Urging our nation's leaders to end hunger

42 posts from May 2013

Quote of the Day: Lori Silverbush

"[T]he [SNAP] program was designed to grow when the economy shrinks, and it's doing what it was designed to do. People who are trying to cut it like to point to that as if it's some example of 'it's bloated, it's full of waste'—truthfully, it's only big because the need is so big."

—Lori Silverbush, co-director of the documentary A Place at the Table

Call or email your members of Congress and tell them to ensure a place at the table for all people by protecting and strengthening the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, formerly food stamps) and international food aid in the farm bill.

Photo: DeEtte Peck uses her EBT card in Portland, OR, to purchase food. (Brian Duss)

Finding Summer Meals

Children enjoying their school lunches. (USDA photo)

School lunches have been in the headlines recently, from a West Virginia delegate's proposal to make children work at their schools in order to receive meals to news surrounding the House Committee on Agriculture's farm bill, which would end school lunches for nearly 210,000 children.

Still, the biggest threat to feeding schoolchildren at the moment isn't legislation or program cuts, but summer vacation.

Summer is upon us, which means that many schools will soon be shutting down until September—and many school lunch and breakfast programs will be on break, as well. When schools are closed during the summer months, many children lose the free school meals they depend on, but the Summer Food Service Program (SFSP) was established to ensure that children in low-income households continue to receive meals when school is not in session. Free meals that meet federal nutrition guidelines are provided to all children 18 and under at approved SFSP sites around the country.

While summer meal programs aren't as plentiful as school lunch programs, they do exist. Call 1-866-3-HUNGRY or 1-877-8-HAMBRE (español) and a live operator will tell you where the closest sites serving free, nutritious summer meals are located.  Or visit www.whyhunger.org/findfood to locate sites using an online map.

If you're not personally in need of summer meals for yourself or children in your household, the site offers resources—fliers, door hangers, brochures, and more—that individuals, churches, and community groups can use to spread the word about summer meals. Also, be sure to contact your members of Congress and tell than that the farm bill must not increase hunger by cutting programs that feed children and families. 

Quote of the Day: Luke 14:12-24

Man_delivering_food_to_senior"But when you give a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind, and you will be blessed. Although they cannot repay you, you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous.” —Luke 14:12-24 (NIV)

In 2010 alone, SNAP (formerly food stamps) served more than 3 million older Americans, according to analysis from Bread for the World.  Email your members of Congress today, and tell them to ensure a place at the table for all people by protecting and strengthening, not cutting, SNAP.









Photo: Meals on Wheels food delivery. (Lindsay Benson Garrett/Meals on Wheels)

A Look Back at 'Lazarus'

Lazarus-poster-small-versionBy Carlos Navarro

"One has risen from the dead, and rich Christians confess this at their table, and yet poor Lazarus, in millions, continues to hunger and to perish from hunger at their door.  The point of this parable is not, as is often suspected, the consoling pipe-dream of heaven for poor Lazarus.  It is addressed exclusively to the rich man.  It is not meant to console the poor with the hope of recompense beyond the grave, but to warn the rich of damnation and to incite them to hear and act in the world."  —Helmut Gollwitzer, from The Rich Christians and Poor Lazarus

I have been involved in Bread for the World for more than 30 years, and some of my best memories include attending a handful of performances of Lazarus, a musical written by Joel Underwood.  Joel served in many capacities at Bread (including as director of church relations), but his musical based on Luke 16: 19-31 is part of the strong legacy he is leaving for our grassroots anti-hunger movement.

My experiences of Lazarus include two very different but powerful interpretations of the musical.  I had the privilege of watching a gospel version of the play performed by a very talented cast at Mount Carmel Church of God in Christ in Kansas City, Kan.  Marie Frasure, who was part of the leadership team for Bread in the Kansas City area during the '80s and '90s and a member of Mount Carmel, was the one who convinced the church's musical director Paul Sims to take on this endeavor.The other adaptation of Lazarus that I attended was  in the Albuquerque area, at Rio Rancho Presbyterian Church.  This was a much smaller, but equally compelling, version. Rev. Kay Huggins, a Bread member and pastor of the church at the time, was the one who brought the play to our community. There have been many other versions of Lazarus performed around the country over the years, including a one-person show by Harriet Harlow Larsen (with accompaniment by Lou Ann Rice).

Balladoflazarus334On June 8, a revival of Lazarus will premiere at the Mead Center for American Theater in Washington, D.C.  This revival version will kick off Bread for the World's National Gathering this year. This revival version keeps the lyrics of the songs intact, but noted musical director Dr. Bill Cummings added a contemporary touch to the arrangements.

There is good news and bad news regarding the Washington, D.C. performance. The good news is that the show is sold out: While many of those in attendance are Bread for the World members participating in the National Gathering, there are many others from the Washington-Baltimore metro area who will experience this story in words and music. And the bad news is: the show is sold out. But hopefully there will be additional opportunities to see the new Lazarus.

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.

Embracing God's Expansive Love: June's Bread for the Preacher

'Holy Bible' photo (c) 2009, Steve Snodgrass - license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/

Did you know that each month the church relations department at Bread for the World produces a resource specifically for pastors? Whether you are searching for inspiration for a sermon you're writing, or just a lectionary enthusiast, Bread for the Preacher is for you.

After reading this introduction, explore this month’s readings on the Bread for the Preacher web page, where you can also sign up to have the resource emailed to you each month.

