Urging our nation's leaders to end hunger
 

13 posts categorized "Books"

Author Shares Book Proceeds with Bread

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Jason Dykstra is a diagnostic radiologist and youth mentor based in Holland, Mich. He is also a Bread for the World member.  He recently published a book entitled Healing Hereafter—and advised Bread for the World that part of the book’s proceeds will directly benefit our work to end hunger in God’s world. Recently, we spoke with Jason about the project.

Can you tell us about the book?

Sure. Healing Hereafter is an exploration of God’s biblical plan. In an atmosphere of positivity and gratitude, it combines answering some of the complex questions about the Christian faith with encouraging positive action. My hope is that the book stimulates considerations and ways to improve the world.

 How did you decide the book profits would go to four nonprofit organizations?

One of the major goals of the book is to raise awareness and donations for organizations approaching world problems in strategic and cost-effective ways. Bread for the World was one of four I thought were ideal. Already, people are responding positively to the book’s charitable aspect. Knowing they are contributing makes them feel good!  

Why do you support Bread for the World?

About three years ago, my wife and I decided to look at issues the Bible calls us to care about. Hunger was a big one. Then we looked to see what was being done about those issues. It was easy to find groups providing direct aid. But Bread for the World had a model we found unique and easy to get behind. Bread for the World embraces comprehensive, long-term relief. We are proud to be monthly donors. 

To read Jason’s blog, or purchase Healing Hereafter, visit jasondykstrawrites.com. The book is also available on Amazon.com.

 

We Can Beat Hunger and Poverty

Kid eats

Nearly one in four children in the United States faces hunger on a daily basis. Domestic nutrition programs have been a lifeline during the Great Recession, keeping hunger at bay in many households. Now is the time to contact your representatives in Congress and tell them to maintain a circle of protection around these vital programs as they consider the 2012 Farm Bill. Photo: A Catholic Charities Chicago Summer Food Services Program participant enjoys a healthy lunch. Credit: USDA


"We fought a war on poverty and poverty won.” —President Ronald Reagan

"When people decide they have had enough and there are candidates who stand for what they want, they will vote accordingly." —Peter Edelman

by Eric Bond

In a July 28 New York Times op-ed, “Poverty in America: Why Can’t We End It?” Peter Edelman educates readers about the crucial role that domestic assistance programs have played in the lives of millions of Americans over the past 40 years as wages decreased and the cost of living increased.

While pointing out that 15 million Americans now live in poverty (a number that is rising according to the Census), Edelman asserts  that President Reagan’s infamous quotation about poverty (above) is not entirely true.

[W]e have done a lot that works. From Social Security to food stamps to the earned-income tax credit and on and on, we have enacted programs that now keep 40 million people out of poverty. Poverty would be nearly double what it is now without these measures, according to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. To say that “poverty won” is like saying the Clean Air and Clean Water Acts failed because there is still pollution.

Edelman, a former aide to Sen. Robert F. Kennedy, is the author of So Rich, So Poor: Why It’s So Hard to End Poverty in America, which was published by The New Press in late May of this year. In his book, Edelman analyzes the economic stress that festers in the lower levels of our society and has crept well into the middle. His conclusion is basic and matter of fact: Low (or no) wages breed poverty.

We know what we need to do — make the rich pay their fair share of running the country, raise the minimum wage, provide health care and a decent safety net, and the like.

How the United States reached its current economic state, with income disparity at its widest since the Great Depression, is a tale of incremental cuts: cuts to wages, cuts to job prospects, and cuts to services at the bottom—accompanied by cuts to taxes at the top. The statistics Edelman cites are jarring: “Poverty among families with children headed by single mothers exceeds 40 percent,” for instance.

Restoring the ladder out of poverty and stabilizing the middle class will take both electoral politics and outside advocacy and organizing, according to Edelman. But he believes that, just as the civil rights and women’s movements shifted the foundations of our society against entrenched institutions, so can a movement against hunger and poverty create a more just nation in which poverty is not endemic.

