551 posts categorized "Advocacy"
Today, June 11, is Lobby Day! If you're not joining us in person, you can still participate virtually. Making calls is a great way to support the advocates from your state who will be in Washington, D.C., today, as is using social media.
Share the social media updates from Lobby Day participants, and send your own messages to your members of Congress, too. Your virtual participation helps spread the message that everyone deserves a place at the table.
Are you on Facebook?
- Example: “Sen.@RonWyden, my fellow Oregonians are visiting you this afternoon during @Bread for the World Lobby Day. They will ask you to please protect programs for hungry and poor people--and I am asking you, too!
Are you on Twitter?
- Sen. @RonWyden: Pls protect funding for #SNAP and #foodaid in the #farmbill. #breadrising
Photo: Bread for the World members in Ohio recently had an in-district meeting with Rep. Brad Wenstrup (R-OH02). (l-r) Ceal Bellman, Laura Hovland, Nick Yoda, Rep. Wenstrup, Mary-Cabrini Durkin, Sydney Prochazka, and Cindy Browne.
Tomorrow, June 11, is Bread for the World’s annual Lobby Day. Each year, Bread for the World’s National Gathering culminates in a day dedicated to putting our faith into action by taking a message to Congress. You can join the chorus of voices urging our lawmakers to create policies that ensure everyone has a place at the table,
Your voice could not be more important right now, and just because you aren’t in Washington D.C., doesn’t mean you can’t participate. Sequestration is chipping away at critical and effective anti-hunger initiatives. There are efforts to cut SNAP (formerly food stamps) and international food aid in the farm bill.
Lobby Day participants will meet with members of Congress or their legislative staff in D.C. Imagine if they walk into a congressional office that has already received hundreds of calls preparing the member of Congress for the message they will deliver. When a Bread member says, “I am just one of the many Christians from your state/district who believes that the choices we make today will make a difference for poor and hungry people tomorrow,” your call will add impact to that statement.
Last week, Ohioans held an in-district meeting in Cincinnati (see photo), which will amplify Tuesday's Lobby Day visit for participants from that state. You can similarly add your voice and support with a simple phone call that will only take a few minutes of your time.
Call or email your senators and representative today. Use our special toll-free number (1-800-826-3688) and make sure to let them know you are a Bread for the World member. Leave a message with the receptionist and ask your member of Congress to:
1. Protect SNAP and improve international food aid in the farm bill.
2. Replace sequestration with a balanced plan that has both revenues and sensible cuts.
Even one voice has the power, but many voices in unison calling for a world where all God’s children have enough is a testament to the power of God’s love and grace--and just might move Congress, too.
The plane tickets have been bought, bags are being packed, and in just two days, Bread members will gather in Washington, D.C. Just like the title of Art Simon’s book says, "Bread will Rise" beginning this Saturday and culminating in Lobby Day (Tuesday, June 11), when our members will take the outcry to end hunger to the offices of our legislators. We hope you will join us as well.
If you can’t physically come to this year’s Gathering, you can still participate virtually. Follow our social networks—this blog, Facebook, and our Twitter feed—and we'll keep you informed of what is happening with recaps, pictures, and more. The social media team and National Gathering participants will be live tweeting the workshops using the hashtag #BreadRising.
Workshops will cover such diverse, yet interconnected, topics as immigration, foreign assistance, tax reform, malnutrition, and agriculture. Skills workshops designed to enhance the power of our advocacy will cover everything from how to create public dialogue to telling your story. And you won’t want to miss inspiring words from keynote speakers like renowned preacher Rev. Dr. James Forbes, Esperanza President Rev. Luis Cortes, and USAID administrator Raj Shah.
On Tuesday, as we head to Capitol Hill for Lobby Day, you can support Bread members from your home state as they tell our lawmakers that everyone deserves a place at the table. Participants will be tweeting about their meetings and posting pictures on their Facebook pages. We encourage remote participants to call their members of Congress, and use your social networks to amplify the message that polices in the farm bill must protect the most vulnerable and that it is time to put an end to sequestration and agree on a balanced, long-term plan for the nation's fiscal sustainability.
You can follow each day's events by downloading the National Gathering event program. Pack your virtual bag and join the conversation on social media as we gather in our nation’s capital this weekend. There is more than enough food in the world to feed all people, yet millions still go hungry. Now is the time to gather the political will to follow Jesus' teaching and ensure a place at the table for the least of these.Robin Stephenson is national social media lead and senior regional organizer, western hub, at Bread for the World.
