Urging our nation's leaders to end hunger

45 posts from April 2013

Educate and Advocate: Portland’s CROP Walk

CWS CROP walk participant signs a Bread for the World petition to President Obama asking him to set a goal and work with Congress on a plan to end hunger in the United States and abroad. (Robin Stephenson).

By Robin Stephenson 

Ending hunger takes a village. Churches, non-profits, and faithful individuals respond to hunger in different ways. Holistic approaches to fighting hunger acknowledge immediate need while also advocating for changes to policies that address the root causes of hunger and poverty.

CROP Hunger Walks, community-wide events sponsored by CWS and organized by local volunteers as a way to raise funds to end hunger, illustrate that action and advocacy can join forces in one event.

Last Sunday, Church World Service, Bread for the World, and the Portland, Ore., community came together around the issue of hunger. Nearly 100 participants, old and young—some participating as congregational teams—walked through sunny downtown Portland on a spring day. The walkers, who carried banners and hand-made signs, raised awareness of hunger and drew questions from others enjoying the warm afternoon.

Volunteer Lisa Wenzlick coordinated the walkers, and Steven Anderson served as treasurer. First Christian Church provided hospitality as well as a starting and ending point. Participants raised funds which will be used support local efforts to address hunger as well as CWS’s global work.

The day was rounded out with an advocacy action on behalf of hungry and poor people as individuals signed Bread for the World’s petition asking the  president to set a goal and work with Congress on a plan to end hunger in the United States and abroad.

Bread for the World has long had a close relationship with CWS and many CROP Walks nationwide are a reflection of this partnership.

If you would like to get involved, find out if there is a CROP Walk near you or learn how you can organize one in your community.

Robin Stephenson is national social media lead and senior regional organizer, western hub, at Bread for the World.


Lazarus…The Story Sung Again


By Larry Hollar

As a new Bread for the World staff member in the late '80s, I had the chance to perform in the original cast of a new musical on hunger and poverty called Lazarus. Joel Underwood, who was also on Bread’s staff at the time, had taken the story of Lazarus at the rich man’s gate (Luke 16:19-31) and set it to music. He added some twists and turns in the story to challenge people of faith to consider their own responses to the tragedy of hunger in our midst.

Early in my career as a hunger advocate—which has now spanned nearly 30 years—Lazarus gave me a chance to use my musical talents to engage others in the call to justice for hungry people. I was delighted that my then-9-year-old daughter Gillian was also a member of the early cast of the musical, confidently singing a solo as a young girl asking the poignant question, “Where Can I Find Bread?” Later, I had the chance to help stage and perform in this versatile musical in two churches in Arlington, Va., and also sing on the CD of the Spanish-language version, Lázaro. Without question, this musical shaped me in my journey with Bread for the World.

I have come to believe that no movement for social justice can succeed without memorable songs to sustain and enspirit it. Joel’s musical offered singable, engaging songs for the hunger movement of its time. But times change. 

So what a joy it is for me to again be part of a new—and very different—production of Lazarus that premieres in June. An entirely new cast will perform a revamped Lazarus, using Joel’s lyrics but with updated, jazzy music by the talented composer Dr. Bill Cummings. The new Lazarus premieres on Saturday, June 8, at 7 p.m. at the Mead Center in Washington, D.C., as part of the first day of Bread’s 2013 National Gathering

You will not want to miss this special presentation, a result of the passion of my Bread colleague Don Williams, who had the vision to see Joel Underwood’s original compelling work recast for a modern vocal and instrumental idiom. Look for me in the chorus—and my now grown-up daughter will be there, too.

Bread engages us to lift our voices when we advocate to our nation’s leaders on key policies and programs for hungry people. Let’s again lift our voices—this time in song—to give us heart and a fresh dose of the Spirit as we gather June 8-11 in Washington, D.C.,  for the National Gathering. Join us for Lazarus and much more! For more Gathering details, see http://www.bread.org/gathering.