The change has to come from the bottom up and from synergistic leadership that draws it out. When people decide they have had enough and there are candidates who stand for what they want, they will vote accordingly.

One place to draw the line is around the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, formerly food stamps). As difficult as life can be for the growing number of poor Americans, six million people have no income other than SNAP. Edelman calls SNAP “a powerful antirecession tool … with the number of recipients rising to 46 million today from 26.3 million in 2007.”

As Congress considers ways to reduce economic stress during this time of trial, it can begin by maintaining a circle of protection around the programs that provide nutrition to those who have borne the brunt of the Great Recession— the working poor and their children.  

Contact your representative or senators during their recess, and strongly encourage them to fight against cuts to SNAP and other nutritional programs in the farm bill when they reconvene in September.

Eric Bond is managing editor of Bread for the World.

Hunger Resources: Foreign aid. Global Development. Women Farmers.

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Photo by Flickr user Gerald Perera.

In this next installment of hunger resources, I've gathered a collection of articles focusing on international issues and how aid enables global development. Got any hunger resources of your own? Share them in the comments section below:

  • The Time is Now for Food Aid Reform: Five Reasons Why U.S. Policies are Ripe for Reform in the Next Farm Bill, (American Jewish World Service): “Recent data indicate that the U.S. remains the world’s largest and most important provider of international food assistance. In FY 2010, the U.S. spent $2.3 billion on food aid programs distributing 2.5 million metric tons of food to 65 million people. Although food aid alone cannot close the world hunger gap—925 million people worldwide experienced hunger in 2010—it still plays a critical role in the lives of tens of millions of individuals and their families.”
  • Smallholder Agriculture: A Critical Factor in Poverty Reduction and Food Security in Africa, (Center for Strategic & International Studies): “The majority of the poor and food insecure in Africa live in rural areas, and most of them depend on agriculture for their livelihoods. More than 30 percent of the people in sub-Saharan Africa are chronically hungry and are small farmers. Experts tell us that the population in Africa is expected to double by 2050, and African nations will have to double their food production just to keep pace with population growth. For the last 20 years, however, food production in Africa has lagged behind population growth, and the source of the problem has been low productivity on Africa’s farms.”
  • Famine Myths: Five Misunderstandings Related to the 2011 Hunger Crisis in the Horn of Africa, (Dollars & Sense): “The 2011 famine in the Horn of Africa was one of the worst in recent decades in terms of loss of life and human suffering. While the UN has yet to release an official death toll, the British government estimates that between 50,000 and 100,000 people died, most of them children, between April and September of 2011. While Kenya, Ethiopia, and Djibouti were all badly affected, the famine hit hardest in certain (mainly southern) areas of Somalia. This was the worst humanitarian disaster to strike the country since 1991-1992, with roughly a third of the Somali population displaced for some period of time.”
  • US Aims to Empower World's Women Farmers, (Voice of America): “U.S. aid officials are launching a new way to measure whether their efforts to empower women farmers are working. Women make up nearly half the agricultural workforce in sub-Saharan Africa and East and Southeast Asia, but women’s farm production tends to lag behind their male counterparts.”
  • Money or Die: A Watershed Moment for Global Public Health, (Foreign Affairs): “The fight against tuberculosis faces similar problems. As with malaria, successes in controlling tuberculosis are quickly reversed when targeted programs cease -- and here the danger of stop-and-start efforts is even greater -- since interruptions in eradication programs lead directly to the development of drug-resistant bacteria. Thanks to the earlier surge in financing of TB programs, according to the WHO, 200,000 fewer people died annually of the disease in 2009 than in 2003. But about 80 percent of this victory was attributable to Global Fund support, and disbursements plummeted in 2010. While the net number of tuberculosis cases fell, moreover, the burden of multidrug-resistant disease skyrocketed, largely as a result of suboptimal or interrupted treatment. By the end of 2011, according to combined UN agency reports, about 85 percent of highly drug-resistant TB cases were going completely untreated, allowing community spread of the mutant strains.”
  • Global Poverty: A fall to cheer, (The Economist): “The past four years have seen the worst economic crisis since the 1930s and the biggest food-price increases since the 1970s. That must surely have swollen the ranks of the poor. Wrong. The best estimates for global poverty come from the World Bank’s Development Research Group, which has just updated from 2005 its figures for those living in absolute poverty (not be confused with the relative measure commonly used in rich countries). The new estimates show that in 2008, the first year of the finance-and-food crisis, both the number and share of the population living on less than $1.25 a day (at 2005 prices, the most commonly accepted poverty line) was falling in every part of the world. This was the first instance of declines across the board since the bank started collecting the figures in 1981 (see chart).
  • Put equality first, (New Internationalist): “Two things you can say about the global financial system today: it’s unstable and unequal. A third thing: the two are deeply connected. Vanessa Baird explains why a fair and sustainable economy matters.”

