Urging our nation's leaders to end hunger

39 posts from October 2013

Who’s Working on the Farm Bill?

Barbie Screen Shot
Nearly 16 million children lived in food=insecure households in 2012.  SNAP (formerly food stamps) helps keep hunger at bay and is the nation's number-one defense against hunger (Movie still from A Place at the Table, courtesy of Participant Media).

The farm bill process is starting to move again. Now that both chambers have passed their versions, the conference process – by which the House and Senate try to reconcile the bills into a single piece of legislation – is expected to begin with opening statements on Oct. 30.

As part of the 2013 Offering of Letters, Bread members have been advocating for protection of SNAP funding and asking for common-sense reforms to food aid. There is a vast difference between the Senate and the House bills, so negotiations will be difficult.  As a reminder, the Senate passed a bill with a $4.1 billion cut to SNAP over 10 years, but did include needed improvements to food aid. The House bill, on the other hand, included a nearly $40 billion cut to SNAP over 10 years and a $2.5 billion cut to international food aid.

Nearly 49 million American families live in food-insecure households. In just nine days, participants in the SNAP program, which helps provide food to those struggling families, will begin to see a reduction in their benefits.  Making additional cuts to SNAP  as we continue to rebound from tough economic times would be disastrous. Churches and charities cannot replace such a reduction in the safety net. 

The World Food Program reports that poor nutrition causes nearly half (45 percent) of deaths in children under five — 3.1 million children each year. Common-sense reforms to food aid as part of the Senate version of the farm bill will help programs target nutrition to vulnerable populations with greater efficiency.  More than 50 bipartisan members of the House have urged support of the reforms.

Now is the time for faithful advocates to again add their voice.  If one of the conferees listed below is your Senator or Representative, call or email them, write letters to the editor and use social media to make your message public.  Contact your regional organizer for more ways you can impact the final bill.

Sample tweet: Senator @StabenowPress, I ask you to pass a #farmbill with #NoSNAPcuts and #fixfoodaid

Sample Facebook status update:  A farm bill must not increase hunger. I’m urging my Senator @Debbie Stabenow to protect SNAP in the farm bill and include common-sense reforms to food aid.

Senate Farm Bill Conferees






Debbie Stabenow


(202) 224-4822


Patrick Leahy


(202) 224-4242


Tom Harkin


(202) 224-3254


Max Baucus


(202) 224-2651


Sherrod Brown


(202) 224-2315


Amy Klobuchar


(202) 224-3244


Michael Bennet


(202) 224-5852


Thad Chochran


(202) 224-5054


Pat Roberts


(202) 224-4774


Saxby Chambliss


(202) 224-3521


John Boozman


(202) 224-4843

North Dakota

John Hoeven


(202) 224-2551

*To tag your member of Congress on Facebook, you must first like their page. To find their page, click on the hyperlink in their name.

House Farm Bill Conferees





Oklahoma -03

Frank Lucas


(202) 225-5565

Iowa - 04

Steve King


(202) 225-4426

Texas -19

Randy Neugebauer


(202) 225-4005

Alabama - 03

Mike Rogers


(202) 225-3261

Texas -11

K. Michael Conaway


(202) 225-3605

Pennsylvania- 05

Glenn ‘GT’ Thompson


(202) 225-5121

Georgia - 08

Austin Scott


(202) 225-6531

Arkansas - 01

Rick Crawford


(202) 225-4076

Alabama – 02

Martha Roby


(202) 225-2901

South Dakota - AL

Kristi Noem


(202) 225-2801

California - 10

Jeff Denham


(202) 225-4540

Illinois - 13

Rodney Davis


(202) 225.2371

Florida - 02

Steve Southerland


(202) 225-5235

California - 39

Ed Royce


(202) 225-4111

Pennsylvania - 10

Tom Marino


(202) 225-3731

Michigan - 04

Dave Camp


(202) 225-3561

Texas - 03

Sam Johnson


(202) 225-3561

Minnesota - 07

Collin Peterson

No account

(202) 225-2165

North Carolina -07

Mike McIntyre


(202) 225-2731

California - 16

Jim Costa


(202) 225-3341

Minnesota - 01

Tim Walz


(202) 225-2472

Oregon – 05

Kurt Schrader


(202) 225-5711

Massachusetts - 02

Jim McGovern


(202) 225-6101

Washington - 01

Suzan DelBene


(202) 225-6311

California – 35

Gloria Negrete


(202) 225-6161

Texas - 34

Filemon Vela


(202) 225-9901

Ohio - 11

Marcia Fudge


(202) 225-7032

New York - 16

Eliot Engel


(202) 225-2464

Michigan - 09

Sandy Levin


(202) 225-4961

*To tag your member of Congress on Facebook, you must first like their page. To find their page, click on the hyperlink in their name.

