Urging our nation's leaders to end hunger

November's Bread for the Preacher: Seeking Leaders for Justice

6521600661_3c17cb404f_bDid 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 Bishop José García

We are at a unique moment in history that makes ending hunger possible by 2030. In order to do this, however, the U.S. government must do its part to lead here and around the world in the work of making hunger history. Bread for the World has a plan to do our part to make this a reality. We must win a series of advocacy victories, urge our government to take the post-2015 Sustainable Development Goals seriously, and, of course, elect officials who will make ending hunger a priority by 2017. Our texts make clear this month that now is the time for justice and that justice is impossible without good leaders.

Bread for the World has launched a campaign called Bread Rising, which will enable this plan, strengthen the organization financially, strengthen our collective Christian voice in every congressional district, and ground our advocacy in prayer and God's love. In the coming months, we will be calling on our partners to pray, to act, and to give as part of the campaign. We hope you will join us. To learn more about the campaign visit www.bread.org/rising.

Bishop José García
is the director of church relations at Bread for the World.

Photo: Pastor Judith VanOsdol leads the noon church service at El Milagro (The Miracle) Lutheran Church in Minneapolis, MN. (Laura Elizabeth Pohl/Bread for the World)

North Carolina: Fifth Hungriest State

In 2015, Congress will renew and improve the legislation that governs national child nutrition programs, including school and summer meals. (Bread for the World)

By Alyssa Casey

When the school bell rings on the last day of the school year, most children teem with excitement as their summer break begins. But for too many schoolchildren in the nation’s  fifth-hungriest state, that bell means not knowing where their next breakfast or lunch will come from for the next few months.

In Wilkesboro, N.C., the Samaritan Kitchen does what it can. It provides schoolchildren with backpacks of easy-to-prepare meals to take home on the weekends.

“I have a student in my classroom who was starving,” an elementary teacher from Elkin wrote the Samaritan Kitchen. Reprinted in the Wilkes Journal-Patriot, the note continues, “He couldn’t get enough to eat. We were trying to feed him all the extra food we could find. There was no food in his house.”

Samaritan Kitchen’s goal for 2013-2014 was to serve 800 children per week with backpack meals, but lack of funding kept them from reaching that goal.

Churches and charities across the United States are answering the call to feed the hungry, but they cannot do it alone. For every 20 bags of food assistance to feed hungry Americans, only 1 is provided by churches and charities. The bulk – 19 out of every 20 bags – come from federal nutrition programs. We need strong federal policies to protect and support these national nutrition programs.

More than 1 in 4 children in North Carolina live at risk of hunger and poverty. Of the 60 kids riding your child’s school bus, more than 15 go to school with empty stomachs, counting down the hours until lunch, which may be their first – or only – meal of the day.

School meal programs are a key tool in fighting child hunger. The National School Lunch Program (NSLP) provides a free or reduced-price lunch to low-income children in schools across the country. While the NSLP is able to reach many children while school is in session, weekends, holiday breaks, and summer months present a unique challenge to struggling parents who rely on school lunches to help feed their child.

In 2015, Congress will renew and improve the legislation that governs national child nutrition programs, including school and summer meals. These policies significantly affect North Carolina’s state and local child nutrition programs. The North Carolina Senate race between incumbent Kay Hagan and state House Speaker Thom Tillis is too close to call. Whoever wins has the opportunity to bring the voice of North Carolina’s children to Capitol Hill.

Next year, to coincide with Congress’ consideration of the legislation that oversees child nutrition programs, Bread for the World’s Offering of Letters will focus on this topic. Churches will be asked to communicate with Congress on renewing this legislation.

Whichever state you live in, ask your candidates what their plans are to increase access to food for hungry children. Look at how current members of Congress voted on hunger and poverty issues. Thank them for votes that combat hunger, or ask them to explain votes against policies to rid our country of hunger.

If we raise our voices and votes across the United States, we can end hunger in our lifetime.

View a state-by-state map of hunger and poverty rates in America.

Alyssa Casey is Bread for the World’s government relations coordinator.