+Click here for a full list of what we're reading at Bread for the World.

Chris-Matthews Chris Matthews is the librarian at Bread for the World Institute.

 

 

 

Gabriel Salguero: What Do Latino Evangelical Voters Want?

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Photo by Flickr user √oхέƒx™

[This blog post is an excerpt from an article written by Bread for the World board member Gabriel Salguero, president of that National Latino Evangelical Coalition. The full article is available on The Washington Post.]

It may come as a surprise to you to learn that Hispanic evangelicals are a key constituency in swing states. The Jan 31 Florida primary has hastened an all-out blitz for this group’s attention. What do Hispanic evangelicals want from a presidential candidate?

Since our coalition of Latino evangelicals launched a national voter registration campaign, I have fielded multiple interviews about this growing--and increasingly politically influential--demographic. As many have noted, historically, Hispanic evangelicals are social conservatives that simultaneously advocate for issues of justice for the most vulnerable. Anyone who ignores this reality, particularly in swing states like Nevada, Florida, Colorado, New Mexico and Ohio, has not understood this emerging and increasingly vocal group. As a group, we are quintessential independent voters.

In 2004, George W. Bush won the majority of Hispanic evangelicals and in 2008 Barack Obama won that vote by a slim majority. Now in 2012, politicians, pundits, and prognosticators want to know which way we will lean. I’d like to recommend a way forward.

Hispanic evangelicals are not a monolith. Moreover, it would be the height of hubris for anyone to claim to speak for the 10 million or so Latino evangelicals. I personally agree with David Neff of “Christianity Today” that we as evangelicals should resist the temptation to try to be kingmakers. There is much seduction in the “will to power” and we should run away as fast as they can from this temptation. Martin Luther King, Jr. was correct, when he wrote: “The church must be reminded that it is not the master or the servant of the state, it must be the guide and critic of the state and never its tool”(Strength to Love, 1963). Hispanic evangelicals should simultaneously bring moral and public pressure to bear on behalf of legislation we feel is consonant with our conscience and convictions. Our community should work hard to develop our own national agenda that holds all candidates accountable. In short, we should shy away from endorsing candidates --while backing agendas that are consonant with our worldview.

So what are Hispanic evangelicals passionate about? In 2012, many Latinos in Pentecostal and evangelical congregations have divided allegiances. On the top of their mutual agendas is humane, common sense immigration reform. This is a moral and family values issue. We take “welcome the stranger and love your neighbor” seriously. We are looking for legislation that provides an earned path to citizenship and keeps families together. This type of legislation has been endorsed by presidents from Reagan to Obama and yet nothing has changed. Both parties have lacked the political will to make policy changes that will impact Latino families in profound ways. 

To say Latino evangelicals are disappointed by this inaction is a severe understatement. Moreover, the rhetoric by some GOP candidates to veto a DREAM Act or to not provide a path to earned citizenship for the 12 million illegal and undocumented immigrants is raising the ire of many Latino pastors. Our message to the GOP is to stop the anti-immigrant rhetoric. Meanwhile, this present administration’s spike in deportations has left us disillusioned with the left. In short, Hispanic evangelicals want real solutions now and they want both parties to be accountable.

