Urging our nation's leaders to end hunger
 

37 posts from January 2013

Un aliciente para los inmigrantes indocumentados que están en las sombras

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Un inmigrante indocumentado en Carolina del Norte. Los Estados Unidos recientemente propuso un plan para una reforma migratoria bipartidista que permitiría la legalización de inmigrantes que hayan pagado sus impuestos y cubran una multa. Foto de Laura Elizabeth Pohl/Pan para el Mundo.

Por Ricardo Moreno

Detrás de cada persona hay una historia, y no es ningún secreto que la gran mayoría de los inmigrantes que vienen a los Estados Unidos vienen huyendo del hambre, de la pobreza y de la persecución política. Al igual que todos los seres humanos, los inmigrantes quieren mejores oportunidades para ellos y sus familias. En Pan para el Mundo, siempre hemos estado preocupados con los más pobres, ya sea que vivan en otro continente, en otro país, o justo al lado de nuestra casa.

El pasado Martes, mientras escuchaba el discurso del Presidente Obama sobre la inmigración en la secundaria Del Sol  en Las Vegas, Nevada, no dejaba de pensar en el impacto de sus palabras. El llamado del presidente para la reforma de inmigración, junto con un empuje similar en el Congreso de los EE.UU., podría afectar positivamente los aproximadamente 12 millones de indocumentados que viven y trabajan en los Estados Unidos. Mientras estaba sentado en el auditorio del Sol, podía ver en los rostros de la multitud multicultural  la esperanza de que nuestro país está finalmente tomando en serio la situación de los indocumentados en nuestro medio.

No hay duda de que el tema de la inmigración provoca  un debate apasionado y que es un tema que está políticamente explotado  por muchas personas. Los anteriores intentos de reforma de inmigración han sido bloqueadas por pequeños grupos bien organizados, aunque la mayoría de las encuestas públicas indican que la mayoría de los ciudadanos de EE.UU. están a favor de la reforma de las leyes de inmigración de nuestra nación.

Recientemente, un grupo de ocho senadores republicanos y demócratas publicaron principios que servirán de base para la reforma de las leyes migratorias. El presidente Obama también ha presentado sus ideas sobre lo que debe incluirse en las leyes de inmigración. En un Congreso que ha sido tan polarizado en torno a este y otros temas en el pasado, es alentador ver que las conversaciones bipartidistas se están llevando a cabo y que un acuerdo está en el horizonte.

Sí, es cierto, las personas indocumentadas han violado nuestras leyes de inmigración, pero no siempre puede ser condenadas a vivir en las sombras de nuestra sociedad. La deportación de millones de personas no es práctica y no está en consonancia con los valores morales de los Estados Unidos. Acojo con satisfacción el liderazgo del presidente Obama sobre este tema, y ​​doy la bienvenida a la iniciativa del grupo bipartidista de senadores. Espero con optimismo la discusión pública, el debate y las propuestas específicas en el Congreso para reformar nuestras leyes de inmigración.

Animo a leer los escritos de mi colega Andrew Wainer sobre las causas profundas de la inmigración no autorizada. Y en la medida que nosotros, como cristianos, continuamos abordando y debatiendo este tema, les invito a meditar y reflexionar sobre las palabras de Jesucristo tal como se describe en el Evangelio de Mateo: "Porque tuve hambre, y me distes de comer, tuve sed y me distes de beber, fui forastero y me recibiste”.

Ricardo Moreno es Asociado Nacional de Relaciones con Latinos de Pan para el Mundo.

Welcoming the Undocumented Out of the Shadows

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An undocumented immigrant in North Carolina. The U.S. Senate recently proposed a bipartisan immigration reform plan that would allow legalization of undocumented immigrants provided they pay back taxes and a fine. Photo by Laura Elizabeth Pohl/Bread for the World. 

By Ricardo Moreno

Behind every person is a story, and it's no secret that the vast majority of immigrants who come to the United States are escaping hunger, poverty, and political persecution. Like all human beings, immigrants want better opportunities for themselves and their families. At Bread for the World we have always been concerned with the poorest people, whether they live on another continent, in another country, or right next door.

