Urging our nation's leaders to end hunger

28 posts categorized "Climate Change"

Facing Climate Change in Kiribati

Kiribati is an island nation in the Pacific facing the effects of climate change.

When I think about the impact of climate change on Washington, DC, where I live, I imagine a far-off time in the future when the Potomac River overflows its banks and eventually floods my home. The key phrase there is "a far-off time." But for the people of Kiribati -- an island nation in the Pacific -- the effects of climate change are  imminent. Drought, rising sea levels, and an increase in storm surge are just some of the factors threatening Kiribati's existence. The country's government has even set up a climate change website where people can keep up with the latest news on how this phenomenon is affecting their nation.

"Previously I thought 2060 would be safe, maybe getting too close to the edge," says Anote Tong, the president of Kirbati, in the video below. "But now it seems that it might be a lot earlier; I think 2030 might be more realistic. But I think the response has to be much earlier than that."

Climate change is already impacting agricultural production around the world and threatening people's livelihood, particularly women. Learn more about climate change and Kiribati's situation by watching the ViewChange video below.

This story is part of our Wednesday ViewChange video series.

Laura-elizabeth-pohlLaura Elizabeth Pohl is multimedia manager at Bread for the World.


7 Billion: How Did We Get Here? And Will We Survive?


I am terrible at grasping scale. Ask me how many people were at a concert and I couldn't tell you if it was 1,000 or 10,000. So when I try to conceive of 7 billion people living on this earth, it's enough to give me a splitting headache.

But this is an important concept for all of us to understand. Why? Because 7 billion people means that the hunger crisis in our global community has the potential to get worse. According to a United Nations report, the expected growth has increased concern that the number of hungry and poor people around the world will rise, particiularly as grain and global food prices continue to increase. 

This NPR video provides a visual demonstration of how population growth was accomplished in some countries struggling to survive. It's fascinating to note that food, medicine, and better health care--essentially, higher standards of living--are able to stop the constant "drip" of death, disease, and starvation in developing nations.

And that is what our goal should be. I celebrate our growing planet, and I hope that this will only encourage globally conscious people to fight even harder to keep foreign aid and poverty-focused development assistance in our nation's federal budget

+Act now and protect foreign aid for hungry people around the world.

Watch the video below, and share your thoughts in the comments section:

Jeannie-choiJeannie Choi is associate editor at Bread for the World.


Hunger Resources: Climate Change. Human Rights. Farmers.

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.

David Beckmann on 30 Good Minutes


Bread for the World President David Beckmann appeared in a video for 30goodminutes.org and spoke about the difficulties Americans are facing in this economy, and how many people in our nation and abroad are struggling to put food on the table.

In his talk, he told a fascinating story about his recent visit to Bangladesh:

I recently visited Bangladesh, and I got to go back to the little village called Goreya where I worked thirty years ago. People are still really poor, but I saw a lot of improvement: better roads, better houses, more foods in the markets. The children are clearly better nourished, and the women are not as confined as they were thirty years ago.  Back then, I lived in a thatched house with the local schoolteacher, Mr. Bari.  But there’s been lots of construction in Goreya, and I couldn’t even find the house. 

Finally, a young woman who used to be Mr. Bari’s student told us where to look, and I spotted him walking along the road.  I jumped out of our van, and he recognized me right away. Mr. Bari’s life has turned out better than he ever expected. For example, he’s been able to fill in the ditch next to his house, where mosquitoes used to breed when I lived there.  He rightly thanks God for the progress that Bangladesh has made against poverty.

After David Beckmann's talk, he also gave an interview to Daniel Pawlus. In the interview, Beckmann tackled the link between poverty and obesity:

Lillian Daniel: I think one of the issues about identifying hunger in America is that a lot of voters look around and they say, “I don’t see hungry people. I see an obesity problem. I see other issues. I can’t believe that one in five households are hungry.” Can you unpack that for us?

David Beckmann: The incidence of obesity is actually higher among low-income people and it’s often the same folks. So for people in our country, the kind of hunger that’s very widespread is intermittent hunger. People eat cheap food if they don’t have much money and then at the end of the month they run out. So especially moms, they may protect their kids so they may go for days without virtually any food. When they get food, then they may binge eat. And little kids who don’t get enough food have their metabolism messed up for the rest of their lives, so that they are likely to get obese.

Watch David Beckmann's talk below, and click here to watch the interview.

Bill Clinton Goes Vegan

110929_Clinton_VeganFormer President Bill Clinton speaks with CNN's Sanjay Gupta about becoming a vegan.

