Urging our nation's leaders to end hunger

12 posts from September 2008

Social Networking to End Hunger

Beth Kanter, social networking guru, recently posted about ways to take action on the issue of hunger.  She pledging to lose 10 pounds and she is encouraging her friends to sponsor her efforts.  All the proceeds will benefit the Austin Foodbank.  She is using her skills as a saavy social networker to generate awareness through Twitter and Tyson Food's blog.  Be sure to check it out.

Wendy Wetzel, pastor from the Oregon coast, posted on her blog about our financial priorities in our nation and the current economic bailout.  She recently signed the ONE Campaign's petition to ask ONE question of the presidential candidates about extreme poverty in our world.  She writes:

And as America turns to the standard bearers of our major political parties for some confidence, some direction, some vision for the future of our country, I will be listening to what they say about our world and hoping for Just ONE Question on global poverty in our increasingly interconnected world. I hope they both say yes, we'll find the money, because that's important to us.

Although it's easy to forget, that's important to me.

Save the economy? Yes. Then, please, let's do what we can to save the world.

Bread for the World is using social networking tools to generate political advocacy to end hunger. Are you part of our Facebook group?  Check it out.  We're also providing new ways for people to hear about our work through our monthly podcast - Breadcast. Discover new artists.  Learn more about hunger advocacy.

What are some of your favorite blogs or social networking sites that encourage you to get involved in a specific cause?


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Following up to Robin's blog post: The Missing Question

Fellow Bread blogger Robin Stephenson and I had the same idea to write a blog post about the missing question at the first presidential debate.  So here are my two cents.

I am among the 108,000 people who signed a petition to have moderator Jim Lehrer include a question about global poverty in the debate between presidential candidates Barack Obama and John McCain on Sept. 26.  I was disappointed, but hardly surprised, that the question was not asked.  It seems that global poverty is frequently swept under the rug during the political discourse.  And I've written about this before in the Bread blog. 

It's taken the ONE Vote 08 campaign, where thousands of volunteers show up at rallies to ask questions, for the presidential candidates to give the issue at least some lip service.  Often candidates are quick to recognize ONE Campaign t-shirts and praise the young (and not-so young) people for their dedication to ending global poverty and disease.  But it often seems to stop there.   

It's not that the presidential and congressional candidates are not concerned about poverty-focused development assistance and world hunger and poverty.  They're just not making an effort to bring it to the top of the agenda.  It's been left up to us to push for them to try to ensure that these issues at least get some attention alongside matters related to Iraq, Iran, Israel, Russia, Georgia and China.

There are other debates coming, and hopefully the question will be asked.  As Robin points out in her blog post, our next opportunity is the Oct. 7 debate moderated by Tom Brokaw.

And we're doing the same thing with the congressional races. Hundreds of Bread for the World members around the country are also bringing the question about hunger to congressional candidates through the BEAT 08 campaign.

Just ONE question.

Friday, September 26. 2008, the two presidential candidates met for their first debate.  It was unfortunate that not one question was asked in a foreign policy debate of the candidates on global poverty.  We hope in the future debates they will be asked "Just ONE Question" on global poverty.

Hunger Crisis and the need for a religious response

While Nation's leaders were meeting in New York for the U.N. Summit on the Millennium Development Goals, religious leaders gathered at the Interfaith Consultation on the Global Hunger Crisis where more than 50 leaders gathered for prayer and discernment of the role of religious communities in responding to the crisis, which threatens to reverse the progress made toward the U.N. Millennium Development Goals (MDGs)  "Heads of Communion," and President/CEO's of relief and development organizations, from Christian, Muslim, and Jewish traditions attended.

photo Robin Holland

On Wednesday, September 24, 2008, David Beckmann, president of Bread for the World, delivered the following speech on the hunger crisis and the response needed by the religious community.

I am grateful to all of each of you for your leadership and for taking time out of your busy schedule to reflect together on the global hunger crisis.

I am honored to have this opportunity to introduce the problem and some ideas about how we should respond.

Let me begin with the good news.  We are meeting in conjunction with the U.N. Summit on the Millennium Development Goals.  The first goal is to cut poverty and hunger in half between 1990 and 2015.

The United Nations thinks we are still on track to cut in half the number of people living in absolute poverty.

The proportion of children under five who are undernourished dropped from 33 percent in 1990 to 26 percent in 2006.

Most developing countries are not on track to achieve the Millennium Development Goals, but most countries have made real progress on some of the goals.

In this country, we have not made sustained progress against poverty and hunger.  We have reduced poverty at a couple times in our recent history and neglected poverty in other periods.  So most Americans have come to believe that substantially and permanently reducing poverty is impossible. 

But in fact, our period of history is a time of extraordinary progress against hunger, poverty, and disease.

Right now, we are in the midst of a major setback.  In our own country, unemployment is 6% and rising, and food banks across the country are besieged with requests for emergency help.

But the global hunger crisis is even more severe, because the poverty is much more severe to start with, and because poor people in developing countries typically spend two-thirds of their total income on some basic commodity – rice, wheat, corn or sorghum.  The prices for those commodities have doubled over the last two years.


