Urging our nation's leaders to end hunger

29 posts from June 2012

Update: Hunger Justice Leaders Training

Hunger 101: Play Jeopordy and Test Your Hunger Knowledge

Want to play a game that tests your knowledge of some of the basics about hunger? Play Hunger 101 Jeopordy. Created by Bread organizers for our Hunger Justice Leaders event, this interactive and fun game teaches you some of the basic facts about hunger.


Meet Your Hunger Justice Leaders: Natasha and Erika

Erika Carranza (left) and Natasha Bisbal (right) at Bread for the World's Hunger Justice Leaders training in Washington, DC on June 9, 2012.

Natasha Bisbal, Brooklyn, NY

Q: Why did you want to be a Hunger Justice Leader?

A: My mentor told me about this opportunity and I decided to apply. I want to speak for those who cannot speak for themselves. I know this sounds cheesy, but I want to change the world, and I don't know how I'm going to do this, but I am going to figure it out.

Q: What are some of the difficulties that people in your community face?

A: The loss of jobs, crime, broken families, and drug abuse. Pretty much anything you can think of in New York City. But I want to shed light on these issues and bring a positive light to the community so young people in my community can have a brighter future.

Erika Carranza, Santa Ana, CA

Q: What brought you to the Hunger Justice Leaders training?

A: I work at Templo Calvario in Santa Ana, CA, as a missions coordinator and my pastor Lee de León told me, "If you're gonna work for me, you gotta go" [laughing]. But I am excited to see what the Lord does. The people at my church sometimes sees missions as a foreign thing, but I want to show people that missions needs to take place here in our community. I want to focus on home missions in our community.

Q: What are you first impressions of Washington, DC?

A: I love it. Flying in and seeing all the green compared to L.A. was really great. I walked along the Mall. My shoes were killing me, but it was beautiful.


Live Tweet Up With the White House! #BreadRising


We're just two days away from the Hunger Justice Leaders training here in Washington, and we have some exciting news. This Monday, the Hunger Justice Leaders will head to the White House for what is sure to be a lively and engaging discussion with senior-level officials ... but it doesn't stop there! Immediately following the meeting, we will all have an opportunity to ask any of our burning questions about hunger and poverty during a live Tweet Up with Jon Carson, director of the White House Office of Public Engagement.

As we prepare for this event, we would like to encourage you to follow @Bread4theWorld on Twitter, if you aren't already, and to use the hashtag #BreadRising throughout the weekend and all day Monday. Next, here are some sample tweets you may want to consider sending before and during the Tweet Up: 

  • Excited for @bread4theworld's Hunger Justice Leaders training and our tweetup with the White House's @JonCarson44! #BreadRising
  • Dear @JonCarson44, how does the White House hope to help hungry people in the U.S.? #BreadRising
  • @JonCarson44 What policies can you point to that are efforts from the W.H. to alleviate poverty in the U.S.? #BreadRising
  • @JonCarson44: If @BarackObama is reelected, what will he do in his last term for hungry and poor people in the U.S. and around the world? #BreadRising

It’s never too early to start tweeting using the #BreadRising hashtag! This is the same hashtag we will use during the White House Tweet Up on Monday as well.

We will keep you posted about the Tweet Up on Monday.

Come With Us To Capitol Hill! #BreadRising

Photo by Flickr user  timlewisnm

Normally over the weekend, Bread for the World's Washington, DC, offices are quiet and vacant, but not this weekend.  This weekend the sounds of worship and action will fill our halls as we host the 2012 Hunger Justice Leaders: From the Pulpit to the Public Square.

Starting this Saturday, June 9, 75 young religious leaders will participate in a three-day anti-hunger advocacy training with Bread staff. Workshops will include learning the root causes of hunger, how to do an Offering of Letters in your congregation, exploring the biblical basis for justice, and using social media to influence Congress -- just to name a few.

You can follow along through our social media channels (Find Bread on Facebook and Twitter). Participants and staff will be tweeting using the hashtag #BreadRising.  Join us, ask questions, and encourage these young leaders with notes of support.  If you are not on Twitter, we will be posting a few updates on our Facebook account and of course will be doing roundups of all the action here on the Bread Blog.

Finally, Bread’s annual Lobby Day is on Tuesday, June 12. Participants will be posting pictures of their meetings with Congress as they deliver the petitions that many of you signed telling Congress that churches alone cannot be solely responsible for feeding hunger people.

Even if you are not in DC for Lobby Day, your voice is needed and powerful.  Call your senator and representatives on Tuesday and ask them to create a circle of protection around funding for programs that are vital to hungry and poor people in the U.S. and around the world. Check out our blog Tuesday for the latest updates.

You can even go one step further and help us make sure that as the budget is negotiated, issues that affect people who are poor and hungry are part of the national dialogue.  Most members of Congress have a presence on Facebook and Twitter.  Let them know you care about these issues. For example if you are from Oregon you might tweet:

Dear @SenJeffMerkley please create a #circleofprotection around funding for programs that are vital to hungry and poor people #BreadRising

As one united body with many hands, #BreadRising will be heard throughout our nation’s capital.

