Urging our nation's leaders to end hunger
 

54 posts from December 2012

Looking Back With Gratitude for Your Support

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Bread for the World organizer Larry Hollar answers questions as Bread advocates prepare to meet their members of Congress at the 2011 Bread for the World Lobby Day. Thousands of citizen advocates provide the support for Bread's campaign to end hunger. Photo by Jim Stipe

By Larry Hollar

Looking back at the past year and forward to the year ahead, I’m reminded that the prayers and spiritual support Bread for the World receives are vital to our perseverance and strength.

As a Bread organizer, I am privileged to work with churches, campuses, and allies of all types in the Northeast.  My role is to offer tools, encouragement, and up-to-date information and advice so our grassroots activists feel prepared to invite others to advocate to our nation’s leader on hunger issues.

It’s joyous work—and exhausting. Weariness comes not just because I have a large territory to cover, but because the political process these days is challenging and the issues we work on are often complicated. Sometimes I need to hear good news again and find a spiritual center to sustain me, so I can keep serving our members and leaders well.

That’s why getting this heartening letter recently from one of our most active Bread churches in the Philadelphia area meant so much to me:

Greetings from the Wayne Presbyterian Church! Each week during our Sunday services we select particular mission partners and pray for you and the work you do. The persons who sign this letter want to offer a word of encouragement and thank you for your dedication to the cause of Jesus Christ and the work of God’s kingdom and to let you know that we are also praying for your health and safety.

Our love and prayers are with you in a special way this day. We also offer a word of blessing from the Book of Jude: "To those who have been called by God, who live in the love of God the Father and the protection of Jesus Christ; may mercy, peace, and love be yours in full measure."

The letter, dated Dec.16, 2012, was then personally signed by more than 100 parishioners at Wayne Presbyterian. It reminded me that I am not alone—that I’m buoyed in my work by those who write their letters to Congress, give generously to help Bread financially, and also take time to pray for all of us in the Bread movement, including staff members like me.

Thank you, brothers and sisters at Wayne, for lifting my spirits and giving me heart today.

  • Action: As 2012 comes to a close, we value your prayers for the Bread for the World and your generous financial support to continue our efforts to end hunger. A generous donor has committed to matching any other donation that comes in before the end of the year. Your gift today will go that much farther. 

Thank you for your spiritual and financial support.

Larry Hollar is a senior regional organizer for Bread, working from Dayton, Ohio, and serving Pennsylvania, Delaware, and parts of New Jersey and New York as well as assisting in New England.

Giving as Faithful Advocacy

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Three kids sit on a curb in Mexico while sharing a snack. (Margie Nea)

By Kierra Jackson

Last month, I made an impromptu gift to Bread for the World. During our annual event at New York City’s Union League Club, Bread president David Beckmann called upon the audience to join our great “team” of hunger advocates through financial giving. With great joy I pledged 10 percent of my most recent paycheck to Bread for the World because, frankly, I am ready to see an end to hunger.

Some people might say, "But Kierra, you work at Bread for the World? Why donate?"

Chat with me for a few minutes and you’ll know why I’m an employee at Bread. I have a particular interest in maternal and child nutrition and, in addition to my work at Bread, I’m trained as a doula, also known as a childbirth labor coach. In my work with women and their families, it’s common to hear pregnant mamas lightheartedly say, “You, know I am eating for two these days!” justifying a second breakfast or a third helping of casserole.

In some sense those women are on to something. Research supports the fact that eating enough food—and nutritious food—while pregnant is crucial. And, it’s equally important after the baby is born—particularly during those early years of life.

Recently, I thought about the fact that for every woman who says, “I’m eating for two!” there’s likely another woman who is going hungry for two—struggling to get enough nutritious calories in her daily diet. I am acutely aware that her struggle may continue and only intensify once baby arrives. This thought breaks my heart.

But we all know that having a broken heart has never changed a situation on its own. What it does do, is compel me to be more generous.

I believe that fundraising is not only a form of advocacy but that fundraising is ministry. When we give we are accepting a blessed invitation. We’re taking advantage of an opportunity to be a part of something grand. We are sorting out our priorities—deciding what will receive the fruits of our labor. And as Christians we are beautifully demonstrating the active generosity of Jesus Christ.

The contribution you make to Bread for the World is not merely helpful to us, it is essential. We’re not asking that you keep us afloat on the rocky waters of this economy as we drift along. We’re asking you to help us in navigating the waters boldly, strategically, and swiftly as we head forward in our audacious and important efforts to lobby to protect programs for poor and hungry people in our nation and abroad.

