Urging our nation's leaders to end hunger

45 posts categorized "Action Alert"

Hunger Can't Wait in the Wake of a Storm

Emergency relief supplies flown into the airport in Tacloban City in the Philippines are trucked to a nearby warehouse to be sorted. From here, the Philippine Department of Social Welfare and Development, the lead local agency in charge charge of aid distribution, gets the commodities out to affected municipalities. (USAID photo/Carol Han, OFDA)
By Ryan Quinn
Generosity and compassion are Christian values exemplified in our willingness to respond to people who cry out in need. Often people in need are those caught in disasters. It takes only a moment for a disaster to happen, but it takes weeks and months for help to arrive. Hunger can’t wait.
American generosity through food aid has saved billions of people since the 1950s, but it’s time to update policies to respond to a changing world.
People who survived Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines or who are displaced because of the war in Syria desperately need the life-saving assistance of food aid, but outdated laws make it more difficult for it to arrive quickly. There is an opportunity to change those laws in the farm bill being negotiated now. But Congress needs to hear from you.
Currently, American food aid products must come from the United States and be shipped on U.S. vessels. This practice can add to program costs and delay the arrival of food aid up to six months when compared to local purchases. Instead of being used to fight hunger, funds get caught up in overhead costs and fees.
We must do better.
You can make a difference in helping to feed millions more people like those in the Philippines or Syria. Tell Congress that hungry people can’t wait — that food aid must be reformed in the farm bill today.
As you do your last-minute grocery shopping for Thanksgiving and gather around your table to celebrate the holiday, I encourage you to remember people who are hungry around the world by praying this prayer: God, empower us and inspire our leaders to fill the hungry with good things.
Use Bread’s toll-free number — 800-826-3688 — to call, or email your members of Congress, and urge them to do the right thing and lift the unnecessary restrictions on U.S. food aid.
Ryan Quinn is a senior policy analyst at Bread for the World.

200 Million Meals Eliminated as Thanksgiving Approaches

The Nov. 1 cut to SNAP (food stamps) means about 10 million fewer SNAP meals each day. That's 200 million meals eliminated so far this month, the equivalent of every child in America going without food for three and a half straight days (photo courtesy of Participant Media).

By Eric Mitchell

We're down to the wire! Members of Congress are working to unveil a compromise farm bill very soon. The farm bill funds SNAP (formerly food stamps), and already, 200 million meals have been eliminated since Nov. 1. As families are preparing their Thanksgiving menus, Congress is negotiating how much deeper to cut SNAP.

Only this Congress would take away food from struggling families as they gather to celebrate Thanksgiving.  Tell Congress that this is the wrong time to prevent families from putting food on the table.

On Nov. 1, all families receiving SNAP saw their benefits cut. The $5 billion cut this year means about 10 million fewer SNAP meals each day. That's 200 million meals eliminated so far this month! Think of it this way: that’s like every child in America going without food for three and a half straight days.

You can make a difference right now for families, especially those with children, struggling to put food on the table. We need you to continue praying and calling or emailing your members of Congress. These simple acts can make the difference. Your senators and representatives need to hear from you again and right now.

As you plan your Thanksgiving and buy your food, keep saying this prayer, and ask your members of Congress to join you: God, empower us and inspire our leaders to fill the hungry with good things.

This long, two-year process for the farm bill may finally come to a close in the next few days. Urge Congress to make it a responsible farm bill. Call (800-326-4941) or email your members of Congress with a prayer and the following messages:

  1. Protect SNAP (food stamps) from cuts in the farm bill.
  2. SNAP encourages work. The program has work requirements, and a majority of households receive SNAP for less than 10 months. 
  3. SNAP cuts that began Nov. 1 have already eliminated 200 million meals. Don't prevent families from eating when Thanksgiving is just around the corner.

Thank you for calling or emailing your members of Congress today and for your prayers.

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

A Critical Moment for SNAP – 130 Million Meals Eliminated Already

We_accept_SNAP2By Eric Mitchell

If there ever was a moment to contact Congress about protecting SNAP (food stamps), this is it. Members of Congress are in final negotiations around the farm bill, and they're making decisions about cutting SNAP right now!

Only this Congress has been intent on taking away food from struggling American families recovering from the recession. Tell Congress that enough is enough. Even if you have already reached out to your members of Congress, please do so again.