By Rev. Gary Cook

June’s lectionary readings are filled with stories that recount powerful and miraculous acts. Often, however, a significant aspect of the story is the radical nature of who was included in the miracles: not just the starving widow, but also a man possessed by demons and a despised foreigner. While our own beneficence tends to have limits, God’s doesn’t.

On Capitol Hill, we see efforts to limit access to programs to the “deserving” poor, reduce funding for services available to those who struggle with their own demons, and narrowly define who is worthy of living in our country. Some members of Congress use scripture to bolster their arguments for restricting eligibility for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, formerly food stamps). Join us in praying for a miracle that moves our nation closer to embracing God’s gracious and expansive love for all people.

Rev. Gary Cook is director of church relations at Bread for the World.

VIDEO: McGovern, Silverbush Talk Potential SNAP Cuts

Melissa Harris-Perry, who has used her MSNBC show as a platform to bring attention to issues of hunger and poverty in America, devoted her May 26 "Taking Food off the Table" segment to the farm bill and SNAP. Rep. Jim McGovern (D-Mass.), former Virginia Governor Doug Wilder, PBS NewsHour Politics Editor Christina Bellantoni, Food Research and Action Center (FRAC) President Jim Weill, and A Place at the Table co-director Lori Silverbush discussed the $21 billion in SNAP cuts in the House Agriculture Committee's farm bill.

McGovern, Silverbush, and others spoke against slashing the program, and also addressed some common misconceptions about SNAP.

"Millions and millions of people on SNAP work for a living, work full-time, but make so little that they still qualify," McGovern said. "This is not a get rich quick scheme, this is hard living."

Silverbush said that the program has expanded to address hunger, as it is meant to do. "It's a terrible economy and the food stamp program was designed to grow when the economy shrinks, and it's doing what it was designed to do," she said. "People who are trying to cut it like to point to that as if it's some example of 'it's bloated, it's full of waste'—truthfully, it's only so big because the need is so big. And as the economy recovers, food stamps are going to go down as well."  

The panel also discussed SNAP's extremely low fraud levels and the need to strengthen, rather than cut, the vital program.

"Most people, I don't care what their political persuasion is, don't want to see the burden on poor people get worse," said McGovern. Watch the entire segment below.

Bread for the World continues to fight these cuts as the bill goes to the floor of the House. Call your representative today at 1-800-326-4941 or send an email now, and tell him or her to protect, not cut, SNAP.

Put On Your Comfortable Shoes and Join Us

Photo: The street sign for Bread for the World's 2011 Lobby Day. (Jim Stipe)

By Christine Melendez Ashley

Wear comfortable shoes. That’s the most practical advice I can give you if you’re planning to join us for Bread for the World’s Lobby Day on Tuesday, June 11.

We’ll be walking the halls of Congress, meeting with senators, representatives, and their staffers—asking them to protect programs vital to hungry and poor people. On the morning of June 11, we will convene at the Mead Center in Washington, D.C., for worship, issue briefings, and practice sessions before heading to Capitol Hill to meet with our members of Congress.

Lobby Day is free, but registration is required. Please let us know today if you'll be able to join us. This allows us time to coordinate meetings with your members of Congress.

We will provide meals, talking points, shuttle transportation to and from congressional office buildings, and a closing service and reception. Comfortable shoes not included.

See you there!

Christine Melendez Ashley is a policy analyst with Bread for the World.


If you are participating in Lobby Day, please join us on Wednesday, May 29, at 3 p.m. ET for our pre-Lobby Day training webinar!

Quote of the Day: Pope Francis

Child_eating_orange“If investments in the banks fail, ‘Oh, it’s a tragedy.’ But if people die of hunger or don’t have food or health, nothing happens. This is our crisis today.”

—Pope Francis, during a May 19 Pentecost vigil













Photo: Isaac, 3, enjoying fresh fruit. Isaac's family has utilized EITC (Earned Income Tax Credit) and other safety net programs. (Laura Elizabeth Pohl)

Support International Food Aid Reform in the Farm Bill


By David Beckmann

Senators Chris Coons (D-Del.) and Mike Johanns (R-Neb.) have just introduced an amendment to the Senate Farm Bill that establishes improvements to our international food aid program.

Amendment 1079 increases the authorization for the Local and Regional Procurement (LRP) program from $40 million per year to $60 million per year from 2014 through 2018.

Bread for the World supported the LRP pilot program when it was originally authorized in the 2008 farm bill, and now we’re hoping that it will be expanded.

The pilot program demonstrated the benefit of purchasing food aid locally and regionally to meet the needs of those suffering from hunger. Purchasing food aid locally is cheaper, quicker, and supports farmers in developing countries. These are smart reforms and we should invest additional funds into this successful program.

The bipartisan Coon-Johanns amendment makes this program permanent and substantially increases the authorized funding level.

Your U.S. senators need to hear from you ASAP! The Senate is considering the amendment soon. Don't delay! Call 800-326-4941 today, and tell your U.S. senators,

Vote “yes” on the Coons-Johanns food aid reform amendment.

Thank you for using your voice to help ensure a place at the table for all God’s people.

David Beckmann is president of Bread for the World.

Quote of the Day: Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

"Why should there be hunger and privation in any land, in any city, at any table when [we have] the resources and the scientific know-how to provide all [hu]mankind with the basic necessities of life? ... There is no deficit in human resources; the deficit is in human will."

— Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., in his Nobel Peace Prize lecture

Photo: Elementary school children in Southeast Washington, D.C., enjoy their lunch. (Eugene Mebane, Jr.)

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