Christmas Cards that Help End Hunger

2014 Winning CardBy Kari Bert

Cards with messages of hope and joy are popping up in supermarket aisles around the country. But what if you could send real hope and joy this Christmas — not just to your friends and family, but to people around the world?

One hundred percent of revenue from Bread for the World Christmas cards supports efforts to end hunger and poverty. Choose from multiple designs, each featuring a beautiful photograph that captures the spirit of the season and the ways in which God's grace moves us to help our neighbors, whether they live next door, in the next state, or on the next continent.

You can order a pack of 10 Christmas cards with envelopes for $15, which includes shipping.

I hope you will join me in sharing Bread for the World's vision of a world without hunger with your friends and family. Order your cards today.

Kari Bert is the deputy director of development and membership at Bread for the World

Photo: Two girls rest outside their village in northern Afghanistan. You can view all the image selections for this year’s Christmas card here.  (Shehzad Noorani/Majority World)

10 Ways Christians Can Help End Hunger During the Elections

(Bread for the World)

By Robin Stephenson

I turned my television off last night because the campaign ads were too numerous. Besides telling me little about the candidates, the negative tone put me in a foul mood. However, I will not turn off my commitment to using my citizenship to end hunger.

Each election gives me the opportunity to send a leader to Washington, D.C., who will make ending hunger a priority. Bread for the World has given me all the resources I need. I put my favorite resource on my bulletin board about a month ago to remind me that elections can be another opportunity to live out my faith.

 10 Ways Christians Can Help End Hunger During the Elections.

  1. Develop an “elevator speech” for why ending hunger is important to you as a Christian.
  2. Register to vote.
  3. Write to your local paper saying that ending hunger is a priority for you as a voter.
  4. Learn what the candidates are saying about ending hunger.
  5. Speak about the importance of ending hunger at candidates’ town hall meetings.
  6. Engage your friends. Make sure they are registered and know what the candidates are saying about ending hunger.
  7. Magnify your voice by combining it with those of thousands of other Christians. Become a member of Bread for the Word; organize an Offering of Letters.
  8. Engage your church.
  9. Give money and volunteer time to candidates who are committed to ending hunger.
  10. Vote for candidates who are committed to ending hunger.

Voting matters to me because I don’t believe any person should be hungry.

I am a citizen, not a subject, and I “have a stake, role, and responsibility in my government.” Through voting and advocacy, I can influence the legislative framework that structures our society. My sister in Christ who is farming in Kenya does not have a vote, but her ability to prosper may be connected to global trade laws legislated by my government. Programs that provide access to healthy food, so that my neighbor next door can provide for her child, are created through participatory government.

There is one more thing on this list that I would add: Add your name to the pledge to end hunger.  Join me and others who are raising our voices and making it clear that we vote to end hunger.  

Robin Stephenson is the national lead for social media and senior regional organizer at Bread for the World.

Banking on the Entrepreneurial Spirit of Immigrants: Microcredits Come to Iowa

Jesus Castro - West Des Moines, IA
Immigrant entrepreneur Jesus Castro poses in front of his grocery story. (Bread for the World)

For those who leave behind hearth and home, often fleeing hunger and poverty, the drive to succeed is strong. Given the right conditions, immigrant entrepreneurs can improve their lives and the economies of the communities in which they thrive.

Iowa is banking on it. This month, Solidarity Microfinance launched a microcredit program with the goal of reducing poverty rates while increasing economic activity in Des Moines.

“Wherever you find immigrant growth you’ll find entrepreneurship,” Iowa State University researcher Sandra Burke told Andrew Wainer, senior immigration policy analyst for Bread for the World Institute.

Wainer interviewed Burke for “The American midwest is the new microfinance frontier,” recently published in The Guardian.

One such immigrant entrepreneur is Jose Castro, a farmer originally from Michoacan, Mexico. In 1983, he left his small farm and worked a variety of jobs in California before finding himself in Des Moines in 1994. Eventually, he set up a grocery store, La Michoacana. He wants to expand it to include an eating area but additional capital or credit has been difficult to secure. It is enrepreneurs like Jose Castro who will benefit most from programs like that that of Solidarity Microfinance.

