Urging our nation's leaders to end hunger
 

45 posts from November 2012

A Litany for the Millennium Development Goals

'Light after Darkness' photo (c) 2008, Jhong Dizon - license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/

[Editors' note: This blog post is adapted from a litany on the Millennium Development Goals from the Episcopal Church's Office of Government Relations.]

Leader: Let us pray for the poor, hungry, and neglected all over the world, that their cries for daily bread may inspire works of compassion and mercy among those to whom much has been given. Lord, in your mercy,

People: Hear our prayer.

 Leader: Let us pray for schools and centers of learning throughout the world, for those who lack access to basic education, and for the light of knowledge to blossom and shine in the lives of all God’s people. Lord, in your mercy,

People: Hear our prayer.

Leader: Let us pray for an end to the divisions and inequalities that scar God’s creation, particularly the barriers to freedom faced by God’s children throughout the world because of gender; that all who have been formed in God’s image might have equality in pursuit of the blessings of creation. Lord, in your mercy,

People: Hear our prayer.

Leader: Let us pray for the health of women, children, and families around the world, especially for an end to maternal and child mortality, that in building healthy families, all God’s people may be empowered to strengthen their communities and repair the breaches which divide nations and peoples. Lord, in your mercy,

People: Hear our prayer.

Leader: Let us pray for an end to pandemic disease throughout the world, particularly the scourges of HIV/AIDS, malaria, and tuberculosis; that plagues of death may no longer fuel poverty, destabilize nations, and inhibit reconciliation and restoration throughout the world. Lord, in your mercy,

People: Hear our prayer.

Leader: Let us pray for an end to the waste and desecration of God’s creation, for access to the fruits of creation to be shared equally among all people, and for communities and nations to find sustenance in the fruits of the earth and the water God has given us. Lord, in your mercy,

People: Hear our prayer.

Leader: Let us pray for all nations and people who already enjoy the abundance of creation and the blessings of prosperity, that their hearts may be lifted up to the needs of the poor and afflicted, and partnerships between rich and poor for the reconciliation of the world may flourish and grow. Lord, in your mercy,

People: Hear our prayer.

Join Us for a Twitter Town Hall on Global Hunger

On Tuesday, Nov. 20, from 1 p.m. to 2 p.m. ET, join Bread for the World and the Millennium Challenge Corporation in a Twitter town hall discussion on hunger issues—specifically, MCC's work on agriculture and food security and Bread for the World Institute's 2013 Hunger Report.

Over the past decade, MCC projects have exemplified smart U.S. government assistance in action, setting global communities on trajectories toward prosperity. MCC’s food security investments highlight the importance of strengthening agricultural and rural economies in poor countries and promoting reliable access to sufficient, safe, and affordable food.

Bread for the World Institute will release its 2013 Hunger Report, Within Reach: Global Development Goals, on Monday, Nov. 19. The report calls for a renewed push to achieve the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) by the 2015 deadline and urges a focus on ending hunger and extreme poverty in a post-2015 development framework and set of goals.

Join the town hall discussion, using the guidelines below, to talk to fellow activists and experts from Bread for the World, Bread for the World Institute, and Millennium Challenge Corporation about how we are moving toward ending global hunger. 

What: Twitter Town Hall on Global Hunger

When: Tuesday, November 20, 2012
Time: 1:00 PM - 2:00 PM EST

Topics of Conversation
Bread for the World Institute's Annual Hunger Report
MCC's work on agriculture and food security

Town Hall Hashtag
#HungerHall

Primary Twitter Accounts
@MCCTweets
@Bread4theWorld

Sample Tweets

  • @MCCTweets, @Bread4theWorld to hold Twitter townhall to discuss #hunger at #HungerHall
  • #HungerHall: What are US Gov & partners doing to help end global hunger?
  • #HungerHall: What are you doing to help end global hunger? 
  • #HungerHall: Let's end global hunger together!

How to Participate

If you're a Twitter novice, check out this guide to learn how to join the conversation.

And to watch the town hall in real time on Tuesday, click or paste the following link into your browser: https://www.mcc.gov/pages/press/event/outreach-112012-hunger-hall

You Are Called to Be a Faithful Advocate

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Photo: Eric Mitchell is the new director of government relations at Bread for the World. (Laura Elizabeth Pohl/Bread for the World)

By Eric Mitchell

If a brother or sister is poorly clothed and lacking in daily food, and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, be warmed and filled,” without giving them the things needed for the body, what good is that? So also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead. (James 2:14)

During these hard financial times we witness more clearly how the policies of our elected officials directly affect the poor. In the United States, the number of people at risk of hunger increased by approximately 13 million during the recent recession. Federal programs have provided a vital lifeline to those families in need.