Give one of two ways today: 1) Give a one-time gift to the organization; or 2) Give on a monthly basis through our Baker’s Dozen program.

You can also feel free to write a check and send it to our offices here in Washington, D.C.

Call me old-fashioned but I still like to write checks. This year I started doing something different when filling out my checks. When contributing to Bread for the World or my church I began writing “Hallelujah!” on the memo line. It reminds me that giving is an act of worship and it always makes me remember the words of 2 Corinthians 9:7 when Paul writes:

“I want each of you to take plenty of time to think it over, and make up your own mind what you will give. That will protect you against sob stories and arm-twisting. God loves it when the giver delights in the giving.”

Thank you for your generosity. You’re changing the course of history. God bless you.

Kierra Jackson is the major gifts coordinator and development officer at Bread for the World.

Midnight Deadline: Your Gift Will Be Doubled!

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By David Beckmann

It's not too late to help Bread for the World combat hunger next year. Midnight tonight is the deadline to have your tax-deductible gift doubled! Please donate now.

Bread for the World does incredible work every single day to ensure that everyone has access to nourishment — whether it's a family dealing with the sudden loss of health insurance in the United States, a malnourished toddler in an orphanage in Nepal, or any of the many other people in need throughout the world.

We're steadfast in our commitment because we know that a world without hunger is possible.

But we can’t make it happen without your support today. We already know we’re in for some big battles—and even bigger opportunities—in 2013:

  • Reauthorizing the farm bill: We can make strong reforms to international food aid – which helped 66 million people around the world last year.  Unfortunately, other farm bill proposals cut SNAP by as much as $16 billion – meaning 2 to 3 million people would lose their benefits.
  • Implementing deficit reduction and tax reform: Congress needs to implement deficit reduction and decide which programs to cut – putting funding for all poverty-focused development assistance programs, international food aid, WIC, SNAP, EITC, and the Child Tax Credit at dire risk. Poverty was cut nearly in half in 2011 through domestic anti-poverty programs. We shouldn't undermine their effectiveness.
  • Getting the president and Congress to set a goal to end hunger: It is time our elected leaders make ending hunger a top priority. We will launch a vigorous effort to get the President and Congress to set a goal and establish a plan to end hunger in the U.S. and around the world.

Help Bread win these battles and make critical, lasting change for hungry and poor people with your donation before midnight tonight.

Don't miss this significant opportunity to double your impact for millions of people in need around the world.

David Beckmann is president of Bread for the World.

Bread Applauds House Vote on Foreign Aid Transparency Act

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The Foreign Aid Transparency and Accountability Act of 2012, scheduled for a vote in the House today, would require a standardized monitoring and evaluation of U.S. foreign assistance programs run by agencies such as USAID. Here, children in Indonesia drink clean water provided by activists helped by USAID's Environmental Services Program (Photo: USAID)

[UPDATE, 8:30 p.m. The bill passed this evening, in a 390-0 vote.]

By Alex Loken

Bread for the World is happy to announce that the Foreign Aid Transparency and Accountability Act of 2012 (H.R. 3159), led by Reps. Ted Poe (R-Texas) and Howard Berman (D-Calif.), is scheduled to be voted on in the House today.

This bipartisan legislation is an important step toward better evaluation and transparency in U.S. foreign assistance programs.

United States foreign assistance has increasingly been acknowledged as complementary to diplomacy and military efforts—it not only saves millions of lives through vital humanitarian assistance and development programs, but also helps stabilize economies and countries contributing to U.S. national security and economic well-being. As the importance of foreign assistance has increased, so has the number of agencies and organizations that run foreign aid programs. They range from traditional sources, including the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) and the State Department, to relatively new organizations and initiatives, such as the Millennium Challenge Corporation and the President's Emergency Plan For AIDS Relief (PEPFAR)." The proliferation of entities implementing foreign assistance has created the need for more coordination and common standards to which all agencies carrying out foreign aid programs must comply.

The Foreign Aid Transparency and Accountability Act of 2012 requires a standardized monitoring and evaluation system with measurable goals for those agencies that administer U.S. foreign assistance programs. Additionally, this legislation ensures that U.S. foreign development assistance be made publicly available and consistently updated on the Foreign Assistance Dashboard, an online tool that provides U.S. taxpayers with information on how foreign aid dollars are being spent.

We are delighted that this landmark piece of aid transparency legislation will be heard in the House. Given its broad support in both the House and Senate, we hope that it moves forward so we can continue to improve the effectiveness of U.S. foreign assistance.

Alex Loken is the government relations research assistant at Bread for the World.