Former President Bill Clinton made waves during the annual Clinton Global Initiative meeting this month by sharing that he had gone vegan for health reasons. The former president, notorious for eating fatty foods and McDonald’s Big Macs, now dines solely on fruits, vegetables, and legumes – and likes it. In an interview with CNN’s Sanjay Gupta, Clinton said, “I like the stuff I eat. I like the vegetables and fruits. I like the beans.”

While President Clinton went vegan for health reasons, eating a mostly vegetarian or vegan diet could also help alleviate the causes of climate change, according to many food advocates like Michael Pollan, Alice Waters, Ann Cooper, and others. Mark Bittman, a house favorite on the Bread Blog, gave a compelling TED lecture in December 2007 on this very issue. As a confessed meat eater, Bittman proposed that Americans try to curb the harmful effects of the beef industry by eating less meat for social justice and global survival:

Eighteen percent of greenhouse gases are attributed to livestock production. How much livestock do you need to produce this? Seventy percent of the agricultural land on earth, and 30 percent of the earth’s land surface is directly or indirectly devoted to raising the animals we all eat, and this number is predicted to double in the next 40 years or so.

There is no good reason for eating as much meat as we do, and I say this as a man who has eaten a fair share of corned beef in his life.

He goes on to admit that while he will never stop eating animals, he will advocate that people stop raising them industrially, and stop eating them thoughtlessly. He asks progressive people to vote with their forks by eating less meat, less junk, and more plants.

The most important takeaway for me here is that food and hunger issues are incredibly complex and intertwined, and require all of us to choose carefully what we put into our grocery carts, refrigerators, and bodies. Yes, there is the issue of personal health, as Bill Clinton exemplifies. But there are also the issues of greenhouse gases, climate change (from which the most vulnerable members of our global community suffer most), global food insecurity, and more.

Have you made conscientious decisions with your daily diet? Share your stories in the comments section below.

VIDEO: Remembering Wangari Maathai, First African Woman to Win Nobel Prize

The world lost a dynamic force today as Kenyan environmental activist Wangari Maathai lost her battle with ovarian cancer. In 1975, Maathai began the Green Belt Movement, an organization that planted trees in Kenya. Eventually, the small effort grew into an African movement to protect the environment against the ravages of deforestation, pollution, and other harmful human-made practices.

Maathai's message is still very needed today, particularly as drought and famine cause many around the world to suffer from hunger and poverty. Her message of protecting the most vulnerable members of our society by protecting the environment will continue to live on in her work, writing, and legacy. Watch the CNN video above to learn more about Maathai.

Nepal Village Finds a Safe Energy Source

When we think of deforestation, we often think of bald mountaintops and animals' lost habitats. But deforestation threatens more than the environment: It imperils peoples' health, food security, and livelihoods. Experts recently said the destruction of forests in Kenya and the Horn of Africa contributed to the famine in the region, because without trees, soil erodes, crops wash away, and people aren't able to feed themselves. Also, when people chop down trees and burn them as fuel, they can inadvertently create health problems for people breathing in the smoke.

In Nepal, one community is abandoning wood as an energy source in favor of briquettes made from wild grass. The briquettes -- which look like small, black beehives -- are inexpensive and smoke-free. Watch the video above to see how this alternative energy source is changing a small Nepali village.

This story is part of our Wednesday ViewChange video series.

Why are We Storing Seeds Near the North Pole?

It looks like the back end of a semi truck that crashed head down into a snowy hillside, but it's really the entrance to a world of food not-yet-grown: seeds. The Svalbard Global Seed Vault opened in 2008 to securely store seeds from around the globe. Natural disasters, political instability or a combination of the two plus other factors can cause famine (such as in the Horn of Africa) and threaten individual countries' seed banks. But Svalbard, located about 800 miles from the North Pole, is free from these worries. It allows researchers - and eventually farmers - to access the seeds in case of disasters or accidents . Says Cary Fowler, executive director of the Global Crop Diversity Trust, which helps manage Svalbard:

We have a fairly unique mission. Well, not fairly: it's completely unique. And that is to conserve the diversity of our crops, agricultural crops, forever. It's to figure out a system, install a system, and fund a system for conserving that part of biodiversity in perpetuity.

Watch the video above for more about Svalbard and its importance to the world.

This story is part of our Wednesday ViewChange video series.

Putting a Spotlight on Relieving Hunger; Fast Brings Home Difficulty Many People Face

By Leota Ester
© Postcresent.com

For four Mondays before Easter, I joined about 30,000 others, including 28 of our congressmen and women who pledged to fast for 24 hours.


Make a gift today and I – along with other Bread members – will match your gift, dollar for dollar, up to $100,000 through August 1. Bread for the World needs your financial support now to ensure that Congress protects sound programs that prevent hunger.

Donate today and make a life-changing difference for hungry people.