Yet sometimes people of faith have trouble seeing the value in directly engaging our leaders about government policies. Often we hear comments about how politicians only listen to big donors or to well-heeled lobbyists pushing policies for special interests. Where do we fit into the process?

Of course, people of faith look for ways to help those who are less fortunate. We use our time, talent, and money to protect vulnerable people, whether through working with international organizations or local rescue missions. We believe in our moral obligation to give with an open hand and heart, regardless of political ideology or background.

We give not only because our faith instructs us to, but because we see the enormous burden that those in poverty have to carry. Many of us have never had to feed our families on only $4 per day. Nor have we experienced the pain of watching a child die for want of proper nutrition. But millions of people face those realities, and we know that it is a heavy load.

Despite partisan rhetoric, most of our elected officials do sincerely want to help those who cannot help themselves. But as they address our nation’s financial solvency, some are willing to cut the safety net that has kept many people out of poverty in this country and has saved millions of lives across the globe.

At this moment, the stakes are too high for people of faith to be apathetic. Extreme cuts to foreign aid could result in millions of people losing access to vital food assistance. Potential cuts to SNAP could result in reduced benefits for as many as 3 million people, with over a quarter million children losing free school meals.

As Christians, we are called to be faithful advocates.

A faithful advocate is different than a Washington insider. A faithful advocate is more than just a lobbyist. A faithful advocate speaks for those without a voice. A faithful advocate is a moral compass for elected officials.

We must all heed the call, by writing letters, by making phone calls, and by inspiring our churches—reminding our elected officials that they have a responsibility to care for the needs of the poor. We do this not as Republicans or Democrats, but as faithful advocates who believe that God judges a nation by how it treats the least of these.

Eric Mitchell is Bread for the World's director of government relations.

Quote of the Day: Sister Simone Campbell

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For me, policy is best when connected to the roots, and roots are best when connected to policy. So I encourage you all to stay connected...and walk with real people while doing the activism. Lord knows we need folks who are engaged.

—Sister Simone Campbell, in a 2012 interview with Bread for the World

Photo: Kay DeBlance, Rebecca Walker, Aaron Marez and David Ramos of Texas walk through the Russell Senate Office Building on their way to a meeting in Sen. Kay Hutchison's office (R-TX). They visited the office as part of Bread for the World's Lobby Day in Washington, D.C., on Tuesday, June 12, 2012. (Laura Elizabeth Pohl/Bread for the World)

Voices of Hunger: My First WIC Office Visit

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A mother talks to a WIC nutrition counselor outside of a farmers market in Martinsburg, West Virginia. (Photo: USDA)

By Amanda Bornfree

A couple of weeks after I found out my husband and I were expecting our first child, we lost our health insurance. We were disappointed, as is to be expected. I had been excited about going forth with my prenatal check-ups with a doctor I had chosen for her directness, serious demeanor, and expertise.

Due to our sudden shift in income, we now qualified for Medicaid and I was eligible for WIC (Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children) benefits. The doctor who I had imagined would deliver our baby did not accept Medicaid. I had to look elsewhere.

A caseworker contacted me and invited me to a WIC clinic. I was a little nervous. I didn’t know what to expect and, ultimately, I wanted what would be best for my little baby. I thought, would I find it there? I didn’t want to stress.

When I arrived at the clinic, I was greeted by a sweet woman with sandy brown hair and a light voice. She was my caseworker. After filling out important paperwork, she went over my options for doctors and midwives. She spoke of each professional with respect and honesty. She shared with me the various options I could choose from. I was a little surprised that I had choices. Once I selected the professional I wanted to visit, my caseworker picked up the phone and made my first appointment. I wanted to open my arms and embrace her. But my first WIC appointment wasn’t over with yet.

“Are you taking prenatal vitamins?” she asked.

Yes, I nodded.

She pulled out a pamphlet about the nutrition that I needed as a pregnant woman. She talked me through it, and answered all of my questions. She then informed me of the WIC monthly vouchers. I would be able to receive foods with essential nutrients for my body and my baby.

Finding out that I could use some vouchers at farmers markets made me smile.  I remember thinking, my baby and I are just as important as the family that is fortunate enough to frequent farmers markets. Though I’ve never believed that I was less than anyone, I was indeed vulnerable—I was pregnant for the first time and my household income had plummeted. The assistance I received made me feel loved and important. It gave my husband and I more faith in our belief that everything was going to be alright. And that faith fed our determination to succeed.

When I looked around the WIC clinic, I saw that I was among a community of women that cared for each other. Different generations, complexions, languages, and experiences—all of us present to keep ourselves and our families healthy. We all believed in that, whether we were there to help or to receive help. We all believed that everyone has the right to live a healthy life, and that a healthy life begins during the period from the start of a woman’s pregnancy until her child’s second birthday—the crucial 1,000 days.