Quote of the Day: Pope Francis

Child_eating_egg"[H]unger and malnutrition can never be considered a normal occurrence that we should be become used to, as if it were part of the system. Something must change in ourselves, in our minds, in our societies."

—Pope Francis in a World Food Day message to the director general of the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization.












The budget decisions before Congress will affect people struggling with hunger for years to come. Call your members of Congress today and tell them to work to pass a moral, responsible budget that replaces sequestration with a balanced plan that won't increase hunger and poverty. Use our toll-free number (1-800-826-3688) or send an email.

Photo: Adia, 17 months, licks her fingers while eating a fried egg for breakfast on the morning of Thursday, April 19, 2012, in Char Baria village, Barisal, Bangladesh (Laura Elizabeth Pohl/Bread for the World).

Meet the Budget Conference Committee

Patty Murray
Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.), chairman of the Senate budget committee, speaks about the importance of telling the stories behind the statistics during Bread for the World’s 2012 Lobby Day reception while President David Beckmann listens. (Rick Reinhard)

Between now and Dec. 13, the members of Congress listed below will be spending a good deal of time together as they attempt to come up with a bipartisan budget compromise. Their choices and proposals will have an impact on hunger in the years to come.

Last week, Congress reached an eleventh-hour agreement to pass a continuing resolution and raise the country's debt ceiling. The deal averted an economic catastrophe — for now.  The deal funds the government at current levels through Jan. 15, 2014, and raises the debt ceiling through Feb. 7, 2014 — just a temporary fix for the same problem and a new deadline for solving it.

While not written into the legislation, the deal also created a budget conference committee to negotiate a budget for the remainder of the 2014 fiscal year and address the automatic spending cuts of sequestration. The committee must report back to Congress with a budget framework by Dec. 13. This would give the House and Senate Appropriations Committees one month to finalize a  fiscal year 2014 budget. 

The members of the committee have no easy task ahead of them as they try to negotiate the House and Senate budgets, which have a $91 billion difference. The overall size of the pie will determine the amount of funding available for anti-hunger discretionary programs, which are stepping-stones to a hunger-free future. Sequestration, unless replaced, will continue to chip away at funding for programs such as food aid, WIC, Head Start, and Meals on Wheels. Defunding programs that address the root causes of  hunger  is not a solution.

These leaders also have an opportunity to end the series of unnecessary crises, which puts our country's fragile economy at risk and makes struggling families uneasy and uncertain about the future. Congress must pass a moral budget that adequately funds programs that combat hunger and poverty. Moreover, Congress must replace sequestration with a balanced plan that has revenues and smart spending cuts that won’t increase poverty.

So, starting now and until Dec. 13, faithful advocates whose members of Congress sit on the conference committee need to support those leaders and urge them to do the right thing. Make phone calls and email them. Public dialogue can create public pressure, and raising your voice is critical to avoiding cuts that will take food off the tables of families who most need it. Write letters to the editor of your local paper supporting smart budget decisions that decrease hunger. Send your members of Congress public messages of encouragement and support on their Facebook and Twitter pages. Finally, be sure they know how hunger and uncertainty are affecting Main Street at home – tell the story.

Here is a sample tweet and Facebook post you can borrow, or you can craft one of your own.

Tweet: We need a moral budget to #EndHungerNow @RepPaulRyan. Replace #sequestration with revenue & smart spending cuts. #BreadActs

Facebook status update:  I’m urging Representative @Paul Ryan to use his position on the budget conference community to #EndHungerNow. Craft a moral budget that replaces sequestration with revenue and smart spending cuts.

The House Budget Conferees





Wisconsin -01

Paul Ryan


(202) 225-3031

Oklahoma – 04

Tom Cole


(202) 225-6165

Georgia – 06

Tom Price


(202) 225-4501

Tennessee – 06

Diane Black


(202) 225-4231

South Carolina – 06

James Clyburn


(202) 225-3315

Maryland -08

Chris Van Hollen


(202) 225-5341

New York – 17

Nita Lowey


(202) 225-6506

*To tag your member of Congress on Facebook, you must first like their page.  To find their page, click on the hyperlink in their name.