Iowa, which has the lowest level of entrepreneurial activity in the United States, has a growing immigrant population. Wainer writes that the potential of many would-be entrepreneurs is blocked by traditional financial services. What was once a development tool to reduce poverty in developing countries could now be the key to unlocking economic potential in immigrant communities here at home.  Read the full article here.

To learn more about the connections between hunger and immigration go here.

Hunger in the News: Inequality, Immigration, Food Aid Reform, Ebola

Hunger in News Graphic
A regular, non-comprehensive roundup of current news links on hunger and poverty issues from around the Web.

Poor kids who do everything right don’t do better than rich kids who do everything wrong,” by Matt O’Brien, The Washington Post.  “America is the land of opportunity, just for some more than others.”

Janet Napolitano throws her support behind executive action on immigration,” by Jerry Markon. The Washington Post.  “Former homeland security secretary Janet Napolitano is supporting executive action by President Obama to change immigration policy if Congress fails to pass a broad overhaul, citing what she calls her successful 2012 push to delay deportations of many younger immigrants.”

United States wastes billions of dollars to ship food aid,” by Tom Murphy, Humanosphere.  “The United States spent more money to ship, handle and store food aid than on the actual food.”

Child poverty in U.S. is at highest point in 20 years, report finds,” by Gale Holland, Los Angeles Times.  “Child poverty in America is at its highest point in 20 years, putting millions of children at increased risk of injuries, infant mortality, and premature death, according to a policy analysis published Monday in the journal JAMA Pediatrics.”

Ebola is triggering a food crisis in West African countries, says Shenggen Fan,” by Sayantan Bera, Live Mint. “The International Food Policy Research Institute director says the threat of cross-boundary transmission is ratcheting up prices of commercial crops like cocoa.”

For Third Year, Eric Mitchell Named a Top Lobbyist

Mitchell 2014 gathering.php
Eric Mitchell, director of government relations at Bread for the World, addresses anti-hunger advocates before the 2014 Lobby Day in Washington, D.C. (Bread for the World).

For the third time in as many years, Eric Mitchell, director of government relations at Bread for the World, has been named in The Hill newspaper as a top grassroots lobbyist.

The tribute is given each year to a selection of individuals deemed by the newspaper as instrumental in shaping federal policy. Mitchell was recognized for his work influencing anti-hunger legislation.

Mitchell and his policy team spend hundreds of hours on Capitol Hill speaking with and providing data to lawmakers and their staffs on legislation that will help end hunger. But, Mitchell stresses, Bread for the World members actually get them in the door.

“We might have the specialized knowledge to speak about the details of a piece of legislation, like how The Food for Peace Reform Act will get more food aid to millions more hungry people,” says Mitchell, “but members of Congress would never listen to us if they were not hearing from voters back home that ending hunger should be a priority.” 

And when advocates report in-district visits with their members of Congress to their regional organizers, Mitchell and his team follow up with the D.C. offices, increasing the impact of our members' congressional visits.

Mitchell says it is a privilege to represent the faith voice on the Hill.  “We bring something special to the table. There is a church in every congressional district in every state.”

Working closely with members of Congress, he knows the influence the faith voice carries.  “Members of Congress constantly say that the faith community’s voice is important on so many issues,” he says. “Probably more so than any other special interest group, the faith community has leverage to influence public policy both at home and in D.C.”

Congratulations to Mitchell, his staff, and faithful advocates for this distinction.


World Prayers for Oct. 26-Nov. 1: Indian Ocean Islands: Comoros, Madagascar, Maldives, Mauritius, and Seychelles

St. Mary Church in Madagascar. Photo by Lemurbaby from Wikimedia Commons

This is a weekly prayer series that appears each Friday on the Bread Blog.

