Urging our nation's leaders to end hunger

134 posts categorized "2012 Offering of Letters"

Town Hall Meetings: Coming to a Community Near You!

Town Hall blog 7.26.12
Photo by Flickr user Comedy Nose.

With the presidential election fast approaching, there will be no shortage of stump speeches, fundraisers and “personal” emails from the candidates.  These may not be the best forums for voicing your opinion, but there is one platform that is ripe for making concerns about hunger and poverty known—the town hall meeting.  

A town hall meeting is an informal public meeting where everyone in a community is invited to attend, voice opinions, and hear from public figures about a particular subject or subjects. Attending one of these meetings is your right as a member of the community, but it can be nerve-wracking if you haven’t gotten your talking points together to effectively engage your member of Congress.  

Bread for the World now offers useful resources for bringing hunger and poverty to the forefront of these meetings. They include tips on how to get your Congress member’s attention and quick and powerful facts about hunger and poverty. You can also find ideas for taking things a step farther—guidelines for writing letters to the editor, scheduling a meeting with your members of Congress, and publicizing responses to your questions using social media.  

While poverty and unemployment in the United States reached record rates between 2008 and 2010, the rate of food-insecure households did not rise. This is largely due to the success of anti-poverty programs like SNAP that help people get back on their feet in times of heightened need. Overseas, U.S. funding for medication helps prevent more than 114,000 at-risk infants from being born with HIV each year. Additionally, more than 33 million people affected with HIV since 2004 have received counseling. Unfortunately, programs that support hungry and poor people in the United States and abroad risk grave cuts as Congress continues work to reduce the deficit. 

It is more vital than ever for you to take action and lift your voice for hungry and poor people, and town hall meetings are perfect platforms to do so. Ask your members of Congress to create a circle of protection around programs that provide vital support and nutrition to vulnerable people in the United States and around the world. Visit Bread’s Elections Matter page for more resources to ensure that hunger and poverty are top priorities this election season.

Kristen-youngbloodKristen Youngblood Archer is the media relations specialist at Bread for the World.


Thank You, Senators!

Thank You Senators Blog 7.26.12
Heather Rude-Turner, 31, of northern Virginia, was once a single mom receiving WIC, SNAP, and EITC. Because of this, she said that she can relate to some of the low-income families who bring their children to the childcare center where she works as a teacher.
Photo by Laura Elizabeth Pohl/Bread for the World.

Fifty-one senators need a thank you for doing the right thing and voting in favor of a Senate bill that includes a one-year extension to the Expanded Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) and Child Tax Credit. The bill is not yet law; there will be a similar vote in the House soon. But today we need to thank those members we have been messaging all year to extend the credits as part of the circle of protection. 

In the past three years, we have campaigned twice for strong tax credits for working families, because these programs are two of the most effective government programs to combat child poverty.  Tax credits often serve as ladders out of poverty.

We have even been blessed to see a life transformed over that time.

Remember the first time you watched Heather Rude-Turner’s story in the 2010 Offerings of Letters video?  It was really tough to listen to the pain in Heather’s voice when she said, “I don’t eat a lot of the time because I feel bad—because I’m taking the food away from my kids. And I feel like if we have one banana in the house, if I can cut it in half, they can each have half of a banana. I don’t need vitamins: I’m all grown up.” 

Another video one year later showed how EITC had given Heather the tools to transform her family’s life Watching her eat a banana in the midst of all those blessings, I said a tearful prayer of thanks—thanks that we are people of faith willing to address members of Congress and stand up for families who are busy being poor, and thanks for the members of Congress who fight for them.

We respectfully ask for justice from our elected officials, but we also must empower them by publicly saying, “Thank you for doing the just thing.”

If your senator voted “yea” on this roll call list, send him or her an email, write on his or her Facebook wall, or tag him or her in a tweet and say, “Thank you, Senator, for standing with children and voting to extend tax credits for working families.”  Use the hashtag #BreadActs on Twitter so we can re-tweet you.

+There is still time to influence your Representative. Send an email today.


 Robin Stephenson is regional organizer at Bread for the World.


Our Thanks to YOU for Your Generosity

7.26.12. Thank You

School kids enjoying a healthy lunch with fresh fruit and vegetables. Photo by USDA.