Yesterday, as I listened to President Obama's speech on immigration at Del Sol High School in Las Vegas, Nev., I kept thinking about the impact of his words. The president's call for immigration reform, along with a similar push in the U.S. Congress, could positively affect the roughly 12 million undocumented people living and working in the United States. As I sat in the auditorium at Del Sol, I could see in the faces of the multicultural crowd the hope that our country is finally taking seriously the situation of the undocumented in our midst.

There is no doubt that the topic of immigration ignites passionate debate and that it is an issue that is politically exploited by many people. Past attempts at immigration reform have been blocked by small, well-organized groups, even though most public polls indicate that a majority of U.S. citizens favor reform of our nation's immigration laws.

Recently, a group of eight Democrat and Republican senators published principles that will serve as the basis for possible immigration legislation. President Obama has also presented his ideas on what should be included in rewritten immigration laws. In a Congress that has been so polarized around this and other issues in the past, it is encouraging to see that bipartisan talks are taking place and that an agreement is on the horizon.

Yes, undocumented people violated our immigration laws, but they can’t forever be condemned to live in the shadows of our society. Deportation of millions of people is not practical and is not in consonance with the moral values of the United States. I welcome the leadership of President Obama on this issue, and I welcome the initiative of the bipartisan group of senators. I am looking forward to public discussion, debate, and specific proposals in Congress to reform our immigration laws.

I encourage you read my colleague Andrew Wainer's writings on the root causes of unauthorized immigration. And as we, as Christians, continue to tackle and debate this issue, I invite you to ponder and reflect on the words of Jesus Christ as described in the Gospel of Matthew: “For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me.”

Ricardo Moreno is Bread for the World's national associate for Latino Relations.

Quote of the Day: David Beckmann

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“The Gospel of Matthew invites us to welcome strangers into our midst, saying, ‘For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me.’ We must remember that the journey to the United States for jobs is often triggered by poverty, inequality, food insecurity, and a lack of economic opportunity in an immigrant’s home country." —David Beckmann, president of Bread for the World

Photo: A migrant worker piles cucumbers in Blackwater, Va., on the farm of Ricky Horton and Sherilyn Shepard. Almost three-fourths of all farm workers hired in the United States are immigrants, most of them unauthorized. The U.S. food system—particularly fruit and vegetable production—depends on immigrants more than any other sector of the U.S. economy. (Laura Elizabeth Pohl/Bread for the World)

Create an Experience at the National Gathering in June

 

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By Carlos Navarro

I don't remember how many Bread for the World national gatherings I have attended, but I know I don't have enough fingers to count them all. All I can tell you is that each one offers a unique experience.

This leads to an obvious question: can I name my most memorable national gathering?  In many cases, one tends to remember the entire gathering by a single unforgettable experience, and that is the case with the two I selected.

The first one was back in the 1990s, and the experience came during Lobby Day. It wasn't necessarily the actual visits to the congressional offices, but the reception. I was surprised when both my senator and my representative came to the reception. And it wasn't just a matter of them accepting the printed invitation that I left with their aides during the visits to their offices—they asked for me at the door!

The second great experience was in 2005, when we had the first of two Interfaith Convocations at the National Cathedral in Washington, D.C., on the Monday of the national gathering. The church was bursting at its seams with representatives from many faith traditions. Of course, there were many Christian denominations from across the spectrum, but the people gathered in the church also reflected Judaism, Sikhism, Hinduism, Buddhism, Islam and other traditions. They shared verses from their sacred scriptures, spelling out our common responsibility to seek the common good by ensuring that everyone is fed, clothed and housed. And there was music and celebration from all our traditions as well. I can still hear the drums beating and the entire congregation singing in Zulu, English, and Spanish: “Siyahamb' ekukhanyen' kwenkhos' (We are marching in the light of God/ Caminamos en la luz de Dios).” 

We had a second interfaith convocation at the National Cathedral as part of the 2007 national gathering, and it was great too.  But the first experience in 2005 was the one that stands out for me.

I can recall great memories from other national gatherings, too, including the first time I went to D.C. on behalf of Bread. And then there's the 35th anniversary reception, when composer and singer Marty Haugen helped us celebrate the occasion with a song he wrote for Bread for the World

I also remember a different kind of "singing" at another gathering.  Remember the time when Bread President David Beckmann and the ONE Campaign fellows on staff did karaoke to Aretha Franklin's song Respect?