We've seen enough cuts to SNAP already. On Nov. 1, all families receiving SNAP saw their benefits cut. The $5 billion cut this year is about 10 million fewer SNAP meals each day. That's 130 million meals eliminated since Nov. 1! That's equivalent to the entire city of Los Angeles going without food for 11 days.

This is a critical time. Negotiations have reached an important stage. Your call and email today to your members of Congress may make the difference.

As Congress draws closer to a deal on the farm bill and the budget, we urge you to keep praying for our elected leaders and for people who are affected now — families who struggle to put food on the table. Many working poor people will have to buy fewer groceries this month because of the recent cuts to SNAP. As you visit the grocery store this week, we invite you to say this prayer: God, empower us and inspire our leaders to fill the hungry with good things.

The next few days are critical. Congress has 14 legislative days remaining to reverse the harmful cuts put in place by sequestration and to pass a farm bill. Besides affecting SNAP, these cuts also threaten funding for international emergency food aid, poverty-focused foreign assistance, nutrition assistance for struggling seniors and pregnant women, and Head Start for low-income children. Take a few moments to call (800-326-4941) or send an email right now.

Thank you for calling or emailing your members of Congress today and for your prayers.

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

Act Now: 80 Million Meals Eliminated Since Last Friday

A+ABy Eric Mitchell

Only the current Congress would allow cuts to critical anti-hunger programs, taking food away from parents struggling in this economy to put food on the table for their kids. Last Friday — on the first day of a month in which we celebrate bounty with a national feast—all families receiving SNAP (formerly food stamps) saw their benefits cut. The average family of four lost up to $36 a month.

This $11 billion cut over four years equals nearly 10 million meals each day. That's 80 million meals eliminated since the SNAP cut went into effect last Friday! This is as if nearly all of the residents of the states of California, Texas, Pennsylvania, and Colorado did not eat for a day. And some in Congress are pushing for far more extreme cuts to SNAP.

Email your members of Congress now and tell them this is unacceptable!

As we move toward Thanksgiving and Christmas and prepare to gather with friends and family around big meals and parties with lots of food, we know you will be making many trips to the grocery store. We encourage you to use your trips to the store as an occasion to give thanks to God for our bounty and as a reminder to take action on behalf of those who have experienced SNAP cuts. We invite you to say this prayer every time you visit the grocery store this season: God, empower us and our leaders to fill the hungry with good things.

In the coming weeks, as the number of eliminated meals from SNAP cuts grows, we will call upon you to continue saying this prayer as you buy food and share this message with your members of Congress.

Right now, Congress is debating whether to allow cuts to nutrition assistance for low-income women and children to continue under sequestration. Already, struggling seniors have had to go without 4 million meals because of cuts to the Meals on Wheels program, and if sequestration continues, another 4 million meals could be cut.

We can make a difference this fall, but there’s not much time. Congress has just a few weeks to reverse the harmful cuts put in place by sequestration and to pass a farm bill. And these cuts threaten so much more—funding for international emergency food aid, poverty-focused foreign assistance, nutrition assistance for struggling seniors and pregnant women, and Head Start for low-income children.

Tell your members of Congress that all should share in the bounty and they must not cut programs that help struggling families.

Thank you for your continued prayers and action during this critical time.

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

Photo: Alex Morris feeds her son, André, in their Bend, OR, home. Alex depends on SNAP, WIC and other programs to care for André, who suffers from a serious medical condition that affects his hormonal system (Brad Horn).


Act Now: SNAP and Food Aid at Risk

Families that receives food stamps (SNAP) will see their benefits reduced starting this Friday. Email or call 1-800-826-3688 and tell your members of Congress to protect SNAP and improve international food aid. Photo: DeEtte Peck uses her EBT card to purchase food in Portland, Ore. (Brian Duss)

By Eric Mitchell

This week, every family that receives food stamp benefits will see its grocery budget shrink! In 2010, Congress voted twice to cut food stamps (also known as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP) in order to pay for other priorities.  As a result, $11 billion in SNAP cuts will go into effect this Friday. For a family of four, this means a loss of up to $36 a month.

As millions of families are bracing for these automatic benefit cuts, members of the House and Senate meet today to finalize a farm bill that will impact vital anti-hunger programs—specifically SNAP and international food aid. 

