Urging our nation's leaders to end hunger

16 posts from August 2010

Good Books on Hunger and Poverty

We asked some of our members and followers if they’ve read any good books on hunger and poverty lately. Check out their suggestions—summer’s not over yet!

Three Cups of Tea, and Stones into Schools, both by Greg Mortenson

Stuffed and Starved: The Hidden Battle for the World Food System, by Raj Patel

The Hole in Our Gospel, by Richard Stearns

A Thousand Sisters: My Journey into the Worst Place on Earth to Be a Woman, by Lisa Shannon

Down and Out in Paris and London, by George Orwell

Hope Lives: A Journey of Restoration, by Amber Van Schooneveld

How Much is Enough, by Arthur Simon

More With Less Cookbook and Living More With Less, both by Doris Janzen Longacre

The Long Loneliness, From Union Square to Rome, Loaves and Fishes, and Writings from Commonweal, all by Dorothy Day

Jesus Freak, and Take This Bread: A Radical Conversion, both by Sara Miles

Wage Theft in America, by Kim Bobo

How to Steal a Dog, by Barbara O'Connor

The Irresistible Revolution, by Shane Claiborne

Let Justice Roll Down, by John M. Perkins

Rich Christians in an Age of Hunger, by Ron Sider

The Poor Will Be Glad: Joining the Revolution to Lift the World Out of Poverty, by Peter Greer, Phil Smith, Jeremy Cowart, and Rob Bell

Walking with the Poor, by Bryant L. Myers

Tending to Eden: Environmental Stewardship for God's People, by Scott C. Sabin and Brian McLaren

The Working Poor: Invisible in America, by David Shipler

The Bottom Billion: Why the Poorest Countries are Failing and What Can Be Done about It, by Paul Collier

Under the Overpass: A Journey of Faith on the Streets of America, by Michael Yankoski

What’s Next for Haiti?

It's been seven months since the earthquake in Haiti, and recovery efforts are well under way. Diana Aubourg Millner, a Haitian-American and senior foreign assistance policy analyst for Bread for the World Institute, looks at where things stand now in “Rebuilding Haiti: Making Aid Work Better for the Haitian People.”

With unprecedented levels of goodwill, focus, and commitment to Haiti from people and governments around the world, there are still enormous hurdles to rebuilding Haiti. Even before the earthquake, 80 percent of the country’s population lived on less than $2 a day, an estimated 2.4 million people were without ready access to food, and the malnutrition rate was the highest in the region.

In many ways, Haiti is still in the urgent relief phase, but the country must work toward rebuilding and reconstruction—to a recovery that is led by Haitians. Millner outlines some of the key challenges Haiti faces in moving from relief to development.

Brazil Helps African Farmers Grow Food for Africa

Accra, Ghana — It is no coincidence that a neighbor of the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa here is Embrapa, the Brazilian agricultural research corporation. For Embrapa was one of the main players engineering the green revolution in Brazil.

Embrapa was created in 1973 with a four-headed mission: guarantee food supply to Brazil’s teeming cities, where most of the country’s poor people live; help develop the rural areas; preserve Brazil’s natural resources; and produce a sufficient surplus of food for export. Its signature achievement so far has been developing the technology to bring vast stretches of savanna land, known as the Cerrado, into production; converting it from bush wasteland to fertile fields. Agricultural researchers adapted sets of plants and animals to thrive in tropical conditions. It also introduced farming practices, management and mechanization to the region. The Cerrado, benefiting above all from innovative soil research, is now a verdant blanket of crops.

Since then, Brazil has become a major force on world agricultural markets, particularly in soybeans, and it has made advances in corralling domestic hunger. Brazil’s grain and cereal production has increased four-fold. The principal scientists and administrators in developing the Cerrado won the 2006 World Food Prize. Norman Borlaug, the father of the original Green Revolution and founder of the prize, hailed the work of Embrapa as “one of the great achievements of agricultural science in the 20th century, which has transformed a wasteland into one of the most productive agricultural areas in the world.”

Can Brazil do the same for Africa in the 21st century?

Continue reading "Brazil Helps African Farmers Grow Food for Africa" »

Waco Café Serves Up Food and Fellowship

Image1 Kate Ross, Texas — The small blue-and-white Victorian on the corner may not look like much, but if you pass by at lunchtime, you’ll see a crowd stretching around the fence, waiting to get in. Drawn by the promise of quiet community and good food, local residents flock to the Gospel Café and the fellowship of the three women who run it—Sherry Castello, Marsha Martie, and Susan Cowley.