My Blessing

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Amanda Bornfree and her daughter Story. (Photo courtesy of Amanda Bornfree)

By Amanda Bornfree

A few weeks after my husband and I found out we were expecting our first child, he lost his job—and we were without health insurance.

We were so afraid—and we didn’t know where to turn. But then we discovered that because of our sudden shift in income, I was eligible for benefits through the Women, Infants and Children Program (WIC).

Bread for the World’s advocacy for programs like WIC is truly a blessing. This year, nearly 9 million women and young children are receiving WIC benefits each month—and my baby girl and I are two of them.

I’m grateful for Bread's advocacy work, and I'd like to invite you to support their efforts for hungry people. Right now you have a special opportunity to make a big impact, because every dollar you give will be doubled, up to $100,000! Can you make a donation?

When I went to the WIC clinic I was given a pamphlet about the nutrition I needed as a pregnant woman. I still remember how I smiled when I found out that I could use some WIC monthly food vouchers at farmers markets. I remember thinking, "My baby and I are just as important as the family that is fortunate enough to be able to afford farmer’s markets."

For nearly 40 years Bread for the World has fought on behalf of poor and vulnerable people, defending the programs that meet their essential needs. Will you make a gift today to help support Bread's work on their behalf?

The assistance I received made me feel loved and important. It gave my husband and me more faith in our belief that everything was going to be all right. And that faith fed our determination to succeed. Everyone—rich or poor—has the right to live a healthy life. My family is blessed that Bread was around to defend that right.

Please donate to support Bread's incredible work today.

Amanda Bornfree is a member of Bread for the World and a consultant in the church relations department.

A Prayer for Our Leaders at the Edge of the Fiscal Cliff

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By David Beckmann

This weekend, as faithful congregants across our nation gather for their final service of 2012, we are mindful of the great significance of the budget discussions taking place among our political leaders. Whatever the outcome of these discussions—whether that means striking a deal or going over the fiscal cliff—hungry people in the United States and around the world will feel the effects the most.

We urge Bread members, Bread churches, and every concerned citizen to pray that our leaders choose a wise and just course. Please pass this prayer along or compose your own:

"Almighty and loving God, we pray for our nation. We are divided by ideology and interest groups.  Our leaders find it difficult to make decisions together.  We face pressing problems. Our economy is still fragile.  But urgent questions go unresolved.

"We pray for the president and Congress as they continue to negotiate taxes and government spending.  Give them wisdom, a spirit of concord, and a shared sense of responsibility for hungry and poor people.  Open doors to a solution that will serve the common good. Amen."

Listen Now: Faithful Advocacy and Fiscal Cliff

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Sister Simone Campbell leading evening worship at Bread for the World's Hunger Justice Leaders Program in Washington, D.C., on Sunday, June 10, 2012. Sister Simone participated in conference call on faith and the fiscall cliff earlier this month. (Laura Elizabeth Pohl/Bread for the World)

By Kyle Dechant

Earlier this month, the Interreligious Working Group on Domestic Human Needs (DHN) hosted a conference call on faithful advocacy and the fiscal cliff.

Amelia Kegan, senior policy analyst at Bread for the World, started off the call with an update on the latest fiscal cliff negotiations. Rabbi Steve Gutow, president and CEO of the Jewish Council for Public Affairs, then moderated a conversation with Sister Simone Campbell, executive director of NETWORK and lead organizer of Nuns on the Bus, and Ambassador Tony Hall, executive director of the Alliance to End Hunger.

Sister Simone Campbell spoke to her vision of an America that truly cares for those most vulnerable in society; Ambassador Hall gave insights from his experience as a congressman and U.S. ambassador; and they both testified to the importance of faithful advocacy in the fiscal cliff negotiations.

Rabbi Gutow closed out the call by taking listener questions from some of the 100-plus participants from across the country and urging people of faith to take action.

An audio recording of the conference call is below. [The audio was edited for length and clarity. The conversation between Sister Simone and Ambassador Hall begins at the 7-minute mark].

Kyle Dechant is a fellow in Bread for the World's government relations department.

Rita's Smile

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Rita Rana at the Nutrition Rehabilitation Home (NRH) in Dhangadhi, Nepal. (Laura Elizabeth Pohl/Bread for the World)

By Laura Elizabeth Pohl

Unlike the other children at the Nutrition Rehabilitation Home in Nepal, Rita Rana didn't cry, smile, or run away when I first entered the room.

I was immediately drawn to her quiet demeanor, and I set down my cameras.

Rita, with her deep brown eyes and big front teeth, sat like a little sack of potatoes as I made funny faces, shook her hand and played peek-a-boo.