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Items in a Basket: The Poverty Line

As Washington continues to debate the bailout package for Wall Street, we turn our thoughts to an outdated poverty line and main street.            
Ever wonder how the government determines the poverty line?  They use a hypothetical consumption basket to determine if an individual or family has the resources to meet the basic needs for healthy living.  The hypothetical consumption basket used today is still based on a 1964 shopping list that does not take into account modern needs which include out of pocket medical expenses, child care and transportation, as well as the typical housing, clothing and food.  Ratios of the real price of these items need to be updated and based on current consumption patterns.  Neither does the basket take into account which area of the country one goes shopping; the cost of living in Washington D.C. and the cost of living in rural Washington State have two different price tags. 

Rep. Jim McDermott of Washington State introduced the “Measuring America Poverty Act of 2008” into congress (H.R. 6941) last week.  The bill would revise the standard measure of poverty to better reflect modern realities.  Bread for the World supports this legislation.  Recently even the global poverty line was revised to create a better understanding of real poverty in developing countries to better address solutions to combat hunger. It’s time the U.S. took the same step.

* Photo by Gene Krebs

Statement on the $700 Billion Bailout Package

All this talk about the $700 billion bailout package to solve the financial crisis overlooks the plight of low-income families in our country. They are constantly averting crises – with or without Wall Street’s help. 

Bagging_food_bags Bread for the World has issued the following statement:

Rev. David Beckmann, president of Bread for the World, issued the following statement on the Congressional agreement for a $700 billion bailout package to deal with the current financial crisis:

“Bread for the World supports all efforts to stabilize this widening financial crisis.  Although details still have to be worked out, we know firsthand the kinds of crises poor families suffer every day.  While we may be able to prevent the worst-case scenario, the economy is already tough for too many.  More people in the United States are being pushed into poverty; more people are being pushed into hunger.

“An economy is more than just a secure credit market. An economy is also people:  people who suffer foreclosures, people who wonder about losing their jobs and live paycheck to paycheck, people who go to bed hungry.  Being a low-income American means constantly averting crisis, wondering whether the latest one will render them unable to meet even their most basic human needs. 

“As people of faith, we know that the Lord’s Prayer petitions for daily bread and for the forgiveness of our debts and of debtors. In rescuing the U.S. economy, our leaders and Congress must ensure that both are done at the same time, too.” 

Archbishop's Message for Millennium Development Goals

The American Episcopal Church is spending today fasting and praying for the Millennium Development Goals (MDG) in response to the meetings being held in New York by religious leaders called The Interfaith Consultation on the Global Hunger Crisis.

Archbishop of Canterbury has published this video calling for a united human family to bring a message of hope to the suffering in the world. Archbishop Rowan says the basic Christian insight of the Body of Christ is the basis for which, “my neighbors suffering is my suffering and my neighbors welfare is my welfare. I can’t actually be happy or prosperous in the long run without my neighbor’s happiness and prosperity. And once again the New Testament reminds us that when one part of the body rejoices and flourishes the whole body rejoices and flourishes.”

Letter to the Church

Micah Challenge posted a letter to the church from leaders in the Global South.  It is very powerful.  You can download a copy here.

August, 2008


As the Church of the Lord in what is known as the "Southern" part of the world, moved by the Holy Spirit to fight for the abundant life that Jesus Christ offers, we address our Christian family in the United States, a Church of the same covenant, faith and love. Grace and Peace to all of our brothers and sisters.

We know your works of love; these works have allowed millions of human beings for many generations in our countries in the South to receive the gospel, the Grace of Jesus Christ and the power of His Salvation. The U.S. church's untiring missionary effort planted in our lands Hope in Him who came to reconcile EVERYTHING.

Nevertheless, the political, social and economic situation in the places where this hope has been announced is increasingly distressing. Millions of people in the global South are dying of hunger, violence and injustice. These situations of poverty and pain are not simply the product of the internal functions of our countries; rather they are the results of the international policies of the governments that wield global power.

Therefore, we have this against you, brothers and sisters, that along with this powerful announcing of the Gospel, the Church from the United States has not also raised its voice in protest against the injustices that powerful governments and institutions are inflicting on the global South - injustices that afflict the lives and ecosystems of millions of people who, centuries after the proclamation of the Gospel, still have not seen the sweat of their brow turned into bread.

The worsening inequality and poverty in the South is alarming. Seven years since the United States and 191 other nations publicly promised to cut extreme global poverty in half by the year 2015 through the eight Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), your country has made only a little progress towards fulfilling its commitments.

The MDGs should stir us to action because they echo the calls of the biblical prophets for justice and equity. Further, they are achievable and measurable markers on the roadmap to end extreme global poverty.

And so we ask you as sisters and brothers, citizens of the wealthiest most powerful nation on earth, to publicly challenge your candidates and political leaders - now and after the elections are over - to lead the world in the struggle to cut global poverty in half by 2015. If you who know the Truth will not speak for us who will?

