Urging our nation's leaders to end hunger

47 posts from July 2012

PEPFAR's Vital Role in the Fight Against AIDS


U.S. foreign assistance programs like the President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief has helped reverse the growth of HIV/AIDS in many developing countries and could provide tactics for reducing the epidemic in the United States. Photo courtesy The Bill and & Melinda Gates Foundation.

To a large degree, the International AIDS Conference under way in Washington, DC, is a celebration of life. Yes, the deadly disease continues to loom over our world, with no known cure, but HIV/AIDS is no longer a death sentence—for those who realize that they have the disease and have access to life saving medicines. After doctors began treating HIV with powerful combinations of antiretroviral drugs in 1996, life expectancies for those infected changed from months to a full, normal spans.

Around the world, the number of people newly infected has steadily declined in recent years as has the number of AIDS-related deaths. According to Dr. Diane Havlir, U.S. Co-Chair of AIDS 2012, new scientific breakthroughs have given leaders in the AIDS movement hope that we may be beginning to see an end to the epidemic.

Progress against HIV/AIDS has been a remarkable achievement in which diverse communities worked together to apply political pressure, find funding, conduct research, and share tactics. U.S. foreign assistance programs like the Presidents Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) has provided support to tens of millions of people through prevention, treatment, and care. Bread for the World members have advocated for funding for PEPFAR since it was launched in 2003.

In 2009, Bread for the World shared the story of Florence Chakulya, a midwife in Zambia who is preventing the transmission of HIV from mother to child, one pregnancy at a time—with resources provided by PEPFAR. Although she often must work by candlelight, Chakulya is able to give each of her clients an HIV test and adminster Nevirapine, a drug that helps to prevent transmission of the HIV virus from a mother to her baby during delivery. In this way, the battle against AIDS is being won.

Continue reading "PEPFAR's Vital Role in the Fight Against AIDS " »

What Should the Poor Be Allowed to Have?

7.25.12 blog what should the poor be allowed to have
Original photo of  a young boy playing with an Ipad. The child lives in a New Orleans public housing development and the photo sparked controversy over what the poor should be allowed to have.Photo by Rusty Constanza/Times-Picayune.

Like it or not, this question arises fairly frequently—especially when it comes to government assistance for hungry and poor people. Reporter Katy Reckdahl recently brought this issue to light in a July 17 article in The Times-Picayune that sparked considerable outrage among readers. Ironically, the outrage was not directed at the content of her article, which addressed the potential negative impacts a hotel implosion could have on residents of the Iberville public housing development. Instead, readers were indignant about the photo that accompanied the article, taken by photographer Rusty Costanza, which featured an 8-year-old boy playing with an iPad on the steps of the public housing complex.

If you’re wondering what a public housing resident is doing with such an expensive piece of technology, you are not alone. The original article received numerous comments, prompting fellow Times-Picayune reporter Jarvis DeBerry to write his piece five days later. In the July 22 story, Jarvis wrote, “I imagine that at some point or another all of us who aren't poor have decided which items poor folks, especially those on government assistance, should be allowed to have. And which items they should be denied.”

He continued, “City Councilwoman Stacy Head used her taxpayer-funded phone to send an outraged email when she saw a woman using food stamps to buy Rice Krispies treats. What right do the poor have to sweetness?”

The fact that this child is playing with a pricey gadget should not fool us into thinking life in government housing is grand. “The idea that most people in public housing are living the lush life has persisted for at least as long as presidential candidate Ronald Reagan started using the offensive ‘welfare queen,’” Jarvis added, challenging the notion that people in poverty are undeserving of government assistance.

Sadly, images like this one fuel beliefs that federal safety net programs should be reduced. Why are we not all equally as scandalized by the fact that people earning over $250,000 per year receive tremendous tax cuts, credits, and incentives? Tax deductions, exemptions, and credits cost the government over $1 trillion each year, but if lawmakers allow the Bush-era tax cuts for high-wage earners to expire, the federal government would generate $830 billion in revenue over ten years.

“It might help to think of poor people as being as fully human as everybody else and as no more or less flawed.” Well said, Jarvis. Well said.



