Urging our nation's leaders to end hunger
 

45 posts from November 2012

"Hope of All the Earth" Advent Devotions on Bread Blog

Devotion graphic

By Adlai Amor

For several years now, Bread for the World has partnered with various churches in presenting meditations for Advent and Lent. This year's Advent devotions (Dec. 2-25), "Hope for All the Earth," comes to Bread Blog readers via a special arrangement with the San Francisco Theological Seminary.

"Hope for All the Earth" devotions are written by SFTS students, alums, faculty, staff, and trustees. According to SFTS, the devotions "collectively serve as our gift to the SFTS community, our family and friends, and the larger church. Many people find that devotions are a great way to begin each day during the holiday season."

The theme comes from the Advent hymn "Come, Thou Long-Expected Jesus." Composer Charles Wesley based it on Haggai 2:7 and Isaiah 9:6.

The San Francisco Theological Seminary is affiliated with the Presbyterian Church (USA). Established in 1871, it is the only PC(USA) seminary on the West Coast.

We'd like to thank all the SFTS students, faculty, and alumni. I hope our readers will enjoy "Hope for All the Earth."

Adlai Amor is Bread for the World's director of communications.

President Obama Urges Congress to Extend Tax Cuts

Obama_2011_speechBy Sarah Godfrey

President Barack Obama delivered a statement at the White House yesterday, urging Congressional leaders to adopt his proposal to extend 2001 and 2003 tax cuts for all but the wealthiest 2 percent of Americans.

The White House has said that if Congress doesn't act before the end of the year, every American family’s taxes will automatically go up—and that a typical middle-class family of four would see its taxes rise by $2,200. "That means less money to buy groceries or fill a prescription," Obama said during his remarks.

Congress is currently in the middle of budget negotiations to avoid the "fiscal cliff," a term that is used to describe a mix of automatic spending cuts and the expiration of a group of policies, including the 2001 and 2003 tax cuts—all of which are set to occur at the beginning of 2013. 

The focus of the president's statement was ensuring that any budget framework put forth protects middle-class families and small businesses, but extending the tax cuts would also ensure that the tax burden of low-income families does not increase. Tax credits such as the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) and the Child Tax Credit (CTC) are among our country’s most effective anti-poverty tools.

Bread for the World has maintained that any bipartisan deal to avoid the fiscal cliff must include additional tax revenue, responsible cuts, and explicit protections for the EITC and the CTC, both of which were expanded to assist more Americans in the 2001 and 2003 tax cuts as well as in 2009. We are asking that Congress pass a budget deal that includes a circle of protection around programs for hungry and poor people in the United States and around the world.

During Wednesday's statement, Obama asked that Americans concerned about the expiration of the tax credits take to Twitter and use the hashtag #My2K to tell their members of Congress what an effective $2000 tax hike would mean for them and their families. 

"When the American people speak loudly enough, lo and behold, Congress listens," President Obama said.

Sarah Godfrey is Bread for the World's associate online editor.

Act now: Call your members of Congress and tell them they must not balance the budget on the backs of hungry and poor people! Use our toll-free number (1-800-826-3688) and tell them to pass a budget deal that explicitly protects programs that assist low-income families—including the Earned Income Tax Credit and the Child Tax Credit—against cuts or harmful changes.

Help Bread and Receive a Special Holiday Gift from Rick Steves

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(Photo courtesy of Rick Steves)

By Rick Steves

If these times seem tough for our friends and family, imagine how tough they are for hungry and poor people. To add meaning to the holiday season, every Christmas I raise funds for Bread for the World through my network at “Rick Steves’ Europe Through the Back Door.” This year the needs and rewards are particularly great. I’d love to send you a special Christmas package in thanks for your gift to empower Bread’s work. This gift package was so overwhelmingly popular last year that I want to offer it again so you can share it with even more of your loved ones.

I believe hungry people need strong, compassionate advocates like you and Bread for the World—especially when there are so many interests competing for attention on Capitol Hill.

While the charitable work we do as caring citizens is important, it’s important to remember that all the food provided by these charities amounts to just 5 percent of the food available for poor and hungry people. The government provides the rest. That means Bread’s advocacy has a huge impact on caring for the most vulnerable people among us. I’m convinced that supporting Bread is the best way to leverage my charitable giving. That’s why I’ve been a Bread member for 30 years.

David Beckmann, president of Bread for the World, recently told me that Bread’s work is particularly critical now and worth empowering with our financial support:

“We are at a point at which ideologues in Congress are threatening deep cuts in programs that provide help and opportunity to poor people in our country—programs such as SNAP (formerly food stamps), Medicaid, and tax credits for the working poor,” he said. “Of course, all Americans can be enthusiastic about our government running a tight fiscal ship. But if the budget is to be balanced on the backs of poor people, innocent children will suffer, and the civility woven into the fabric of our society will be threatened.”

I see Bread for the World not as a charity, but as a service. The organization is transforming my concern about hunger into effective action by diligently working to protect struggling people in our country and around the world.