Castello and Cowley are members of CrossTies Ecumenical Church in Waco, TX, where Martie serves as pastor and co-founder. In 1988, Martie felt called to lead the church in beginning a community ministry in nearby Kate Ross.

“We felt a call to be engaged with the neighborhood," Castello explains, “but we knew how little we knew." One statistic that definitely stood out to them, however: Waco’s 28 percent poverty rate. When, during a neighborhood walk, the women happened upon a run-down house for sale, an idea began to form.

The trio envisioned creating a café where people of different economic classes would come together in a pay-if-you-can restaurant environment, allowing lower-income people to have the same meal and experience as others without feeling like they were receiving a handout.

The Gospel Café is now 15 years old, serving lunch three days a week—and more than 24,000 meals a year—whether or not customers can pay. The café’s daily operations are supported by donations from individuals, churches, and small firms, and about $200 a day from paying customers. Regular volunteers from CrossTies and other churches keep the café running by coming to cook and serve lunch.

The café even inspired a novel by Christian author Lisa Wingate, The Summer Kitchen, which was later named the book for this spring’s “One Book, One Waco” citywide reading program. The Summer Kitchen is not set in Waco but focuses on the themes of poverty, hunger, and community.

Gospel cafe outside The café has turned out to be a wonderful ministry opportunity because it allows those who have been more fortunate to connect with those who haven’t. The family-style seating also encourages people to foster personal connections. As a result, many people who met at the Gospel Café now help each other out by driving others on errands or accompanying new friends to medical appointments for support and help deciphering medical explanations.

 These personal interactions are the best thing the women could have envisioned when they began the cafe. The opportunity for visitors to become involved in other people’s lives has benefited everyone. “The café is a place for loving folks,” Castello says.

“We marvel about the people God has called to minister with us in unexpected capacities: a nurse practitioner who felt drawn to begin the free medical clinic, a psychologist who wanted to begin working at the café one afternoon a week, a woman eager to help us begin Narcotics Anonymous and Alcoholics Anonymous groups,” wrote Costello and Martie in Baylor University’s Truett Journal of Church and Missions.

If you ever find yourself in Waco around lunchtime, just look for the Gospel Café on the corner of 10th and Cleveland—and know you’ll be welcome inside.

Katie Whitnah is a communications intern with Bread for the World.

Top Hunger News: Floods Continue to Devastate Pakistan


Aid Agencies Accuse the World of Ignoring Pakistan's Desperate Cries. Yesterday, Pakistan's Prime Minister Yusuf Raza Gilani said 20 million people had been affected - around seven million of them children - and more than 300,000 homes wiped out. [The Daily Mirror]

Asia: Signs of Hope for Higher Rice Yields. Scientists at the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) report signs of progress in their efforts to enhance rice's photosynthetic efficiency to boost yields. If successful, global yields could rise by as much as 50 percent, avoiding potential rice shortages, or even future famines, specialists say. [IRIN]

Video: Plan International in Haiti. From Plan International, this video explains the charities effort in Haiti. Plan remains in the country to help with education and the health of Haitian children. [Poverty News Blog]

UNICEF: Looking for Pockets of Poverty Hidden by Statistics. William Anthony Kirsopp Lake, the new executive director of UNICEF, fears many of the world's children can disappear in a haze of statistics, making progress on paper while neglect, abuse or impoverishment go undetected. [The Huffington Post]


Solving the World's Hunger and Obesity Crises Together. As an anti-hunger advocate, I found the perplexity of the obesity problem and the hunger problem existing side-by-side in our increasingly global food system begged further investigation. [CNN Opinion]

Congress Leaves Kids Hungry in Order to Feed Them. If passed, it will be the second time this summer that Congress has funneled money out of the food stamp program to pay for other supports that struggling families rely on everyday. [Color Lines]

Top Hunger News: School Lunch Update


Budget Cuts, Economy Affected Summer Meals Programs. Budget cuts for transportation and a scaling-back of summer school led to fewer children getting free lunches this summer in at least one school district, while economic pressures on families in other locations drove up participation in free or reduced-price meals programs elsewhere. [Education Week]

