Urging our nation's leaders to end hunger

25 posts from June 2010

Top Hunger News: World Wakes to African Hunger--Late Again?

World Wakes to African Hunger—Late Again? In a slow-motion disaster predicted months ago by aid agencies, Africa's Sahel region is lurching toward a food crisis which the world has only weeks left to avert. [Reuters] 

G8 Nations Accused Over Food Aid. Members of the G8 group of rich nations are falling short of pledges to deliver more than $20 billion to support farming and fight hunger in the world's poorest countries... [U.K. Press Association] 

Africa Must Toughen Up Trade Stance. African governments must take a tougher stance in trade negotiations with emerging markets such as China and India… [The Guardian] 

USAID Helps Drought-Affected Niger with Emergency Food Security Program Award. This nearly $5 million grant to Mercy Corps, a U.S. non-governmental organization, will help them assist 130,000 individuals affected by drought by providing them with locally purchased food and vouchers for the purchase of food in local markets. [PRNewswire] 

USAID Provides Assistance to the People of the Kyrgyz Republic. Through the newly created Complex Crises Fund, $15.1 million will be provided by USAID for immediate assistance in the southern part of the Kyrgyz Republic and rapid community improvement and stabilization projects throughout the country. [PRNewswire] 

200,000 Blows against Hunger. Sponsored with an anonymous $50,000 donation to the feeding group Stop Hunger Now, teens and adults crowded around long tables and worked in an assembly line to measure and package dehydrated meals that will go next week to feed school children in Nicaragua. [Online Athens] 

Consumer Prices in U.S. Fell for Second Month in May. The cost of living in the U.S. dropped in May for a second month, signaling the world’s largest economy is recovering without causing prices to flare. [Bloomberg Businessweek] 

Climate Change/Environment
U.S. Energy and Climate Change Bill Affordable, Says EPA. While household energy costs could go down over the next decade, ultimately average bills would rise by between $79 and $146 by 2050. [Energy Efficiency News] 

Top Hunger News: Eradicating Poverty is Possible

WCC News: Eradicating Poverty is Possible
. In a statement released ahead of the United Nations summit on the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), to take place in September 2010, the WCC has reiterated its conviction that eradicating poverty is both "a moral and ethical imperative" and an achievable goal. [WCC Media]

U.N. Warns Food Prices Could Rise by 40 Percent. The Agricultural Outlook 2010-19 found that global food prices of wheat and coarse grains could jump between 15 and 40 percent from 1997-2006 levels, prior to the global food crisis in 2007. [Mongabay.com]

Emerging Economies ‘to Enjoy Food Production Boom.’ The emerging economies of Brazil, India, China, and Russia will enjoy an agricultural boom over the next decade as production stalls in Western Europe, a report says. [BBC]

U.S. Officials Announce New Agriculture Research Initiative to Aid Farmers in Developing Countries. During the 2010 World Food Prize ceremony, Clinton said, "In a few decades, the world's population will grow to 9 billion people. If we are to feed the future without leveling the forests, draining the aquifers and depleting the soil of all its nutrients, we need science." [The Kaiser Family Foundation]

Food Stamps Now Usable at Some Farmer’s Markets. Each location will have a wireless machine that will allow those with EBT or independent cards to exchange dollar values for tokens that are spendable at the markets. [WBALTV.com]

Climate Change/Environment
Can Painting a Mountain Restore a Glacier? Slowly but surely an extinct glacier in a remote corner of the Peruvian Andes is being returned to its former color, not by falling snow or regenerated ice sheets, but by whitewash. [BBC]

State Department Announces World Food Prize Honorees

More than 300 people packed the ornate Benjamin Franklin room at the U.S. State Department today to hear who would be named this year’s World Food Prize laureates. Champagne, sparkling water, and tea flowed freely, along with glittering trays of hors d’oeuvres.

Guests milling around the room included diplomats, representatives of nongovernmental organizations, staff and members of Congress, and the family of Norman Borlaug, the Nobel Peace Prize winner who established the World Food Prize in 1986. Borlaug, a scientist and agriculturist, wanted to honor people who made significant contributions to improving the world’s food supply.

Ambassador Kenneth Quinn, president of the World Food Prize Foundation, announced to the hushed crowd that David Beckmann, president of Bread for the World, and Jo Luck, president of Heifer International, are this year’s laureates.

