Urging our nation's leaders to end hunger
 

27 posts categorized "Development"

Join Us on Twitter for a World Food Day Town Hall

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Every year on October 16, the global community pauses to celebrate World Food Day and raise the profile of the ongoing struggle to end hunger and poverty. This year’s celebration will focus on the 500 million small family farms, which help feed the world. 

The majority of these family farms are in developing countries, and most are run by women. They contribute in critical ways to local economies, support sustainable development, and provide nutritious food to billions of people. They are crucial partners in the effort to end hunger by 2030. That’s why @Bread4theWorld and @WorldFoodPrize are encouraging our supporters and partners to do their part to advocate for and on behalf of small farmers.

In honor of World Food Day, October 16, @Bread4theWorld and @WorldFoodPrize Foundation will moderate a Twitter Town Hall at 11 a.m. CT (12 noon, ET). Our chat will focus on the critical role small farmers play in the fight to end hunger by 2030 and how each of us can play our part, too. 2010 World Food Prize laureate and Bread for the World President Rev. David Beckmann (@davidbeckmann) and 2014 World Food Prize laureate Dr. Sanjaya Rajaram (#RajWFP) will lead this public discussion with partners, bloggers, and leaders who are working together to end  hunger once and for all.

Be sure to join the conversation on Twitter on Thursday, October 16 at 11 am CT (12 noon ET) using #WorldFoodDay. And please share about the Twitter town hall with your network through social media channels, blogs, websites, and emails before the event.

Helping Neighbors in Need Is an Act of God


Producing High Quality Seeds (USAID).

We often use the phrase “an act of God” to describe natural catastrophes. Would it not be more appropriate, however, to refer to the work we do to mitigate hunger before and after disaster hits as an act of God? In the United States, we have a set of programs categorized as poverty-focused development assistance (PFDA) that is doing just that. When we help our neighbors build resilience against future crises in poor countries, we are acting out God’s compassion for humanity.

Recent reports on climate change indicate we are facing an increase in global food-insecurity, which makes programs that build resilience even more critical. Currently, both chambers of Congress are writing spending bills that determine  fiscal year 2015 funding for foreign assistance. The Senate plan could cut funding by 7 percent from current base funding levels.Such cuts would hinder our ability to continue making progress against worldwide hunger.

In “Morality of preparation,” a piece published in The Hill this week, Rev. John L. McCullough, president and CEO of Church World Service, and Rev. David Beckmann, president of Bread for the World, urge Congress to fund programs at levels comparable to, or higher than, those enacted in the previous year.  They also call funding foreign assistance a moral imperative.

“We don’t believe there is a choice here," they write. "How can we stomach the desperate looks on children’s faces and refuse to help when we know we are able?” McCullough and Beckmann stress that advocates must reach out to Congress and show their support for foreign assistance. “Each of us, citizens and elected representatives, reflect the priorities of this great nation and among the most important is hope and compassion for all God’s children.”

U.S. programs addressing long-term solutions to poverty have been instrumental in making progress against global hunger over the last decade. The reduction in child mortality rates are evidence that smart nutrition investments work. Increases in global literacy rates are a result of injecting aid into primary-school education.

These small investments have huge returns. Increases in a country's literacy rate correlate with increases in its economic productivity. Sixty years ago, South Korea, now an example of the power of effective aid, was one of the world’s poorest countries. U.S. foreign assistance helped South Korea become Asia’s fourth-largest economy, as well as a major consumer of U.S. goods.

In May 2009, a cyclone devastated Bangladesh. In the village of Sutarkhali, Mohammad Mofizul Islam Gazi saw his livelihood disappear when the small plot on which he grew rice to support his family was ruined. “Cyclone Aila nailed the last pin in the coffin,” he tells USAID Frontlines. “There was nothing left.” In 2012, as the village was struggling with malnutrition, a U.S. funded program supplied Gazi and other farmers with a special rice seed that could withstand future cyclones. Today, the community produces 50 percent more rice than before the disaster. 