On the social issues Latino evangelicals overwhelmingly hold to a pro-life and pro-marriage platform. This is no secret. Latino evangelicals have historically been social conservatives on the issues of marriage and what Catholics call a “seamless garment” of life. This means that many Latino evangelicals advocate for a broad agenda that protects children--both before birth and after. We are thoroughly concerned about the health of the most vulnerable.

While Hispanic evangelicals are for the most part social conservatives, they also value the power of good governance on behalf of the ones Jesus called, “the least of these.” Many Hispanic evangelicals, myself included, signed-on to the Circle of Protection to protect programs for the poorest and most vulnerable in our country. In addition, we realize that the global economic recession has displaced thousands of Latinos from homes in the foreclosure crisis. Latinos look for a government that understands that among the things the Constitution calls for is that the government “promote the general welfare.” This is at the heart of Latino evangelicals’ advocacy for anti-poverty programs at home and abroad, immigration reform, and educational equity. Pew researchers have said that Latino evangelicals are “big government social conservatives.” I would say we are people who seek the common good. ...

[Keep reading this article on The Washington Post.]

Gabriel Salguero is a board member at Bread for the World and president of the National Latino Evangelical Coalition.

Hunger Resources: Farm Subsidies. Black Unemployment. Budget Tsunami.

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Photo by Flickr user thejester100

In this next installment of hunger resources, I've created a short list of articles that cover farm subsidies, black unemployment, the federal budget and more. Got any hunger resources of your own? Share them in the comments section below.

+Click here for a full list of what we're reading at Bread for the World.

Chris-MatthewsChris Matthews is the librarian at Bread for the World Institute.

 


Hunger Resources: Climate Change. Human Rights. Farmers.

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Bread for the World Librarian Chris Matthews curates a list of resources for readers who want to stay on top of the latest information about hunger.

In this next installment of hunger resources, I've gathered a collection of articles on how people suffer from hunger and the overall cost of hunger in a society. Got any hunger resources of your own? Share them in the comments section below.

  • Right to Food and Nutrition Watch 2011.  Claiming Human Rights:  The Accountability Challenge.  (Brot fur die Welt, FIAN and ICCO, Oct. 11, 2011)
    "Despite the growth of a worldwide Right to Food movement and the existence of international frameworks and mechanisms to protect human rights, an unacceptable number of violations remain unpunished, according to the Right to Food and Nutrition Watch 2011, an annual publication released today that monitors food security and nutrition policies from a human rights perspective." 
  •  Food Sovereignty:  Reclaiming the Global Food System. (Branford, Sue. War on Want, Oct. 2011.)
     "The scandal of global hunger stands as a rebuke to humanity. The fact that record numbers of people are classified as hungry, at a time when there is unprecedented wealth in theworld, challenges the very concept of human progress."
  • Farmers Facing Loss of Subsidy May Get New One (Neuman, William, New York Times, Oct. 17, 2011)
    "It seems a rare act of civic sacrifice: in the name of deficit reduction, lawmakers from both parties are calling for the end of a longstanding agricultural subsidy that puts about $5 billion a year in the pockets of their farmer constituents. Even major farm groups are accepting the move, saying that with farmers poised to reap bumper profits, they must do their part."
  • Hunger In America:  Suffering We All Pay For (Shepard, Donald S … et al, Center for American Progress & Brandeis University, Oct. 2011)
    "The Great Recession and the currently tepid economic recovery swelled the ranks of American households confronting hunger and food insecurity by 30 percent. In 2010 48.8 million Americans lived in food insecure households, meaning they were hungry or faced food insecurity at some point during the year."

+Click here for a full list of what we're reading at Bread for the World.

Chris Matthews is the librarian at Bread for the World Institute.

