Urging our nation's leaders to end hunger
 

49 posts from April 2014

Senate to Vote on Minimum Wage Increase

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View the full "Raise the Minimum Wage" infographic from the 2014 Hunger Report, Ending Hunger in America.

Update, 12:40 p.m. The Senate bill to raise the federal minimum wage failed on a 54-42 vote; 60 votes were needed to move forward with the legislation. The bill will likely come up again for a vote, so continue to contact your members of Congress and tell them to pass the bill. 

Ending hunger in America is possible, but jobs—and jobs that pay a decent wage—are key to making it happen. “The most important antipoverty policy is maintaining high rates of employment,” writes Todd Post, senior editor of Bread for the World Institute’s annual Hunger Report, in the briefing paper, Ending Hunger in America. “In addition, low-wage jobs have to pay enough so that no full-time worker is living in poverty with his/her family.”

As early as today, the Senate is expected to vote on Senate bill 1737, which would raise the minimum wage to $10.10 by 2016, index it for inflation, and raise the tipped minimum wage to 70 percent of the general minimum wage. Passing the bill will be no easy task. It will require a sustained and loud effort by faithful advocates, who must use every opportunity to let Congress know that workers deserve a fair deal. 

Several states have passed minimum wage increases, with some getting closer to the $10.10 mark.  Bread for the World recommends a $12 minimum wage in the 2014 Hunger Report.  That is the amount it would take for a single breadwinner in a family of four, working full-time, year-round, to pull his or her family just over the federal poverty line.

Earlier this year, President Obama raised the minimum wage to $10.10 per hour for federal contractors by executive order, which is a good first step. In a press release, Bread for the World President David Beckmann praised the action, and added, “Now is the time for Congress to do its part.”

Income inequality in 21st century America is one of the great scourges of our time. Productivity has steadily risen since the 1950s, but the real value of the minimum wage has declined, leaving working families that depend on the minimum wage struggling to put food on their tables. In a report released earlier this year, the Congressional Budget Office said that wage increases would have an overall positive affect on the economy. Raising the wage is not just smart economically, but is morally necessary when a few have more than enough and too many struggle to make ends meet.

“Too many workers in this country face hard times as a result of insufficient wages,” said Beckmann. “There is no reason that full-time workers should struggle to provide for their families.”

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Take Action: Call your Senators with this toll-free number (1-800-826-3688) and let them know you support a minimum wage increase. Tell them to pass S. 1737 today because it is time to give American workers a fair deal.

Your Change Can Effect Change

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By Rose Mason

A foot-long sub. A DVD rental. A caramel frappuccino.

There are plenty of things you can buy for $5. But did you know that $5 is all it takes to start a monthly gift that will help hungry people throughout the year? That's less than 17 cents per day. And with that simple, modest gift, you’ll know you are helping end hunger for thousands of God’s children.

As I write this to you, there are only hours left to reach our goal of recruiting 40 new Baker's Dozen members in celebration of 40 years of Bread for the World's work as the leading Christian voice against hunger.

Will you help us meet our goal of 40 new sustaining members by midnight tonight?

Your monthly gift will help Bread continue to protect funding for programs that help families lift themselves out of poverty. Your monthly contribution will:

  • Help push important policy changes through Congress defending programs like those for food stamps and school lunches
  • Fight hunger and poverty in developing countries
  • Help poor people and working families in the United States move out of poverty

I am deeply grateful for your commitment to helping hungry people, and I know I speak for all of us at Bread when I say we cherish your steady support. We rely on this ongoing source of funding whenever we need to raise our collective Christian voice in the halls of Congress.

I truly appreciate you giving as generously as you can to help Bread for the World today and every day.

Thank you for your work to end hunger.

Rose Mason is the Baker's Dozen program coordinator at Bread for the World.

Salvaging Food: Can Schools Donate Excess Food?

