Urging our nation's leaders to end hunger

8 posts from December 2010

Top 10 of 2010

We are so grateful for the many blessings of 2010.  Here's our top 10 list of 2010.  What would you add to this list?

Top 10 of 2010

  1. Advocating for a strong child nutrition bill: We applauded new investments in our nation's child nutrition programs.  New funding will expand access to our nation's school feeding programs.
  2. A big win for Bread's 2010 Offering of Letters: In December, Congress approved extending current levels for the Earned Income Tax Credit and the Child Tax Credit.  As a result, the bill prevented 2 million people from falling below the poverty line.
  3. Moving forward in the fight against global hunger: We applaud our leaders for launching the 1,000 Days Initiative, Feed the Future and continuing efforts to reform U.S. foreign aid.
  4. 2010 Hunger Justice Leaders:  75 young people participated in a leadership and advocacy training in June 2010.  Leaders returned to their communities where they continued their advocacy work and influenced policy.
  5. The Pledge to End Hunger: 10,000 people signed the pledge, which resulted in a $10,000 donation to Bread.
  6. David Beckmann wins the World Food Prize: The prize is a testament to the power of our movement -- people like you who advocate for an end to hunger.
  7. Celebrating the release of the 2011 Hunger Report: The report examines the root cause of hunger by exploring new initiatives to address the problem.
  8. Standing up to Glenn Beck:  Bread supporters rallied together to send the Poverty and Justice Bible to Glenn Beck.
  9. David's new book:  Exodus from Hunger makes a compelling case for advocacy.  David reminds us that we are called to change the politics of hunger.
  10. Finally....YOU!  We love working with you and empowering you to be an advocate for hungry people.  Your stories, your passion and your faith keep us going. 

Thank you for making 2010 a year to remember.

Marie-Ange's Story of Hope

Just two years ago, Marie-Ange Lory lived in a shack that people mistook for an animal coop. The roof leaked so badly during rainfalls that she and her three kids had to cover their heads with plastic bags.

Now she’s flourishing. With the help of Fonkoze, a microfinance organization that receives support from the U.S. government and U.S. churches—many of them Bread partners—Marie-Ange is beginning her own business.


“My life has turned around. Now I have a house where no water comes in—it’s got a cement floor—and my kids are going to school. I have five goats and 25 chickens. I’m moving forward.”

I met Marie-Ange in October when I visited Mirebalais, Haiti, to gather stories for Bread for the World. Her story is one example of the life-changing differences made possible by U.S. foreign aid, and a joyous reminder of the impact Bread for the World supporters have in the lives of women, children, and families struggling in poverty.  Your support makes transformations like Marie-Ange’s possible. 

For months, Marie-Ange attended meetings at Fonkoze twice a week. Case managers taught her everything from caring for livestock to setting personal and professional goals. She’s also learned about nutrition, how to identify when her kids are sick, and the importance of drinking safe water. 

This month, Marie-Ange will graduate from the program and begin the process of starting her own business. Marie-Ange’s experience is a testament to the fact that U.S. foreign aid can make a huge difference in people’s lives—especially in countries like Haiti. 

Thanks to the hard work of Bread for the World advocates like you, the United States has made great strides in its delivery of foreign aid over the past few years. But there is much more we can do, and you can rely on Bread for the World to continue our work until hunger is truly defeated.

This Christmas season, you and I can help ensure that women like Marie-Ange have the tools they need to transform their lives and free their families from hunger and poverty. 

Make your year-end gift today, and support our work to end hunger.

Thank you for standing with us.

- Laura Elizabeth Pohl
Multimedia Manager, Bread for the World 

The jobless and the millionaires: La Opinion

Yesterday’s La Opinion newspaper in Los Angeles published an editorial on tax policy and commented on the role of EITC, the Child Tax Credit and unemployment benefits as outlined in the proposals being debated in Congress and in the Whitehouse.  

The editorial, The jobless and the millionaires, makes the case that low-income people and struggling families deserve different consideration than millionaires in that the stakes are much greater for the later.  The editorial reminds us that when we treat them alike, wealth gives the advantage to the millionaire regardless of our intentions.

The deal leaves a bitter aftertaste of injustice, since it mixes up the unemployed and the millionaires. At a time when the government’s expenses should be measured and restricted, one’s ability to survive depends on the other one keeping up his or her luxurious lifestyle by paying fewer taxes. Both parties, Republicans and Democrats, look after their electorate. Unfortunately, in this negotiation—which puts millionaires and the jobless on equal terms—the inflexibility that seeks to benefit the wealthiest is already winning the game.

Read the editorial in Spanish or English on La Opinion's web site.

Climate Change, Rising Food Prices, and Farmers

By Laura Elizabeth Pohl

Mario Espinosa, a farmer in Chiapas, Mexico, digs irrigation channels in his field this past Monday.

