Urging our nation's leaders to end hunger
 

34 posts from June 2013

'A Place at the Table' on Moyers and Company This Weekend

Leylanie, 7, eats a bowl of cereal. Leylanie is the daughter of Barbie Izquierdo, a Philadelphia native whose firsthand experiences with hunger and poverty have made her an anti-hunger activist and nationwide speaker on the topic. Barbie has worked with Witness to Hunger in Philadelphia and appears in the documentary A Place at the Table.(Laura Elizabeth Pohl/Bread for the World)

When A Place at the Table co-director Kristi Jacobson began work on the documentary about hunger in America, many people she told about the project doubted that she'd have enough material for a full-length film.

"Very often in the beginning, when we set out to make this film, people would look at us and say, 'Hunger in America? There is no hunger in America, you should be doing a film about hunger in other countries—that's where we have a real problem." Jacobson recalled, speaking during Bread for the World's National Gathering on June 10. 

Of course, as Bread for the World advocates know, hunger does exist in America, and at startling rates: 50 million Americans are food insecure, one-third of them children. A Place at the Table has not only helped to bring the pervasiveness of U.S. hunger to light and underscore the importance of federal nutrition assistance programs, it has put a face to the statistics.  

This Sunday, Jacobson and Mariana Chilton, director of the Center for Hunger-Free Communities, will appear on Bill Moyers’ show, Moyers and Company, to discuss the film, shatter stereotypes surrounding federal food assistance programs and the people who utilize them, and to talk about how the problem of hunger can be solved. 

Watch a preview of the show below. The episode will begin airing this Sunday (check your local listings for air times) and will be available online next week. 

A Place at the Table is now available on DVD; join the thousands of Bread for the World members who have seen the film and used our discussion guide, “No Place at the Table.”

Comprehensive Immigration Reform Moves to the House

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With Vice President Joe Biden presiding, yesterday afternoon members of the Senate delivered their one-word votes on comprehensive immigration reform.  Sixty-eight said “aye” and, with that, a bipartisan bill (S.744) that includes a path to citizenship for roughly 11 million undocumented U.S. workers passed the Senate.

We are grateful for the phone calls and emails you delivered to Capitol Hill over the last week, spreading the message that immigration and hunger go hand in hand. (You can see how your senator voted here).

The bill, although imperfect, is an important first step in changing a broken immigration system that perpetuates hunger. As undocumented immigrants experience disproportionate rates of food insecurity, legal status would provide greater opportunities to overcome poverty.

Earlier in the day, Bread for the World and other members of the Evangelical Immigration Roundtable participated in a prayer vigil in Washington, D.C. The group reflected on scripture from Matthew 25, which calls Christians into relationship with the stranger, and prayed together for immigration reform that would protect the most vulnerable. “God, when you grip our hearts we are turned toward our brothers and sisters on the margins of society,” said Rev. Noel Castellano, leading the group in prayer. 

Advocates will need the perseverance that comes with faith, as there is still much work to be done. The fate of immigration reform in the House of Representatives has yet to be determined. We will continue to urge representatives to include provisions in a final bill that reduce hunger at home and abroad.

Double Your Impact: Protecting Food Aid and WIC

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At Bread for the World, ending malnutrition is an essential part of the work to end hunger at home and abroad.

Globally, an estimated 165 million children under the age of five are stunted. Inadequate nutrition during the 1,000 day-window from a woman's pregnancy through her child’s second birthday impairs development. Research shows that adults who did not receive adequate nutrition as children can lose up to 10 percent of their lifetime earnings. In the United States, child poverty rates are on the rise, yet the WIC program, proven to lower infant mortality rates and improve school performance, is in danger of losing funding because of sequestration. When a nation’s children begin their lives with challenges created by malnutrition and hunger, it becomes more difficult to make good on the promise of a prosperous future.

But faithful advocacy has the power to change the future.

To advance the millennium development goals of eradicating hunger and extreme poverty while also reducing child mortality and malnutrition, food aid with improved nutrition that targets vulnerable mothers and children must be central to development programs—and it must be properly funded. Yet, unless Congress acts to end sequestration it is estimated that more than 571 thousand children could lose food interventions that can prevent the irreversible damage caused by malnutrition.