School_lunch[This is the second in a four-part series on salvaging food, reprinted with permission from the Bread New Mexico blog. Part 1 looked at restaurants and food waste.]

By Carlos Navarro

As mentioned in part 1 of this series, there can be barriers to donating excess food. While restaurants, caterers, and corporations are protected against liability when donating food (except in cases of gross negligence), for some institutions, such as public schools, that is not necessarily the case. Some states have similar laws that protect schools and allow them to donate to food banks and pantries, but not all.

Recently, the New Mexico State Legislature approved a measure that would make it easier for public school directors to donate excess school meals to feeding operations.  The measure, introduced by Rep. David M. Gallegos of Eunice, gained unanimous approval. While a memorial does not carry the weight of law, this is more than a symbolic expression from the state legislature:

NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED BY THE LEGISLATURE OF THE STATE OF NEW MEXICO that the public education department be requested to inform all school district and charter school food services directors that they are encouraged to donate excess school meals to public or nonprofit organizations that feed the hungry and the homeless.

The final version also added a provision to create a working group that would look at food redistribution in the state.

Read the full memorial.

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.

Updated Resource: The Biblical Basis for Advocacy to End Hunger

Biblical_Basis_for_Advocacy“Throughout the Scriptures, God calls people into community and sets the expectation that leaders (whether they are kings, pharaohs, or governments) should care for their people (Psalm 72:2). Therefore, we also reflect God’s love by challenging individuals and institutions given the power to change laws and structures that keep people vulnerable. We work toward a just world in which every person has an opportunity to thrive. We participate in showing God’s love and honor the dignity and worth of our neighbors.”

Excerpt from The Biblical Basis for Advocacy to End Hunger.

As a collective Christian voice, Bread for the World grounds our work to end hunger with Scripture. The Biblical Basis for Advocacy to End Hunger outlines nine biblical themes that guide our mission.

  1. God loves us. Jesus’ greatest commandments are that we love God and each other.
  2. Humankind was created out of God’s love and in God’s Image, so we are to respect the dignity of every person.
  3. God has a special concern for poor and vulnerable people.
  4. God provides out of God’s abundance.
  5. All creation is reconciled with God through Jesus Christ, and we are to be agents of reconciliation.
  6. God loves justice and requires us to do justice and love kindness.
  7. Jesus said, “Whatever you do for the least of these you do for me.” We do Christ’s work when we act with and for hungry and poor people.
  8. We hear God’s voice in Scripture and respond with the faithful use of our own voices.
  9. God has a role for government to play in the protection and development of people.

Each section in the pamphlet includes Bible verses and references to people and stories that illuminate the call to end hunger through advocacy. We encourage you to use the brochure as the basis for a conversation in your church or community, and explore how God calls us to end the brokenness of hunger and poverty in our world.

The free resource is available online for download; print copies can be ordered through our store.  Let us know in the comments how you were able to use the resource: as an individual exploration, as a Christian educator leading an adult forum or study group, or as a small spiritual-formation group seeking to ground your understanding of how the Bible talks about hunger and advocacy.

Salvaging Food: Restaurants and Food Waste

[This is the first in a four-part series on salvaging food, reprinted with permission from the Bread New Mexico blog.]

360px-Dumpster-a-plentyBy Carlos Navarro

The issue of household food waste has grabbed a lot of headlines in recent months, but restaurant food waste is a problem not talked about as frequently. I started putting together this blog post to highlight how the City of Santa Fe and anti-waste nonprofit Reunity Resources developed a pilot progam to convert food scraps to compost.  As I was conducting research on how restaurants deal with leftover food, I came across a very interesting and comprehensive guide, put together by the National Restaurant Association and the U.S. Department of Agriculture), for restaurants to donate their leftover meals to food-salvage operations.

So, I decided to look at the issue in a four-part series. Part 1 offers excerpts from the guide; part 2 will provide excerpts from a memorial passed by the New Mexico state legislature to encourage the state's public schools to donate excess food; part 3 describes how food salvage got its start in Santa Fe; and part 4 looks at the operation that turns food scraps into compost.