Hunger Resources: Smarter Farming. MDG Report Card. Nourishing Latino Children.

Chris-Matthews
Bread for the World Librarian Chris Matthews curates a list of resources for readers who want to stay on top of the latest information about hunger.

In this next installment of hunger resources, I've gathered a collection of articles on the connection between agriculture and food resources, and how aid enables global development. Got any hunger resources of your own? Share them in the comments section below:

  • Special Food Issue, (The Nation):
    Michael Pollan, Michelle Chen, Frances Moore Lappe, Eric Schlosser, Raj Patel, Bridget Haber, Daniel Imhoff, and others write about the food movement, why hunger is still with us, the inner workings of the Farm Bill, and more.
  • A Push to Farm Smarter -- Not Bigger -- to Feed the World's Hungry, (The Christian Science Monitor): 
    "For more than 30 years, Porfirio Bastida never considered changing the way he farms his 1.2 acre cornfield in Texcoco, in the central Mexican highlands .... So he joined forces with a nearby research institute called the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center (CIMMYT). It helped him switch from the practices he'd employed his whole life to conservation-agriculture techniques: rotating crops, not tilling, leaving residue from the previous harvest to act as a sponge atop the land."
  • Bringing Agriculture to the Table, (The Chicago Council on Global Affairs):
    "The agriculture and food system plays a significant role in the illness and early death that arise out of the imbalanced diets, empty calories, and overconsumption that are rampant in high- and middle-income countries and increasingly apparent in the nutrition and epidemiological transitions under way in developing countries."
  • Millenium Development Goals Progress Index 2011, (Center for Global Development):
    "Last year, as international attention focused on the Millennium Development Goals, the international community committed to redouble efforts toward achieving the highly ambitious MDG targets by the 2015 deadline. CGD’s MDG Progress Index showed how countries were doing. Now, with new data for 2009 and 2010, the Index has been updated."
  • Comer Bien: The Challenges of Nourishing Latino Children and Families, (National Council of La Raza):
    "Millions of American children are suffering from hunger or obesity, nutritional deficits that place them at great risk for developing health conditions that plague them into adulthood ... Latinos' -- the fastest-growing segment of the child population -- have some of the highest rates of child obesity; nearly 40 percent of Latino children are overweight or obese."
  • From Aid to Global Development Cooperation, (Brookings):
    "The context for aid is changing. Globalization has spurred economic convergence, upending the 20th-century economic balance and creating a smaller world where both problems and solutions spill across national borders more readily."

+Click here for a full list of what we're reading at Bread for the World.

Chris Matthews is the librarian at Bread for the World Institute.

Hunger Resources: North Korea. Criminalizing Poverty. Latest Census Data.

'Library' photo (c) 2011, Gerald Pereira - license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/

Author Neil Gaiman says, "Google can bring you back 100,000 answers. A librarian can bring you back the right one." That's why we at Bread for the World appreciate our librarian, Chris Matthews, who gives us the right answers to all of our random queries.

Now, in this regularly appearing blog series called "Hunger Resources," Chris Matthews will curate resources for you on hunger, poverty, and justice. Here is this week's list:

  • Special Report: Crisis Grips North Korean Rice Bowl, (Reuters): 
    "In a pediatric hospital in North Korea's most productive farming province, children lay two to a bed. All showed signs of severe malnutrition: skin infections, patchy hair, listless apathy. 'Their mothers have to bring them here on bicycles,' said duty doctor Jang Kum Son in the Yellow Sea port city of Haeju. 'We used to have an ambulance but it's completely broken down. One mother travelled 72 kilometers (45 miles). By the time they get here, it's often too late.'"
  • Partners in Help: Assisting the Poor Over the Long Term, (Foreign Affairs):
    Paul Farmer, Kolokotrones University Professor at Harvard University, gave a commencement speech at Harvard University's John F. Kennedy School of Government on aid, his theory of accomplishment, and Haiti after the earthquake.
  • Top 10 Striking Findings From the Latest Data on Poverty, (Center for American Progress):
    "Yesterday the Census Bureau released the latest data on poverty, income, and health insurance in America. The data confirm that millions of Americans continue to cope with the Great Recession’s enduring effects, and they show the strength of our safety net and our need for good jobs now. Here are the top 10 most striking findings from the data.

