Urging our nation's leaders to end hunger

53 posts from February 2012

So, Did the Stimulus Work?

Screenshot from the Center for American Progress.

In 2009, almost exactly three years ago, members of Congress voted to pass the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, otherwise known as the economic stimulus.

The Center for American Progress released a video that examines the effectiveness of that legislation. The video notes that after the stimulus, the rate at which the nation’s gross domestic product decreases is slowed; the number of jobs begins to gain; and private-sector layoffs begin a dramatic decline. Ultimately, the film concludes, “these graphs tell the same story. By early 2009 the economy was headed off the cliff. But all of a sudden, just after we enacted the stimulus, the country swerved away from the edge and started heading back in the right direction.”

Whether you agree or not, it’s important to note that the stimulus package included funding for programs that protect poor and hungry people. Specifically,

  • $500 million for the Women, Infants, and Children special nutrition program (WIC);
  • $150 million in extra commodities for food banks;
  • a temporary 13 percent increase in food stamp payments;
  • and important improvements to the Earned Income Tax Credit and Child Tax Credit that helped millions of families out of poverty.

For many low-income families, the stimulus package provided funding for programs that kept them from going hungry.

So what’s your take? Did the stimulus work? Watch the Center for American Progress video below, and share your thoughts in the comments.

is associate editor at Bread for the World. Follow her on twitter @jeanniechoi.


Lenten Reflections: Day Two

Photo by Flickr user IvanWalsh.com

On Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays during Lent, we invite you to reflect and respond to one highlighted Scripture reading from the Revised Common Lectionary.

Lectionary readings:
Ps. 25:1-10
Dan. 9:1-14
1 John 1:3-10

Psalm 25:1-10

To you, O Lord, I lift up my soul.
O my God, in you I trust;
do not let me be put to shame;
do not let my enemies exult over me.
Do not let those who wait for you be put to shame;
let them be ashamed who are wantonly treacherous.

Make me to know your ways, O Lord;
teach me your paths.
Lead me in your truth, and teach me,
for you are the God of my salvation;
for you I wait all day long.

Be mindful of your mercy, O Lord, and of your steadfast love,
for they have been from of old.
Do not remember the sins of my youth or my transgressions;
according to your steadfast love remember me,
for your goodness’ sake, O Lord!

Good and upright is the Lord;
therefore he instructs sinners in the way.
He leads the humble in what is right,
and teaches the humble his way.
All the paths of the Lord are steadfast love and faithfulness,
for those who keep his covenant and his decrees.

+Read all of our Lent Reflections.


Hunger QOTD: Dorothy Day

'when life gives you lemons...' photo (c) 2009, little blue hen - license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/


"This fighting for a cause is part of the zest of life."

-Dorothy Day, The Catholic Worker 

Lenten Reflections: Ash Wednesday, a Time of Hope

Painting: Access to Grace, by Robin Stephenson

On Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays during Lent, we offer reflections from Bread staff and others who faithfully work to end hunger.

Lectionary readings (from the Revised Common Lectionary):
Joel 2:1-2, 12-17 or Isaiah 58:1-12
Psalms 51:1-17
2 Corinthians 5:20b-6:10
Matthew 6:1-6, 16-21

“The cross is a powerful symbol of God’s deep and abiding love for us. Jesus became flesh to offer a divine, selfless love to restore all things broken. His life, death, and resurrection invite us into a relationship with God, and to live our lives with a love that reconciles and transforms all things.”

This quote comes from this year’s Offering of Letters kit, but I think it also serves as a great introduction to this year’s Bread Blog lenten reflection series. These are difficult times when a “love that reconciles and transforms all things” does not seem imminent.

Currently the world is watching the worst humanitarian crisis unfold in the Horn of Africa. Congress is getting some of its lowest approval ratings and the ongoing conversations about the budget have terrifying implications for people living in poverty throughout the world. Unemployment and underemployment continue to be major causes of concern for families throughout the United States.

And yet people at Bread for the World are hopeful. Why? Because this is when our Christian foundation can inspire us to take action and perhaps even more importantly imagine another reality.  Because we -- Catholics, Baptists, Methodists, non-denominational Christians, etc. -- are people of a story, and we know that Easter is coming.

For this reason, I’ve decided that my Lenten fast will be one of simplicity and of reflection; a time to be present with people in the struggles that are all too real today, but also to imagine and to be a part of the promise of Easter. In the coming days, I invite you to join me and others as we consider what it means to “live our lives with a love that reconciles and transforms all things.”

On Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays during Lent, we offer reflections from Bread staff and others who faithfully work to end hunger. On Sundays, you will see excerpts from Bread’s “Lenten Prayers for Hungry People” table tents. Additionally, each day we’ll include the recommended readings from the Revised Common Lectionary (RCL).*

As you journey through these 40 days, we encourage you to interact with the content and share your thoughts with others by commenting on the day’s posting.

*The RCL is a tool that many churches use to guide them through the liturgical year and to ensure that a variety of biblical voices are heard throughout the year. We understand that this is not a tool everyone uses, and that the RCL is different from the Catholic Lectionary. Each year we will do our best to represent and honor all of the traditions represented at Bread for the World.

Sarah-rohrerSarah Rohrer is northeast regional organizer for Bread for the World.


Hunger QOTD: Frances Moore Lappé

Photo of Frances Moore Lappé, courtesy of smallplanet.org.

"No society has fulfilled its democratic promise if people go hungry... If some go without food they have surely been deprived of all power. The existence of hunger belies the existence of democracy."