God’s kingdom is without borders; nutrition during the first 1,000 days matters as much if you live in Bangladesh or Baltimore. The WIC program provides nearly 9 million pregnant or nursing mothers and vulnerable children access to adequate nutrition, education, and health care referrals.  As sequestration continues, it will erode the effectiveness of the program.  Congress must replace the automatic cuts with a balanced plan that includes revenues.

Both chambers of Congress are working on spending bills, and the House numbers assume sequestration is here to stay. And unlike the provision in sequestration whereby cuts are split evenly between defense and non-defense programs in the budget, the House proposal moves all cuts to non-defense programs. A unified and faithful chorus of voices must again tell Congress that the federal budget cannot be balanced on the backs of the most vulnerable.

Being faithful advocates during one of the most polarized political periods in history, with a constant barrage of proposals to cut programs for poor and hungry, is difficult, but we know that your advocacy on behalf of hungry and poor people works. Even with $2.7 trillion in deficit reduction already enacted, programs that help hungry and poor people have been largely protected. Calls and emails helped stop a recent proposal to cut the SNAP program by $20.5 billion, protecting the program at current levels, for now.

These victories and the challenges ahead in the journey to end hunger are possible because of the engagement and support of Bread for the World members. Please consider joining our summer effort to help hungry people by making a gift to Bread. Because of a few generous donors, between now and July 12 your donation will be doubled!

Quote of the Day: Matthew 25:31-35

 

“When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his glorious throne. All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left. Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in....'" —Matthew 25:31-35

 Today, as the Senate votes on comprehensive immigration reform, Evangelical Immigration Table members Bread for the World and Christian Community Development Association will gather at the U.S. Capitol to pray for reform that upholds the values of human dignity, family unity, and respect for the rule of law.

Please take a moment at this critical time to tell Congress that everyone deserves a place at the table.  Tell your U.S. senators to  1) support any amendment that addresses the root causes of undocumented immigration, such as extreme poverty in countries of origin; and 2) oppose any amendments that would make it more difficult for undocumented immigrants to earn a path to citizenship or would prohibit authorized immigrants and their citizen family members from receiving needed assistance such as WIC, SNAP, and EITC benefits. Call toll-free at 800-826-3688, or send an email today.

Immigrant Farm Workers and Hunger

Migrant workers load cucumbers into a truck in Blackwater, Virginia, on the farm of Ricky Horton and Sherilyn Shepard on Monday, July 25, 2011. Almost three-fourths of all U.S. hired farm workers 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)

By Kiara Ortiz

How can someone live and work on a farm and suffer from hunger? It doesn’t make sense. And yet this sad irony is a reality for many immigrant farm workers in the United States.

Nearly three-fourths of U.S. farm workers are immigrants, many working in the U.S. without authorization and filling low-wage jobs that citizens are reluctant to take. Yet immigrant farm workers, who are so vital to the U.S. food system, disproportionately suffer from hunger and poverty

Immigrants come to America in search of a better life, but are often exploited on farms. Pressure from immigration enforcement, low wages, inconsistent work schedules, and other inequalities can shatter their dreams.  These workers are vital to the economy of this nation—a path to citizenship allowing these workers and their families access to federal anti-hunger and anti-poverty programs,  such as SNAP and EITC, is an important first step in immigration reform.

During Bread for the World’s 2013 National Gathering, I had the privilege of sitting in on the Immigration as a Hunger and Poverty Issue workshop. I was lucky enough to hear Lucas Benitez tell his story. Benitez is originally from Mexico but lives in a small town in Florida called Immokalee, an area where many Mexican, Guatemalan, and Haitian immigrants live. As an activist in Florida, and the co-founder of the Coalition of Immokalee Workers, he shared his experiences and struggles as an immigrant working in the fields of Immokalee.

“We live—no, we survive—off the work we do in the fields,” he said. “We work hard to put food on everyone’s table but our own. Why does it have to be that way?”

Why should immigrant farm workers be paid less money just because they are “desperate” for the wages? Wages should be based on work ethic and competency—immigrants, regardless of their status, should receive equal and fair pay for their hard work to provide food for our tables.