Larry Hollar is senior regional organizer, eastern hub states, for Bread for the World.

Love a Bargain and Hate to Miss a Deadline?

The second day of Bread for the World's 2011 Gathering at American University in Washington, D.C., on June 12, 2011. (Laura Elizabeth Pohl)

By Dr. Alice Walker Duff

Do you love a bargain and hate to miss a deadline? Register today for Bread for the World’s 2013 National Gathering on June 8-11 and save almost 20 percent. The National Gathering will be wonderful.

You'll hear powerful speakers: Rev. Dr. James Forbes, senior pastor emeritus of the Riverside Church in New York City, whom Newsweek magazine called one of the top preachers in the English-speaking world, will preach at the Sunday, June 9 worship service. On June 10, Rev. David Beckmann, World Food Prize laureate and president of Bread for the World, will talk about the journey ahead to end hunger. Visit www.bread.org/gathering to learn about the workshops and speakers.

You'll meet powerful people: Barbie Izquierdo and Pastor Bob Wilson and his wife, Michaelene — whom you’ve seen in the documentary A Place at the Table — will meet and greet you after they talk about their experiences with hunger and their calls to advocacy. You can hear from and meet Rev. Luis Cortes, Jr., founder and president of Esperanza, whom Time magazine has called one of the world’s most influential evangelicals. Dr. Rajiv Shah, administrator of USAID, will be a keynote speaker at the international meeting focused on maternal and child nutrition. We will join more than 150 participants at that meeting — at which significant announcements regarding maternal and child nutrition will be made.

You'll witness great things: Enjoy the exciting musical Lazarus, which is based on a message from God. The original music and words are by Joel Underwood, former director of Church Relations at Bread. Bill Cummings has written new music and arrangements—you’ll be singing as you leave the theater. It all takes place at the beautiful Mead Center, home of the award-winning Arena Stage.

You'll do great things: Act on your faith collectively — with others from around the nation — during Lobby Day, June 11, the culmination of the National Gathering.

Register today. Come hear and meet these amazing, inspirational speakers, and join us as we work to set a place at God’s abundant table for everyone.

Dr. Alice Walker Duff is managing director of Bread for the World

Quote of the Day: Chief Seattle

Martha_and_daughter“Humankind has not woven the web of life. We are but one thread within it. Whatever we do to the web, we do to ourselves. All things are bound together. All things connect.”

— Chief Seattle, Suquamish and Duwamish leader (1780-1866)















Photo: Martha and her daughter clean beans grown in their garden in the highlands of Nicaragua. (Richard Leonardi)

Bread and Wheaton College Highlight U.S. Poverty with Campus Event

Photo courtesy of Brooke Greene.

By Zach Schmidt

Recently, I worked with student leaders and professors at Wheaton College, which is just outside of Chicago, Ill., to put together an event that raised awareness of hunger and poverty in our nation.

More than sixty people participated in an April 9 viewing of The Line, a documentary that looks at poverty in America, and a post-screening talk on the themes explored in the film and the biblical mandate to help the poor. The event concluded in a panel discussion with Wheaton professors Jeremy Cook (economics) and George Kalantzis (theology). The Line profiles four Americans facing hunger and poverty, and one of the film's subjects lives in the school's backyard: single father John Lohmeier is a resident of DuPage County, which is where Wheaton is located.

Nicole Spewak of the Wheaton Record wrote an excellent piece on the event and in it she quotes one of the event’s leaders, who said the movie was an important eye-opener.

“Poverty is something that affects the community around us very heavily, yet it is one that we often don’t see nearby while we are at Wheaton,” senior Zachary Stallard [...] said. “‘The Line’ really helps to put a face to that poverty, even in DuPage County, and to show that this is something that is all around us, and something that we can’t ignore, and that we have a biblical mandate not to ignore.”