Here are a few excerpts from the report "Food Donation: A Restauranteur's Guide."

Food Donation
Of the many methods employed to fight the problem of hunger in America, food recovery may be one of the best because it makes use of wholesome food that would otherwise be discarded. A June 1997 study by the US. Department of Agriculture (USDA) estimates that more than one-quarter of all food produced in the nation is wasted. The study, conducted by the USDA Economic Research Service, is the first of its kind in 20 years to examine and quantify food loss. The study found that, in 1995, about 96 billion pounds of food-or 27 percent of the 356 billion pounds of food available for human consumption in the United States-were lost at retail, consumer and foodservice levels... With little effort, [restauranteurs] can make a huge difference in the lives of children, the elderly, the home- less and even the working poor in their communities by doing something that is already second nature to most restaurant professionals-feeding people.

Rescuing Fresh Produce
Restaurateurs should begin their search for donation items by looking at the food they have in storage, such as fresh produce that will spoil before it can be used. While no one would want to eat anything that is moldy, there are many occasions when perfectly edible fruits and vegetables are thrown out because they have passed the point of restaurant quality or freshness or are discovered to have bruises or to be soft so that the produce cannot be served to customers.

Protection from Liability
One of the biggest obstacles to donating food to hunger programs has always been the prospective donor’s fear of liability. However, everyone involved in the fight against hunger is now breathing easier since the passage of the Emerson Good Samaritan Food Donation Act in October 1996. The coverage provided by this law-in combination with proper food-safety practices and thorough documentation-will go a long way toward protecting restaurants from liability in the unlikely case of a lawsuit involving donated food.

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.

Photo: A trash bag full of vegetables in a dumpster. (Flickr user Gabriel Amadeus)

2014 National Gathering: Be Part of Something Big

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By Dr. Alice Walker Duff

How many voices does it take to make history? Let's find out.

This June 9-10, join Bread members from across the country as we gather in Washington, D.C., to discuss plans to end hunger and poverty by 2030.

When you arrive in D.C., you will have a chance to:

Learn from policy experts and faith leaders about key issues affecting hungry people today—including immigration, mass incarceration, and sustainable food security.

Celebrate four decades of our work together to end hunger at our 40th anniversary dinner.

Act by urging your representatives in Congress to reform U.S. food-aid programs and our immigration system. On Lobby Day, you will find out how these reforms will impact hungry and poor people in the United States and around the world.

What will it take to end hunger at home and abroad? Join me for a conversation with Sheila Herrling, acting CEO of the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC), and Dr. Manuel Pastor, professor of Sociology and American Studies and Ethnicity at the University of Southern California.

This year's speakers also include:

  • Rick Steves, travel expert and longtime Bread activist
  • Gaby Pacheco, DREAMer and immigration-rights leader
  • Desmond Meade, returning citizen and PICO state director
  • Rev. Gabriel Salguero, president of the National Latino Evangelical Coalition
  • Rev. Nicta Lubaale, Kenyan pastor and food security champion
  • Tonya Rawe, CARE policy advocate

We are on the verge of one of the biggest achievements in human history — ending hunger.Come join other voices in the nation's capital this summer and help make this dream a reality.

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

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Learn more about speakers and scheduling for the 2014 National Gathering, 40th Anniversary Dinner, and Lobby Day at http://www.bread.org/40. Register for all or one of the events by May 6 and pay only $40!