The Senate Budget Conferees






Patty Murray


(202) 224-2621


Ron Wyden


(202) 224-5244


Bill Nelson


(202) 224-5274


Debbie Stabenow


(202) 224-4822


Bernie Sanders


(202) 224-5141

Rhode Island

Sheldon Whitehouse


(202) 224-2921


Mark Warner


(202) 224-2023


Jeff Merkley


(202) 224-3753


Christopher Coons


(202) 224-5042


Tammy Baldwin


(202) 224-5653


Tim Kaine


(202) 224-4024


Angus King


(202) 224-5344


Jeff Sessions


(202) 224-4124


Chuck Grassley


(202) 224-3744


Mike Enzi


(202) 224-3424


Mike Crapo


(202) 224-6142

South Carolina

Lindsey Graham


(202) 224-5972


Rob Portman


(202) 224-3353


Pat Toomey


(202) 224-4254


Ron Johnson


(202) 224-5323

New Hampshire

Kelly Ayotte




Roger Wicker


(202) 224-6253

*To tag a member of Congress on Facebook, you must first like his or her page. To find the member's page, click on the hyperlink in their name.

Remembering Tom Foley

Foley_thomas-2We at Bread for the World are deeply saddened by the death of former U.S. House Speaker Tom Foley.  Foley died on Friday, at the age of 84, but he leaves behind a great legacy as a bipartisan dealmaker and influential leader. He was an early champion of the food stamp program, now called the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP. On Friday,  Bob Greenstein of the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities wrote that Foley “did more than any other lawmaker to build the modern food stamp program and thereby largely eliminate sever hunger and malnutrition in America.”   

Through his talent for leading bipartisan efforts, Foley was able to enlist both Republicans and Democrats in efforts to expand the federal food stamp program. In a statement given Friday, President Obama noted that Foley’s “straightforward approach helped him find common ground with members of both parties.”

Foley, who represented Washington state’s 5th congressional district, worked tirelessly to support his Spokane-area constituents and the American people. In 1964, when he was first elected to Congress, Foley joined the House Committee on Agriculture, and urged his fellow committee members to think more deeply about how their policies could affect hunger and malnutrition, especially among children.  

In the late 1960s, Foley was moved by data that showed severe hunger and nutrition-related deficiencies across very poor parts of the country, particularly the deep South. When medical teams returned to these regions in the late 1970s and reported dramatic improvement in hunger and the near elimination of childhood diseases caused by malnutrition, Foley’s food stamp reforms were credited as a key factor. 

Additionally, Foley helped Washington State University receive federal grants to develop productive new varieties of wheat, apples, and other crops.  These developments helped assist global anti-hunger efforts. 

The effects of Foley's work on the farm bill, civil liberties, environmental legislation, civil rights bills, and hunger programs, as well as his ability to work with both political parties, will be felt for years to come.  

Photo: House Speaker Tom Foley, in his official Congressional portrait.

We Can't Stop Now

Photo 06 cap bldg joe policy focus
(Joseph Molieri/Bread for the World)

By LaVida Davis

Thank you! Because of you and other advocates who flooded Capitol Hill with thousands of calls and emails last week, our political leaders actually came to an agreement. They reopened the government and prevented a U.S. default.

The good news: the shutdown is over, and we avoided economic catastrophe. The bad news: the deal did not address the big budget decisions before Congress: sequestration and sustained funding for programs that address hunger and poverty in the United States and around the world. The deal only created a new committee and a new deadline: Dec. 13. I know — another budget battle, another fiscal cliff.

But we can’t stop now — this work is too important. These budget decisions will determine whether millions of struggling children in the poorest villages around the world have access to regular meals. Poor, working mothers in the United States may be denied critical nutrition assistance and prenatal care. SNAP (formerly food stamps) continues to be in grave danger. We cannot allow these programs to be defunded and we cannot let sequestration continue.

Call your members of Congress today! Use our toll-free number (1-800-826-3688) or send an email. Deliver two messages:

  1. Thank them if they voted to reopen the government and prevent default. Many members of Congress are facing local opposition for their "yes" votes (see House and Senate votes).
  2. Urge them to pass a responsible budget that replaces sequestration with a balanced plan that includes revenues and smart spending cuts that won't increase poverty.