The students collected jars of peanut butter and jelly to take to the People’s Resource Center, the same food pantry that Lohmeier visited in The Line, and they signed Bread for the World's petition to the president and wrote letters to Congress.
Thanks to all who made this event a success! It was a privilege to support this effort.

Zach Schmidt is a Bread for the World regional organizer in the Central Hub, which includes Illinois, Kansas, Missouri, and Nebraska.


If you're interested in hosting a similar viewing through your church, campus, or community group, check out our house meeting guide for tips or contact you regional organizer.

No Child Should Work for Food

'Classic school lunch. Yum.' photo (c) 2010, Ben+Sam - license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/

By Nina Keehan

Ray Canterbury, a Republican member of the West Virginia House of Delegates, recently proposed that children should have to work for their free school lunches, an addition he wanted included in the Feed to Achieve Act (Senate Bill 663). The bill, which passed by overwhelming majority without his additions, makes breakfast and lunch available for free to every K-12 student in West Virginia through foundations that collect private donations and grants.

"I think it would be a good idea if perhaps we had the kids work for their lunches: trash to be taken out, hallways to be swept, lawns to be mowed, make them earn it,” Canterbury said during the debate. “If they miss a lunch or they miss a meal they might not, in that class that afternoon, learn to add, they may not learn to diagram a sentence, but they'll learn a more important lesson.”

Although Canterbury's proposal was roundly criticized by his fellow delegates, with both Republicans and Democrats voicing opposition, the controversial idea continues received national media attention, and the general public has continued the debate.

The government’s efforts to improve child nutrition through school feeding programs, as the Feed to Achieve Act aims to do, should be supported by all lawmakers who want students to excel regardless of their family’s income. Kids who eat breakfast and lunch perform better in school and have fewer behavioral issues in class, putting them in a better position to succeed.

The last thing we need to do is make it harder for the kids who need assistance to get it. Already, child nutrition programs don’t reach everyone who needs them. Today, 20.6 million schoolchildren receive free or reduced-price lunches, but 11 million of those don’t receive any breakfast assistance. Having a “there’s no such thing as a free lunch” mentality will keep millions of America’s children from realizing their true potential.

Nina Keehan, a media relations intern at Bread for the World, is a senior magazine journalism and public health dual major at Syracuse University.

Could Crickets Help End Hunger?


Fried crickets for sale at Chiang Mai Night Bazaar in Thailand, by flickr user avlxyz.

By Nina Keehan

How would you feel about eating a cricket muffin? Cricket bread? A cricket tortilla?  Well a team of students from McGill University are vying for a chance to make cricket-infused food a worldwide sensation.

McGill University is one of five finalists in this year’s prestigious Hult Prize competition, which gives MBA students a chance to solve some of the world’s greatest problems. This year, teams are tackling the global food crisis. The competition works something like this: groups of 4-5 students from universities across the globe develop social enterprises that can successfully and substantially reduce hunger. The students focus on urban slums, where over 200 million people worldwide are food insecure. Whichever team has the best idea will receive $1 million to actually make it happen.

The facts about global hunger are sobering. Nearly 1 billion people are hungry or suffer from malnutrition and every five seconds a child dies from hunger-related causes. That’s partially because extremely poor families spend more than 70 percent of their income on food, trapping them in a cycle of hunger, poverty, and illness.

If you're squeamish about the idea of buttering up a piece of cricket-infused bread, know that you're in the global minority. The UN Food Standards Authority states PDF Icon that about 2.5 billion people around the world already incorporate insects regularly into their diets, with grasshoppers being one of the most popular. They are low-fat, high-protein, high in omega-3, and much easier to mass produce than other sources of protein.

The McGill team’s basic idea is to produce crickets on an industrial scale, starting with urban dwellers who would raise them, eat them, and sell them to the local market. Families would be provided with a light, collapsible metal cylinder that attracts and traps crickets--up to 11 pounds in two months. Whatever was left after local sales and consumption could to be made into cricket flour that would then be subtly added to the local diet staple, whether that be corn, rice, or wheat.