Photo: The street sign for Bread for the World's 2011 Lobby Day. (Jim Stipe)
By Christine Melendez Ashley
Wear comfortable shoes. That’s the most practical advice I can give you if you’re planning to join us for Bread for the World’s Lobby Day on Tuesday, June 11.
We’ll be walking the halls of Congress, meeting with senators, representatives, and their staffers—asking them to protect programs vital to hungry and poor people. On the morning of June 11, we will convene at the Mead Center in Washington, D.C., for worship, issue briefings, and practice sessions before heading to Capitol Hill to meet with our members of Congress.
Lobby Day is free, but registration is required. Please let us know today if you'll be able to join us. This allows us time to coordinate meetings with your members of Congress.
We will provide meals, talking points, shuttle transportation to and from congressional office buildings, and a closing service and reception. Comfortable shoes not included.
See you there!
Christine Melendez Ashley is a policy analyst with Bread for the World.
If you are participating in Lobby Day, please join us on
Wednesday, May 29, at 3 p.m. ET for our
Photo: A screening of A Place at the Table. (Amanda Lucidon for Bread for the World)
By Anneke Essenburg
On April 5, I woke up at 5 a.m., and by 6 a.m., I was on the road with four other Calvin College students and two leaders of the Christian Reformed Church’s Social Justice Office, headed to Washington, D.C. Twelve hours, two stops, and many Twizzlers later, we arrived!
We went south for the weekend to attend the annual Ecumenical Advocacy Days conference. This year, the focus was on food justice, a topic that our student organization, the Social Justice Coalition, is really passionate about. On Friday, Saturday, and Sunday we learned about all aspects of food justice and the farm bill, and then on Monday we lobbied on Capitol Hill.
At the conference we learned about the movie A Place at the Table, and one of the women featured in the film, Barbie Izquierdo, was there to share her story. Midway through our journey home, we began discussing how we could share what we learned with the Calvin community, in order to widen the advocacy base.
So, on Thursday, May 2, we held a screening of A Place at the Table, followed by a panel discussion. Our panelists were Marge Palmerlee from Degage Ministries, Emma Rosauer from Access of West Michigan, and Chuck Clemence, coordinator of the Grand Rapids Bread for the World team.
The first step in educating others and involving them in ending hunger is just deciding to take action. There are logistical details to work out—contacting panelists, purchasing showing rights, advertising—but it isn’t about having a perfect event, it’s about reaching out and offering knowledge.
Sure, I spent time stressing over whether or not anyone would come. But you know what? They did. Our job is not to force people to come, or to force people to care. Only God can do that. Our job is to be faithful, to act, to do something. Because if we do nothing, then nothing will change.
There are 50 million people in America who don’t know where their next meal is coming from. This is not right. We need to do something. I need to do something. You need to do something.
Anneke Essenburg is a student at Calvin College in Grand Rapids, Mich., and a leader in the student organization Social Justice Coalition (SJC).
Photo: John, a former banker who is one of the subjects of The Line, shops for himself and his three children at a food pantry. (Film still from The Line, courtesy Magnolia Pictures)
By Alicia Vela
Recently, I worked with Bread for the World regional organizer Zach Schmidt and a few of my seminary classmates to organize a viewing of The Line--a documentary that takes a look at poverty in America. The event was part of a class called “Mobilizing for Justice,” taught by Dr. Soong-Chan Rah, professor at North Park Theological Seminary, and Dr. Dennis Edwards, senior pastor of Sanctuary Covenant Church in Minneapolis.
After watching the documentary, which follows four highly-relatable stories of Americans living in poverty, we participated in an exercise that shows how poverty cuts across all demographics. We then entered a period of small- and large-group discussion, reflecting on issues surrounding poverty in America and the ways in which the church can and should respond. The night ended with a plea for those present, as future pastors and leaders, to use our power—our pulpit, our congregation members, and our voices—to impact the issue of poverty in our communities and across the country.
During the event, we discussed different ways of responding to poverty, from helping local food pantries and soup kitchens to advocating for policy changes. We had an opportunity to sign Bread’s petition to President Obama, urging him to set a goal and work with Congress to end hunger. The conversation was productive in raising awareness as well allowing us to brainstorm more ways to be involved in addressing poverty. We also collected canned food for the North Park Friendship Center, an organization fighting hunger on Chicago’s North Side.