-Frances Moore Lappé

What We Can Learn from Jeremy Lin, an Unlikely Hero

Jeremy Lin, a point guard for the New York Knicks, is the N.B.A.'s first American-born player of Taiwanese or Chinese descent. Photo by flickr user nikk_la.

My copy of The Week magazine arrived with the predictable article about a cultural and sports phenomenon. “Jeremy Lin: An Unlikely Hero,” the headline proclaims. Undrafted for the National Basketball Association (meaning no one really thought he was a top prospect), Jeremy Lin recently burst forth for the New York Knicks, leading them to a series of unexpected NBA victories.

Son of Taiwanese immigrants, he’s the only Asian-American in the NBA, and the first Harvard graduate since 1954 to make it in the top professional basketball league. “Unlikely hero,” indeed.

I suspect none of us imagine ourselves to be a “hunger hero” either. At age 35 I had no idea I'd dedicate a major portion of my later adult life to hunger advocacy on the staff of Bread for the World.  In the more than two decades since, I’ve seen countless Bread members experience transforming, heroic moments growing in advocacy and faithfulness. 

Somewhere in your journey you may have learned of Bread and decided to make Bread’s justice work a priority in your life. Or maybe you’re just checking out our blog and wondering, how can I make a difference? Can I come off the bench, like Jeremy Lin did for the Knicks, and suddenly and unexpectedly empower myself and others to speak out for those on the margins? Can I too be a hero — in all the unlikely ways Lin has become one in these recent days?

Yes! We can’t promise you the national media coverage that Jeremy Lin has gotten, but we can say this: Your contribution will matter.

Join Bread for the World as a member. Connect with your Bread regional organizer. Discover the joy of heroic work for hungry people—on whatever scale you can imagine it. We welcome you!

Larry-hollarLarry Hollar is a Bread regional organizer in our Dayton, OH office. Become a “Bread Hero” by connecting to us at www.bread.org


Hunger QOTD: Randy Schutt

'Huts' photo (c) 2008, Antony Shepherd - license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nd/2.0/


"When human rights conflict with property rights, I must choose humanity." 

-Randy Schutt, Inciting Democracy

Hunger QOTD: Muhammad Ali

Korean refugee children photographed in the refugee housing area in Pusan, Republic of Korea on July 1, 1954. UN Photo/GG.

"Wars against nations are fought to change maps; wars against poverty are fought to map change."

-Muhammad Ali

Church Leaders Aim to Improve Nutrition for Mothers and Children

Bolivian mother and child. Photo by Margaret W. Nea.

On February 1, after months of planning, everything was in place. More than 50 religious leaders from denominations and relief organizations around the country filled Bread for the World’s boardroom in Washington, DC. The goal? To build the advocacy voice of church leaders for improved nutrition for mothers and children, especially during the crucial 1,000 days between pregnancy and a child’s second birthday. (Learn more about the 1,000 Days movement here.)

Bread president David Beckmann greeted the attendees, who included bishops, presidents of denominational women’s organizations, advocacy staff from around the country, and representatives of denominational relief and development agencies. Organizations represented included the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, the Christian Methodist Episcopal Church, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, the National Association of Evangelicals, and Church Women United, among others.

For some, this call for advocacy was personal. Lucy Sullivan, director of the 1,000 Days partnership, told the group she was a “1,000-days baby”— she and her mother were able to get proper nutrition during the 1,000-day window because they  had access to the critically important Special Supplemental Nutrition Assistance program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC). As a result, Lucy is 5’10” and significantly taller than her immigrant mother. We also heard from Raj Shah, administrator of the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), about his childhood visits to relatives in India. He was known as the “giant cousin” from the United States — no doubt because of the access to nutrition he had growing up in the United States.

Malnutrition’s impact on children is shocking. Without proper nutrients, children can experience permanent damage: shorter heights, weaker immune functions, impaired vision, and underdeveloped brains. All of this leaves them more vulnerable to illness and less prepared for school. Malnutrition can also result in lower earnings — up to 10 percent — over the course of their lifetimes. And what’s worse, the cycle continues with underweight mothers giving birth to underweight babies, and baby girls growing up to become underweight mothers giving birth to underweight babies.

Under the leadership of Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, the U.S. government has taken steps to improve nutrition through development assistance — especially in the two flagship programs the Global Health Initiative and Feed the Future. When our group met with leaders from the State Department and USAID on February 1,they asked tough questions about continued nutrition funding and pushed for effective coordination of programs on the ground and across departments in the United States.

We must continue to put pressure on our government to improve nutrition for women and children during the critical 1,000-day window, in the United States and abroad. To do that, we need to spread the word. Denominational women have created “Women of Faith for the 1,000 Days Movement” and are pledging as groups and as individuals to have 1,000 conversations in 1,000 days about maternal and child nutrition.

Won’t you join the conversation? Visit our webpage to learn more. Or send me an email and let’s have a conversation!

Nancy-nealNancy Neal is associate for denominational women's organizational relations at Bread for the World.


Hunger QOTD: David Beckmann

Members of Templo Calvario (Assembly of God church) in Santa Ana, CA, participated in Bread for the World's Offering of Letters and wrote letters to their members of Congress on Sunday, October 16, 2011. Photography and video by Laura Elizabeth Pohl.

"I think God is calling us, people who know the love of God through Jesus Christ, to provide leadership in making justice for poor people a national priority. I urge you to think ambitiously, take a stance, and protect programs that support those in need."

-David Beckmann, from his column "Finding Our Political Will to End Hunger"

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