Rita, at age 2, was the oldest child there—but she was also the shortest and the lightest. Malnutrition had stunted her growth and development.

I kept trying to draw Rita out. Finally, when I pretended to try and tickle her, she gave a faint smile.

I spent the next three days photographing and filming inside the home—and wondering about Rita's future.

Please make a generous gift today to help Bread for the World protect the funding that changes the lives of children.

I saw firsthand during my trip to Nepal how important your support is for kids like Rita. Your generosity helps Bread fight hard for foreign assistance that can save millions of lives. By advocating for programs that provide adequate nutrition during the 1,000-day window from pregnancy to age 2, we focus on the approaches that best help children develop properly so that they can thrive.

Your support is critical to ensuring we can make lasting change for children like Rita. And it doesn’t take much to make a big difference. For every dollar you give, Bread helps win more than $100 in assistance for hungry and poor people in the U.S. and abroad.

Now is the perfect time to give—a group of generous donors have stepped up to match every dollar that you donate by Dec. 31. Donate today to help ensure Bread can expand our work advocating for the programs that save the lives of hungry people.

After meeting Rita and seeing firsthand how your generous donations can help kids like her, I feel privileged to be a part of Bread’s advocacy work. Thank you for supporting Bread and, more importantly, for supporting millions of hungry people around the world.

Laura Elizabeth Pohl is Bread for the World's multimedia manager.

A Semester’s Reflection

Alive_food_distroBy Jaylynn Farr Munson

It has been my experience that many college students are blissfully unaware of the poor and hungry people living in their  hometowns. Many of these students are shocked and horrified to learn that millions of Americans live below the poverty line.

I, however, have always been aware of the prevalence of poverty in the suburban neighborhood just outside of Washington, D.C., where I grew up. As a child, I knew people who faced hunger on a daily basis. I witnessed firsthand some of my neighbors visiting food pantries and relying completely on the generosity of others to make ends meet. Although I did not realize it until I was somewhat older, whenever my mother and I went to the local supermarket, many of our neighbors were purchasing their groceries using SNAP benefits.  

After years of this exposure, I thought hunger was just another unavoidable social issue. Some people would go hungry, and there was not much anyone could really do to change that. I believed that if anybody truly cared about the parents who lived on my street who were skipping meals in order to give their children enough to eat, they would have done something by now. So, I gave money to charity, donated food during Thanksgiving food drives, and made peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for a local food bank all throughout high school. But, deep down, I did not think anything would ever be done to solve the overall problem of hunger. However, my internship at Bread for the World this semester showed me a completely different side to the fight against hunger.   

At Bread, people are doing something to stop hunger in the neighborhoods like the one where I grew up. Every day during my internship, I saw a group of people working together to achieve one common goal: to change the lives of millions of people by eliminating hunger for good. Their dedication and passion are inspiring and allow me to envision a day when I will return to my old neighborhood and see families with healthy meals on their tables. This is a much bigger and better dream than I could have ever imagined, and I am pleased to have been a part of such an important and necessary mission. I wish the entire Bread team the very best in their continued effort to end hunger and poverty.  

Jaylynn Farr Munson is a media relations intern at Bread for the World. She is a senior at the University of Maryland, majoring in both English and communications. 

Photo: A Sept. 2008 food bank distribution at ALIVE, in Alexandria, Va.  Food Bank Distribution (Rick Reinhard)

Pray for the Fiscal Cliff Negotiators

By Eric Mitchell

Christmas is the time when we reflect on God's love and the birth of Jesus Christ. It is a time of hope and promise. As we celebrate this Christmas season with our friends and families, let us not forget that the Good News was first delivered to poor and humble people.

But this holiday season has a different tone for our congressional leaders, who are primarily focusing on the wealthy as they negotiate a deficit reduction package with the president that will prevent going over the fiscal cliff. What's at stake is our nation's ability to feed the hungry, care for the poor and less fortunate, heal the sick, and tend to the elderly. Now, more than ever, is the time for us to pray for our leaders and ask that they fight for hungry and poor people.

Our faith teaches us that we have a responsibility to the most poor and vulnerable people. We look at every budget proposal from the bottom up — how it treats those Jesus called "the least of these" (Matthew 25:45). Of all days, this is a time when Christians must bring that spirit to our political leaders struggling to agree.

A diverse group of Christian leaders have agreed on policy recommendations that will best accomplish this. You can amplify their message by sending a special holiday message to the members of Congress at the negotiating table, and ask them to create a circle of protection around programs for hungry and poor people.

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

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