In urging our members of Congress to fully fund PFDA, we are moving toward the sacred vision of a world where everyone has enough. Helping neighbors escape hunger and poverty – helping when we are able – is a true act of God.

Many Faiths, One Purpose

By Eric Mitchell

New Testament: “Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’” (Matthew 25:40)

Qu’ran: “the destruction of one innocent life is like the destruction of the whole of humanity and the saving of one life is like the saving of the whole of humanity.” (Al-Ma’idah ”the Tablespread” 5:32)

Hebrew Scripture: “Is it not to share your bread with the hungry, and bring the homeless poor into your house; when you see the naked, to cover them, and not to hide yourself from your own kin? . . (Isaiah 58)

Today, leaders from various faiths and from across the country have come to Washington, D.C., to share their commitment to promoting the dignity of all people, including the world’s most vulnerable.

Representatives of the Christian, Jewish, and Muslim faiths, as well as heads of religious organizations, will be on Capitol Hill to speak out in support of funding for lifesaving humanitarian and poverty-focused development assistance programs.

Will you also be part of these efforts and call (800-326-4941) or email your members of Congress today?

Urge your members to robustly fund humanitarian and poverty-focused development assistance accounts within the International Affairs budget as these programs support agricultural development and nutrition, emergency humanitarian assistance, global health, education, gender equality, water and sanitation, and more.

Collectively, as faith leaders and fellow believers alike, motivated by our shared moral beliefs, we can make a difference in advocating for limited federal dollars for these programs. They make up less than 1 percent of the federal budget but are invaluable inlifting millions of people around the world out of hunger, poverty, and disease.

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

Discussing Development, World Hunger, and Advocacy at the University of Kentucky

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University of Kentucky One Campus volunteers Ibitola Asalou (l) and Liz Renzaglia (c) with Lesly Webber-McNitt of the Farm Journal Foundation at the April 2 development and world hunger panel. (Courtesy of Deborah Charalambakis)

By Deborah Charalambakis

How can food-aid reform and agricultural investments help feed people around the world? And what can advocacy to do help make those things possible? On April 2, residents of Lexington, Ky., college students, and faculty gathered at the University of Kentucky for an engaging, thought-provoking discussion that explored these questions, as well as others related to development and world hunger.

Jon Gromek, regional organizer with Bread for the World;  Dr. Jerry Skees, president of  GlobalAgRisk; Abby Sasser,  regional field director at ONE Campaign; and Lesly Weber-McNitt director of government relations and program development at Farm Journal Foundation, were the participating panelists. Amanda Milward, field representative from Rep. Andy Barr’s office (R-Ky.-06), was a special guest.  

Among the topics tackled during the panel discussion were agriculture and food-aid reform. Many people don’t realize the importance of investing in agriculture and smallholder farmers, something all of the panelists touched on. Both Gromek and Dr. Skees spoke about the need for U.S. food-aid reform, and the ways we can improve food security for Africa’s most vulnerable people. Investing in farmers and agriculture not only increases income and food security for those populations, it reduces poverty significantly. This has been documented in both Ghana and Burkino Faso, two of the countries profiled in the ONE Campaign report “Ripe for Change: The Promise of Africa’s Agricultural Transformation.” Ghana has seen a decrease in poverty by 44 percent, and Burkino Faso created 235,000 jobs—all because those countries’ governments invested in their agricultural sectors.

The panelists also talked about advocacy, and how it helps make such success stories possible. When I asked our panelists why advocacy is important, they all dove in to answer. Sasser, Weber-McNitt, and Gromek – who all work in advocacy— stressed that our members of Congress represent us; when groups of hard-working advocates contact their senators and representatives about issues such as protecting foreign assistance programs (which account for less than 1 percent of  our federal budget), those elected officials listen. The more politicians hear from their constituents, the better the chance that they will act on the requests of their constituents. . When we become aware of  issues of agriculture, poverty, and development and we continue to stand on the sidelines, this not only skews our view of justice, but calls into question our concern for humanity all together.  That was something the audience truly understood in our advocacy discussion.