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



Look Up Food Insecurity in Your State

Screenshot from Feeding America

What does hunger look like in your state? How many people live below the SNAP threshold? What is the average cost of a meal? What percentage of the people in your state is food insecure?

In an ambitious new online project, Feeding America answers all of these questions and more for each state in their "Map the Meal Gap" interactive feature. See it here

Most striking about this data visualization is being able to see dark patches where overall food insecurity and child food insecurity are at 30 percent of the population and above. Mississippi and Georgia top the list of states with the highest percentage of overall food insecurity. 

Take some time to examine the map. Look up your own state and learn how you can take action to reduce those percentages day by day.

Hunger QOTD: Rep. Rosa DeLauro

Alex Morris, from Bend, OR, depends on SNAP, WIC and other programs to care for André, who suffers from a serious medical condition that affects his hormonal system. Photo by Brad Horn

“Food stamps help families make ends meet, and as the economy improves and families get back on their feet, the costs of food stamps will decrease again. This is the entire essence of a social safety net.”

-Rep. Rosa DeLauro 


Dolores Huerta, Organizing for Justice, and the Cross

Screen shot from PBS NewsHour

This past week, Dolores Huerta was awarded the Medal of Freedom for her lifelong organizing work among farm workers. She is a woman who needs little introduction, especially in the world of community organizing. Dolores Huerta and Cesar Chavez organized farm workers to achieve better workers rights, and today, Bread for the World is one of several organizations working to continue their work by achieving justice for farm workers. Huerta was interviewed on PBS NewsHour about receiving the Medal of Freedom and about her work organizing farmworkers. One quote in particular stands out from her interview:

"We would say to the workers, you have power. And they would say, what kind of power do we have? It's in your person. And it is in your person. And you, together with other people, other workers, you can make the difference. But you have to remember that nobody is going to do it for you. If you don't get out there and try to solve your own problems, it's never going to change."

Lately, I have been reflecting on my own role in Bread for the World’s organizing department. Our main goal is to establish a circle of protection around policies that protect the most vulnerable in our society. But why do we organize? Why do I organize? 

Simply put, it is because of the cross. When I envision Jesus on the cross, I know what God is willing to do for humanity and the love that we are deemed worthy to receive. The message displayed, both by Huerta’s words and the example of the cross, is that each individual has worth and is worth fighting for.

As an organizer for Bread for the World, this is a message that I want members of Congress to know by heart. Most importantly, it is a way of life that I wish to instill in those affected by injustice, so they can demand a standard of living that they are worthy to receive.

Watch the interview with Dolores Huerta on PBS NewsHour below:


Watch Dolores Huerta Calls Herself 'a Born-Again Feminist' on PBS. See more from PBS NewsHour.

Keaton-andreasKeaton Andreas is a regional organizer at Bread for the World.



What's the Most Expensive Federal Government Social Program? (It's Not What You Think)

120601-submergedstatePop quiz: What is the most expensive federal government social program? (Hint: It is not what you think).

If you think about this question within the context of the recently proposed cuts in Congress, the answer would appear to be fairly obvious right?  Like me, some of you may have guessed the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, formerly food stamps), or maybe you went with the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC), or the Section 8 choice voucher program (low-income housing), or unemployment benefits, or TANF. As you have probably inferred from my “hint,” however, if you guessed these or any other programs that benefit poor, hungry, and out of work people, you would be absolutely wrong. Not even close actually. 

So what IS the most expensive federal government social program? It's the retirement benefits exemption. Surprised? So was I, but maybe we shouldn’t be.

In her interesting book “The Submerged State: How Invisible Government Policies Undermine American Democracy,” Cornell Professor Suzanne Mettler highlights our government's three most expensive social tax expenditures: the retirement benefits exemption, the health insurance exemption, and the home mortgage interest deduction program. She states, “Neither the costs of food stamps, the most utilized program for low-income people, nor of unemployment insurance, which provides economic security for Americans of all income levels, amounts to as much as half the value of even the least expensive of these programs (i.e. home mortgage interest deduction).”

So, when it comes time to balance budgets and cut the deficit, how come we never hear Congress clamoring to make cuts to programs like these? To answer that question, perhaps we need to add one more question to our pop quiz: Who benefits the most from social tax expenditures such as the retirement benefit exemption and the home mortgage deduction? You probably figured it out by now: the more affluent.

According to Mettler, the retirement benefit exemption and the home mortgage deduction program are the most skewed with, over 55 percent and 69 percent, respectively, going to Americans with household incomes over $100,000.00. In general, these kinds of social tax expenditures exacerbate inequality, with the notable exception of the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC).

Attempting to balance the budget and cut our deficit on the backs of poor and hungry folks by targeting programs such as SNAP is not only the wrong thing to do morally, but it simply won’t work.  It is up to us to make sure it doesn’t happen.

Matt-grossMatt Gross is regional organizer at Bread for the World.



Stay Connected

Bread for the World