One aspect of Bread for the World’s new Bread Rising campaign is prayer. The campaign is asking Bread members to pray, act, and give. In this blog series, we will be providing a prayer for a different group of countries each week and their efforts to end hunger.
This prayer series will follow the Ecumenical Prayer Cycle, a list compiled by the World Council of Churches that enables Christians around the world to journey in prayer through every region of the world, affirming our solidarity with Christians all over the world, brothers and sisters living in diverse situations, experiencing their challenges and sharing their gifts.
We will especially be lifting up in prayer the challenges related to hunger and poverty that the people of each week’s countries face. In prayer, God’s story and our own story connect—and we and the world are transformed. In a prayer common to all of us—the Lord’s Prayer/the Our Father—we pray, “Give us this day our daily bread.” This line from this prayer can also be a prayer for the end of hunger.
We invite you to join Bread in our prayers for the world’s countries to end hunger. And we encourage you to share with us your prayers for the featured countries of the week or for the end of hunger in general.

For the week of October 26-November 1, we pray for these Indian Ocean Islands: Comoros, Madagascar, Maldives, Mauritius, and Seychelles:

Our heavenly Father,
in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, we glorify you,
we give thanks to you,
for in your infinite mercy you extended your family
to include the islands of the sea,
even islands at the end of the earth:
Comoros, Madagascar, Maldives, Mauritius and Seychelles.
We praise your name
for you moved your Holy Spirit
who stirred and sustained
a century-long revival movement in Madagascar,
an awakening to your power that brought transformation, reconciliation,
healing and empowerment.
We magnify your name
for through this revival the different denominations have discovered
a spirit-filled way to come to a unity in diversity.
Lord of the church,
we pray that the churches be strengthened in their spirituality,
one that would powerfully engage them
in a priestly and prophetic way in the midst of their local contexts.
Strengthen the churches to recover their sight
and so to resist overt and covert manipulation
in the political arena,
from either government officials or politicians.
God of all creation and nature, we pray for the inhabitants of these islands,
that they may be spared the devastation of cyclones or typhoons
with the open seas lashing every year against the coastal areas,
causing suffering and loss for the population.

Prayer by Péri Rasolondraibe, Antananarivo, Madagascar, 2005

Lord God, we also pray for people in these places who live with hunger and in deep poverty. We pray that governments, churches, relief and development agencies, missionaries, and citizens will find ways to work together to improve the lives of all people, so that all may live abundantly and a life of dignity. Amen.

Percentage of the population of these countries living below the national poverty line (2014 figures):

Comoros: not available
Maldives: not available
not available

Source: World Bank World Development Indicators as found in the upcoming 2015 Hunger Report

Vote to End Hunger


By David Beckmann

Make no mistake: This year's midterm election is incredibly important — and it is less than two weeks away.

It's not just our chance to elect the next group of decision-makers in our country. It's our opportunity to bring hunger to the forefront and let the candidates know where voters stand.

If we miss this moment to galvanize our communities of faith and politicians against hunger, we have little chance of making hunger a priority in the next term, and as we pave the way for the next president.

You can help Bread for the World seize this important opportunity by pledging to take a stand for those most in need this election season. By raising your voice, you'll show there is a huge constituency — and political power — ready to demand change in the service of God. And right now, everyone who answers this call to end hunger will receive a FREE car magnet. It's our way of saying thanks for joining this important movement, and it helps share our Christian vision of a world without hunger.

Your voice and your vote are essential to achieving our goal of ending hunger in the United States and globally by 2030. It begins with people just like you, sharing your Christian values and voting for candidates who prioritize hunger issues.

We must make it clear that God wants us to build a future where hunger is a rare and temporary challenge, not the shared experience of approximately 49 million Americans that it is today. It will take education, training, key partnerships, and faithful advocacy to ensure our values reach the floor of Congress and the president's desk.

But before all of that can happen, we need you to join us and stand up for what we believe in. Sign our simple pledge now.

We've set a goal of 5,000 Christians to affirm their faith by pledging to end hunger. This will send a strong message to the president and Congress that there is a key voting bloc that will hold them accountable.

This truly is your chance to tackle one of the most important issues of our lifetime in a meaningful way, plus you'll receive a free car magnet to help share our vision with more people. It's a win-win!

Together, we can make a difference. Will you join me?

David Beckmann is the president of Bread for the World


Recap: #WorldFoodDay Twitter Town Hall

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