Urging our nation's leaders to end hunger
 

46 posts categorized "Action Alert"

Sequestration Threatens Lifesaving Food Aid

Bangladesh
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.

Act Now: Tell Congress to Pass a Responsible Budget

Capitolbldg

By Eric Mitchell

This week, Congress is expected to consider a continuing resolution that would fund the government at current levels through December, avoiding a government shutdown. While this is a temporary fix, it allows the across-the board-cuts known as sequestration to stand. If left in place, sequestration will continue to drastically cut programs that help the most vulnerable, such as the nation’s international poverty-focused development assistance programs.

The effects of sequestration are just beginning to become apparent. This year alone, sequestration will have the following effects around the world:

  • More than 570,000 children in developing countries will be denied nutritional interventions during their first 1,000 days of development. These interventions save lives and help prevent the irreversible damage caused by malnutrition.
  • Roughly 2 million people around the world will experience reduced or denied access to lifesaving food aid.

Congress must put an end to the budget brinksmanship and repeated short-term extensions. 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.  Send an email or call now!

We expect Congress to vote on this proposal this week. Email or call your senators and representative today and urge them to support international poverty-focused development assistance. Use our toll-free number, 800-826-3688, to be connected to the Capitol switchboard, or send an email.

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

Quote of the Day: Leith Anderson

Leylanie_eating"During the Great Recession, the number of Americans needing food aid has understandably increased.  Millions of families survived very hard times thanks in part to this assistance. Children were protected from irreversible developmental damage.  Hunger-related health care costs were averted. We support efforts to reduce our annual deficits and enact structural reforms to bring our revenues and expenses back into balance. But we believe this can be done without further burdening our most vulnerable citizens, and without cutting appropriations for vital food assistance programs."

—Leith Anderson, president of the National Association of Evangelicals, in a letter send to the House of Representatives this week, urging members to protect SNAP.

Yesterday, Christian leaders urged members of the House of Representatives to vote “no” on a proposed bill that will further cut SNAP by $40 billion over the next 10 years. In letters to their members of Congress, the Christian leaders expressed deep moral outrage over these proposed new cuts and their effects on the nation’s most vulnerable people. Copies of their letters are available online at www.circleofprotection.us.

The House of Representatives is expected to vote on the cuts that would impact nearly 4 million food insecure Americans later this week.  Email or call your representative today and urge him or her to vote against deep and harmful cuts to SNAP. Use our toll-free number, 800-826-3688, to be connected to the Capitol switchboard or click here to send an email.

Photo: Leylanie, 7, the daughter of hunger activist Barbie Izquierdo, eats cereal at her Lancaster, Pa., home. Izquierdo is a Philadelphia native whose firsthand experiences with hunger and poverty have made her an anti-hunger activist and nationwide speaker on the topic. Barbie has worked with Witness to Hunger in Philadelphia and talks about her time on SNAP in the documentary A Place at the Table (Laura Elizabeth Pohl/Bread for the World).

House to Vote on $40 Billion in SNAP Cuts

Capitol_bldg_flickr_usr_smaedliBy Eric Mitchell

Members of Congress returned to Washington, D.C., this week and their schedule is packed. One of the first things on the docket is a proposal to cut SNAP (formerly food stamps) by $40 billion. If approved, the cuts would be twice the amount included in a bill that House members voted on in June. We cannot allow Congress to pass such an extreme proposal.

On Tuesday, I was on Capitol Hill with Bread for the World staff opposing these outrageous cuts. Congress is under intense pressure to cut SNAP—it’s critical that you raise your voice and tell your representative to protect this vital program! Send an email or call now! If enacted, these cuts would kick millions of people off the program and place a greater burden on churches and charities that are already struggling to provide enough food assistance. For example:

  • Across the country, 2 to 4 million adults without dependents would lose benefits. SNAP already has strict work requirements but this proposal would require individuals to find work at times when jobs are scarce.
  • Nearly 2 million more people, primarily seniors and those in low-income working families, would lose benefits due to changes in eligibility rules.
  • In 2011, private churches and charities provided approximately $4 billion in food assistance, compared to $98 billion provided by federal nutrition programs. Churches and charities would have to nearly double their current food assistance to make up the difference.