If you haven't been to a national gathering (or even if you have), I invite you to consider joining us in Washington, D.C., this year to create your own great experience. Who knows, there might be something about this gathering that will make it one of your favorites. The events and the learning experiences and the advocacy are all important. But it is those great interactions with other anti-hunger advocates that add a great richness to these occasions

Here is the tentative schedule for this year's national gathering:

  • June 8-10: 2013 National Gathering
  • June 10: International Meeting on Maternal and Child Nutrition
  • June 11: 2013 Lobby Day

For more information, check out the 2013 National Gathering site or contact your regional organizer. Want to know what you can expect from a Bread for the World National Gathering? View materials from the 2011 National Gathering.

If for some reason you are unable to come this year, then start planning for 2014. That is Bread's 40th birthday, and you know that is an occasion to celebrate!

[This article originally appeared on the Bread New Mexico blog.]

Carlos Navarro has been a Bread member for over 20 years and has led Bread’s presence in New Mexico for the last decade. He maintains the Bread for the World New Mexico website and blog, and serves on the Bread for the World board of directors.

Lift Up Concern for Hungry People with Lenten Table Tents

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By Vince Mezzera

The members of West Street Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in Tipton, Ind., work to end hunger in a variety of ways: they provide weekend food for 90 elementary schoolchildren, collect donations for two local food pantries, and advocate for the protection of programs vital to hungry people through Bread for the World’s Offering of Letters. Still, even with all of its involvement in feeding hungry people, Minister Linda McKiernan-Allen hopes that the church can further strengthen its efforts.

This year every family in her congregation will receive Bread’s “Lenten Prayers for Hungry People.” For each of the six weeks of Lent this “table tent” highlights scripture readings, offers prayers, and suggests actions for becoming more involved in the fight to end hunger.

Churches can put the table tents to good use in a number of ways. For example, during Bible study and other similar gatherings, groups can read the prayers together as a devotional at the start of their sessions. Good Shepherd Lutheran Church in Glen Rock, N.J.,  found the tents to be a good fit with its hunger emphasis for Lent 2013 and decided to order Bread for the World resources for the first time. Pastor Roger Spencer of Good Shepherd hopes the members of his congregation will use the table tents as a daily devotion. 

The West Street Christian Church members will use prayer through Bread's table tents as a way to help them boost their Offering of Letters. The church aims to deliver 100 letters to Congress in 2013, up from the 70 sent last year. “We encourage our church families to share in a Lenten table discipline of prayer, and this gives us opportunity to focus that prayer time and reinforce it when we gather for worship on Sunday," says McKiernan-Allen. "We ordered table tents because they are simple, they lift up a particular concern for the hungry, and they help our congregation identify with what it means to be a Bread for the World congregation.”

While Lent begins with Ash Wednesday on Feb. 13, congregations still have time to order and receive their table tents in time for the first week in Lent. Order “Lenten Prayers for Hungry People” at www.bread.org/lent.  Find other resources for congregations and individuals at www.bread.org/store

Vince Mezzera is Bread for the World’s Associate Manager for Membership Resources.

Yet Another Reason to Support Tax Credits

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You probably already know that tax credits are a huge help to low-income working families. The Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) and Child Tax Credit(CTC), which qualifying families receive when they get their federal income tax refunds, assist millions of people each year. In 2011 alone, the EITC lifted 3.3 million children out of poverty. But did you know that refundable tax credits also boost the U.S. economy? 

Center for American Progress has released a cool infographic showing exactly how the EITC helps working families, and the think tank also looks at how tax credits affect this country's fiscal fitness.

"Not only does the earned income tax credit keep millions of working families from slipping into poverty each year, it also leads to positive outcomes for family health and student education," writes research associate Katie Wright. "Earned income tax credit dollars benefit our economy, and most families who receive the credit end up paying billions of dollars more in net federal income tax than they receive in the earned income tax credit over time."

The fact that the EITC helps so many families each year is reason enough to support the credit—that the anti-poverty program has such positive, far-reaching effects is just one more mark in its favor.

