John Lewis: "Never give up until everyone has food."
In the closing minutes of Bread for the World’s 2013 National Gathering, Rep. John Lewis entered a caucus room packed with hundreds of exhausted Bread members who had spent the day walking the halls of Congress, meeting with their lawmakers on behalf of hungry and poor people. The civil rights leader brought them to their feet with a rallying cry:
“Continue the fight. Continue the struggle. Never give up until everyone has food.”
Thanks to you and thousands of other faithful advocates, we are making progress against hunger. This was clear at our National Gathering, held in Washington, D.C., June 8-11. More than 1,000 anti-hunger advocates joined us in prayer, training, education, and advocacy.
On Lobby Day, Tuesday, June 11, Bread members engaged legislators or their staff in 199 meetings, telling our stories and those of people in need, urging our leaders to consider the most vulnerable when they cast their votes—and reminding them that we are holding them accountable. Three-quarters of the Senate was visited by Bread members during Lobby Day.
Quietly, steadily, we are building a critical mass in the fight against hunger and malnutrition, especially as it affects the youngest and most vulnerable.
On Monday, June 10, participants from more than 20 countries joined us for a special day-long international meeting, “Sustaining Political Commitments to Scaling Up Nutrition,” which was convened by Bread for the World Institute and Concern Worldwide.
Leaders from governments, nongovernmental organizations, and civil society joined Bread members to take stock of the movement to improve nutrition for mothers and children during the critical 1,000 days that lead to a child’s second birthday.
Over the past three years, 40 countries with high malnutrition rates joined the movement to Scale Up Nutrition (SUN) and have highlighted nutrition in their development agendas, while donor governments and nongovernmental organizations are investing in new and innovative ways to prevent and treat malnutrition and undernutrition. Immediately prior to the June 10 meeting, world leaders committed $4.15 billion to scale up direct nutrition interventions and an additional $19 billion for nutrition-sensitive programs in agriculture and other sectors.
Our 2013 National Gathering revealed the power and the glory of God working through us to end hunger. I am filled with gratitude for your commitment to this important work. I thank all of you who attended the Gathering or sent prayers as we took our message to Capitol Hill.
And I thank everyone who worked behind the scenes or took center stage to bring us together for a remarkable long weekend. We enjoyed a sold-out production of Lazarus: The Musical, which was created by Joel Underwood, with new music by Bill Cummings.
We shared a special screening of the documentary A Place at the Table, followed by a meaningful discussion with the people who shared their lives onscreen and in the companion book, Barbie Izquierdo, Bob and Michaelene Wilson, and Sharon Thornberry—as well as director Kristi Jacobson.
Our workshops and plenaries were led by renowned experts from across many fields. And Bread volunteers, interns, and staff kept it all humming.
I have so much more to share from the Gathering: stories, photos, and details about the progress that we are making to end hunger. You will be receiving a follow-up newsletter in a couple of weeks with important information about where we go from here to end hunger.
In his keynote address, Dr. Rajiv Shah, administrator for the U.S. Agency for International Development renewed the commitment of the U.S. government and applauded the advocacy campaigns of Bread for the World:
“Together, you form one of the greatest movements alive today—the fight to make hunger, malnutrition, and extreme poverty permanently a thing of our past.”
David Beckmann is president of Bread for the World.
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