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.

We expect the House to vote on this proposal as early as Wednesday. Email or call your representative today and urge him or her to vote against deep and harmful cuts to SNAP. Use our toll-free number, 800-826-3688, to be connected to the Capitol switchboard or click here to send an email.

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

Photo of U.S. Capitol taken by flickr user smaedli.

Tag, Congress: You're It

Natasha
Smart phones can be a powerful tool for advocates who want to make their message public through social media networks. Most members of Congress are on both Twitter and Facebook. Nicole Rushing (left) and Natasha Bisbal (right) listen to Joe Martingale (not pictured) at Bread for the World's Lobby Day in Washington, D.C., on Tuesday, June 12, 2012 (Laura Elizabeth Pohl/Bread for the World).

It’s time to let members of Congress know that  must help those facing hunger and poverty – tag your members  on social media and remind them of this moral responsibility. Using Twitter and Facebook, you can help amplify the message that a small group of faithful advocates are taking to Capitol Hill today: create a circle of protection around SNAP and make ending hunger a priority.

Over the next couple of weeks, members of the House of Representatives will vote on a nutrition-only farm bill that would cut $40 billion from the SNAP program over 10 years — a devastating prospect that could increase hunger for as many as 6 million U.S. citizens. We have identified 14 members of the House of Representatives who will be key votes and they need to hear from you today.

If you use Twitter, tag your member with a message or make up your own. For example: 

Rep. @bachusal06 vote NO on SNAP cuts and make ending hunger a priority #circleofprotection 

On Facebook, tell your story on the wall of your member or tag him or her in a message on your wall (you need to like your member's official page in order to do this). For example:

I’m asking @Don Young to Vote NO on SNAP cuts that would take food off the table of as many as 6 million Americans. Ending hunger should be a priority and a farm bill that cuts SNAP by $40 billion will only increase the struggle for our most vulnerable citizens during these tough economic times.

Below is a list of key representatives that Bread for the World will be meeting with today. If your member is on this list, tag him or her in a tweet or a Facebook post and help us amplify the message that now is not the time to cut SNAP.

 

State/Dist

Representative

Twitter

Facebook

AL-06

Spencer Bachus

@BachusAL06

@Spencer Bachus

AK-at large

Don Young

@repdonyoung

@Don Young

KY-05

Hal Rogers

@RepHalRogers

@Harold Rogers

NJ-02

Frank LoBiondo

@replobiondo

@Frank LoBiondo

NJ-04

Chris Smith

@RepChrisSmith

@Christopher Smith

NJ-11

Rodney Frelinghuysen

@USRepRodney

@Rodney Frelinghuysen

NY-11

Michael Grimm

@repmichaelgrimm

@Rep. Michael Grimm

NY-19

Chris Gibson

@RepChrisGibson

@Congressman Chris Gibson

NY-22

Richard Hanna

@RepRichardHanna

@U.S. Rep. Richard Hanna

NY-02

Peter King

@RepPeteKing

@Peter King

OH-14

David Joyce

@RepDaveJoyce

@Rep. Dave Joyce

PA-07

Patrick Meehan

@RepMeehan

@Congressman Patrick Meehan

PA-08

Michael Fitzpatrick

@RepFitzpatrick

@Congressman Mike Fitzpatrick

VA-10

Frank Wolf

@RepWOLFPress

@Congressman Frank Wolf

 

If you don't see your member's name listed here, that doesn't mean that their vote isn't important or that it isn't critical to get in touch with them today! Find him or her on Facebook or Twitter and send them a message asking them to protect SNAP.

If you’re not active on social media your voice can still make an difference.  Email or call your representative today and urge him or her to vote against $40 billion in cuts to SNAP. Use our toll-free number, 1-800-826-3688, to be connected to the Capitol switchboard or click here to send an email. 

Join Us on the Hill Tomorrow: Travel Not Required

IMG_5736
Faithful advocates during Bread for the World's annual lobby day in Washington D.C., on June, 11, 2013 (Rick Reinhart).