There are several pieces that I personally took away from my experience with Bread for the World, but the idea of using my voice for advocacy really stood out. I had always thought that as a pastor, I shouldn’t get involved in politics. Being an advocate seemed too divisive in my mind. I have always hidden my political affiliation while working in the church because I thought people would try to argue with me if they had different views. Then I realized that fighting for the hungry is not a political opinion or side, but rather a biblical mandate.
If we take seriously Jesus’s call to love the orphan, fight on behalf the defenseless and care for the weak, we begin to see advocacy as an essential response. As Christians we cannot stand alongside and watch those around us hurt because of the broken systems we have created. We are called to fight for them, to call or write our government leaders and ask for better laws and more care for those who are most vulnerable.
Vela earned her B.A. in psychology from the University of Colorado at
Boulder and recently completed her Master of Divinity coursework at North
Seminary. A Colorado native, she is currently interning at Deer Grove
Covenant Church in Palatine, Ill.
God’s willingness to become one of us in the person of Jesus Christ is evidence of God’s deep and abiding love for us. We understand God’s love through Jesus: “We know love by this, that he laid down his life for us—and we ought to lay down our lives for one another” (1 John 3:16). Scripture shows us that Jesus was compassionate to all people, especially the widow, the orphan, the stranger, the hungry, the poor—those most vulnerable in society. Jesus loved all people, rich and poor, and actively cared for those in need. He urged his disciples to do the same, to reflect God’s loving nature.
As followers of Christ, we can reflect Jesus’ love and compassion. Jesus calls us to respond to the reality of hunger and poverty in our world. We can model Jesus’ care for vulnerable people we encounter, whether they live next door, in the next state, or across the world.
Our proclamation of God’s love and our demonstrated concern for others are two sides of the same coin. We work to end hunger and poverty in our communities, in our country, and in other countries because we hear God’s word and see Jesus’ model of compassion and justice.
We express and embody God’s reconciling love at all times and in all places.
In scripture, God calls people into community and sets the expectation that leaders (whether they are kings, pharaohs, or governments) should care for their people. Therefore, we also reflect Christ’s love by challenging individuals and institutions that have the power to change laws and structures that keep people vulnerable. As God’s hands and feet in the world, we work toward a beloved community in which every person has an equal opportunity to thrive.
Read and download this new resource, which can be used for personal reflection, group discussion, or congregational study.
Photo: A young man reads his bible at an Assemblies of God service in Saclepea, Liberia (Laura Elizabeth Pohl/Bread for the World).
Rev. Gary Cook, director of Church Relations at Bread for the World, holds up "A Place at the Table," the 2013 Offering of Letters handbook during aconversation with Barbie Izquierdo, who is featured in the documentary film of the same name. Photo taken at Ecumenical Advocacy Days, held April 5-8 in Washington, D.C. (Robin Stephenson)
By Robin Stephenson
More than 700 people gathered in Washington, D.C., last weekend for Ecumenical Advocacy Days, and Bread for the World staff and members were counted among them. This year’s gathering, held April 5-8, began with three days of worship and workshops on the theme "God’s Table: Food Justice for a Healthy World." The conference, of which Bread for the World is a sponsor, culminated in a Capitol Hill lobby day, during which participants told their members of Congress that a faithful farm bill will alleviate hunger and malnutrition, support farms and communities, and protect God’s creation.
With the agricultural and nutrition challenges we face today, food and farm policies that end hunger are something we must get right. Bread for the World Institute dedicated last year’s Hunger Report (PDF) to the concept of the farm bill as a legislative vehicle that can help meet those challenges as we work to address root causes of hunger. With this year’s Offering of Letters calling for a place at the table for all of God’s children, Bread for the World is closely following farm bill negotiations and calling for robust funding for both food aid and SNAP (formerly food stamps) as programs that can end hunger.
Staff members from Bread for the World—from across our government relations, church relations, and organizing departments—and Bread Institute presented in several workshops during Ecumenical Advocacy Days. Issues workshops Bread staff participated in included "Harvesting a Healthy Farm Bill: What’s at Stake?," "Food Insecurity 101: Hunger in America," "Immigration in the Food System," "1,000 Days: The Foundation for Life," and "The Most Important Policy Conversation This Year: TAXES." Bread staff also led skills workshops on social media and advocacy and conducting an Offering of Letters.