Want to learn more about how the benefits of the EITC? Take our EITC quiz, read one family's story of how receiving the EITC helped lift—and keep—them out of poverty, and then take action by telling your members of Congress to make the EITC and CTC permanent.

Quote of the Day: Barack Obama

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"We know that America thrives when every person can find independence and pride in their work, when the wages of honest labor will liberate families from the brink of hardship. We are true to our creed when a little girl born into the bleakest poverty knows that she has the same chance to succeed as anybody else because she is an American, she is free, and she is equal not just in the eyes of God but also in our own."

President Barack Obama in his second inaugural address

Photo: A young girl at the bilingual LAYC LAMB Public Charter Montessori School in Washington, D.C. (Rick Reinhard)

How Much Do You Know About the EITC?

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Heather Rude-Turner, 31, feeds a slice of banana to her daughter Naomi, 5. Heather credits the Earned Income Tax Credit with helping to keep her family get back on her feet and stay out of poverty. (Photo by Laura Elizabeth Pohl/Bread for the World)

By Robin Stephenson

Today is EITC Awareness Day.  The EITC, which is short for the Earned Income Tax Credit, lifts more children out of poverty than any other government program.

In the United States, where nearly 1 in 4 children lived in a food insecure household in 2011, the EITC is a critical weapon against hunger. Bread for the World has advocated for the current benefit levels for this refundable tax credit to be made a permanent part of the tax code—the current benefit levels expire in 2017. We will continue push for this in 2013. 

How much do you know about this vital program?  Take this quiz and test your EITC knowledge. 

If you think that you or someone you know might qualify for the tax credit, watch this helpful video from the IRS, which has details on how to file for free. Learn more about EITC here and also take action: Tell your members of Congress to make the EITC and Child Tax Credit (CTC) permanent.

Robin Stephenson is Bread for the World's national social media lead/senior regional organizer, western hub.

Quote of the Day: Donald E. Messer

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"In exploring the subject of global hunger, the time has come to listen to our hearts and hear what God is calling us to do in mission and ministry. Our heads are full of hunger statistics and stories, programs and politics, ideas and ideologies. Lest we be beset by paralysis of analysis, each of us must look inward in reflection, prayer, and meditation and see where the cry of the hungry has become the voice of God for us.  — Theologian Donald E. Messer in "Ending Hunger Now"

Photo: Community meal in San Miguel Huautla, Oaxaca, Mexico, on Dec. 12, 2010, in celebration of the Virgen de Guadalupe. Young people in rural areas of Mexico—like San Miguel Huautla—often choose to immigrate to the United States and work for a few years because there are few opportunities at home. (Laura Elizabeth Pohl/Bread for the World)

Hunger on a Snow Day

'Snow York City' photo (c) 2010, Adam Isserlis - license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/

Parts of the East Coast are dusted with snow today, which means that lots of lucky kids are enjoying a day off from school and many adults have cleared the shelves of their local grocery stores to be sure they have plenty of food choices while stuck inside for the day. Children who depend on free or reduced school breakfast and lunch probably aren’t as excited about today’s school closures, though. Those parents who carefully plan every food purchase and food pantry visit, working to ensure there is enough food to go around, may be wondering how they'll manage to feed the entire family today. An impromptu stock-up trip to the supermarket may not be an option. 

A lot of systems can grind to a halt on a snow day, everything from trash collection to mass transit can be affected, depending on how severe the weather. The formal and informal networks that work to feed hungry and poor people can be impacted, too. Schools and after-school programs close, and often soup kitchens and food banks do, too.

It's hard for families who face hunger to secure adequate food on a good day, and inclement weather makes the task even more difficult. But federal safety-net programs help families weather storms—snowstorms, hurricanes, and less literal hard times. Programs such as WIC, which safeguards the health of low-income women, infants, and children; and SNAP (formerly food stamps), which supplements the food budgets of the neediest people, have kept household hunger rates from increasing during these tough economic times. Federal nutrition programs, including free and reduced lunch, all work in tandem to fight hunger.

If you're snowed in today (or even if you're not), between watching the kids play outside and cooking up your favorite winter dish, take a moment to think of those who are struggling to put food on their tables. And take action to help ensure that snow days don’t mean days without food for poor families.

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