Food Sunday: Where Are We With School Lunch Reform. Recently, the Senate unanimously passed the Child Nutrition Reauthorization, a bill that would do just about everything to improve the school lunch program – except fund it. [The Seminal]

Food Stamps for Broadband Would Bring Slow 'Net to the Poor. The idea is to give low-income Americans a broadband voucher that they could use to order a "minimum broadband package," with "minimum" in this case meaning "enough 'bytes' to surf the Web and send e-mails to family members." [ARS Technica]


50 Years After Independence, Congo Mired in Poverty. Some 70 percent of the 3.6 million population live below the poverty line even after seven years of peace and recent double digit economic expansion. [AFP]

Niger: A Crisis, Not (Yet) a Catastrophe. Although Niger is facing a severe food crisis, early large-scale responses have so far helped prevent a rapid deterioration in the nutritional state of children. [IRIN]

Climate Change/Environment

Fire, Water, Air and Earth. In Pakistan there are drowned homes and millions of lives set adrift by floods, in Russia wheat crops have been shriveled by drought and devoured by fire. Some scientists think the floods and the fires could be linked. [IRIN]

Top Hunger News: Food Stamps Cut to Pay for Teacher Jobs Bill


Food Stamps Slashed to Pay for Teacher Jobs Bill‎. To pay for the bill … they are accelerating the scale-back of food stamp payments—at a time when a record number of Americans are relying on food stamps. [CBS News]

U.S. Aid Winning Friends in Flood-Ravaged Pakistan. U.S. Army choppers carrying emergency food and water buzzed over the swollen river and washed-out bridges, landing in the valley once controlled by the Taliban. [Associated Press]

Solving the World's Hunger and Obesity Crises Together. O[]besity and hunger look like two sides of the same core problem ... [CNN]

'Tea party' Groups Plan Arizona Rally against Illegal Immigration. "Tea party" groups are planning a large rally on Sunday in Arizona, near the Mexican border … [The Washington Post]

Climate Change/Environment

Russian Fires Prompt Kremlin to Abruptly Embrace Climate Change. Russia's ongoing heat wave, along with its disastrous fallout, may have finally persuaded the Kremlin to combat climate change. [Christian Science Monitor]

When the Smoke Clears in Russia, Will Climate Policy Change?‎ As temperatures in Russia climb to historic highs, parching crops and igniting large tracts of forest and peatland, analysts are watching to see if these conditions heat up the country's climate change policies. [The New York Times]

Climate Change ‘Will Increase Heart Deaths.’ Many more people will die of heart problems as global warming continues … [BBC News]

Pakistan Floods Shows Threat from Warmer World. Floods that have devastated Pakistan could be a sign of the future as climate change brings greater extremes of weather to the region.  [Reuters]


U.N. Food Agencies Say Zimbabwe Makes Strides in Food Security; Some Shortfall. A joint report … says food security has improved in Zimbabwe—but some 1.68 million people in the country will need food aid through March 2011. [Voice of America]

World Bank Urges Nations to Avoid Food Export Bans‎. The World Bank urged countries to refrain from imposing policies that could trigger a new global food price crisis … [Reuters]

Grain Price Rise May Fuel Mideast, Europe Unrest. Rising grain prices from Russia's drought and fires will pressure populations already hit by the financial crisis and could stoke unrest—particularly in the Middle East, North Africa and parts of Europe. [Reuters]

East Africa: Rain, Cross-border Trade Boost Food Security. Food security, a persistent challenge in East Africa, has gradually improved following increased rainfall recorded last year. [AllAfrica.com]

More U.S. Families Running Out of Food, Beckmann Tells Newsweek

Bread president David Beckmann talks with Newsweek’s Claudia Kalb about how hunger affects kids and adults, the rising number of U.S. households without enough food, and the latest on the child nutrition act making its way through Congress.

“We’ve got way too much hunger—more than we have had for a long time. A scandalously and dangerously high rate,” Beckmann says. “This is completely unnecessary. Other countries at our income level do not put up with widespread hunger among kids.”

For more information about child nutrition programs, check out Bread’s website. You can help strengthen these programs by writing or calling your member of Congress—let them know how important these programs are to hungry kids. Our resources page includes information about points to make in your letter or phone call, and includes a sample letter. Thanks!