Photo: Beverley Booth (left) of Tallahasee, Fla., and Cecilia Wangeci of Bowling Green, Ky., clap during Lobby Day training during Bread for the World's 2011 National Gathering. (Jim Stipe)

From Charity to Justice: Food Aid Reform

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Jane Sebbi, left, is a farmer with 12 acres of land in Kamuli, Uganda, and a mother of seven children. In this photo, she works in her field with her sister-in-law. (Laura Elizabeth Pohl/Bread for the World)


“There is a saying that helps to explain this challenge to work for justice, not just for charity. It goes like this: 'If people are hungry you can give them some fish and they will live another day. It’s called relief.  But if you not only give a fish, but teach them how to fish for themselves they will be helped to feed themselves in the future.'  This is often called development.  That sounds good but it can be misleading if it is not followed with the next step. There is a third part of that saying that is critical to our efforts to move beyond guilt. We must not only offer the fish (relief) and assistance in knowing how to fish themselves (development), but we must move over in the pond and give them a place to fish. Or as someone has added, we must stop polluting the pond where they fish and give them a fair price for their fish. The third step has many facets to it. It is called working for justice, fairness. Justice includes efforts to end oppression and unfair practices of what Walter Wink calls the domination system.  Moving from charity to justice is difficult because it calls for careful listening, increased awareness and critical thinking about the attitudes and values that have brought us to the current crises.”
 
—Excerpt from Beyond Guilt: Christian Response to Suffering (p. 42) by George  S. Johnson.

In Bread for the World's April e-newsletter, Todd Post, senior editor of Bread for the World Institute’s annual Hunger Report, writes about how an agricultural development program and a cow have helped Rwandan Joseline Umugwaneza move out of extreme poverty. If we are to make progress in the exodus from hunger both at home and abroad, we must address the root causes of hunger and seek solutions that break the cycles of chronic poverty and malnutrition.

U.S. food aid has played a significant role in preventing global hunger and starvation for decades. But with a few common-sense reforms, food-aid programs can help millions more, while building resilience against future crises. Food-aid reform is the focus of Bread's 2014 Offering of Letters.

No reforms matter if funding for food assistance and nutrition programs are cut. As a new appropriations cycle begins, Bread members must ask their members of Congress to adequately fund U.S. food aid. Further creating an obstacle to a more just system of food assistance is a provision in a House-passed Coast Guard reauthorization bill, which is getting very little media attention. The reauthorization bill would require 75 percent of all U.S. food aid to be shipped on U.S. vessels. The resulting increase in shipping costs would reduce funding for programs that help support U.S. humanitarian efforts. Senators, especially those on the Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee, should remove such provision from a final bill.

Bread members spent two years advocating for improvements in the farm bill that would help end the hunger that affects too many in our world. We have come too far to allow our work to be scuttled by a provision in a Coast Guard spending bill. Funding international food assistance is essential to building food security around the world and ensuring that aid is not a handout, but a hand up.

What Will Be Your Legacy?

MaryBy Rose Mason

Last week, I received a letter from Bread for the World member Mary Murphy. Let me tell you about her.

Mary is a college lecturer who travels to a tiny village in rural Bolivia each summer to teach math to poor residents there. Not only is she giving back in the most extraordinary way by educating those less fortunate, but she is also a faithful supporter of Bread and a member of the Baker's Dozen — our monthly giving program. She is — in a word — amazing.

As Mary reflected on her time in Bolivia, she very poignantly revealed her desire to leave behind a legacy of altruism. Her words stayed with me, reminding me of how I came to this work in the first place and why Bread’s work to end hunger is so incredibly powerful.

"I want to be remembered as having made a positive difference in the lives of my family members and my students, both here in the U.S. and in Bolivia. Through my actions on behalf of those who struggle with hunger and poverty, I am part of Bread for the World, and I love knowing that we are united in this mighty chorus of voices for good."

I love knowing that, too. And I know that as one of our loyal supporters, you have that same desire to join this mighty chorus.

This April, we are looking to add 40 new Baker's Dozen members to the chorus in honor of Bread’s 40 years of working together to end hunger.

Please consider joining Mary and me as a Baker’s Dozen member through your monthly donation before April 30.

Together, we can make a difference for good. We can end hunger, but only if we all chime in. Please consider joining the Baker's Dozen monthly giving program today.

