Urging our nation's leaders to end hunger

44 posts from October 2012

Quote of the Day: Sen. George McGovern


The earth has enough knowledge and resources to eradicate this ancient scourge. Hunger has plagued the world for thousands of years. But ending it is a greater moral imperative now than ever before, because for the first time humanity has the instruments at hand to defeat this cruel enemy at a very reasonable cost.

—Sen. George McGovern, from The Third Freedom: Ending Hunger in Our Time

Photo: Sen. George McGovern c. 1972. From Wikimedia Commons, Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division, U.S. News & World Report Magazine Photograph Collection.

The Expanding Role of Food Banks


Photos: (Top) The warehouse at the Capital Area Food Bank. (Bottom) Sister Simone Campbell speaking at the Capital Area Food Bank Open House last week. (Eric Bond/Bread for the World)

By Sarah Godfrey

The new Capital Area Food Bank building in Washington, D.C., contains row upon row of shelving, all of it stories-high and piled with food. The building is the size of 2.5 football fields, and is the hub for distributing more than 33 million pounds of food to hungry people each year—and demand is growing.

The food bank, which has served the D.C. area for more than 30 years, held an open house last week to unveil its state-of-the-art facility, which has been operational since July. At the event, Lynn Brantley, president and CEO of the Capital Area Food Bank said we must "let the community be a catalyst to change the way we think about hunger and poverty." That sentiment seems to be behind every element of the new food bank, which includes not just a larger building with a greater capacity for getting food to people who need it, but expanded education, outreach, and advocacy programs as well. The community needs more than bags of groceries, and the Capital Area Food Bank is responding to that need.

CAFB joins several other food banks across the country in a trend toward super-sized, state-of-the-art facilities. The Houston Food Bank moved to an enormous, renovated Sysco Foods distribution center last year. The Greater Boston Food Bank made a similar move into a 117,000 square foot modern facility in 2009.

Food banks are instrumental in feeding millions of people each day, but they can't address hunger alone. People need services as much as they need actual sustenance. Through the Capital Area Food Bank, and similar facilities across the country, clients can receive cooking instruction and help applying for benefits from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance (SNAP, formerly food stamps) and Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC). The facility represents the future of food-banking, and its forward-thinking model is needed now more than ever before.

Continue reading "The Expanding Role of Food Banks" »

Continuing the Fight Against Global Hunger and Malnutrition

Why, in a world with an abundance of food, are so many hungry? How is it possible that those with access to food can still be at risk of malnutrition?

On World Food Day, Asma Lateef, director of Bread for the World Institute, appeared on Voice of America's "In Focus" program to talk about these issues and the continuing fight against global hunger and malnutrition.

Lateef discussed the recent United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) "The State of Food Insecurity in the World 2012" report, which shows that great progress has been made in reducing hunger over the last two decades. She also talked about farming cooperatives (the focus of World Food Day 2012), the need to improve nutrition, and the ways in which those two issues are linked.

"As we think about building on the progress we've made against hunger over the last few decades, [we should be] thinking about integrating programs so that you are increasing farmer income, and also improving nutrition at the same time."

Watch the video and read Lateef's blog post on the progress that has been made in eradicating global hunger, and the work ahead.

A Circle of Protection Vigil: Prayer, Songs, and Letters

Circle2newOn Saturday, Oct. 13, a group of Bread members in Albuquerque, New Mexico held a vigil to bring attention to the circle of protection and issues surrounding hunger. Bread for the World board member and New Mexico team leader Carlos Navarro led the event, and wrote about the experience for the Bread New Mexico Blog. His account is reprinted below.

There were 30 to 35 people gathered at Immanuel Presbyterian Church in Albuquerque for our circle of protection prayer vigil on the second Saturday of October.  Just as we did with a similar vigil last year, we had intended to start outside on the front porch of the church with candles and the song "Come and Fill," but the wind gusts were too strong and they would have extinguished our candles.  So we decided to start inside in the chapel where we could better center ourselves.

Surely enough, the calm, quiet wind of the Spirit was present inside in our prayers and reflections and songs from Taizé. We reflected on hunger, poverty, justice, and inequality, just as we did last year. And the circle of protection campaign remained the focus of our prayers and reflections.

In our reflections, we put some emphasis on the mini-campaigns in Bread for the World's 2012 Offering of Letters. And we invited representatives or volunteers from partner organizations to join us in the reflections: New Mexico Oxfam Action Corps, Roadrunner Food Bank, Medical Mission Board, Interfaith Power and Light (representing the National Council of Churches), and Sojourners.

Continue reading "A Circle of Protection Vigil: Prayer, Songs, and Letters " »

Quote of the Day: Norman Borlaug


Civilization as it is known today could not have evolved, nor can it survive, without an adequate food supply.

—Norman Borlaug, Nobel laureate

Photo: Two Sudan women enjoying a lunch in the shade of a tree. (Margie Nea)

Snapshot of a Contest Winner

Photo: “Young Girls Studying by a Kerosene Lamp at Home, in Netrokona, Bangladesh," the winning entry in Bread for the World's 2012 Christmas card photo contest. (Nurun Nahar Nargish/Drik/Majority World)

By Jaylynn Farr Munson

You may recall our Christmas card photo contest winner announcement on the Bread Blog earlier this year, but you probably don’t know the story behind the winning entry. This year, Bread for the World’s Christmas card will feature the photo “Young Girls Studying by a Kerosene Lamp at Home, in Netrokona, Bangladesh (Feb. 15, 2009)" by Nurun Nahar Nargish.