So here’s my challenge to you this Christmas: Help Bread for the World continue its crucial work with your gift of $100 or more. As a thank you, I’ll send you three gifts (worth $50) from my Rick Steves’ European Christmas collection:

  • “Rick Steves’ European Christmas” DVD (our PBS-TV special celebrating a traditional, non-commercial, and sacred Christmas in seven different countries)
  • “Rick Steves’ European Christmas” coffee-table book (the fun insights and best photos I gathered while producing the special)
  • “Rick Steves’ European Christmas” music CD (produced while filming, featuring our 20 favorite European carols)

I’ll happily pay for the cost of these three gifts, as well as postage, so that Bread for the World can use 100 percent of your donation. Make your gift by Dec. 7 to receive this offer and you’ll get everything in time for Christmas.

 It’s my hope that these gifts will add a wonderful new twist to your family celebrations for years to come (as they have for mine), while also enticing you to empower Bread for the World with your donation.

Thanks and Merry Christmas!

Rick Steves (www.ricksteves.com) writes European travel guidebooks and hosts travel shows on public television and public radio.

Michigan Bread Members Demonstrate Community Responsibility

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Rev. David Beckmann, president of Bread for the World, recently visited with a dynamic group of Bread members in Western Michigan. (Photo Courtesy of Hope College)

On a Wednesday morning in mid-September, more than 1,000 students filled the pews and stood in the aisles of Dimnent Memorial Chapel at Hope College in Holland, Mich. More than a third of the campus had come to hear Rev. David Beckmann, president of Bread for the World.

In his talk, Beckmann reminded the students that, “when Moses went to Pharaoh, he didn’t ask for cans of food but for the freedom of the Hebrew people.” Beckmann encouraged the students to take part in God’s “exodus from hunger” by using the power they have as Christian citizens to urge our nations decision makers to end hunger.

Beckmann counseled the students of their important role as Christian citizens. “No matter who you vote for this November,  Democrat or Republican, reflect on who would bring good news to the poor and hungry,” Beckmann told the students.

This chapel address at Hope College, a school affiliated with the Reformed Church in America, was one of many events that took place over three days in Holland and Grand Rapids, Mich. Organized by long-time Bread for the World members, these events were an opportunity for Beckmann to meet with pastors, church leaders, and funders.

Two days prior to the Hope College chapel service, Beckmann attended a special reception at the Marigold Lodge in Holland. More than 100 guests gathered to hear Beckmann talk about his visit last fall to Bangladesh. There he saw firsthand the progress made in the 30 years since his days as missionary economist in that country. The poverty-focused development assistance championed by Bread for the World has made that improvement possible.

Mike Goorhouse, vice president of donor development at the Community Foundation of Holland-Zeeland Area, was one of the host committee members of the Marigold Lodge event. Still in his 20s, Goorhouse has become an enthusiastic supporter of Bread for the World.

“David Beckmann did a fantastic job showing how advocacy at the federal level is a partner to direct services at the local level,” commented Goorhouse. “We now know how important it is to have an effective presence at the federal level to change the politics of hunger.”

Reflecting on the enthusiastic reception he received in Western Michigan, Beckmann remarked, “In both Holland and Grand Rapids deep Christian roots and a strong sense of community responsibility translate into an appreciation for the role our government’s policies play in helping end hunger.”

This article originally appeared in the November-December 2012 issue of Bread for the World's newsletter.

Quote of the Day: Dietrich Bonhoeffer

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"The test of the morality of a society is what it does for its children."

—Dietrich Bonhoeffer, German theologian 

 

Photo: Three-year-old Mary plays near her house in Kamuli, Uganda.(Laura Elizabeth Pohl/Bread for the World)

Call Congress Now! Fiscal Cliff Negotiations Threaten the Circle of Protection

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Photo by Flickr user nicolasnova

Budget negotiations to avoid the "fiscal cliff" are now underway. The president and Congress are working intensely toward a deal — so pressure to cut federal spending, particularly to programs for hungry and poor people, has never been higher.

For the next six weeks, every Washington interest group will be pounding the halls of Congress to weigh in on a multi-trillion dollar deal that will affect every federal program and every person in this country for decades to come. Unfortunately, the media and politicians are not talking about the tremendous impact that the deal will have on hungry and poor people. If we don’t speak up, vulnerable people could easily be forgotten.

Congress needs to hear your voice! We need your help to remind Congress to take the deficit seriously without balancing the budget on the backs of hungry and poor people. Proverbs calls us to speak for those without a voice. We must remind Congress that their budget decisions are moral choices that could have devastating consequences.

Call your U.S. senators and your U.S. representative today! Use our toll-free number (1-800-826-3688) and tell them to pass a budget deal that includes a circle of protection around programs for hungry and poor people in the United States and around the world.