The U.N. climate talks in Cancun, Mexico, are in their second week but a headline from last week is still stuck in my head: "Global warming could double food prices" by 2050.

According to a study by the International Food Policy Research Institute, prices will be affected by factors including reduced productivity due to warming and changing rainfall patterns, and population growth. The Associated Press reports:

Change apparently already is under way. Returning from northern India, agricultural scientist Andrew Jarvis said wheat farmers there were finding warming was maturing their crops too quickly. "The temperatures are high and they're getting reduced yields," Jarvis, of the Colombia-based International Center for Tropical Agriculture, told reporters last month.

Right now I'm visiting farms and farmers in the southeastern Mexico state of Chiapas, not terribly far from where the climate talks are happening. Climate change is not the focus of why I and two Bread for the World colleagues are here, but it's been on my mind. If global temperatures keep rising and weather and climate patterns shift, what will happen to farmers like Mario Espinosa?

We recently met the 29-year-old vegetable farmer as he dug irrigation channels in his maize field. Espinosa married five months ago and lives with his wife, Leti, in a town about an hour's drive from Comitan. He once worked in orange groves in Florida and cucumber fields in Michigan. Now, with the help of AGROS, an organization that helps people achieve land ownership and learn agriculture skills, he feels his future is richer in Mexico.

Espinosa, 29, once worked on farms in the U.S. but now feels his future is richer in Mexico.

It could be a future dependent on the winds of climate change and what world leaders are willing to do about it. Earlier this year, Mexican President Felipe Calderon linked floods and landslides in Chiapas and the nearby state of Oaxaca to global warming. "For us, it is absolutely clear that global warming exists," he told AFP.

Unfortunately, it's also becoming clear that no substantive agreement will come out of this year's U.N. climate talks. Expectations were not high to begin with. But it looks like we'll have to wait at least one more year so that years down the road, farmers like Espinosa aren't flooded out of their homes and livelihoods.


You did it! 10,000 sign the pledge to end hunger!


We challenged you to take the pledge. And, you did it.  Over 10,000 people signed the pledge to end hunger. Your commitment resulted in a $10,000 donation to our movement. Thank you!

You are already making an impact. On December 2, we witnessed a major victory for hungry kids. Congress passed the Child Nutrition Act. This means that more kids will have access to healthy food in school.  

Thank you, again, for all you’re doing. We are praying that we will stir up a stronger political force for hungry and poor people, and that together we will bend history toward justice.

A Great Day for Low-Income Families

It’s been a great afternoon here at Bread! We’re celebrating the news that Congress passed two pieces of legislation this afternoon that are really critical for low-income kids and families.

The Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act will help more children get free and reduced-price meals at school.

The Middle Class Tax Relief Act will prevent 858,000 children, from falling into poverty.

“This is a victory for millions of working poor families and for American’s children," said David Beckmann.

The first is the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act, which will improve the quality of school lunches and help reduce the number of kids who go hungry. It now goes to President Obama for his signature.

The second is the Middle Class Tax Relief Act of 2010, which passed in the House and now goes to the Senate for consideration.

“To have worked so hard on these issues for the entire year, and to have both votes come up one after the other is amazing,” said Monica Mills, Bread’s director of government relations."

“It’s extremely satisfying and rewarding to know that hungry kids in America will do so much better because of this.”

Thanks to our Bread members and activists who made calls, visited their members of Congress, and worked to get this legislation passed—it’s a great victory!

READ MORE: the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act and the Middle Class Tax Relief Act.

WATCH: How do tax credits help low-income families? David Beckmann explains.

GIVE: consider making a year-end gift to support our work to end hunger


World AIDS Day: A Letter from Mozambique

by Rebecca J. Vander Meulen

LICHINGA, MOZAMBIQUE — Today is the day when people around the world recognize our common daily work (which is—in a country where most families include someone living with HIV—our daily life). It is my eighth World AIDS Day in Mozambique, and I sense that in addition to being older and wiser, we're also all getting a bit tired. We see that, as a country, we've made incredible progress (best encapsulated by the emergence of widespread access to testing and later to treatment).








But our starting point was abysmally low: more than a million people living with HIV, with most not even knowing it. So, despite progress, we still have a really long way to go. The "low-lying fruit" has been picked, and now we're in for a marathon.

Access to testing and treatment is still light-years away from being "universal," but I'd venture a non-statistical guess that most Mozambicans could at least get to a testing site within a day's travel—and could theoretically get treatment just as easily.

Access to treatment, however, assumes the motivation to do an HIV test; money and time for travel; a steady stock of HIV drugs at the level of the health post (which depends on a steady stock of HIV drugs at the district and provincial levels, as well); regular enough immune system monitoring for the person living with HIV to have actually begun treatment (treatment initiation does not normally coincide with a positive test result); thorough enough adherence counseling for the person living with HIV to know and actually believe that taking the ARV medication without fail over a lifetime is critical for drug effectiveness; and enough self-confidence to overcome the shame that still too commonly clings to HIV. Quite a few assumptions.