Your donation will make a difference for hungry people. I want to personally thank those who contributed to our summer matching gift campaign. I am happy to report that Bread for the World raised over $180,000—surpassing our goal of $150,000!

An additional matching gift was made by a generous member, and now a total of $175,000 will be matched dollar-for-dollar. 

I am grateful to everyone who participated in the campaign, which raised a total of $355,000 overall—a significant boost to Bread’s efforts to protect funding for programs that are vital for hungry people. 

Thank you for your generosity and for making this campaign an overwhelming success!


Rev. David Beckmann is president of Bread for the World


A Moral Obligation to Africa

7.23.12 Africa obligation blog
Ugandan family shares a meal together. Photo by Kendra Rinas

Bread for the World intern Reginald Egede shares his story of growing up in a small town in Nigeria around children who didn't get enough to eat:

Growing up and attending boarding school in Nigeria, I had little contact with the kids my age who lived beyond the boundary of the school grounds. I would see them in passing once every two weeks while going on our customary “Sunday walk." Although these kids, whose parents were mainly farmers and traders, weren’t the most desperate, seeing their condition sometimes triggered some serious soul-searching.

Miango, on the outskirts of Jos, was a rural community I came to love for its scenery and tranquility, but deep inside I wanted much more for the warm-hearted villagers outside the school walls. All I was certain of was that the kids did not get enough to eat, but because I could not put myself in their shoes, I made of their plight what any kid my age and in my privileged position would: I believed their circumstance would improve sooner rather than than later. But it didn’t, and I learned that the situation is more desperate in other parts of the developing world.

The Horn of Africa is a remote corner of earth beset with conflict, disease, and famine. In Ethiopia alone, 4.5 million people required emergency food assistance and 300,000 children under the age of five were at risk of becoming severely malnourished last year. Clearly, these numbers ought to call attention to the plight of our brothers and sisters in Africa.

In parts of the continent, lack of rain has significant ramifications for small-holder farmers. The decimation of livestock and poor harvests, often caused by factors such as poor agricultural practices and climate change, result in many women and children suffering from malnutrition. Thankfully, a number of programs geared toward reducing malnutrition and hunger—especially during the critical 1,000-day window between a mother’s pregnancy and the child’s second birthday—are under way.

Continue reading "A Moral Obligation to Africa" »

EvangelicalAdvocacy.org: Educating Ourselves on Hunger, Justice, Advocacy, and Faith

A mother works in the fields with her child in Moroto, Uganda. Photo by Adam Riddell/Samaritan's Purse.

I sat in my cubicle mesmerized by my student’s depiction of his life for 13 years in rural Africa: raised beds of vegetables, dusty dirt roads stretching to the horizon, smiling faces dripping with sweat in the bright orange sun.

As a professor at Eastern University,  I traded in my life in humanitarian aid, development, and missions for the privilege of training Christian relief workers with a powerful set of program planning and economic tools set within the framework of Kingdom principles. But on days like this one, I still feel like the student.

As David recounted stories of his narrow escape from war-torn South Sudan, he transported me to the joys and struggles of life as a refugee. I learned that David alone survived from his family. I heard the story of his settlement within a refugee camp outside of his nation’s borders, the new farming techniques he mastered, and the privilege given to him to travel to other sites to teach the art of soil cultivation, crop rotation, and farming.

Continue reading "EvangelicalAdvocacy.org: Educating Ourselves on Hunger, Justice, Advocacy, and Faith" »

Drought and Famine in the U.S.: David Beckmann on PBS NewsHour

Last night, David Beckmann, president of Bread for the World, appeared on PBS NewsHour to discuss the drought in the United States and its impact on food prices around the world. 

Here's a highlight from the interview:

Ray Suarez: David Beckmann, is there any give in the world food system than there used to be? Some food experts are referring to a post-surplus world, where the number of mouths more closely matches the amount of food we're making.

Does this kind of event, this unusual drought, worst in 56 years, put more people in risk than we even realize?

David Beckmann: The system has changed in that world's population is growing wonderfully. A lot of people are getting out of poverty around the world. And so they are eating more food.