Congress is back in session this week and it’s a busy time for legislators. They have only nine working days before the end of the fiscal year and they are facing multiple priorities and pressure from various special interests. On Tuesday, a group of grassroots advocates from across the nation will walk the marble halls of Congress representing God’s special interest: ending hunger and poverty. We are counting on you to help amplify their messages on SNAP and the budget.

On the agenda for the House is a proposal that would cut $40 billion from the SNAP program over 10 years. We can't let this vote be lost in the noise—the consequences are far too serious. For example:

  • Across the country, 2 to 4 million adults without dependents would lose benefits. SNAP already has strict work requirements but this proposal would require individuals to find work at times when jobs are scarce.
  • Nearly 2 million more people, primarily seniors and those in low-income working families, would lose benefits due to changes in eligibility rules.
  • In 2011, private churches and charities provided approximately $4 billion in food assistance, compared to $98 billion provided by federal nutrition programs. Churches and charities would have to nearly double their current food assistance to make up the difference.

Decisions made during the next few months will impact the lives of vulnerable people, both at home and abroad, for years to come. Failure to reach a compromise could mean a government shutdown that would harm vulnerable groups, some of whom have already suffered through program cuts and reductions because of sequestration, such as Meals on Wheels recipients.

The worst-case scenario? If Congress increases defense investments by cutting anti-hunger programs — something they could quietly do if it weren't for advocates like you paying attention. 

Faithful advocates can ensure that members of Congress don’t play partisan games with programs that help people who experience hunger. But in order to do so we must remain vigilant and speak up loudly — or risk losing ground on decades of progress against hunger. We must talk about the real consequences of poverty, both on the Hill and in our hometowns. 

Members of Congress need to hear that they must create a circle of protection around programs that decrease hunger.  They must enact a responsible budget and replace sequestration with a balanced approach that includes revenue. 

Tomorrow, join us from your home or office by making phone calls, emailing, or even using social media to get the message across that ending hunger is a priority. Stay tuned for additional details on how you can join us tomorrow, from wherever you are.

The Time for Immigration Reform is Now

Pray_for_reform_gatheringBy David Beckmann

Today, I’m meeting with members of Congress, calling on them to pass an immigration reform bill that creates a path out of poverty for hard-working families. We will be joined by hundreds of evangelical leaders gathering in Washington to pray and take action for reform. Amplify my voice and the voice of all these other faith leaders by asking your representative to support an immigration reform bill that is rooted in biblical teachings.

Our faith calls upon us to care for our neighbors and speak out on behalf of those in need. Undocumented immigrants in the United States disproportionately experience hunger — and many are driven to the United States by hunger and poverty in their countries of origin. That is why Congress must approach immigration as a hunger issue, both in this country and abroad.

Compassionate and inclusive reform will reduce hunger and poverty in the United States and around the world, create jobs, and help reduce the national deficit.

Call or email your U.S. representative and urge passage of an immigration reform bill that includes a path to citizenship. Use our toll-free number: 1-800-326-4941.

You can learn more about immigration reform and Bread's position here.

David Beckmann is president of Bread for the World.

Photo: Bread for the World and other organizations participated in a Pray4Reform prayer vigil for just immigration reform in Washington, D.C., on June 27, 2013. (Joseph Molieri/Bread for the World).

Faith Groups Address the House Farm Bill

Gathering_worshpA number of faith groups, including Bread for the World, sent the following letter to the House of Representatives regarding the version of the farm bill that the House is expected to vote on today.  You can also  lend your voice by calling your representative today and urging him or her to vote “no” on this farm bill. Call 1-800-326-4941, ask for your representative, and leave a message telling him or her to opposed any farm bill that cuts international food aid and leaves nutrition programs vulnerable to deep cuts.

July 11, 2013

Dear Representative:

As people of faith working to reduce hunger and poverty and urging sustainable stewardship of our resources, we urge you to oppose proposals to dismantle the farm bill. Proposals to “split” the farm bill will put critical programs, particularly SNAP (formerly food stamps), at risk of deep cuts and harmful policy changes.