“Our selection committee noted that while they did not work directly together, their efforts are complementary,” he told the gathering. “Through their leadership of two dynamic nonprofit organizations, they have had a dramatic impact in uplifting the lives of countless poor and hungry people around the world.”

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton added her accolades. "I personally am delighted by the announcement of the two winners for this year. I know and have worked with David Beckmann for a number of years. And Bread for the World has done an extraordinary job in not only providing positive responses in the fight against hunger, but in helping to really lead the way in terms of development and urging the United States to improve coordination and better target our investments and to learn from local communities, all lessons that we have embraced and applied in our Feed the Future Initiative."

Clinton also announced the creation of the Norman Borlaug Commemorative Research Institute, which is part of the government’s Feed the Future initiative.

Bread Celebrates World Food Prize Honor

David Beckmann wins World Food Prize

Bread president David Beckmann, center, and staff members celebrate the news of Beckmann’s World Food Prize honor.

The mood is jubilant today at Bread’s office in Washington, DC, as we learned that our president, David Beckmann, was just named a World Food Prize laureate. The prize honors people who contribute to the quality, quantity, and availability of food throughout the world. It’s a great honor—please join us in celebrating this wonderful news!

“The prize really is a recognition of Bread's work,” Beckmann told staff members at a celebratory lunch today.  “It’s the first time the prize has been awarded to an advocacy organization.”

Beckmann cited the work of Bread’s members, partners, and staff in receiving the award. “I hope you all take satisfaction in this recognition of what we have done.”

Beckmann’s fellow laureate this year is Jo Luck, president of Heifer International. The World Food Prize recognized them both for their work to build up grassroots organizations that combat hunger and poverty worldwide.

“Right now, there’s an exceptional opportunity to change the politics of hunger,” Beckmann said. “It’s never easy, but this prize gives us a boost at an important time.”

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Bread Advocates Visit Congress

Amy Spaulding, center, and Callie Helms visited congressional offices during Bread’s Lobby Day June 15. Both are members of Bread’s 2010 class of Hunger Justice Leaders.

More than 300 Bread advocates from around the country headed to Congress last week to talk with their senators and representatives about issues that affect hungry and poor people. They had one request in mind: To ask their legislators to protect and strengthen tax credits—the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) and the Child Tax Credit—that help low-income working families.

Each person who visited their members of Congress represented numerous family, church, and community members back home.

For some, such as the Goerners of Longmont, CA, Bread’s Lobby Day is a family affair. Phil, his wife, Sibyl, and their 17-year-old son, Alex, have made the trip to Washington, DC, for the last 15 years.

“Bread has such strong, vibrant members, people who are faithful,” said Phil. Several of the Goerners’ representatives are facing re-election, he added. “I’m hoping they’ll get behind these issues and come out and be leaders.” 

For others, walking the halls of Congress was a new experience—initially intimidating but exhilarating overall.

“I never, ever would have imagined myself lobbying,” said Johanna Johnson, a seminary student from Gettysburg, PA. “As I lobbied, I felt my voice go into the same place it does when I preach. I didn’t have scripture, but I felt I was sharing the word of God.”

Johnson is also a member of Bread’s 2010 class of Hunger Justice Leaders, who attended three days of advocacy training prior to Lobby Day. The 75 leaders participated in workshops on everything from “Hunger 101” to “Speaking Biblically” to learn to lead hunger advocacy efforts in their home communities.

The day culminated in a reception on Capitol Hill, during which several legislators were recognized by Bread for their efforts to help hungry and poor people. One was Rep. Jo Ann Emerson (R-MO), who cited the bipartisan spirit needed to end hunger. “Republicans and Democrats agree on the politics of hunger, which is that there should be no hunger,” she said. In addition to Rep. Emerson, Bread honored Rep. Howard Berman (D-CA), Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. (D-IL), Sen. John Kerry (D-MA), and Sen. Bob Corker (R-TN).

During a closing service in the Rayburn House Office Building, which sits just north of the U.S. Capitol, Bread members, Hunger Justice Leaders, staff, and others shared some of the most meaningful moments of their experience.