We celebrate that Amelia, now 12, is healthy enough (after several years on HIV medication) that she's been able to come off additional medications used to prevent opportunistic infections. Her own immune system is doing its job quite well! We celebrate that she's comfortable enough with her HIV status that she comes to have blood work done with a group of friends.

But we mourn that children born to ashamed HIV+ mothers—including one who died in my colleague's arms last month—still do not live to speak their own names.

We celebrate new technology, which allows sophisticated lab analyses to be done using solar power in remote areas.

But we mourn stories that, in some areas, understanding and acceptance of HIV are still so fragile that basic HIV testing kits expire before being used, and that the health posts return their boxes of condoms, unopened and unwanted, to the provincial health department.

We celebrate Raquel, Melinda, Alberta, and India, just a few of many agents of community transformation.

But we mourn the challenges that HIV has brought to each of them. One of them, having cared for several orphaned children for many years, has had to fight against strong protests from her husband to do so. One has lost her husband to death (presumably associated with AIDS), now lives with HIV, and is actively fighting for everyone in her community to get an HIV test. Another has had a marriage destroyed by HIV and related accusations, but now travels from community to community to get mak sure church women know how HIV is transmitted and how it can be prevented.

Many of our 4,000 community volunteers gathered to celebrate and study today. But others—more practically and immediately concerned about having food to eat this year, and compelled by the season's first solid rain last night—opted to spend the day preparing fields for planting.

One of Mozambique's national World AIDS Day mottos this year was "Look to the future. Get a test." We mourn that in many parts of Mozambique, food is still a more tangible preoccupation than HIV.

Thank you for recognizing with us December 1—a New Year's Day of sorts for those of us whose lives are shaped by this little virus.

Things truly are changing. Passo a passo. Step by step.

Rebecca J. Vander Meulen, a former Bread for the World intern, is the HIV and AIDS coordinator for the Anglican Diocese of  Niassa in Lichinga, Mozambique.

2011 Hunger Report: Agricultural Development Key - by Roger Thurow

2011 Bread for the World’s new Hunger Report raises the stakes right from its very first sentence:

“2011 is a time of opportunity to achieve lasting progress against global hunger and malnutrition.”

Then it raises them further:

“Feed the Future, a bold new U.S. initiative, may be the best opportunity to come along in decades for the United States to contribute to lasting progress against hunger and malnutrition.”

The message implied in these two sentences: We’ve arrived at an historic moment. Let’s not squander it.

The Bread report seeks to raise the clamor among a vast audience and motivate a wide and deep constituency that can hammer home this message to one particular group of Americans: all members of the incoming Congress, both old and new. They have the opportunity to join with the administration and all the other gathering forces—foundations, humanitarian organizations, private sector companies, universities, international institutions, foreign governments—working to end global hunger and malnutrition through agriculture development in the poorest countries. Congress can do its part by fully approving the president’s funding request for Feed the Future— $3.5 billion over three years—and declaring this work to be a vital and permanent pillar of American foreign policy.

Leading the international assault on hunger has been a prized role for the United States in the past. It did so in the immediate post-World War II years with the Marshall Plan, and then again in the 1960s and ’70s by spearheading the Green Revolution in Asia and South America. Combating hunger worldwide was a vital part of this country’s values, and it yearns to be once again.

“Today the United States government is more focused on global food security than at any other time since the earliest days of the Green Revolution,” USAID Administrator Rajiv Shah said at the launch of the Hunger Report last week. “And USAID is leading that renewed focus, recapturing our agency’s historical legacy of curbing hunger in the developing world.”

He then unveiled the new Bureau of Food Security, which will lead a government-wide effort to implement the president’s Feed the Future initiative and drive “the collective action necessary to end world hunger.” Feed the Future, Shah said, will be a cornerstone of USAID.

“To be the world’s best development agency,” he said, “we’ll do it by focusing on ending hunger and malnutrition.”

Linking hunger and malnutrition is one of the primary missions of the Bread report. It has become a mantra of Bread’s president David Beckmann, who introduced the report by hailing burgeoning efforts to improve nutrition for women and children while also improving agriculture production.

Looming over all the talk of history in the making—POTENTIAL history in the making—are some troubling trends of the present. Particularly the recent increases in food prices, which hark back to the food crisis of 2007-2008 when soaring prices and resulting shortages triggered rioting in dozens of countries and a huge increase in the number of chronically hungry people.

That’s why the most important words of Bread’s Hunger Report may be the three on the cover: “Our Common Interest.”

It is in our common interest—far above the divisions of politics and the tensions of budget cuts—to reverse the neglect of agriculture development, to push for progress against hunger and malnutrition and to avoid a repeat of the food crisis. To squander this historic moment would be our common tragedy.

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.

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