Though the event was a great success, and many people had questions for our panelists, it doesn’t end there. When it comes to issues of agriculture, development, and world hunger, let us be persistent in educating those around us about these issues, and become powerful advocates for the world’s poor.

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Deborah Charalambakis is president of the ONE Campus chapter at the University of Kentucky in Lexington, Ky. ONE was created with assistance from Bread for the World. To learn more about what’s happening in ONE in Kentucky, follow the group on Twitter: @ONE_uky

#StopTheMyth That the U.S. Sends All Its Money Overseas


Watch Bill Nye, the Science Guy, dispel more poverty myths in this short Gates Foundation video.

By Robin Stephenson

Three facts:

  • The United States does not send "all" of its money overseas.
  • We invest a small amount of our budget in international poverty-focused development assistance (PFDA) programs.
  • That investment does not increase poverty in America. 

Programs categorized as poverty-focused development assistance, or PFDA, help alleviate hunger and poverty abroad, and also support trade, national security, and job creation here in the United States.

In the fiscal year 2014 budget spending bill, overall PFDA got a modest boost over last year's funding levels, although some programs saw reductions. The increase is good news, but PFDA remains mired in misunderstanding, where the general public is concerned. PFDA myths must be debunked in order to support continued investments in global hunger and poverty reduction.

One PFDA myth I've previously written about was recently addressed by Joe Cerrell of the Gates Foundation on Devex, in the piece, "It's our responsibility to #stopthemyth on foreign aid." Cerrell, like most anti-hunger advocates, has defended PFDA investment in response to the false belief that we send all our money overseas while America's poor go without. It's simply not true.

Cerrell thinks the myth's persistence is due to public misunderstanding of the size of overseas investment and what it provides. In a recent survey, a large number of Americans said they believe 28 percent of the U.S. budget goes to foreign aid, which is a gross inflation of the actual number. PFDA comprises less than one percent of the federal budget, and has a tremendous impact. 

With benchmarks such as the Millennium Development Goals and program design that includes country participation and partnership, more progress was made against hunger and poverty in the 2000s than during any other decade in history. With smart investments, we will continue to see a global exodus from hunger — unless we pit domestic and international investments against one another and reduce PFDA funding.

"Quite simply," Cerrell writes on Devex, "if 1 percent of the budget was redirected back to domestic issues in a donor country, it would only be a drop in the bucket — but invested in the developing world, it is helping to spur historic progress and prosperity."

In our churches and communities, faithful advocates must remove the shroud of misunderstanding surrounding PFDA. A study commissioned by Bread for the World in 2013 makes it clear that ending world hunger is something Americans care about. In fact, 37 percent of Americans think the U.S. government is doing too little to end hunger in developing countries around the world. Only one in five of those polled believe we are doing too much.

“Americans want to help their brothers and sisters end hunger, and become self-sufficient," said Rev. David Beckmann at the time of the study's release. "Congress should embody and reflect this compassionate spirit as it deliberates on our federal budget.”

As we move forward in addressing 2015 funding levels for PFDA, we must focus on development assistance programs in particular. Through faithful advocacy, we can ensure these programs are robustly supported, thereby ensuring thousands of people throughout the world have the opportunity to enjoy a more prosperous future.

Robin Stephenson is Bread for the World's national lead for social media and senior organizer, Western hub.

 

Double Your Impact: Protecting Food Aid and WIC

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At Bread for the World, ending malnutrition is an essential part of the work to end hunger at home and abroad.