We need your help. The voices of your members of Congress are critical in our efforts to end hunger by protecting and strengthening SNAP and improving international food aid.

Call or email your members of Congress today! Ask them to:

  1. Oppose cuts and harmful changes to SNAP. The House-passed farm bill cut SNAP by $39 billion, which could kick nearly 4 million people off the program and reduce benefits for thousands more. SNAP has already been cut by $11 billion, reducing every household’s monthly benefit and resulting in millions of lost meals. SNAP families cannot afford any cuts in the farm bill.
  2. Support the Senate-passed farm bill’s (S.954) international food aid provisions. These provisions will increase the flexibility, cost-effectiveness, and efficiency of food aid so that we can respond better to the complex challenges of global hunger and malnutrition today.

Forty-nine million Americans live at risk of hunger, and more than 1 billion people around the world live in extreme poverty. SNAP and international food aid programs must be protected in the farm bill. Email or call your member of Congress at 800-826-3688 today!

 Thank you for your advocacy.

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

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.

Voting on SNAP: Let Them Know You Were Watching

Bread for the World members on Lobby Day in Washington, D.C., June 11, 2013. (Joseph Mollieri/Bread for the World)

By David Beckmann

We were so close! Thank you for your advocacy last week.  You and other anti-hunger advocates sent more than 3,000 emails and made hundreds of phone calls opposing a House proposal to cut SNAP  (formerly food stamps) by nearly $40 billion.

Despite our best efforts, this nutrition bill passed by a vote of 217 to 210 on the House floor. The seven-vote margin reflects the pressure you exerted on your representatives.

Now it is critical that you hold your representative accountable—let him or her know you were watching! Find out how House members voted and then call your representative. Either thank your representative for voting “no” or express your outrage over a “yes” vote.

This bill not only includes nearly $40 billion in cuts to SNAP, it would kick almost 4 million Americans off of the program next year. Churches and charities would have to nearly double their food assistance to make up the difference.

Our advocacy on the farm bill is far from over. As Congress moves to finalize a farm bill, we press on, reminding our legislators that any farm bill must protect hungry and poor people.

We will call on you again in the coming months. Last week’s vote was close, and we must win the next one. We will continue to advocate with and for the most vulnerable in our country and around the world.

David Beckmann is president of Bread for the World.

A $40 Billion SNAP Cut Picks on the Poorest People

David press In just hours, the House of Representatives will vote on a proposal to cut SNAP by nearly $40 billion. If the bill passes, the House will be sending a dangerous message: it’s OK to pick on poor people. We must urge members of the House to vote "no" on H.R. 3102.

On Wednesday, Bread for the World President Rev. David Beckmann carried a different message from faithful advocates to the nation’s capital—that deep cuts kicking as many as 4 million poor, childless adults off of the SNAP program is morally wrong.

The nearly $40 billion cut would come on top of the Nov. 1 expiration of the 2009 Recovery Act, which will lead to a reduction in SNAP benefits for millions.

Earlier in the week, leaders from the Circle of Protection, a coalition of more than 65 heads of denominations and religious agencies, plus more than 5,000 church pastors, wrote letters to Congress urging a "no" vote on a bill that would cut SNAP. Christians know that God has a special concern for the poor and hungry and so the faithful are speaking out against cuts to the nation’s foremost tool against hunger and hardship.Currently, 47 million Americans benefit from SNAP, but that number is expected to be drop once the economy recovers.

“These proposed cuts are a clear indication that some in Congress underestimate the hunger that is present in millions of American homes," Beckmann wrote in his letter to Congress. "The amendment picks on the poorest people in the country. This is morally and economically unacceptable especially as some areas continue to experience high unemployment. Congress needs to focus on creating more jobs and not cut programs that stave off hunger for millions of people.”

Now it is time for every faithful advocate to join our religious leaders and make a statement with phone calls—ending hunger should be a priority in our nation. New U.S. Census data shows that although poverty continues to be at an all-time high, the safety net is working. In a floor speech this morning, Rep. Suzanne Bonamici (D-OR1) said that H.R. 3102, and kicking hungry people off of SNAP, is not the right focus. Ending hunger requires addressing at the root causes of hunger. “Let’s cut poverty,” said Rep. Bonamici, “not nutrition assistance.”