“To live in a country where I can walk into my representative’s office, sit on a couch next to him and tell him what I think is important—and what my community thinks is important—is amazing,” said Nicole Schmidt, a Hunger Justice Leader from Ohio.

Africa: Agriculture's Final Frontier

Woman with hoe

The challenge before us was laid out in all its daunting intensity:

Current levels of food production in the world will have to double by the year 2050 if we are to feed a growing population and a population that is growing more prosperous -- along with eliminating the hunger that already plagues 1 billion people. We will have to do that with tight land and water constraints. With little land available for agriculture expansion without destroying the environment, yields of existing fields will necessarily need to double. And with agriculture consuming 70 percent of the fresh water used in the world, farmers will need to triple their “crop per drop” if water supplies aren’t to be exhausted.

That was the scene set by Robert Thom pson, professor emeritus in agriculture policy at the University of Illinois, and other speakers at a sustainable agriculture conference this week in Chicago hosted by chemical company BASF. Despite the enormity of the challenge, there was consensus that the world’s farmers will be up to this task. They always have been in the past, several people noted, particularly given market incentives. It was pointed out that U.S. agriculture essentially doubled its productivity from the end of World War II to the year 2000.

But the pace of agriculture gains in the U.S. and Europe and elsewhere in the developed world has been slowing. So, as we look around the world, where can the needed food increases come from?

Africa. It is agriculture’s final frontier.

The continent that is home to many of the world’s hungry is poised to make the greatest gains in food production. It is in that position because Africa’s agriculture development has been so badly neglected in recent decades. Innovations that have fueled farming booms elsewhere are still rare in Africa. The U.S. Department of Agriculture notes that sub-Saharan Africa as a whole uses less fertilizer than the single country of Bangladesh. Only a small percentage of corn grown on the continent comes from hybrid seeds -- the conventionally bred seeds that have multiplied yields across the developed world. Much of the continent’s water resources -- such as the great Blue Nile River in Ethiopia -- remain underutilized as the vast majority of farms remain rain fed.

Enter the “Feed the Future” initiative of the Obama administration, which seeks to reverse this neglect. Enter the accelerated actions of philanthropies and corporations and humanitarian agencies to end hunger through agriculture development. Enter Africa, a new ally in these efforts. Invest in research, spread the new innovations far and wide, improve the infrastructure. Just one elemental, relatively inexpensive improvement like more and better storage facilities to reduce post-harvest loss -- which in some African countries wastes as much as 40 percent of the harvest -- would be an important addition to the continent’s, and the world’s, food supply.

We have explored the frontiers of space. We are pushing the frontiers of technology and communication. Now we need to boost the productivity of farming’s final frontier. What a great achievement it would be if the farmers we have so neglected come to our aid, if today’s hungry someday help to feed us. A daunting challenge, but doable.

Roger Thurow’s blog post appears courtesy of the Global Food for Thought blog. Thurow, a former Wall Street Journal correspondent, is a senior fellow for Global Agriculture and Food Policy at The Chicago Council on Global Affairs.

Top Hunger News: Niger's Drought Causes Food Shortages

“Niger Drought Made Me a Beggar.” Hadja, like more than half the population of Niger, has no food reserves left because of a prolonged drought. [BBC]

Nepal: Disadvantaged Children Missing out on Education. Millions of children from marginalized ethnic families in Nepal are drifting out of education because not enough is being done to keep them in school, aid workers warn. [IRIN]

Drogba, Zidane join UNDP Drive to Kick Away Poverty. The two soccer stars have appealed to the people to join the cause as part of the anti-poverty program through a TV spot. [Sify News]

Many in Fishing Communities Accepting Handouts for the First Time. A month into the oil spill, Bernard Johnson sat in his living room in this Gulf Coast fishing village watching news of the crude's slow and deadly seep into the bays and bayous where he has made a living for nearly three decades ... [Miami Herald]

Advocates Say Poor Need Available Free Cell Phones. TracFone Wireless began initiating the phone giveaway in 2008, dubbed by some "welfare wireless" service …. People who receive food stamps, welfare, or other government assistance can qualify by applying to the company. [The Philadelphia Inquirer]

Why is Feeding the Hungry So Controversial? The U.S. Senate is expected to pass the Global Food Security Act, new legislation that would significantly expand the government's commitment to combating hunger worldwide with a broad range of measures and more money, and a special coordinator, or "food czar," to oversee implementation of these provisions across agencies. [IRIN]