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

Hunger QOTD: Pablo Neruda


"For now I ask no more/ Than the justice of eating."

Pablo Neruda, Chilean Poet, Noble Prize Winner.

Photo caption: Women sell their corn in a market in India. Photo by Margaret W. Nea.

A Faithful Tax Policy Requires More From the Most Fortunate

7.25.12 blog.faithful.taxes
Bread for the World members headed to Capitol Hill on Tuesday June 14, 2011, to lobby their members of Congress on behalf of poor and hungry people. Photo by Laura Elizabeth Pohl/Bread for the World.

At Bread, we talk about the budget as a moral document outlining our country’s priorities. Taxes are a necessary part of that equation. We often hear that Washington has a spending problem. But really, what we have is a deficit problem. Since a deficit occurs when you spend more than you take in, when people say “spending problem,” they’re ignoring half of the equation.

With all of the heated discussion about taxes, it would be convenient to turn away from the deficit issue and say, “Let’s ignore taxes: they’re complicated; they’re controversial; and they’re boring.” However, as devoted followers of Jesus, we are not the types who choose a path based on convenience. We don’t talk only on those issues that make everyone comfortable. As Christians, we speak from an understanding of the way things could be—when the stranger is given something to eat and widows and orphans are cared for. 

Thus, the budget debates and the fiscal problems faced by this country lead us to talk taxes. To help move the conversation, Bread has published a new action guide on taxes, which combines our specific public policy prescriptions with underlying biblical principles—to help you speak up.

 We must start talking about taxes, and we need to start talking today. If we do not push our elected leaders to bring in more tax revenue, then our voices will call out in vain to fund vital programs like the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC), the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, formerly food stamps), poverty-focused development assistance, the McGovern-Dole International Food for Education and Child Nutrition Program, Food for Peace, the Healthy Hunger-Free Kids, school lunches, and the Earned Income Tax Credit.

There simply will be no money.

Our deficit situation is so severe in the long-term, that without additional revenue we will be unable to fund programs for hungry and poor people at anything close to their current levels over the long term—unless Congress makes unthinkable and politically impossible cuts. Nearly all mainstream economists agree that we simply cannot cut our way out of this situation. This is not calculus or complex economics. It is simple arithmetic.

Major deficit reduction packages over the past quarter century have not only maintained a commitment to not increase poverty, they’ve also all included substantial tax revenues.


Amelia Kegan is a  senior policy analyst at Bread for the World.


How Can We Get There Without a Map?

7.24.12 blog.Roadmap
Photo by Anne Poulsen/ World Food Programme

Did you ever try to get to a far-off destination without a map?  It’s not easy.

Today, Bread for the World will join a coalition of 50 faith-based, humanitarian, and advocacy groups to present A Roadmap for Continued U.S. Leadership to End Global Hunger. At a Capitol Hill event later this afternoon, members of Congress, policymakers, and NGO leaders will officially unfold the Roadmap, charting a course for a hunger-free world through smart investments.

The document reviews progress over the last three years towards the goals set out in the original Roadmap and offers recommendations to ensure continued effectiveness of U.S. global food security programs.

The Original Roadmap

In the wake of the global food price crisis of 2008, a broad-based coalition of non-governmental organizations, advocacy groups, and faith-based organizations developed a document titled the Roadmap to End Global Hunger, which was endorsed by over 40 organizations and became the basis for legislation introduced in the House of Representatives (H.R. 2817).  The Roadmap presented a vision for a comprehensive and integrated U.S. strategy to increase global food security, including suggested levels of financial support for emergency, safety net, nutrition and agricultural development programs over five years. 

Hunger remains one of the world's most pressing challenges, with almost a billion people—or one in seven worldwide—suffering chronic hunger.  In addition, each year up to 100 million more may face acute hunger brought on by natural disasters and conflicts.  Women and children are disproportionately affected by hunger and malnutrition.  With population growth placing a strain on a limited natural resource base, and changing weather patterns creating more droughts and floods, feeding the world of the future presents a serious challenge.