The idea of consuming bugs for protein has grown in popularity over recent years. In fact, in 2011 the EU promised up to €1.5m in funding for research on producing “purified or partially purified insect protein,” and other alternative protein sources to help meet the Millennium Development Goals, eradicate famine, and improve environmental sustainability.

So get ready, because the key to solving hunger might just include tapping this market. One of the McGill students, Zev Thompson, told the Examiner.com, "Having now eaten them [crickets], it [now] seems normal...I wonder if crickets today are what sushi was 20 or 30 years ago--a weird exotic thing that breaks into the mainstream."

Only time will tell.

Nina Keehan, a media relations intern at Bread for the World, is a senior magazine journalism and public health dual major at Syracuse University.

Quote of the Day: Rev. James Forbes

“A good Samaritan is not simply one whose heart is touched in an immediate act of care and charity, but one who provides a system of sustained care.”

—Rev. James Forbes, in his Ted talk "Compassion at the Dinner Table."  Rev. Forbes, who is often called "the preacher’s preacher," will speak at Bread for the World’s 2013 National Gathering. Register today and join us.

Photo: Neelum Chand carries her son, Shuvam, 1, through the Nutrition Rehabilitation Home (NRH) in Dhangadhi, Nepal, after lunch on Sunday, April 29, 2012. The NRH, a project of the Rural Women's Development and Unity Center, a Nepali NGO, works to restore malnourished children to health. (Laura Elizabeth Pohl/Bread for the World)

Hunger in the News: SNAP and Seniors, Poverty in America


A regular, non-comprehensive roundup of current news links on hunger and poverty issues from around the Web.

"In Florida, a food-stamp recruiter deals with wrenching choices," by Eli Saslow, Washington Post. Dillie Nerios travels the state signing up hungry senior citizens for SNAP and spreading the message that there is no shame in receiving benefits.

"City Report Shows More Were Near Poverty in 2011," by Sam Roberts, New York Times. About 46 percent of New Yorkers were making less than 150 percent of the city's poverty threshold in 2011. "[M]issing rungs in the ladder make it really hard to climb out of poverty,” Nancy Rankin, vice president for policy research and advocacy at the Community Service Society, told the Times.

"Here’s why 10.4 million American workers are still in poverty," by Brad Plumer, Washington Post's Wonk Blog. One of the most troubling take-aways from Wonk Blog's analysis of U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics data: “Among families with at least one member in the labor force for 27 weeks or more, those families with children under 18 years old were about 4 times more likely than those without children to live in poverty.”

"Does Max Baucus’s retirement make tax reform easier?" by Ezra Klein, Washington Post's Wonk Blog. Klein wonders if the chairman of the Senate Finance Committee's upcoming retirement will make tax reform more likely.

Quote of the Day: Cesar Chavez

"Show me the suffering of the most miserable;
So I will know my people’s plight.
Free me to pray for others;
For you are present in every person.
Help me to take responsibility for my own life;
So that I can be free at last.
Grant me courage to serve others;
For in service there is true life."

"Enséñame el sufrimiento de los más
Así conoceré el dolor de mi pueblo.
Líbrame a orar por los demás;
Porque estás presente en cada persona.
Ayúdame a tomar responsabilidad de mi
propia vida;
Sólo así seré libre al fin.
Concédeme valentía para servir al prójimo;
Porque en la entrega hay vida verdadera."

--From "Prayer of the Farm Workers’ Struggle" ("Oración del Campesino en la Lucha"), by Cesar Chavez (1927-1993)

Photo: A migrant worker piles cucumbers in Blackwater, Virginia, on the farm of Ricky Horton and Sherilyn Shepard on Monday, July 25, 2011. (Laura Elizabeth Pohl/Bread for the World)

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