And there's going to be a growing demand for food, already is, all over the world. So that change has taken place. I think one thing that we're doing right as a world is investing in agriculture in poor countries around the world, helping poor farmer produce more, take advantage of higher prices to make a living and also meet local needs.

Continue reading "Drought and Famine in the U.S.: David Beckmann on PBS NewsHour" »

Recipe for Change: A Campaign for Fair Tomatoes

Photo by Flickr user  burgundavia

One of my favorite vegetables — debatably fruits — is the tomato, and the hot months of July and August make no better time to enjoy the tomato’s perfectly sweet and juicy taste. 

In March 2011, I ventured down to Immokalee, FL for the first time with a group of 11 other Georgetown students to learn about migrant laborers who work long, hot hours in tomato fields so that we can enjoy these large red staples of our diets. What I learned in my week in Immokalee shocked me.

Continue reading "Recipe for Change: A Campaign for Fair Tomatoes" »

Why Do I Work at Bread for the World?

Jon Gromek (left), a Bread for the World organizer, and Barbara Miller, a Bread member, hug during the Bread for the World Lobby Day opening worship in Washington, DC, on Tuesday, June 12, 2012. Photo by Laura Elizabeth Pohl/Bread for the World.

Why do I work at Bread for the World? For me, it is an extension of my Sunday worship. The Orthodox theologian, Bishop Kallistos Ware writes:

‘Let us go forth in peace’ this is the last commandment of the Liturgy. It means, surely, that the conclusion of the Divine Liturgy is not an end but a beginning. "Let us go forth in peace," mean(s) the Liturgy is over, the liturgy after the Liturgy is about to begin.  This, then, is the aim of  [our worship]: that we should return to the world ... seeing Christ in every human person, especially in those who suffer.."

These words help me recall that my Sunday worship is not simply the recitation of prayers and attendance in a building; worship is service, not just a service. The monumental task of service to others in the world – the poor and hungry - cannot be accomplished in just a couple of hours.

Continue reading "Why Do I Work at Bread for the World?" »

Taxes and a Moral Budget: Bread for the World's National Grassroots Conference Call and Webinar

Photo by Flickr user 401(K) 2012

We will be talking taxes this Thursday, July 19, and we hope you will join us on our Bread National Grassroots conference call and webinar.

There has been a lot of buzz on Capitol Hill around tax revenues and cuts this week. During this call and webinar, you will learn more about Bread for the World's belief that taxes must be grounded on the Bible, and budgets must be seen as moral documents that affect people who are experiencing hunger and poverty. With the Circle of Protection, we have affirmed that the long-term projected deficits can be reduced without cutting programs focused on hungry and poor people. 

How our nation addresses our current budgetary deficits will have far reaching consequences for hungry and poor people both here and abroad. It is vital that Christian advocates are part of the national dialogue seeking solutions that can either increase or decrease poverty. Join us Thursday at 4 p.m. EST (1 p.m. PST) and hear from our policy expert, Amelia Kegan, on what is happening in Congress, and what tax policies and programs can best support ending hunger. You will also here from the LaVida Davis, director of organizing, on how your voice can make the most impact. You will also have a time to ask all of your questions.

The first step in building an advocacy movement that can end hunger in our time is educating ourselves and taking action. 

We will be live-tweeting the webinar/conference call as well with the hashtag #BreadWeb

Robin-stephensonRobin Stephenson is regional organizer at Bread for the World.


Hey Congress! We Have an Idea to Help You Out


A chart showing the 112th Congress as the least productive Congress in history. Source: Annual resume of Congressional activity, Ezra Klein/Washington Post.

If you follow U.S. politics, or heck, even if you don’t, you’ve probably heard that our current Congress is a bit … well … dysfunctional. Ezra Klein's piece in the Washington Post last Friday on why our current Congress is the “worst” Congress in U.S. history affirmed for me just how tough things really are. Klein states that "the 112th Congress is no ordinary Congress. It’s a very bad, no good, terrible Congress.”  

Upon reading Klein’s piece, (which made me laugh out loud, but also made me quite sad), I felt compelled to think proactively about this dilemma.

Here’s the simple, far-from-rocket-science solution I came up with as an activist and organizer: Working to end hunger and poverty has the potential to unify our 112th Congress.

Continue reading "Hey Congress! We Have an Idea to Help You Out" »

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