Nargish is a contributing photographer for Majority World, a photo agency that works with photographers in Asia, Africa, Latin America, and the Middle East. She is from a small Bangladeshi village near the Indian border, on the outskirts of the Mymemsingh District, where photography was forbidden under Islamic law. Despite opposition from other village residents, Nargish pursued photography, because she knew it was her calling. “From my very young age, I could discern the beauty lying in nature in and around my village, the simple way of rural life and rural culture," she says. "I had a strong desire to portray these aspects to others, and this desire drove me to take up a camera as a tool.”

Continue reading "Snapshot of a Contest Winner" »

Quote of the Day: Jeff Bridges


Public charities, food banks, and church pantries are doing more than ever before, but they can't keep up with the need. We can never end hunger only through the wonderful work of local charities.

Like other Western democracies, we must end our national problem of hunger through national and political leadership. Charity is nice for some things, but not as a way to feed a nation. We don't protect our national security through charity, and we shouldn't protect our families and children that way either.

—Jeff Bridges, actor and hunger activist

Photo: Students enjoy their school lunch. (Yesenia Garcia/Bread for the World)

Will the Fifteen Percent Matter on Debate Night?

'Microphone' photo (c) 2009, Grant - license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/

By Robin Stephenson

The second presidential debate takes place tonight, providing yet another opportunity for President Obama and Governor Romney to talk about hungry and poor people. Solutions to poverty, in both the United States and abroad, have received little attention on the campaign trail, even though, according to a new poll by the American Values Network, voters prefer candidates who talk about the working poor.

Elections are about choosing the officials we think will best represent our values. As Christians who care deeply about hunger and poverty, knowing how candidates intend to work on behalf of vulnerable members of our society is an important criterion when voting. Simply put: elections matter

A couple of stark facts illustrate the seriousness of these issues and the critical need to talk about hunger and poverty in the weeks leading up to the Nov. 6 elections.

  • Fifteen percent of this country's population—or more than one in seven Americans—lived below the poverty line in 2011.
  • Almost 870 million of the world's people were chronically undernourished in the period from 2010 to 2012. The vast majority lived in developing countries, where about 850 million people—or slightly less than 15 percent of the population—are estimated to be undernourished. Progress is being made, but those numbers remain unacceptably high.

Continue reading "Will the Fifteen Percent Matter on Debate Night?" »

Recognizing the Role of Cooperatives on World Food Day

Photo: Jane Sebbi, left, is a farmer with 12 acres of land in Kamuli, Uganda. Small-scale farmers, and the cooperatives that support them, are the focus of World Food Day 2012.(Laura Elizabeth Pohl/Bread for the World)

Fisherman in the Moroccan village of Dikky, near the Gibraltar Strait, once struggled to make ends meet, due to the seasonal nature of their trade. After uniting as a cooperative, however, the fisherman were able to cut costs, by buying fuel and bait as a group, and receive government support in the form of equipment and instruction in honey production. As part of a special U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) project, the men were trained in beekeeping, a supplemental skill that sustained them during fishing's off-season.  

Cooperatives, like the one at Dikky, are the focus of World Food Day 2012, which is observed on October 16. Every year on this day, organizations and individuals around the world work to raise awareness of global hunger and strengthen the political will to eradicate it.  

The 2012 theme "Agricultural Cooperatives: Key to Feeding the World" highlights the role of cooperatives that support smallholder farmers in addressing world hunger. According to FAO figures, smallholder farmers will provide much of the extra food needed to feed more than nine billion people by 2050. 

Events taking place in recognition of World Food Day are happening across the country and around the world today, and include everything from action events, such as food packaging drives and World Food Day dinners, to opportunities to hang out with celebrity chefs as they cook and talk nutrition.

Even if you're not able to participate in any World Food Day activities in person, take a few minutes to watch the video below, and learn more about the fishing cooperative in Dikky, and similar collectives that are contributing to hunger and poverty reduction.

Write Your Own Letter to the Editor

'These Hands' photo (c) 2008, InnocentEyez - license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nd/2.0/

Speak up and judge fairly; defend the rights of the poor and needy. (Proverbs 31:9).

Congress is on the verge of making budget decisions that will determine our country’s ability to address hunger and poverty for years to come. With crucial programs that prevent hunger at risk, the Christian call to act on behalf of the most vulnerable has never been more critical. How we treat our neighbors is a concrete expression of how we love God.

A bipartisan group of senators, known in Washington as the “Gang of Eight,” met last week to set the framework for a comprehensive deficit reduction package. They will continue talks this month, as they work to come up with a budget plan that balances cuts and revenues.

Drastic cuts without increased revenue will jeopardize the safety net that has protected millions of Americans during this recession. Foreign assistance programs that save lives and provide long-term anti-hunger solutions are also in danger, even though they comprise less than one percent of the federal budget.  

You can use your voice to shape the outcome in real ways. Writing a letter to the editor is a simple way to express your beliefs and encourage public discussion of these issues. Your members of Congress read this stuff! They care what you have to say—especially around election time!

Getting a letter published is a good way to let Congress know that you expect to see a moral budget that prioritizes the eradication of hunger and poverty. Even if your congressional representatives aren't members of the Gang of Eight, they still have a role to play. They can influence key negotiations and urge congressional leaders to do the right thing, but they need public outcry to spur them to action. 

Below is a sample letter to the editor. The template gives a general idea of what a good letter to the editor should look like, but be creative, and personalize your letter as you see fit. If you want to enhance your message with statistics on hunger and poverty, feel free to cite Bread's fact sheets on the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, formerly food stamps), and faithful tax policy or our 2012 Offering of Letters website.

For additional tips on composing a letter, see Bread's "How to Write A Letter to the Editor" guidelines.

Hungry and poor people do not have lobbyists working to protect the programs they depend on, but you can use your voice to advocate on their behalf.

Continue reading "Write Your Own Letter to the Editor" »

Stay Connected

Bread for the World