Bread for the World’s Women of Faith for 1,000 Days Movement hosted an opening night reception with Bread president David Beckmann giving an address on the importance of nutrition during the critical 1,000-day window, from a woman's pregnancy through her child's second birthday.
One event highlight was an evening conversation with Barbie Izquierdo, whose story illustrates the importance of domestic nutrition programs. She is featured in the documentary film A Place at the Table, and also in Bread’s 2013 Offering of Letters.
Next up is Bread for the World’s 2013 National Gathering, "A Place at the Table," which will be held June 8-11 in Washington, D.C. The event will offer many informative workshops, as well as the opportunity to hear speakers like Rev. Dr. James Forbes and Rev. Luis Cortes, among others. The National Gathering also includes the premiere of a new arrangement of the musical Lazarus. Take advantage of early-bird registration, and join us in June.
Robin Stephenson is national social media lead and senior regional organizer, western hub, at Bread for the World.
Two men chatting at Bread for the World’s 2011 National Gathering. (Alisa Booze Troetschel)
By Mary Getz
When I was in college, I had the opportunity to spend a month in Honduras on a service-learning trip. We worked on a variety of projects and spent time talking to those alongside whom we worked. We learned about culture, agriculture, and the economy.
One afternoon after our group had finished putting in a concrete floor to a community building and we were feeling pretty proud of ourselves, we heard chuckling from some of the men with whom we had been working. We could tell that we were the source of their amusement. When we asked to be let in on the joke, the answer turned our perspective on the day upside down.
The men explained that while we did a fine job on the floor, they were capable of doing it more quickly without us. They said that the important work that day was the friendship we built and the details we learned about each other’s lives.
The men told us, “You have something that we don’t have. You have a voice. You can go back to the United States and tell our story.
"Tell about what it means to be a small farmer here. Tell about what you’ve learned about how trade in your country affects people in our country. Tell our story.”
Our friends’ call to us that day mirrored Proverbs call to action:
Speak out for those who cannot speak,
for the rights of all the destitute.
Speak out, judge righteously,
defend the rights of the poor and needy. (Proverbs 31:8-9)
We are called to advocacy—to work for justice—to speak out for those that cannot.
Advocacy is about building relationships to achieve goals. We tend to focus upward towards our elected officials when we think of advocacy. But that focus can obscure the important relationships that are at the heart of our advocacy—people who are hungry or living in poverty. Our most authentic advocacy is done when we are in relationship with those that we are assisting.
In Matthew we read,
for I was hungry and you gave me food,
I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink,
I was a stranger and you welcomed me,
I was naked and you gave me clothing,
I was sick and you took care of me,
I was in prison and you visited me. (Matthew 25: 35-36)
By meeting Christ in those around us, especially those who are in any kind of need—and by being in relationships with them—we can learn their stories and share those stories with people in power.
We can speak up for those who cannot.
Mary Getz is the grassroots and online communications officer for the Episcopal Church’s Office of Government Relations. She manages the Episcopal Public Policy Network, a grassroots network of Episcopalians committed to the active ministry of public policy advocacy.
[This piece originally appeared in the April edition of Bread for the World's e-newsletter.]
On March 2, 2013, Alliance to End Hunger hosted the 2nd Hunger Free Communities Summit in Washington, D.C. The one-day event provided current and aspiring Hunger Free Community organizers a forum to hear from experts about innovative models for building coalitions to end hunger; learn about best practices to coordinate hunger relief; and share experiences and successful strategies.
The summit brought together nonprofit, religious, private sector, and public sector leaders committed to ending hunger in their communities. Ambassador Tony Hall, executive director of Alliance to End Hunger opened the summit. Rev. David Beckmann delivered the keynote address, focusing on the role of advocacy as fundamental to ending hunger. Beckmann is the president of Alliance to End Hunger and Bread for the World.
Break out sessions included discussion around such topics as amplifying the voices of hungry and poor people, leveraging federal nutrition programs, strategies for reaching vulnerable populations, and ensuring access to healthy and affordable food. Speakers included former Congresswoman Eva Clayton (D-N.C.); Rosemary Johnston of the Maryland Governor’s Office on Children; Jeremy Everett of the Texas Hunger Initiative; Dave Miner of the Indianapolis Food Resource Network; and Barbie Izqierdo of Witnesses to Hunger (Izquierdo is featured in the documentary on hunger A Place at the Table).
To view photos from the event, visit our Flickr page or view the slideshow below.
[This piece originally appeared in the April 2013 edition of Bread for the World's e-newsletter.]