The Church in the United States has the opportunity today to be faithful to the Hope that it preaches. We urge you to remember that the Hope to which you were called as a messenger demands that you seek first the Kingdom of God and God's justice.

Out of love for us, the global Church, in holiness, use your citizenship responsibly for the benefit of the entire world; it is for this very reason that the Lord poured out His life on the Cross.

All who have ears, let them hear what the Lord says to His Church.

Ndaba Mazabane
Association of Evangelicals in Southern Africa

Bishop Gerry Seale
General Secretary/CEO
Evangelical Association of the Caribbean

Dr. Richard Howell
General Secretary
Evangelical Fellowship of India

Rev Moss Ntlha
General Secretary
Evangelical Alliance of South Africa

C. Rene Padilla
Kairos (Peru)

Pastor Owen Isaacs
General Secretary
Evangelical Fellowship of Botswana

Bishop Efraim Tendero
Philippine Council of Evangelical Churches

Rev Heng Cheng
General Secretary/CEO
Evangelical Fellowship of Cambodia

Bishop Paul Mususu
Executive Director/CEO
Evangelical Fellowship of Zambia

Rev Bambang Semedi
General Secretary
Southern Part Sumatera Christian Church

Dr. Reynaldo R. Avante
National Coordinator
Micah Challenge Philippines

Bishop Mano Rumalshah
Diocese of Peshawar (Pakistan)

Alfonso Weiland
Paz y Esperanza (Peru)

Erika Izquierdo
Paz y Esperanza (Peru)

Lawrence Tempfwe
National Facilitator
Micah Challenge Zambia

Rev Joe Simfukwe
Bible College of Central Africa

João Pedro Martins
National Coordinator
Micah Challenge Portugal

Rev Soleman Batti
The Toraja Church (Indonesia)

Rev Untung S.K. Wijayaputra
The Toraja Mamasa Church (Indonesia)

d'Karlo Pyrba
YABIMA Foundation (Indonesia)

Semuel Takajanji
Kuda Putih Sejahtera Foundation (Indonesia)

Rev Iskandar Saher
Executive Director
Center for the Development of Holistic Ministry (Indonesia)

Gahungu Bunini*
General Secretary
Evangelical Alliance of Rwanda

            *Signed on with the names of 16 pastors in the Evangelical Alliance of Rwanda

Bishop Mano Rumalshah
Diocese of Peshawar (Pakistan)

Rev Michael Dasey
Gungahlin Anglican Church (Australia)

Rev Geoffrey Taylor
SoulSupply (Australia)

Rev. Paul Craig
Senior Pastor
Diamond Valley Baptist Church (Australia)

Rev Greg Templeton
Sydenham Baptist Church (Australia)

Morris Alex
Souls Outreach Church

Captain Robert Casburn,   
Commanding Officer
The salvation Army Northern Waves Fellowship (Australia)

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Grocery Prices Rise



    It isn't much of a surprise to find out that the new food inflation numbers released last week (9/16/08) show a significant increase.  With prices 7.5% higher than a year ago, American families already struggling to put food on the table continue to be hit hardest with the current economic crisis in the United States. 
    Food items that are in double digit inflation above last year include flour (20.6%), rice/pasta/cornmeal (25.1%) and bread (16.1%).

Your Gift of Citizenship

“Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees hypocrites!  For you tithe mint, dill, and cumin, and have neglected the weightier matters of the law: justice and mercy and faith.  It is these you ought to have practiced without neglecting the others.”  MATTHEW 23: 23-24.


Photo by Eric Munoz

    Recently members of the Bread for the World Institute traveled to Ethiopia and saw first hand the devastation of extreme hunger.  In Sub-Sahara Africa too many of God’s cherished children suffer from too little access to the food required to survive.  As recently pointed out in Institute Notes, the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) has released new estimates that in 2007 the number of hungry people in the world has increased by 75 million.  In Sub-Saharan Africa where the average person spends upwards to 80% of their income on food, the sky rocketing prices of basic grains are leading to devastating hunger.  In the U.S., increased food prices have hit hardest those with low incomes and those who are looking for work
    Biblically, over and over again, God calls us through his prophets and Son to speak up for the widow and the orphan; to not “neglect the “matters of the law”. In 1 Corinthians 8 we are told, “To each is given the manifestation of the spirit for the common good.”  We can easily view that our citizenship, where we have the freedom and responsibility to influence our elected officials, is just such a gift to be used for God’s good.  As Christians we must use those gifts to remind our leaders through questions on policy, letters of advocacy, and our combined voices that we have a moral imperative to improve the lives of poor and hungry people.
    Bread for the World has launched the Bread Election Action Team against Hunger – or “BEAT Hunger ‘08.” Over 1,000 activists have joined their voices so far to infuse the election with dialog about hunger and poverty both at home and abroad.  We are using our gifts of voice and citizenship by attending candidate appearances around the nation and asking each candidate about their policies on issues that affect the poor and hungry. We must demand real solutions to injustice to see a real change.

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