Explain that any deal must

  • Explicitly protect low-income entitlement programs for hungry and poor people—like SNAP (formerly food stamps), the Earned Income Tax Credit, and the Child Tax Credit—against cuts or harmful changes.
  • Include additional tax revenue, balanced with responsible spending cuts, so that our country can reduce its deficits while continuing its commitment to reducing hunger and poverty in the United States and around the world.
  • Prevent further cuts to non-defense discretionary programs, including poverty-focused development assistance, international food aid, and the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC).

Congress must reach a deal, but it is critical that Congress get it right. An imbalanced package will severely hamper our ability to address hunger and poverty for years to come. Call Congress today. If we wait, it will be too late.

Grace and Peace,

Bread for the World

Quote of the Day: Rajiv Shah

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"Perhaps to genuinely solve our challenges—ending extreme poverty and hunger, advancing real democracy, and ensuring all children survive and thrive—we need to elevate development not only in the board rooms of the private sector and the Situation Room of the National Security Council, but also in the hearts and minds of how millions of people express their own personal quest for meaning."

— USAID administrator Rajiv Shah at a Bread for the World event in November 2012

Photo: Sandesh Rai (leaning forward), 5, and his mom Sapana Rai (in yellow) wait for a health worker from Care Development Organization to conduct a nutrition education seminar in Bandarkharka, Nepal, on Friday, April 27, 2012. (Laura Elizabeth Pohl/Bread for the World)

Write a Letter to the Editor and Help Safeguard the Circle of Protection

Woman_writing_letterLetters to the editor, op-ed pieces, and even personal blog posts are important ways in which we can influence public opinion and dialogue in our advocacy for poor and hungry people.

As the president and Congress continue to negotiate a deficit reduction plan, we must continue to ask that programs for poor and hungry people be prioritized. At a time when so many other issues are competing for center stage, your voice is especially crucial.

We are asking Bread members to use every tool at their disposal during this critical period—and that includes local media. Use the sample letter to the editor below as a template, and be sure to check out these helpful hints on how to get published in your local paper. Please let your regional organizer know if your submission is  selected so that we can amplify it through our social media channels.

Sample Letter to the Editor

Thanksgiving has passed and budget negotiations to avoid the “fiscal cliff” are now underway. The president and Congress are working intensely towards a deal—so pressure to cut federal spending, particularly to programs for hungry and poor people, has never been higher.

For the next six weeks, every Washington interest group will be pounding the halls of Congress to weigh in on a multi-trillion dollar deal that will affect every federal program and every person in this country for decades to come. Unfortunately, the media and politicians are not talking about the tremendous impact that the deal will have on hungry and poor people. That’s why I am speaking out on their behalf.

As a member of Bread for the World and [Your church's name and location], I believe that the moral measure of our federal budget is how it treats those whom Jesus referred to as "the least of these" (Matthew 25:45). We must remind Congress that their budget decisions are moral choices that could have devastating consequences on hungry and poor people.

Reaching a deal to avoid the fiscal cliff will require bipartisan compromise. But we cannot allow a hastily crafted bill to sacrifice our country's commitment to feeding hungry people. The policies in any deal must explicitly protect programs like the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, formerly food stamps); the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC); and the child tax credit. Any deal must also include additional tax revenue, balanced with responsible spending cuts, and it must prevent further cuts to the non-defense discretionary portion of the budget, which Congress has already cut by well over $1 trillion and funds programs like poverty-focused development assistance (PFDA) and international food aid each year.

There are many working families in my state who rely on SNAP to keep food on the table and many others who are able to provide vital nutrition for their children through WIC. Poverty-focused development assistance programs help the poorest people in the poorest place lift themselves out of poverty and are important to our national security.

I know Congress and the President can reach a deal that reduces the deficit and maintains a circle of protection around programs that support hungry and poor people. An imbalanced package will severely hamper our ability to address hunger and poverty for years to come. 

Sincerely,

[Your name]

City, State

*

Photo: Arlene Barela, a mother of two in Orange County, Calif., writes letters to Congress at Templo Calvario (Assembly of God church) in Santa Ana, Calif., on Sunday, October 16, 2011. (Laura Elizabeth Pohl/Bread for the World)

A Recap of the MCC and Bread for the World #HungerHall

Shop Cyber Monday with Bread for the World

Bread_T_shirts2By Vince Mezzera

You've shared a bountiful time of Thanksgiving with your family. Now as thoughts turn to the gifts you will share with them this Christmas, remember that your shopping dollars can make a world of difference in fighting hunger and poverty. Share your passion for a hunger-free world by buying from the Bread for the World store!

Here’s something we're sharing with you: a special code to receive 20 percent off of purchases from our online store!

Today only, shop for T-shirts for her, books for him, and stocking stuffers for everyone! Just enter discount code CM2012 at checkout to take advantage of this offer. This is our way of thanking you for all that you do to support Bread for the World throughout the year.

If you're looking for a gift for the person who has everything, consider making an alternative gift—a donation to Bread for the World in honor of your loved one. To learn more or make a donation, visit www.bread.org/gift

Vince Mezzera is Bread for the World's associate manager of membership resources.

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