Urging our nation's leaders to end hunger

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.


Ignoring hunger and poverty, especially during tough economic times, is like ignoring a storm warning. Unchecked poverty rips apart families and communities and leaves devastation in its wake.  It's important to start conversations about the realities of hunger and poverty, and work toward a future that includes economic stability and adequate food for all.

If you're tuning in tonight, use our debate bingo game to keep track of any mentions of hunger and poverty. And if you use Twitter, here is a sample tweet encouraging the moderator of tonight’s debate, CNN's Candy Crowley, to work these issues into the discussion:

  • Ask candidates if they support a #circleofprotection around programs for poor & hungry people @CrowleyCNN #talkpoverty http://ow.ly/ew58o

Robin Stephenson is social media lead/senior regional organizer, western hub.

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