The vote is expected to take place approximately 4:30 p.m. ET, so there is still time. Call 800-326-4941 to be connected to the Capitol switchboard and tell your representative to vote against H.R. 3102. Bread for the World will be following the vote with our Twitter feed, @bread4theworld.  

Photo: David Beckmann urges members of Congress to create a circle of protection around SNAP during a press conference on Capitol Hill, Sept. 17, 2013 in Washington, D.C. (Joseph Molieri/Bread for the World)

Act Now: House of Representatives Voting to Cut SNAP TODAY

We_accept_SNAP2By Eric Mitchell

Update: House votes 217 to 210 to Cut $40 Billion from SNAP

It’s been a busy week in Congress and I know you’ve heard a lot from us, but this is urgent. We need you to raise your voice once more.

Today, the House of Representatives will vote on H.R. 3102, a bill that would cut SNAP (formerly food stamps) by nearly $40 billion.  This vote will be incredibly close, and we understand that many members are still on the fence. Your voice is urgently needed to defeat this bill!

Tell your representative to vote “no” on H.R. 3102. If enacted, this bill would mean that:

  • Nearly 4 million people would be kicked off of SNAP.
  • Churches and charities would have to nearly double their current food assistance over the next 10 years to handle the increase in need.

On Nov. 1, all SNAP households will see their monthly benefits reduced whether this proposal passes or fails. Now is not the time to cut SNAP.

Call 800-326-4941 to be connected to the Capitol switchboard and tell your representative to vote against H.R. 3102.

Thank you for using your voice to help end hunger in this country.

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

Sequestration Threatens Lifesaving Food Aid

Tohomina Akter attempts to feed her daughter Adia, 17 months, in Char Baria village, Barisal, Bangladesh, on Thursday, April 19, 2012. Tohomina finished 7th grade and hopes she can help educate her daughter to be a doctor. (Laura Elizabeth Pohl/Bread for the World)

“The one who gathered much did not have too much, and the one who gathered little did not have too little.” (2 Corinthians 8:15).

Famine is difficult for Americans to truly understand. Although poverty rates in the United States have surged with the Great Recession, programs like SNAP have helped put food on the table for those who have been hit the hardest. But famine — a perversion of God’s vision for humanity in the midst of global abundance – slowly and painfully withers life in the wake of human and natural disasters. For people who live in the world's poorest countries, the safety net is often weak or nonexistent.

Both the Old and New Testaments show a special concern for the poor; God’s people are called to change the systems that create poverty. Amos 5 tells us that we also are called to respond immediately to the groaning at the gates—an outcry exemplified by hunger. In the New Testament, the apostle Paul understood that the Christian call included responding to the need in Macedonia with a generosity that crossed borders (2 Corinthians 8-9).

Today, that humanitarian assistance often comes in the form of U.S. food aid and programs administered by USDA and USAID. For more than 50 years, U.S. generosity has saved lives. In fiscal year 2010, the United States spent about $1.5 billion on emergency food aid that benefitted about 46.5 million people in poor countries.

In 2011, famine in Somalia led to the death of more than 250,000 people in Southern Somalia, but many survived because of food aid and global generosity. Although rains and lowered food prices have helped, security issues still plague the region and continued vigilance on the part of the international community is vital.  IRIN reports that an estimated 870,000 will need food assistance by December of this year. 

As we have previously reported, the crisis is regional and the Horn of Africa has the highest rates of child malnutrition in the world. Programs targeting the nutritional needs of nursing mothers and infants are working. Last week, the UN reported that Ethiopia has reduced by two-thirds its child mortality rate, which is the rate of infants and children who die before age 5. 

The less than 1 percent of our budget that is invested in poverty-focused development assistance is saving lives and helping us answer our faithful call to love our neighbors, regardless of borders. The investments, however, are being diminished by sequestration, the automatic and indiscriminate budget cuts currently in place. If these cuts aren't replaced by a balanced approach, sequestration will deny nutritional interventions to 57,000 children and deny or reduce food aid to 2 million people. Congress must take action.

Congress is facing some big choices this week—lives are at stake.  Ask your senators and representative to pass a responsible budget that provides robust funding for international poverty-focused development assistance programs and puts an end to sequestration. Use our toll-free number, 800-826-3688, to be connected to the Capitol switchboard, or send an email.

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