+Click here for a full list of what we're reading at Bread for the World.

The Future of Foreign Aid on the Kojo Nnamdi Show

Today, on the  Kojo Nnamdi Show, the topic of conversation was the future of foreign aid, and the guests included Jim Kolbe, Modernizing Foreign Assistance Network co-chair, and Paul O’Brien, Vice President for Policy and Campaigns at Oxfam America. This was a very timely discussion considering the current political climate over the budget; furthermore, this week marks one year since President Obama issued the first ever Presidential Policy Directive on Global Development (PPD). The directive elevated development to one of the key pillars of foreign policy, along with defense and diplomacy, and put a strong emphasis on reforming how we do aid and development.

So how are things looking one year later, and where are we headed? Those were the questions Kolbe and O'Brien discussed on the Kojo Nnamdi Show. Both believed that the PPD, as well as the Quadrennial Diplomacy and Development Review, were major policy frameworks that ensured that the foreign affairs budget is spent wisely and that American tax dollars are used most effectively to serve our interests in an increasingly interconnected world. In the year since these documents were released, Kolbe and O’Brien said that we have seen progress. O’Brien noted that the Partnership for Growth initiative is seeing major success; for example, Ghana’s growth rate, one of the PFG countries, is currently at 18 percent. O’Brien and Kolbe also referenced better cross-agency coordination since the release of the PPD and increased transparency from the State Department and USAID with the launch of the Foreign Assistance Dashboard--an easy-to-understand website that allows visitors to track U.S. government foreign assistance investments.

That said, both Kolbe and O’Brien emphasized that a rewrite of the Foreign Assistance Act of 1961 (FAA) was a crucial part of reform. O’Brien agreed with Kojo in that the piece of legislation is now widely regarded as an obstacle and needs to be brought into the 21 century. Kolbe pointed out that the world has changed drastically since the FAA was written, and it is not useful for us to just keep tacking things onto it rather than fixing the law as a whole. Earlier this month, Rep. Howard Berman (D-CA) released his Global Partnerships Act as a working draft of an FAA rewrite. O’Brien and Kolbe were hopeful that Congress would start work on it, though neither saw much possibility for passage in this Congress.

+Listen to the full interview here.

Mary Deering is outreach associate for the Modernizing Foreign Aid Network.

Dig Deeper with ‘Exodus’ Study Guide

Exodus From Hunger blog On a long train ride out to Montana for field work, I read David Beckmann’s new book, Exodus from Hunger: We Are Called to Change the Politics of Hunger. I underlined so many passages and the margins are so filled with “yes!” that I don’t think I could ever lend my copy. The book is a roadmap to end hunger with the very foundation being our relationship with God. I was so inspired by the stories of everyday people who helped create huge changes with small acts of living out their faith.

Beckmann, Bread’s president, situates the work of ending hunger and poverty as an opening to allow God to work in our lives. “God did not send Moses to Pharaoh’s court to take up a collection of canned goods and blankets,” he writes. “God sent Moses to Pharaoh with a political challenge: To let the Hebrew slaves go free.”

I was so inspired by the book that when I finally landed in Kalispell, Montana, and gave my presentation at Northridge Lutheran Church, I was filled with excitement about what is possible when we let God work in those spaces. Pastor Dan called me yesterday and said they sold 25 copies of the book since then to their church members, and now I’m excited to tell him about the new study guide!

The guide’s three sessions provide a great opportunity for small groups to really dig deeper into what living out our faith means—both as individuals and as the body of Christ. Digging through the great discussion questions together may open up new spaces where we allow God to work through us and our community.

Robin Stephenson is the field organizer for Bread for the World’s Western regional office.

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