Black Leaders Urge Swift Federal Action on Poverty. Poverty-stricken minority neighborhoods across America are "zones of pain" in a "state of emergency" that deserve a swift federal response, a group of black leaders said during a discussion on economic recovery at the Rainbow/PUSH annual conference Saturday. [Sun-Times]

Climate Change/Environment
PathStone to Provide Job Training. The “Pathways Out of Poverty” grants, as the funding awards are known, will support programs aimed at helping disadvantaged people into economic self-sufficiency through jobs in energy-efficiency and renewable-energy industries. [DemocratandChronicle.com]

Top Hunger News: Kick Out World Cup Poverty

Film: Kick Out World Cup Poverty! Host of the 2010 World Cup, South Africa has spent $4.1 billion on tournament preparations. But the plight of the country's poor has grown worse in the lead-up to the World Cup. [War on Want] 

The Hurricane of Poverty. Guatemala: The row of cardboard, tin and wooden shacks lining the banks of the Montagua River stand in an act of defiance by those who have been repeatedly warned of the need to move elsewhere… [Granma Internacional] 

Nearly 1 in 3 Mississippi Households Struggling. Nearly a third of Mississippi households aren't earning enough to pay for their own basic needs, such as housing, food, child care, health care, transportation and state and federal taxes... [AP] 

Climate Change/Environment
Endangering Pakistan’s Environment. [T]he negative impact of climate change is proportionally linked to levels of poverty in Pakistan. [Dawn.com] 

Top Hunger News: Millions Wait for Food Stamp Benefits

Millions Forced to Wait for Food Stamp Benefits. When Amanda Vaca's husband lost his job, the couple took stock of their finances and drew a startling conclusion: They could not afford to feed their four young children… [AP]

Helping Hands Now Offering Thrift-store Jobs to Help the Needy. … Despite his comfortable life, Dinkins has chosen to rub elbows with the hurting, the homeless, and the heavy-hearted. [Ocala]

Ending Childhood Hunger (Rep. Jared Polis). Hunger affects people of all ages, but it is particularly devastating for children. [The Hill]

How Edesia Will Help Feed One Billion Hungry: One Child at a Time. Edesia is a new nonprofit manufacturing company that produces life-saving Ready-to-Use Foods (RUFs) for people in developing countries. [Fast Company]

Hungry Haitian Farmers Urged to Burn Donated U.S. Seeds. Peasant group resists ties to multinational corporation. [VOA News]

DRC Facing Food Crisis. Food prices in the Democratic Republic of Congo have jumped 28% in the six-month period to March 2010, resulting in acute malnutrition in some areas of the central African country… [News24.com]

Climate Change/Environment
Rich Face Triple Aid Test on Environment, Poverty. Struggling with budget cuts at home, rich nations face scrutiny in 2010 of a triple set of pledges to help poor nations combat climate change, curb poverty and safeguard endangered species. [Reuters]

Shrinking Glaciers to Spark Food Crisis. Nearly 60 million people living around the Himalayas will suffer food shortages in the coming decades as glaciers shrink and the water sources for crops dry up... [Stuff.co.nz]

Top Hunger News: As School Ends, Hunger Begins

As School Ends, Hunger Begins. Children need access to subsidized meals in the summer, too. [The Center for American Progress]

The New Food Stamp User Might Look a Lot Like You. This recession may have blown away forever the preconception that food stamps are used only by the chronically indigent. [Wallet Pop]

Child Poverty in U.S. Highest in 20 Years. More than 20 percent of all children in the U.S. are living below the poverty line... [AllVoices]

U.N.: Poverty Threatens Stability in West Africa. Increased social and political tensions due to worsening poverty and deteriorating living conditions have become worrisome trends in a number of West African countries... [AllAfrica.com]

Campaigners Propose Japanese Poverty Reduction Goals Before Election. The 10-point Japanese version of MDGs worked out by civic groups introduce specific numerical targets for reducing poverty rates among Japanese... [Kyodo News]

Climate Change/Environment
Showdown Looms over Greenhouse Gasses. The president's push to combat climate change without waiting for Congress faces a vote of confidence Thursday… [The Wall Street Journal]

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