Urging our nation's leaders to end hunger

God, Hear Our Prayer

David's fast begins on March 28 / Photo of the announcement

Photo by Laura Elizabeth Pohl

David Beckmann launched a fast Monday, March 28, 2011, to call attention to the budget cuts Congress is considering to programs that help hungry and poor people.

He is joined by leaders of 38 anti-hunger organizations and 4,000 activists around the country.

Today, I stopped eating—and will only drink water for the rest of the week.

I usually fast in private, but I am provoked to make a public stand as Congress has proposed massive budgets cuts to programs that disproportionately affect the neediest among us. I joined four other leaders at a press conference this morning to announce our fast. More than 4,000 activists throughout the country and heads of 38 anti-hunger organizations have committed to join us in this fast.

While we need to balance the federal budget and cut the deficit, we must not do it on the backs of poor people. The legislation passed by the House of Representatives last month makes hefty cuts to federal nutrition programs, reduced-price lunches, and food stamps—roughly 22 percent of the budget. Representatives left untouched the 78 percent of the budget that contains the big-ticket items of defense, Social Security, Medicare, and tax breaks to the wealthy.

I’m a Lutheran pastor, and I have not come across any biblical injunction against taxing the wealthy. Yet the Bible constantly reminds us to take care of the least of our brethren. If our representatives and senators are unwilling to listen to the needs of hungry and poor people, maybe they will listen to God.

Our prayer is simple: We invite God to reshape our personal priorities and the priorities of our nation, and we call on God to help us form a circle of protection around programs that are needed by the most vulnerable among us. Amen.

David Beckmann is president of Bread for the World.


« Choosing to Fast: Lenten Devotions Keeping Faith in Dark Times: Lenten Devotions »


I often find myself busy and preoccupied with the logistics and duties on the war on poverty and hunger and don't always elevate the spiritual aspect of this work as I should. Lent is a great time to slow down, to fast and pray, and then to take action. Many of our legislative staff also take part in Lenten activities, and this is a way to meet them on this tender level as well.

God's people -- the church -- are very good at charity, but not too good at justice. Time now for the church to seek justice for the least of these. We are all dedicated to supplying soup kitchens, food pantries, and helping in homeless shelters.

Now it is time to confess by changing the course of Congress to a course of compassion, and move our citizens to stand in solidarity with the poor, speaking out to a just budget instead of protecting the wealthy.

Thank you so much for your fast. I, as an American Muslim, share the same beliefs and will begin my one-week, water-only fast on Monday, April 4. A verse in the Qur'an (13:11) reads, "God does not change the condition of a people until they change what is in themselves." Regardless of religion, we as an American people need to remember our core values of justice. We have exchanged guidance for a rampant belief in individualism. And to paraphrase the Qur'an, this is an exchange that does no profit. Thank you for your inspiration and God bless.

@Kareem: Wow. Thanks for doing such a wonderful job of inter-religious dialogue. So often people--in my own experience it's been primarily Christians--believe they have a moral monopoly on social issues. Regardless of the Books we read, there is a common thread of humanism that exists in all people. Thanks again.

I have contacted my fasting buddies at www.fastingconnection.com and alerted them to this fast. I will be beginning my usual three-day monthly fast on the 1st--but expanding it to a week. Perhaps some others from the fasting connection will join me.

How can I join and let others know that I am doing this? Fasting is a powerful action, but it should resonate and our leaders should know how many of us care about these issues. Thanks. God is working through us.

Hi Michelle -- thanks for your post! You can join the fast by going to www.bread.org/fast. That page has information and spiritual resources about fasting. --Molly

This is my first time visiting here. I uncovered a lot of useful stuff within your blog, especially the ongoing talk. From the tons of comments on your articles, I guess I'm not the only one taking pleasure in reading through your blog. Keep up the excellent work.

I couldn't agree with you more Mr.Beckmann. The solution that our politicians is eyeing would affect the most needy, the seniors and the disabled most, in a bad way. Their already bad condition would become even worse if that happens. Hopefully our politicians would find a better solution.

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