Our country stands against cruel and unusual punishment—it’s a value outlined in our Constitution. So, how can we stand by as  immigrants endure strenuous labor conditions, day in and day out, producing food, but not earning enough to feed themselves?

When advocates unite, we can change things. We live in a country built on the ideals of freedom and equality, yet we continue to allow immigrant farm workers to be dehumanized and mistreated. It’s time to stop being complacent about this. The current system that perpetuates hunger both here and abroad can, and must, change. We need to fight for fair and equal pay, better working conditions, a legal means of being in the United States for those who require it, and respect for all farm workers.

Kiara Ortiz is a sophomore at Spelman College in Atlanta, GA. She is a media relations intern at Bread for the World.

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Act Now! The Senate is expected to vote on a bipartisan immigration reform bill this week! Tell your U.S. senators to  1) support any amendment that addresses the root causes of undocumented immigration, such as extreme poverty in countries of origin; and 2) oppose any amendments that would make it more difficult for undocumented immigrants to earn a path to citizenship or would prohibit authorized immigrants and their citizen family members from receiving needed assistance such as WIC, SNAP, and EITC benefits. Call toll-free at 800-826-3688, or send an email today.

Quote of the Day: David Beckham

“There is enough food in the world for everyone, but not everyone has enough food. Every 15 seconds, a child dies of malnutrition. As a UNICEF Ambassador, I have seen how simple, low-cost solutions stop children dying of hunger and malnutrition."

—Soccer star and UNICEF Ambassador David Beckham

Photo: Lawrence, a boy staying at Omoana House, a child rehabilitation center in Jinja, Uganda, plays outside on Saturday, May 21, 2012. Omoana House provides nutrition and health services for sick children referred to them by hospitals and local clinics. Once the children recover, they go back to their parents or guardians (Laura Elizabeth Pohl/Bread for the World).

Act Now: Include Ending Hunger in the Senate Immigration Bill


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Photo:  Matt H. Wade/UpstateNYer

By Eric Mitchell

Immigration and hunger are closely related. Each day, individuals make the difficult decision to leave their countries and their families to escape extreme poverty.

Meanwhile, undocumented immigrants in the United States disproportionately experience hunger. That’s why faithful immigration reform must address hunger as an immigration issue both here and abroad. Together, we can make that happen.

This week, the Senate is expected to vote on the bipartisan immigration reform bill (S. 744), and your voice is critical. Amendments will be offered that can increase or decrease hunger.

Call your U.S. senators today! Urge them to support comprehensive immigration reform.

Tell your senators to

  1. support any amendment that addresses the root causes of undocumented immigration, such as extreme poverty in countries of origin; and
  2. oppose any amendments that would make it more difficult for undocumented immigrants to earn a path to citizenship or would prohibit authorized immigrants and their citizen family members from receiving needed assistance such as WIC, SNAP, and EITC benefits.

Bread for the World recognizes that this legislation is far from perfect, but failing to pass comprehensive immigration reform is to perpetuate hunger. Learn more about immigration and hunger here.

We are compelled to act for fair reform of our broken immigration system because of Christ’s compassion for the vulnerable and his call for us to care for the stranger (Matthew 25). As the Senate votes on final passage, we must let our members of Congress know that a faithful constituency is paying attention. Call your U.S. senators at 800-326-4941, or email them, today.

Thank you for continuing to use your voice to help ensure a place at the table for all of God’s children, including the 11 million undocumented immigrants who every day contribute to the economy and greatness of our nation.

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

Pushing Immigration Reform Into the 21st Century

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Santiago Cruz, in the Mexico countryside, December 12, 2010.  (Laura Elizabeth Pohl/Bread for the World)

In the short documentary Stay, Santiago Cruz and his wife, Victoria, talk about being pushed into a difficult decision: continue to languish in deep poverty or migrate.

Deciding to escape hunger and poverty is not difficult, but the price is often painful. Santiago left Victoria and his children behind in Oaxaca, Mexico, and faced the uncertainty and peril of migration—their only hope for a better life. Most undocumented immigrants live precarious and vulnerable lives.