Amanda Bornfree is a consultant in the church relations department at Bread for the World.

Bono and Jim Yong Kim Talk Poverty

World Bank president Jim Yong Kim and rock star/activist Bono will discuss what it takes to end global poverty in a conversation today at 3 p.m. ET. 

Their hour-long talk, which builds on the World Bank's "What Will It Take?" social media campaign, will be streaming live (see below). You can also follow the discussion on Twitter, using the #ittakes hashtag. 

Quote of the Day: Donald E. Messer

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No greater irony or injustice exists than the disparity, both in the United States and globally, between the rich and the poor, the overfed and the hungry.

—Donald E. Messner in Ending Hunger Now

Photo: A woman in Zambia tends her crop. (Margaret W. Nea)

VIDEO: New "Below the Line" Poverty Series

Visit NBCNews.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

Political commentator Melissa Harris-Perry has just launched a new poverty-focused segment on her eponymous MSNBC show. "Below the Line," Harris-Perry announced, will focus on "regular stories of people living below the line, the policies and decisions that create the poverty in which they live, what they are doing to survive in tough circumstances, and what we can do as a nation to affect poverty."

"Below the Line" will also look closely at what the Obama administration is doing to help the 46 million Americans living below the poverty line. "Let me be crystal clear--those aren't numbers, those are people," Harris-Perry said. 

The segment is a small, but significant move toward increased coverage of poverty by mainstream media outlets. Back in September, Extra!, the magazine of the non-profit group Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting, ran an article titled "Media Not Concerned About the Very Poor." The piece cited a FAIR study that found that only 0.2 percent of stories about the presidential campaign "addressed poverty in a substantive way."

Hopefully by the time the next presidential election rolls around in 2016, that statistic will have drastically improved. 

How Bread's Work Supports Those Affected By Natural Disasters

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One of the many New York trees uprooted during Hurrican Sandy on Nov. 4, 2012. (USDA photo by Dave Kosling)

By Christine Melendez Ashley and Faustine Wabwire

Bread for the World’s efforts to create a circle of protection and push Congress to reduce our deficits in a responsible manner are critical to ensuring vulnerable people affected by natural disasters at home and abroad have the support they need. These programs continue to be at risk as Congress works to craft a farm bill and a deficit reduction package.

In the past year, Bread has worked to protect and strengthen domestic nutrition programs, such as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, formerly food stamps) and child nutrition programs. These programs have provided quick and substantial help to New York, New Jersey, and other affected states in the wake of Hurricane Sandy. For example:

  • The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) rushed emergency food to affected areas for distribution through food banks and emergency food channels.
  • USDA has authorized 13 affected states to issue replacement SNAP benefits for food purchased and lost in the month of October. They also authorized an extra two weeks of benefits for everyone on SNAP in and around New York City—a benefit totaling $65 million.
  •  Some of the worst affected states have also been authorized to allow SNAP recipients to purchase hot, ready-to-eat foods. This is not allowed under normal SNAP rules.
  • USDA approved free school lunches for all children in New York public school districts for the month of November.

Bread has also been a strong advocate for effective foreign assistance programs and international food aid. In the last several years, Bread has pushed for robust funding of these programs. Hurricane relief efforts abroad are being carried out through foreign assistance programs at USAID. For example:

  • USAID has provided 50 metric tons of food aid to Haiti to help address food insecurity concerns.
  •  USAID has distributed plastic sheeting to help approximately 10,000 people, family hygiene kits have helped nearly 12,500 people, and an estimated 6,400 blankets.
  •  USAID has also provided items such as wheelbarrows and tools helpful for clean-up to displacement camps most affected by Hurricane Sandy.

In the last two years, Congress has introduced proposals to decimate these programs. Despite these threats, Bread has pushed back and prevented these proposals from becoming law, thus enabling these programs to respond quickly and effectively to dramatic need. As Congress works to avoid the “fiscal cliff” and negotiate a budget deal, we must continue to push for a circle of protection around programs that effectively serve the most vulnerable in the United States and around the world.

Christine Melendez Ashley is a policy analyst in Bread for the World's government relations department.

Faustine Wabwire is Bread for the World Institute's foreign assistance policy analyst.

Quote of the Day: Marty Haugen

 

Child_eating_sandwich"Hope burns anew, thru' the world's despair, when eyes are opened and hearts are moved to care, when we can listen and learn to share, then we might fin'lly turn and see; we are bread for the world, bread for the world, bread for a hungry world."

—Lyrics from "Bread for the World," an original song composed by liturgical composer and singer Marty Haugen in celebration of Bread's 35th anniversary.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Photo: A small child eating a sandwich. (Margaret W. Nea)

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