I'd never fasted before. I've thought about it. A friend of mine used to fast every Monday just because it made him feel better. I'd heard over the years that when one fasts, one thinks more clearly, is focused and alert. But I like to eat and had never seriously considered doing it.

David Beckmann, World Food Prize laureate, is president of Bread for the World, a nonprofit faith organization dedicated to ending hunger in our country and around the world by influencing decisions made by our Congress. He and leaders from 40 faiths — including Catholic, Jewish, Muslim, evangelical and others — led a fast for four weeks. Their stated purpose was to discern how to influence our representatives to provide for the poorest among us in the budget decisions and to draw attention to our moral priorities.

They also wanted to call attention to what it means to be hungry. While Beckmann and the others fasted for four weeks from sunrise to sunset, they invited all of us to join them in some type of fasting, be it by missing lunches for the four weeks, fasting one day a week (my choice), or fasting from a desired habit such as watching television.

So when they invited us to join them, I did.

I didn't enjoy it. All of us have at one time or another been too busy to stop for meals, had things on our minds that made us forget to eat, but we snatched a bite, forced ourselves to "get some nourishment" and ate whether we thought about it or not. We were not forced into hunger, nor were we fasting.

Going without any food for 24 hours is hard. They became long days. I cleaned bookshelves, read bits and pieces from any number of books, watched the clock, wrote e-mails, phoned friends, looked at the clock and vacuumed, but the day dragged on.

I looked at the refrigerator, again noted the time and how slowly it passed, tried to justify eating just a little to "carry me over." It seemed endless.

During those times, I thought a lot about how those who are hungry can function day after day. How, I wondered, could they concentrate or learn anything if they were sitting in a classroom hungry?

How could anyone function well at a job, not make mistakes, if gnawing hunger were always with them? How could parents teach their kids manners, how to pay attention, to get along with others, when the family is hungry? How could they not fight with one another?

We know that babies' brains can't develop well without proper nourishment from birth through their early years. They often become the slow learners, trouble-makers, difficult adults. The costs of later issues far outweigh providing basic food through programs such as WIC and SANE, known to us as food for pregnant moms and babies and food stamps.

When Congress suggests a cap at present levels, it fails to allow for those who newly fall into difficulty feeding their families and themselves through loss of jobs, aging, illness.

Our national budget for hunger programs is a tiny portion of the overall budget for the military, Social Security and Medicare programs. Those of us in our 80s and above think little about the cost of a hip replacement, heart repair, shoulder surgery, etc., and while we shouldn't have to suffer pain in our later years, we might want to consider how much money goes to us compared to the money spent on those, young and old, who are hungry.

We, above all, should urge our congressmen and women to support those needs as well as ours.

I grew up poor on a farm in Kansas during both the depression and the drought and dust storms of the '20s. We wore underwear made of feed sacks, had only a couple of dresses, often hand-me-downs, and no radio or television. But we were never hungry.

We ate garden vegetables, canned fruit, eggs, chickens we grew, and topped this off with homemade bread and applesauce, maybe a pie. Those days are gone, but not our parents' knowledge that the first basic need is for healthy food.

And while needs abound from all directions, none is more basic nor essential than regular nourishment from vegetables and fruits, milk, grains and protein.

From a healthy beginning, we become the citizens our country and world needs — those who contribute, solve problems and serve.

We must tell our congressmen and women this is so and insist they support the sound programs that prevent hunger.

Leota Ester
Bread for the World Member and Activist
Appleton, WI




Empowered Ethiopian Women Work on Water Issues

Water and weather are two critical factors in ending hunger. One in six people have no access to safe water, and changing climate patterns mean shorter growing seasons in some parts of the world and floods in others.

Drought is the problem in southern Ethiopia. Women there often suffer the most when climate change leads to unpredictable rainfall and weather patterns: They are the caretakers of both children and cattle, and so they're acutely attuned to a lack of food or water. Through a partnership with a local organization, these women are sharing their knowledge to help pinpoint when droughts are happening. Then they take action.

"Sitting idle is good for nothing. It does not sustain or change your life," said Kalicha Chachu, a community elder. "So we rehabilitate ponds. We are also clearing invasive bushes and preparing rangeland."


Do you like this story and want to see more? Then you're in luck. This is the first in a weekly series of videos Bread for the World will be featuring from ViewChange, a nonprofit that connects people to short films about global development and the resources to take action. (We had one of our immigration videos featured on the website.)

We'll be showcasing some amazing stories and also letting you know how they connect to Bread for the World's work on hunger and poverty issues. We believe powerful stories can compel people to action. So watch the blog every Wednesday for the latest video. We hope you'll be educated and inspired by what you see.

Stay Connected

Bread for the World