Globally, an estimated 165 million children under the age of five are stunted. Inadequate nutrition during the 1,000 day-window from a woman's pregnancy through her child’s second birthday impairs development. Research shows that adults who did not receive adequate nutrition as children can lose up to 10 percent of their lifetime earnings. In the United States, child poverty rates are on the rise, yet the WIC program, proven to lower infant mortality rates and improve school performance, is in danger of losing funding because of sequestration. When a nation’s children begin their lives with challenges created by malnutrition and hunger, it becomes more difficult to make good on the promise of a prosperous future.

But faithful advocacy has the power to change the future.

To advance the millennium development goals of eradicating hunger and extreme poverty while also reducing child mortality and malnutrition, food aid with improved nutrition that targets vulnerable mothers and children must be central to development programs—and it must be properly funded. Yet, unless Congress acts to end sequestration it is estimated that more than 571 thousand children could lose food interventions that can prevent the irreversible damage caused by malnutrition.

God’s kingdom is without borders; nutrition during the first 1,000 days matters as much if you live in Bangladesh or Baltimore. The WIC program provides nearly 9 million pregnant or nursing mothers and vulnerable children access to adequate nutrition, education, and health care referrals.  As sequestration continues, it will erode the effectiveness of the program.  Congress must replace the automatic cuts with a balanced plan that includes revenues.

Both chambers of Congress are working on spending bills, and the House numbers assume sequestration is here to stay. And unlike the provision in sequestration whereby cuts are split evenly between defense and non-defense programs in the budget, the House proposal moves all cuts to non-defense programs. A unified and faithful chorus of voices must again tell Congress that the federal budget cannot be balanced on the backs of the most vulnerable.

Being faithful advocates during one of the most polarized political periods in history, with a constant barrage of proposals to cut programs for poor and hungry, is difficult, but we know that your advocacy on behalf of hungry and poor people works. Even with $2.7 trillion in deficit reduction already enacted, programs that help hungry and poor people have been largely protected. Calls and emails helped stop a recent proposal to cut the SNAP program by $20.5 billion, protecting the program at current levels, for now.

These victories and the challenges ahead in the journey to end hunger are possible because of the engagement and support of Bread for the World members. Please consider joining our summer effort to help hungry people by making a gift to Bread. Because of a few generous donors, between now and July 12 your donation will be doubled!

African-American Voices for Africa: Behind the Scenes of Our Public Service Announcement

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Screen grab from our African-American Voices for Africa PSA video. (Shot by Laura Elizabeth Pohl/Bread for the World)

By Laura Elizabeth Pohl

"I've got an idea," my colleague Racine Tucker-Hamilton said to me, excitement lighting up her face. "What do you think about producing a public service announcement?"

A television network had been asking Racine if we here at Bread had a PSA about our African-American Voices for Africa (AAVA) initiative, which aims to get African-Americans involved in advocating for policies that eradicate hunger, poverty, and disease in Africa. I loved Racine's idea and had seen plenty of PSAs but never produced one myself.

We both started by studying classic PSAs, like "Brain on Drugs" and "You Could Learn a Lot from a Dummy" from the '80s. We read articles about producing effective PSAs. And most importantly, we found other creative people to work with, including Robert Wesley Branch, a radio talk show host and former producer for the Discovery Channel, TLC, BET and TV One.

And so began our seven-week journey into creating a 30-second public service announcement (PSA) raising awareness about AAVA. Seven weeks might sound like a long time but it's not when you still have other work to do.

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Laura Pohl videotapes interview with Bread staffer Lamont Thompson and Racine Tucker-Hamilton monitors audio. (Photo: Racine Tucker-Hamilton/Bread for the World)

We went through almost a dozen script revisions (who was it that said, "I would have written a shorter letter but I didn't have the time"?—writing short really is difficult). Our overall concept changed twice. We enlisted our New York-based colleague Derrick Boykin to narrate the piece and found an audio producer there, Natasha Del Toro, who recorded his narration for us. Two D.C.-based colleagues, Kristen Archer and Lamont Thompson, agreed to the only two speaking parts in the video. I spent hours researching music (jazz, classical, trance, rock—I listened to it all). I sifted through dozens of film clips I had previously shot in various African countries. Then I edited through the very best ones, cutting out short snippets that flowed well together, fit with our positive message and reinforced the narration. In all, there were five PSA versions before we settled on the final one.