Top Hunger News: Cambodia Needs More Midwives to Reduce Maternal Deaths


In Brief: Cambodia Needs More Midwives to Reduce Maternal Deaths. There is one doctor or midwife for every 1,000 people in Cambodia, compared with two per 1,000 in Thailand, and 12 per 1,000 in Japan. [IRIN]

Somalia's al Shabaab Rebels Expel Three Aid Groups. Somalia's al Shabaab insurgents said on Monday they had ordered several aid agencies to close their operations, accusing them of spreading Christian propaganda. [Reuters Africa]

Weather Impact on Europe, CIS wheat crop. Drought and disruptive rainfall across Europe and former Soviet Union republics have forced producers to revise down their 2010 wheat crop forecasts. [Reuters India]

Haitian Children Turn to Begging in DR after Quake. [M]ore Haitian children are begging on the streets of the Dominican Republic—a sign that the economic gulf between the neighboring nations has grown wider since the Jan. 12 earthquake. [The Associated Press]

Haitians Look to Family 1,500 Miles North for Help. As Alourds Grandoit hitches her chair across the yard, following the spots of shade, her thoughts linger mostly on the dead: 10 relatives lost in the Jan. 12 earthquake. [The New York Times]

Pakistan: Floods Show No Sign of Let-Up. Unrelenting downpours continue to limit relief efforts and have grounded helicopters in KP, leaving thousands of people cut off in areas where roads and bridges have been swept away. [IRIN]


Liberals Vow to Back State Aid, but Restore Food Stamp Funding. Liberal Democrats said they will vote for a $26.1 billion state aid bill when the House reconvenes this week but are committed to restoring the food-stamps program funding that is being used to pay for it. [The Hill]

City Program for Homeless is Criticized. A signature anti-poverty program of the Bloomberg administration is stumbling because of lax oversight … [The New York Times]

Research Desk Tallies: How Expensive is Welfare? When people refer to "welfare," they usually mean the Temporary Assistance to Needy Families program (TANF) … [The Washington Post blog]

Silver Diner Club-Card Plan to Help Fund School Nutrition and Fitness Programs. Robert Giaimo and Ype Von Hengst have launched "Eat Well, Do Well," an initiative to fund school nutrition and fitness programs to combat childhood obesity. [The Washington Post]

Nun's Death Rallies Anti-Immigration Forces. In Arizona, the shooting death of a rancher blew the lid off simmering anger over border security and helped solidify support for a tough new immigration law. [Associated Press]

Some Firms Struggle to Hire Despite High Unemployment. With a 9.5% jobless rate and some 15 million Americans looking for work, many employers are inundated with applicants. But a surprising number say they are getting an underwhelming response, and many are having trouble filling open positions. [The Wall Street Journal]

Environment/Climate Change

Ban Announces High-Level Panel to Tackle Global Sustainability Issues. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today unveiled a new panel on global sustainability that is tasked with finding ways to lift people out of poverty while tackling climate change and ensuring that economic development is environmentally friendly. [U.N. News Centre]

'Pay as You Plant' Micro-Insurance in Kenya

Bungoma, Kenya — In the Bungoma Chemist shop, where you can get almost everything you need to battle a cold, de-worm your cattle, or fertilizer your crops, something revolutionary is now on sale.

“Kilimo Salama available here,” proclaims a red and white display on the counter, beside a cash register. In Swahili, Kilimo Salama means Safe Farming. It is an agriculture insurance policy, the first of its kind offered to small-holder farmers in these parts.

“We want the farmers to have confidence that even if there’s bad weather, the risk will be covered,” says Rahab Karanja of the Syngenta Foundation for Sustainable Agriculture, which developed the program along with UAP Insurance and telecommunications company Safaricom.

Kilima Salama is “pay as you plant” micro-insurance that protects farmers’ investments in seeds, fertilizers and other farming inputs against loss from excess water or drought. It is a simple and streamlined system: farmers who till only an acre or two of land need not visit insurance offices nor wade through mounds of paperwork; all they need is a mobile phone.

Farmers sign up for the insurance at agriculture merchants like Bungoma Chemist; the cost is tabulated as they buy seeds, fertilizer and chemical supplies. The premium for the insurance is 10 percent of the cost of the inputs; the farmer pays 5 percent and the input provider pays 5 percent. The average cost to the farmer is about $3 or $4.

Continue reading "'Pay as You Plant' Micro-Insurance in Kenya" »

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