Rose Mason is the Baker's Dozen program coordinator at Bread for the World.

Photo: Mary with students at Campesina de Carmen Pampa in Bolivia. (Courtesy of Mary Murphy)

Bread for the World Letter to U.S. Senate on Smarter Sentencing Act

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Photo: Nate, a returning citizen in Ohio, who has been able to overcome the employment barrier, and now works to feed his family. (Joseph Molieri/Bread for the World)

Today, Bread for the World President David Beckmann sent the following letter to U.S. senators, asking them to support the Smart Sentencing Act, which would alleviate costly prison overcrowding, reduce excessive sentences for low-level drug offenses, and those resentence cases subjected to mandatory minimum sentencing.

As stated in the 2014 Hunger Report, Ending Hunger in America, we cannot end hunger without confronting knottier social issues—and hunger and poverty often result from social exclusion and discrimination. Men and women who have spent time in prison often face difficulty finding jobs and feeding their families—and they are less likely to have access to social safety net programs. For example, most states restrict or ban certain returning citizens from using food stamps (SNAP).

Read the full text of the letter below.

April 24, 2014

 

Dear Senator:

 

I urge you to support S. 1410, the Smarter Sentencing Act (SSA), sponsored by Senators Mike Lee (R-UT) and Richard Durbin (D-IL).  This bipartisan legislation, which will soon see a vote in the Senate, alleviates the costly overcrowding crisis in our prisons. It would reduce excessive sentences for low-level drug offenses and authorize judicial review for possible resentencing of cases sentenced under the old 100 to 1 crack cocaine sentencing disparity. Bread for the World calls on you to vote in favor of the bill and asks you to consider co-sponsoring the SSA. Additionally, we hope you will oppose any additional amendments that harm the bill’s integrity, such ascreating mandatory sentences for other offenses.

As a Christian anti-hunger advocacy organization, we view federal policy through the lens of its impact on hunger and poverty.  Hunger is often a byproduct of social exclusion and discrimination. People who have spent time in prison are more likely to face barriers to work and thus less likely to have the resources to put food on the table. The toll on families and their economic security is significant. Furthermore, outdated, overly punitive, and unnecessarily restrictive drug sentencing disproportionately and unfairly incarcerates people of color for low-level and nonviolent offenses.

Passage of the Smarter Sentencing Act would help restore fairness in our justice system. Since 1980, the federal prison population has increased by an astounding 800 percent even though crime rates are lower. Half of the people in prison are there for a drug offense. Fewer people incarcerated for nonviolent, low-level drug cases would have a marked improvement on hunger in America.

I urge you to support S. 1410, the Smarter Sentencing Act, protect it from additional harmful amendments, and consider co-sponsoring the legislation.

 

Sincerely,

 

David Beckmann

President

Immigration Policy: Is Federalism the Answer?

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As immigration reform remains stuck in Congress, local and state proposals are gaining traction, for better or for worse. Here, demonstrators gathered at immigration reform rally held in Los Angeles on Feb. 22, 2014. (Ricardo Moreno)

[This article originally appeared in the National Journal, on April 21.]

By Andrew Wainer and Audrey Singer

For those of us tracking immigration policy, the shift is undeniable. With President Obama recently pointing out just how gridlocked a once-promising bipartisan Senate immigration proposal has become, cities and states have become the new immigration-policy innovators. They are filling the void.

U.S. immigration policy has been the purview of the federal government for more than a century. But it was not always that way. In the 19th and early 20th centuries, individual states had their own immigration laws. States typically sought to regulate immigrant influxes with policies that reflected particular concern about the arrival of poor European newcomers. Now, immigration policy is, in some ways, returning to its roots.

Increasingly, places that want to put out the welcome mat and encourage entrepreneurial activity are sharing ideas. And as a quick federal fix to immigration policy looks like a long shot, local and state proposals are gaining traction.

Continue reading "Immigration Policy: Is Federalism the Answer? " »

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