We had such fun producing this piece. I often say the best work comes out of collaborating with smart, creative people. This is definitely the case with our PSA. Watch below and let us know what you think.

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

Why 1,000 Days?

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In early 2011, Desire came to Omoana House, a rehabiliation center in Njeru, Uganda, as a malnourished young girl. But with proper healthcare and feeding – including nutrition supplements provided by USAID, she has grown healthy. (Photo by Laura Elizabeth Pohl/Bread for the World)

by Inez Torres Davis.

Nutrition for the pregnant woman and her child through the age of two years is such a critical window of opportunity. Women with our own children or women who have never given birth, but have participated in nurturing children “get” how critical this is. And, maybe it’s easier for us to have these conversations for this reason, but I would really like to see men of faith step up for this one and make the commitment to have these conversations!

The 1,000 Days Movement addresses the need for those who “have” to be sure that child-bearing women, women who are pregnant, and infants from birth to two years of age receive the nutritional diet they require to avoid life-threatening physical and mental health issues such as stunting, protein deficiency, and cyclical starvation. Cyclical starvation is when the body has a hunger season each year in which important nutrients are completely lacking from their diets thus providing short term and long term health problems and in many cases, death.

While visiting three countries in Africa with Bread for the World in 2011, I saw the raw and measurable difference nutritionally caring for pregnant women and infants makes in the life of a community as well as in the life of a child. One Malawi village had not had a single case of cholera since learning how to secure clean water, sanitation, and create supplemental nutrient-rich feedings for pregnant women and babies. Dozens of Zambian infants are receiving healthy starts in health clinics and through the campaign for non-HIV positive mothers to nurse their babies.

Here in the United States, programs like the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC) and the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, formerly the food stamp program) provide a nutritionally sound base for children who would otherwise suffer the debilitating effects of malnutrition. Dollar for dollar supporting the nutrition of pregnant women and babies is money “best” spent whether it is spent domestically or as international development aid.

The call of the gospel is the call to be present with the disenfranchised. I can’t think of a more disenfranchised or disempowered person than the infant born to a malnourished woman. Simply put? This is the work of the gospel. Start to share this good news!

 

Ineztorres-davis-230wInez Torres Davis is director for justice at Women of the ELCA.

The Large Cost of a Small Operation

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A farmer in the Mississippi Delta region. People who earn their living as farmers have a unique role in society as stewards of an essential public good—an agriculture system that feeds and nourishes everyone. (Photo by Todd Post/Bread for the World)

by Gabrielle Hall

Unbeknownst to most people, thousands of local farmers across the country work tirelessly to harvest enough to get by each year. Unfortunately, the current food system in United States creates hardships for small farmers to stay afloat.

“It's very important to look at our broken food system, which actually comes from a broken agriculture system. For many years, the big guys were the only ones that counted and the little guys had to do the stuff by themselves.” said Robin Robbins, food safety and marketing manager at Appalachian Harvest, a company that supports small farmers and purchases from local farms to put together truckloads of fruits and vegetables.

Here is a look at some of the other challenges small farmers face:

Continue reading "The Large Cost of a Small Operation" »

What Do Liberia and Virginia Have in Common?

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A market in Liberia. (Photo by Laura Elizabeth Pohl/Bread for the World)

by Kristen Archer.

Liberia is about the same size as Virginia, but its poverty rate is nearly quadruple that of African-Americans in that state. 

“Hunger and poverty among African-Americans mirror the unjust circumstances many people in African nations endure,” said Rev. Derrick Boykin, associate for African-American leadership outreach at Bread for the World. “However, hunger and poverty impacts many African nations more severely, often resulting in disease or even death.”

Continue reading "What Do Liberia and Virginia Have in Common?" »

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