Passing a farm bill that contains only the farm policies and commodity provisions would almost certainly lead to a nutrition bill with SNAP cuts that far exceed even the $20 billion proposed in the earlier version of the farm bill. Thus, we view a vote in favor of a separate farm policy bill as a vote in favor of uncertainty and possibly catastrophic cuts to SNAP.

Our nation’s food and farm policies as embodied in the farm bill impact people and communities from rural America to developing countries.  Historically, there have been good reasons to connect good nutrition policy with good farm policy, and this partnership is essential to the long-term health of all of the programs involved.  Splitting the farm bill and making SNAP vulnerable to deep cuts will not only hamper the ability of low-income Americans to put meals on the table, but will also have negative consequences for food producers as well. According to USDA, 16 cents of every dollar spent on food goes back to farmers.

We urge the House to work on a comprehensive farm bill that protects and strengthens nutrition programs and encourages sustainable stewardship of our resources.

Sincerely,

American Friends Service Committee

Bread for the World

Church World Service

Columban Center for Advocacy and Outreach

Disciples Justice Action Network

Evangelical Lutheran Church in America

Jewish Council for Public Affairs     

MAZON: A Jewish Response to Hunger

National Advocacy Center of the Sisters of the Good Shepherd

National Catholic Rural Life Conference

National Council of Jewish Women

Office of Social Justice, Christian Reformed Church in North America

Presbyterian Church (U.S.A)

Union for Reform Judaism

United Church of Christ Justice and Witness Ministries

The United Methodist Church General Board of Church and Society

Action Needed: House Farm Bill Vote Today

US_Capitol_from_NW

Late Wednesday, in a last-minute move, House leadership released a farm bill that does not include the nutrition title, which is the section in the bill that includes SNAP (formerly food stamps). The House is expected to vote on the bill early today. Bread for the World strongly opposes this splitting of the farm bill—which leaves nutrition programs such as SNAP vulnerable to deep cutsand the passage of any farm bill that cuts SNAP and food aid.

In this period of slow economic recovery, more than 47 million of individuals across the United States depend on the SNAP program to put food on their tables.  

Bread for the World is urging our members to call their representatives early today and urge them to vote “no” on this farm bill. Call 1-800-326-4941, ask for your representative, and leave a message telling him or her that any farm bill that cuts international food aid and leaves nutrition programs vulnerable to deep cuts.

Earlier this year, the Senate passed a bill that included $4.1 billion in cuts to SNAP but included needed improvements to food aid.  The House bill that failed passage last month would have slashed SNAP by nearly $21 billion, and international food aid by $2.5 billion (Bread for the World opposed these cuts).  Any final bill out of the House must be reconciled with the Senate version in a conference for final passage, and then must be signed by the president.

Vulnerable populations both here and abroad should not pay the price for partisan gridlock in Congress. Splitting the farm bill not only harms a program that has kept millions of struggling families on stable ground during tough economic times, it’s not an economically sound move. With 16 cents of every dollar spent on food going back to farmers and other producers, splitting the farm bill and making nutrition programs such as SNAP vulnerable to deep cuts will not only hamper the ability of people to buy food, but have consequences for those involved in the farming, manufacturing, and processing of our food.

Farm-bill-spending blog

Act Now: Include Ending Hunger in the House Immigration Bill

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Photo:  Matt H. Wade/UpstateNYer

By Eric Mitchell

This week, leadership within the House of Representatives is expected to begin discussion on how the body will approach immigration reform.

With your help, we made history by passing bipartisan comprehensive immigration reform legislation in the Senate. Now, we need you to move the House of Representatives!

Call your representative today! Urge him or her to support comprehensive immigration reform.

Tell your representative to support immigration reform that

  1. addresses the root causes of undocumented immigration, such as extreme poverty in countries of origin, and
  2. does not discourage or prohibit legal immigrants and their U.S. citizen family members from receiving needed assistance through federal programs such as WIC, SNAP, and EITC.

Bread for the World recognizes that undocumented immigrants in the United States disproportionately experience hunger. That’s why faithful immigration reform must treat immigration as a hunger issue — both here and abroad. Learn more about immigration and hunger here.

As the House takes up this issue, it needs to know that a faithful constituency is paying attention. Call your representative at 800-826-3688, or email him or her, today.

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

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