Bread for the World's 2013 Offering of Letters aims for the political will to ensure a place at the table for all God's children. This mandate provides important guidance about immigration. As the Senate debates, and perhaps votes, on comprehensive immigration reform this week (S 744), we see an opportunity to alleviate hunger, both in this country and abroad. 

Simply put, immigration is a hunger issue. And hunger is an immigration issue.

Half of all laborers harvesting U.S. crops are undocumented; they are often exploited and face some of the highest rates of poverty in the United States—as much as 35 percent, far above the national rate. It is important to remember that these are working individuals who contribute to the economy of this nation. Immigration reform should provide a path to citizenship for these individuals, and it should allow their families to access programs like SNAP and EITC.

The current system, which perpetuates hunger here and abroad can, and must, change.

A holistic approach to immigration would also alleviate the poverty abroad that pushes families like Santiago’s to choose migration. The Senate debate and bill have thus far failed to consider why people leave their homelands. Fewer people will feel compelled to migrate if poverty were reduced in their home countries.

Santiago was eventually able to return and stay in Oaxaca after he and Victoria were given a hand up by a Mexican nonprofit partnered with Catholic Relief Services. CEDICAM helped them with sustainable farming techniques, which provided enough food and money for them to stay together.

Bread for the World Institute has extensively researched the relationship between poverty and immigration, and we will urge Congress to craft legislation that reforms our immigration system in ways that help end hunger.

Watch the award winning documentary Stay on YouTube and share it with your friends.

Quote of the Day: David Beckmann

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"[W]hen we speak with one voice, Congress listens. I am humbled by the faithfulness of our members and activists in speaking out with and for hungry people."

—Rev. David Beckmann, president of Bread for the World, in a statement on the House version of the farm bill, which included steep cuts to SNAP (formerly food stamps) and food aid. The bill failed to pass yesterday. 

Photo: Attendees of Bread for the World's 2013 National Gathering, which was held June 8-11, 2013, in Washington, D.C., clap their hands (Joseph Molieri/Bread for the World).

Thank You, Faithful Advocates! House Farm Bill that Cuts SNAP Fails to Pass

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Bread for the World advocates during a workshop at the 2013 National Gathering, held June 8-11 in Washington, D.C.

Advocacy requires patience and, like the exodus from Egypt, the exodus from hunger takes struggle, perseverance, prayer, and faith. Our biblical tradition has aptly prepared Christian anti-hunger advocates for this work. Today, faithful advocacy paid off!

With two days of heated debate on the House floor, it was not clear that the chamber’s farm bill—which included $20.5 billion in cuts to SNAP (formerly food stamps) and $2.5 billion in cuts to food aid—would fail. Two amendments that would have restored the funding failed yesterday and several harmful proposals that would have increased hunger passed. But there was always hope.

Like David picking up the rock as he faced impossible odds against Goliath, anti-hunger advocates picked up phones, sent emails, and used social media to send the same powerful message to Congress: everyone deserves a place at the table.

Bread for the World strongly urged a “no” vote on any farm bill that included cuts to programs that help hungry and poor people. The House farm bill failed passage today, with a final vote of 195 yays and 234 nays. (To see how your representative voted, click here). 

This is a great victory, but there is still much work to be done. As congressional leaders decide how to move forward, we will make sure that our members are equipped with the information they need in order to remain vigilant. Some options for moving forward include sending the House farm bill back to the agriculture committee for changes, another short- or long-term extension of the farm bill (the bill we are functioning under expires Sept. 30), or leadership may choose to vote on the Senate bill. 

Beyond the farm bill, work on immigration, the budget, and replacing sequestration will take center stage. The fearless and faithful advocacy it takes to say “no” in the face of those who may seem bigger and stronger will be needed again and again.

Like David who faced the Philistine not with a sword, but with faith and courage, faithful advocates will again be challenged, but we can continue to overcome great obstacles. Thank you to everyone who used his or her voice and made a difference today.

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Your support and involvement made it possible for Bread for the World to fight cuts to SNAP and food aid. You can help keep that momentum going by joining our summer effort to help hungry people and making a gift to Bread 

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