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Forming a Stronger Circle of Protection and the Congressional Black Caucus

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Photo: Elementary school children in southeast Washington, DC, enjoy their lunch. (Eugene Mebane, Jr./Bread for the World)

By Cheryle Adams

As a District of Columbia resident and an employee of Bread for the World Institute, I need to understand the budget cuts—both already in force and threatened—to programs affecting poor and vulnerable people in the United States. I want to make a connection between Bread’s emphasis on expanding its Circle of Protection campaign and the deep budget cuts that are still scheduled to happen in January.

Last week, the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC) Foundation held its Annual Legislative Conference in DC, featuring braintrusts and forums on a wide array of topics. I chose to attend presentations that substantiate the reasons it is so important to expand the circle of protection, on topics such as voting rights, child welfare, and intergenerational poverty.

 

My conference experience began with the National Town Hall meeting that brought together a panel of CBC members and individuals representing liberal and conservative views on the issue of voting rights in the 21st century. I thought the town hall meeting on the voting process was an excellent way to understand where change begins. CBC members on the panel offered insights into their efforts to challenge restrictive voter ID, voter registration, and proof of citizenship laws. As I listened to the discussion, I began to understand how necessary Bread’s Circle of Protection strategy is during this election period.

We need a strategy that helps Bread’s audiences—from members of Congress to grassroots activists—remember what’s at stake. Political strategist Donna Brazile advised everyone attending the meeting to become proactive, to go back to our respective jurisdictions and make sure that before November 6, we--and everyone we know--have verified our voter registrations, found out what form of ID is needed to vote in the state, and checked the location of our polling places.

I attended several braintrusts and forums that focused specifically on U.S. poverty issues. Congressman Danny Davis (IL-07) held two braintrusts: “Child Welfare: Actions in this Disruptive Economy” and “Breaking the Vicious Cycle of Intergenerational Poverty and Incarceration: It’s a Family Affair.” The panelists at the "Child Welfare" braintrust were asked to answer this question: “In a time when most private and public agencies are being cut and seeing more family poverty, how can child welfare agencies meet the challenge ahead?” The consensus among the panelists was for people to hold policymakers accountable for funding these much-needed programs. (For more on nutrition programs that serve children, see “Fortifying the U.S. Nutrition Safety Net” in the Institute’s 2012 Hunger Report). Bread’s commitment to expanding the Circle of Protection helps ensure that the much-needed voices advocating for poor and vulnerable people are heard.

At this year’s CBC legislative conference, I listened to people from all over the country talk about voting rights, poverty, and the implications of impending budget cuts. Their comments and concerns provided vivid reminders that Bread members must keep the circle of protection intact. It’s essential to preventing poor and vulnerable people from suffering needlessly. In the United States, hunger and poverty are, in fact, unnecessary—even given today’s steep budget deficits and soaring national debt.

Cheryle Adams is the institute program associate at Bread for the World Institute.

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Comments

this is an awesome piece and i hope everyone will read and get involved. my house hold has chosen the wounded warrior project and the no kid hungry campaign. i urge all americans to pick something that is near and dear to their hearts and GET INVOLVED!!! we the people are the change and can make change happen for all. :)

VERY WELL DONE!!!!! :)

Well said. . . Thank you for pulling together this information and presenting it for easy access. I'm looking forward to participating.

This article was very informative and well written. Keep up the great work!

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