Continue reading "How Can We Get There Without a Map?" »

Upholding the Bipartisan Consensus on Development

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ACDI/VOCA's Kenya Maize Development Program nearly tripled maize yields for small-scale farmers in Kenya, about a third of whom are women. New technologies like improved seeds helped farmers realize these gains. Photo by ACDI/VOCA.

Ambassador Mark Dybul, former U.S. global AIDS coordinator, writes that a battle is brewing in Congress over whether or not to uphold an existing bipartisan consensus on health and development. At issue is U.S. support for self-sufficiency programs in developing countries, setting the goal for those countries to take primary responsibility for their citizens’ health and well-being.  

Fortunately, the brewing battle is not between Republications and Democrats.

“The reason for the strong bipartisan agreement is rather simple: it’s the right thing to do for the American taxpayer to save and lift up more lives with the highest return on investment—and that, in turn, is good for our national economy and security,” writes Ambassador Dybul in a recent op-ed in The Hill.

Those who favor this consensus argue that local organizations are closer to the ground and, thus, can accomplish more with less money. The days of paternalistic development are over, say supporters; developing countries no longer welcome support run by foreign governments or development institutions.   

Those who are against increased support to self-sufficiency programs often cite corruption as an issue. They also argue that local organizations cannot manage large, complex development projects.

“A change in mindset is needed," writes Ambassador Dybul, a leader of the Consensus on Development Reform (a project of the Modernizing Foreign Assistance Network). “U.S.-based organizations should begin to shift from being primary implementers of programs to agents of technical support and exchange.”

The result of this battle will affect two major programs, in particular, for which Bread for the World activists advocated—and which they continue to support: the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) and the  Millennium Challenge Corporation. Both were started by Republicans and continue to be supported by Democrats. Such programs are keys to our efforts to modernize U.S. foreign aid

Adlai-amorAdlai J. Amor is director of communications of Bread for the World.

Hunger QOTD: Norman Borlaug

Hunger QOTD 7.23.12
Women in Jombo village, Malawi, take group cooking classes as part of the USAID-funded Wellness and Agriculture of Life Advancement (WALA) project designed by Catholic Relief Services. The women learn how to prepare nutritious meals for their families. Photo by Racine Tucker-Hamilton/Bread for the World

"Food is the moral right of all who are born into this world." 

Norman Borlaug, Nobel laureate and "father of the Green Revolution."

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" »

Asian-Americans: A Mosaic of Faiths

7.20.12 Asian Amer and faith
Photo by A/PA Heritage Festival

According to a new study by the Pew Center on Religion and the Public Life, Asian-Americans as a whole are less likely than other Americans to believe in God and to pray on a daily basis. The study, Asian-Americans: A Mosaic of Faiths,” however cautions that these measures are not good indicators of the role of religion in the community since the majority of Asian-Americans are not Christians. 

Only four out of ten Asian Americans are Christians. Of this number, about 83 percent of Americans are either Filipino-, Indian-, Vietnamese-, Korean- or Japanese-Americans. The majority of Filipino-Americans are Roman Catholic while the majority of Korean-Americans are Protestant.

“The Asian-American community is a study in contrasts, encompassing groups that run the gamut from highly religious to highly secular,” says the report. More than seven out of ten Asian-Americans are foreign-born.

The study is Pew’s second report on Asian-Americans. 


Adlai-amorAdlai Amor is director of communications of Bread for the World. He is a Filipino-American and an elder of the Presbyterian Church (USA). 


Ten Dollars Could Help Millions

7.19.12 summer matchBread for the World is so close to reaching our summer match campaign goal of $150,000. Generous Bread members like you have already given more than $147,000! Can you donate right now to help us reach the goal by midnight?

The entire $150,000 will be matched dollar-for-dollar if we can raise just $3,000 more. That's only $10 from 300 people!

Ten dollars is less than you'd spend on eating out for dinner—will you be one of the 300 and help hungry people with a donation? With everyone's support, this will make a huge impact for millions of hungry people all over the world.

Thank you for giving generously.

Photo caption: Mother and daughter shell peas from their garden in Nicaragua.


 Rev. David Beckmann is president of Bread for the World.


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