Urging our nation's leaders to end hunger

47 posts from July 2012

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.

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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.

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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.

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Ramadan Action Guide Against Hunger

120716-ramadanFasting in the month of Ramadan reminds us of those who cannot break their fast at sunset. From sunrise to sunset, fasting allows us to step into the shoes of more than 780 million people who suffer from hunger around the world.

What if our brothers and sisters could use Ramadan to help us take a stand against hunger, not just individually for a month, but also collectively throughout our lives?

A network of organizations led by Islamic Relief USA and the Alliance to End Hunger did just that. They published “The Ramadan Action Guide,” a concise advocacy resource on hunger and poverty. It shares what Muslims can do to build awareness and advocate to end hunger, even after Ramadan.

Hunger is a global humanitarian issue and can affect anyone. “Allah is the One who feeds us and saves us from hunger,” said Islamic Relief USA CEO Abed Ayoub. But that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t act: Allah charges each of us to help ease the burden on those who are suffering. Just like hunger and thirst can be a test, so can food and wealth. Food is a blessing, which we must share. Everyone needs to work together to eradicate extreme hunger.

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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.

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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.

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Lessons Learned on the Road to Damascus

Photo by Flickr user upyernoz

Syria is imploding, with unspeakable massacres and civil war. Inevitably, in some way, the U.S. and its allies will step in — as we did in Libya, Iraq, and Afghanistan.

Whether we like it or not, our nation is on the road to Damascus, Syria’s capital. The apostle Paul found that road deeply life-changing. What will our nation be open to learn as we turn our own journey toward Damascus?

Classics scholar Sarah Ruden, in Christianity Today in September 2010, said, “What characterizes our society at its best is the habit of looking at ourselves with a critical attitude. I think this really started for Western civilization on the road to Damascus. Paul is doing what he’s expected to do in his environment. He’s involved in persecution … .[Then] he has this revelation, and is forced to answer the questions. What are you doing? What are you actually doing? Why are you persecuting me? That is, what you do to the world, what you do to other people, is what you do to God.”

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Hunger QOTD: Sister Simone Campbell

Sister Simone Campbell leads evening worship at Bread for the World's Hunger Justice Leaders Program in Washington, DC, on Sunday, June 10, 2012. Photo by Laura Elizabeth Pohl/Bread for the World

"Jesus really wasn’t about being successful. Jesus was about being faithful ..."

--Sister Simone Campbell in an interview with Bread for the World.

Will Widening the Circle of Opportunity Cost Poor and Hungry People?

Screenshot from CNN.com

On Monday, July 9, we attended a briefing at the White House, during which President Obama called for extending tax cuts for the middle class and small business owners. While we were overwhelmed  by this amazing opportunity to  listen to  our president, we also wanted to take a critical look at some parts of his speech.

During his speech, President Obama noted that he has cut taxes for Americans by an average of $3,600 per year during his tenure. He urged Congress to extend  tax cuts for the middle class and small-business owners who make less than $250,000 for another year. He also called on Congress to allow tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans to expire by the end of the year. President Obama emphasized that 97 percent of U.S. business are small businesses, and are the economic root of the nation.

In an ongoing effort to strengthen the middle class President Obama said that we need to “widen the circle of opportunity” for middle class Americans. We found the president’s use of this phrase interesting. Since early 2011, Bread for the World and other organizations have called on Congress and the Obama administration to create a circle of protection around programs vital to hungry and poor people in the United States and around the world.

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