I’m sure you’re tired of these manufactured crises — we all are. But from the ashes of adversity rises a new dawn. In surrendering ourselves to Christ, we refuse to surrender to partisanship and special interests. We refuse to surrender our values and our faith. "Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up" (Galatians 6:9 NIV). We must march on, pressing our elected leaders to choose wisely, act boldly, and move toward a day when no child or parent goes to bed hungry.

Last week you proved your voice can make a difference. Speak out again! Call (1-800-826-3688) or email your members of Congress today.

LaVida Davis is Bread for the World's director of Organizing and Grassroots Capacity Building.

Race Results: 100 Miles of Gratitude

13 MilesBy Amelia Kegan

On Oct. 5 and 6, I successfully ran 100.6 miles, completing the Oil Creek ultramarathon. I dedicated this race to Bread for the World and its race to end hunger. Running 100 miles isn’t easy, but throughout the race I thought about why I was running, and that — along with some excellent pacers — kept my spirits and my energy high.

It took me 31 hours and 20 minutes to finish, but I did it — we did it! Crossing that finish line a little before 12:30 p.m. on the afternoon of Oct. 6 was an emotional experience. It really did bring tears to my eyes.

There are so many highlights to share from that experience: the volunteer dressed as a pirate at the mile 42 aid station, the 10-year-old girl who paced her father through the final eight miles, the gorgeous landscape and fall foliage next to the running creek, the flying stuffed monkey my pacers brought to push me through the night, and all of the jokes and words of encouragement among the runners. Moments of inspiration and compassion filled the day and night, a welcome switch from the partisanship and fiscal fights defining Capitol Hill these days.

I was reminded of many lessons. The first is that the human body is able to endure and is capable of so much more than we give it credit for. But most importantly, I was reminded that we cannot realize the most meaningful victories alone.

I know we are capable of so much as a network of believers — I see it each time we join together and call on Congress or the administration to end hunger. Each victory, like our recent advocacy around re-opening the government and raising the debt ceiling, is shared and should be relished. I know we will do the same in January by advocating for the political will to pass a responsible budget that protects anti-hunger programs. With sequestration continuing and the end of the current budget extension looming, our race to end hunger continues.

I am grateful to be a part of a community of people of faith who have the audacity to believe that together, we can end hunger.

I crossed the 100.6 mile finish line and it was because of your support and prayers. Thank you for believing in me. And thank you for your gift to Bread for the World and your commitment to ending hunger. If you didn’t get a chance to donate, there’s still time here.

Below is a video of the finish that I wanted to share with you. It's an unbelievable feeling of accomplishment and one I hope we will share when Congress does the right thing in January because of the endurance of faithful advocates who are capable of so much.

Amelia Kegan is a senior policy analyst in the government relations department at Bread for the World.

Photo:  Amelia Kegan reaches the 13th mile maker during the Oil Creek Ultramarathon October 5, 2013. (Kari Bert)

Quote of the Day: Rev. James Forbes

Forbes preaching Quest
Rev. James Forbes delivers a sermon at Quest Church in Seattle, WA, October 16, 2013. (Robin Stephenson).

One child without food brings anguish to the spirit of our Great God.

Lord, I want to feel what you feel in conditions of hunger and want. And then I want to feel your joy when we have made it possible for others to feel abundance.

— Rev. James Forbes, in a sermon on Luke Chapter 15 delivered at Quest Church in Seattle, Wash., October 16, 2013.

Congregations around the country are hearing God’s message that we are all called to end hunger, and pastors are learning how to more effectively preach about this charge. Rev. Dr. James Forbes Jr., whom Newsweek magazine recognized as one of the 12 “most effective preachers,” is preaching in churches and leading homiletics workshops for those who speak from the pulpit. Rev. Forbes is senior minister emeritus of the Riverside Church and retired professor of preaching at Union Theological Seminary in New York City.

To find out if Rev. Forbes is coming to a town near you, visit www.bread.org/preaching.

Beware of the Chair

“The reality is that in order to break free from the bondage [of poverty] in this country and the world, we need elected officials to make good on their words and put 'love thy neighbor' at the center of our legislative agenda.” said Derick Dailey, in a video from Bread for the World's 2013 Offering of Letters, "A Place at the Table." (Laura Elizabeth Pohl/Bread for the World)

By Robin Stephenson

The shutdown is over and the debt ceiling has been raised — for now.  The finish line – a final 2014 budget and a responsible replacement of sequestration – was moved to early next year.  For faithful advocates these new developments mean a chance to take a breath, but beware of the chair.

