where I was treated to homemade waffles!  They were delicious. =)

After the service, I met with Pastor Linda and a few members of the church.  We brainstormed ideas for an upcoming Lenten series on the topic, "What are you hungry for?"  Pastor Linda hopes the service will reach out to young people in the congregation and offer them a way to reflect more deeply on their faith.  The theme of hunger so clearly fits with Lent, because it's a time when we ponder our hunger for God and perhaps, in a more global sense, the hunger in our world.  A creative worship idea emerged from the discussion.

At the first service, people will take a few minutes to write a letter to themselves or God on the topic of their personal hunger - what am I hungry for?  The second service, people will write a letter to the church - what am I hungry for at church?  At the final service, the group will write letter to their members of congress about global hunger - specifically asking for significant increases in poverty focused development assistance and urging their senators to pass the Global Poverty Act.  Pastor Linda thought this was a great way to introduce the idea of letter writing to a group of young people.

What is your church doing during this Lenten season?  Are you engaging in activities personally or collectively that lift up the needs of people who are living in poverty?

New news on Malnutrition

We all know that malnutrition is linked to child mortality. This is not new news. But to what extent? According to a recent article in The Economist, hunger has an even bigger impact on children's health than was previously thought. In a paper by Robert Black of Johns Hopkins University,

underweight births and inter-uterine growth restrictions cause 2.2m child deaths a year (around one every 15 seconds). Poor or non-existent breastfeeding explains another 1.4m. Other deficiencies—lack of vitamin A or zinc for instance—account for 1m. In all, that is 3.5m deaths (once you strip out double counting)—one-third of total child mortality.

The real news shown here and confirmed by Lancet, a British medical journal, is that hunger causes disease and death and can be fatal in and of itself. In the past, malnutrition had simply been treated as something that exacerbates other diseases such as measles, diarrhea, and pneumonia. These findings, however, confirm and emphasize the point that hunger is the gravest single threat to the world's public health. This has serious implications for international aid distribution. Currently, roughly $300m of aid goes to basic nutrition each year (less than $2 for each child below two in the 20 worst affected countries) whereas $2.2 billion goes to HIV/AIDS ($67 per person with HIV in all countries, including rich ones). However, HIV/AIDS causes far fewer deaths than child malnutrition. This is not to say that money shouldn't go into life-threatening diseases like HIV/AIDS. It does, however, present a far more holistic model for addressing problems of health and nutrition. According to April Harding of the Centre for Global Development,

it forces policymakers to pay attention to health-care systems as a whole, rather than trying to save children “one disease at a time”.

If we can adequately address the issue of hunger, we will be well on our way to dealing with the other diseases it causes and contributes to.


Cindy on the World Economic Forum

Post by Cindy from http://endpoverty-ccyl.blogspot.com/

Bono and Al Gore: World Economic Forum Annual mtg

It is my pleasure to provide this link since I feel poverty and environmental sustainability are pretty much the same issue. Here are Bono and Gore, the Big Dudes of each of the issues, in a joint interview. It's awesome to see them presenting together! These two have seen the importance of working together to save the planet. They speak about the fact that the brunt of the climate crisis is going to be felt by the developing world and all the good work will be undone if we don't focus on sustainability, too.

Notable moments from the interview...

Good news about poverty from Bono:

  • 29 million more children in Africa going to school due to debt cancellation
  • 2 million Africans on AIDS drugs due to the work the recent administration in Washington
  • 46 million bednets distributed

Bad news:

  • Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) look like they are not going to be achieved in sub-Saharan Africa.
  • Commitments made by the G8 summit to fight poverty in 2005 will not happen.

Best quips:

"I've recently begun to fear I may be losing my objectivity on Bush and Cheney" -- Al Gore
"Father Al, I am not just a noise polluter, I am a noise-polluting, diesel-sucking, ethane-emitting, gulf stream-flying rock star" -- Bono

Bread - A Cinematic Sensation

And a Happy Monday to you.  Here for your viewing pleasure is Bread's 2008 Offering of Letters video in the magic of Youtubery - sure to be shown at a Bread workshop near you this spring and also something that comes in the magic of DVD when you order/buy your own 'Offering of Letters' toolkit to use back at your church, campus, local advocacy group, etc.  We like it, enjoy -

Also, must give a shout-out to Jeremy, an activist from Weatherford, TX (just outside Fort Worth), for heeding Shawda's call (from the post below) and writing up and having published this letter to the editor yesterday in the Weatherford Democrat: Help the Hungry (It's the fourth or fifth one down).  Way to make "our region" proud!  The gauntlet has been thrown down from Texas --- who will get one published next?!

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