Amelia Kegan, our senior policy analyst, talked about the allure of what runners call “the chair” during this week's grassroots webinar and conference call. Kegan, who recently completed a 100-mile race in Pennsylvania, warned that after you’ve hit the 60-mile mark and come to an aid station, you inevitably see a chair. Tired, you eye it with longing. But, you know that once you sit in that chair and your eyes begin to droop with relaxation, it is much harder to get back up and finish the race.

Our race to end hunger is long and, as the last several months have proved, sometimes frustrating. We share victories, but we also share despair.  I’ve heard more than one anti-hunger advocate say that, at times, they’ve wanted to cap their pen, hang up their phone, and never speak to another politician.

I wonder how Moses did it, all those years in the desert?  I imagine his often “stiff-necked” charges always asking: are we there yet? I often see this race to end hunger as being similar to crossing that desert — long and tiring, to say the least. At times manna is given to us when we most need it, but like Moses we must wander as servants of the Lord, faithful that the journey is part of the reward.

We know we are not alone as a network of Christians and we know that God is in our midst. Like Moses, we have answered God’s invitation to “come.” Perhaps, like Moses, we might feel inadequate for the job — especially against special interests and the power of money. But we are not inadequate in the eyes of God, whose power is greater than all.

Moses probably saw his share of chairs in the desert. Coming off the mountain, he finds corruption and idol worship among his people. He is angry, but he doesn’t sit down, he travels on.

The coming months will continue to be tough. The farm bill conference is likely to begin soon and our collective responsibility to care for the widow and the orphan will again be called into question as SNAP faces yet another attack. The expected immigration reform legislation in the House and continued budget negotiations reminds us that we must encourage those who have the power of the purse in order to live out the command to love our neighbor.

Are we there yet? No, but we have travelled the trail faithfully. Take a moment, say a prayer of thanks that we passed this hurdle, but beware of the chair — we have work to do.

Robin Stephenson is the national lead for social media and a senior regional organizer in the western hub.

Fed Up on World Food Day?

By Rev. David Beckmann

Today is World Food Day. This year, the annual day of solidarity in the struggle against hunger comes amid a U.S. financial crisis that threatens to increase hunger both at home and abroad. Right now, all attention is focused on the government shutdown and debt ceiling fights. The budget decisions before our elected officials have profound consequences for the country and the global community. But while the media focuses on the closure of national parks and rhetoric from our elected officials, we know that the working poor and struggling families are suffering.

Today of all days, I urge you to speak up! Raise your voice and raise the issue. Hunger and malnutrition do not wait for a budget deal—our most vulnerable populations are at risk now.

Your members of Congress must hear your call to conscience! Tell them that they must resolve this fiscal crisis in a way that prioritizes and protects those struggling with hunger in the United States and around the world.

The failure of Congress to resolve the budget impasse cannot shake our resolve to demand a responsible solution. A deal is in the works, but it’s unlikely to be a final resolution. We need you to keep emailing your members of Congress and calling Speaker Boehner and Majority Leader Cantor (1-800-826-3688). Get your friends to email and call, too.

Contact your members of Congress today and tell them to:

  • Immediately pass a bill that opens the government, prevents default, and funds programs serving struggling families in the United States and abroad.
  • Replace sequestration with a balanced plan that includes revenues and responsible spending cuts.
  • Urge farm bill negotiators to reject SNAP cuts and to protect it in the final farm bill or any other legislation.

World Food Day offers an opportunity to remind members of Congress of the values that should inform their budget decisions. Send an email and use our toll-free number, 1-800-826-3688, to be connected to the Capitol switchboard.

Rev. David Beckmann is president of Bread for the World.

Quote of the Day: 1 John 3:17-18

"If anyone has material possessions and sees his brother in need but has no pity on him, how can the love of God be in him?  Dear children, let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth." —1 John 3:17-18 (NIV)

Today is World Food Day. On this day of solidarity in the struggle against hunger, take the time to contact your members of Congress and tell them to pass a bill that opens the government, prevents default, and funds programs serving struggling families in the United States and abroad.

Learn more about World Food Day, and this year's theme, here.

Photo: Friends who are part of the jjajja (grandmother) group at St. Francis Healthcare Services in Jinja, Uganda, laugh over their lunch on Saturday, May 21, 2012. The group provides healthcare, education and income-generating opportunities for grandmothers, many of whom take care of grandchildren orphaned due to the HIV/AIDS epidemic. Photo by Laura Elizabeth Pohl/Bread for the World

Stay Connected

Bread for the World