Urging our nation's leaders to end hunger
 

64 posts categorized "Food Aid"

Double Your Impact and Help Protect Food Aid

By Woody Clinard

5367305116_01837af8af_zRight now, 1.3 million people are displaced after fleeing violence in South Sudan. Thousands upon thousands of children are struggling just to find their next meal. It’s absolutely heartbreaking, and Congress is poised to make it even worse.

We need to do something. That’s why a group of us have committed to match every dollar raised for Bread for the World until July 15, up to $50,000.

I’ve been involved with Bread for more than 17 years, and I’ve seen what our community can do when we come together to fight for what’s right. Truth be told, I’m usually a private person, but I’m speaking out because today – right now – is an important moment in the fight to end hunger. There is a bill in Congress that would make it harder to send food and other life-saving support to countries in crisis. The proposal in Congress would take food away from millions of the world’s hungriest people, many of them young children. I’m shocked and angry, and I bet you are too.

But the good news is that Bread for the World is working hard to protect food aid and other life-saving programs. Just last month, we won an important victory when the House voted to appropriate $10 million for the purchase of food aid closer to the place of need, allowing our food-aid dollars to be spent more efficiently and reach more people. By lobbying Congress, organizing our communities, and developing effective policy solutions, we are making a big difference for those who need us most.

Join me in giving what you can to Bread for the World. For the next six days, every $1 you give will yield $2 so that Bread for the World can advocate for programs that help end hunger at home and abroad.

I’m immensely proud of the work that Bread for the World has done in the years that I’ve been involved with them. Like many of you, I’ve donated, volunteered, and contacted my members of Congress. But now more than ever, we need to step up for the ones who need us most. Our faith calls us to action, and collectively we can make a difference. Let’s all come together to protect God’s children by lending our voices, our votes, and yes, our earnings to efforts that make a difference for hungry families.

Woody Clinard is a Bread for the World member from Winston-Salem, NC.

Photo: Liberian girl (Laura Elizabeth Pohl/Bread for the World).

 

Crisis in the Horn of Africa: Give now and double your impact

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Photo: Elisabeth and her family upon arrival at Burbe. Story and image courtesy of World Food Program USA (@wfpusa).

By David Beckmann

Since May, more than 16,000 people have crossed the Baro River into the tiny border town of Burbe, Ethiopia. Most of the refugees are mothers and children, and far too many share stories of husbands, fathers, and brothers lost to violence in South Sudan.

"A lot of people have died. People are running in different directions. There's no food, no water," says Elisabeth Nyapal, who crossed the river with her six children and a small mattress.

Relief workers distribute meals and administer vaccines. Without them, the death count would be unthinkable.

But despite the growing need for speedy and efficient relief in times of crisis, the U.S. House of Representatives passed a bill that would direct $75 million in food-aid funding to shipping conglomerates — effectively snatching food from the mouths of 2 million hungry people.

We can't let that happen. We need to raise our collective Christian voice and say no. To make this happen, a generous group of Bread members has offered to match your gift dollar-for-dollar if you donate by July 15.

Your gift today will support Bread's education, organizing, and advocacy efforts to ensure that food aid reaches the people who need it most. Your gift will also promote policy changes that would allow relief agencies to purchase food near famine-stricken areas—saving lives in times of crisis and boosting local economies.

"For us, everything is destroyed," says Elisabeth. "We are asking the international community to help us get a better life."

Help Elisabeth and her family by supporting Bread’s efforts to make U.S. food-aid programs work more efficiently. Please donate today while your gifts will be matched. Give now and make twice the difference.

David Beckmann is president of Bread for the World.

Food Aid Update: Cargo Preference Provision Absent from Senate Bill

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During Bread for the World's 2014 Lobby Day, participant Pamm McGill of Las Vegas, Nev. and Bread for the World staffer Matt Newell-Ching meet with an aide for Senator Dean Heller (R-Nev.) about the importance of U.S. food aid. Washington, D.C., Tuesday, June 10, 2014 (Jim Stipe).

Truly I tell you, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you. (Matthew 17:20)

Faith has the power to move mountains – or topple giants, as the case may be. Faithful advocates have not let special interests nor politics deter them from pushing for reforms to U.S. food aid that can help feed millions more. Today, we can celebrate yet one more victory in the exodus to end hunger: Legislation that would increase transportation costs at the expense of food aid is currently absent in the Senate’s Coast Guard bill.

The Senate recently introduced its version of the Coast Guard Reauthorization Act (S. 2444). Thanks to your efforts, it does not take critical food-aid dollars away from hungry people to subsidize the world’s largest shipping companies. The bill now faces a vote by the Senate Commerce Committee. If it passes, it will still need to pass the full Senate and eventually be reconciled with the House version of the bill, which provides for increased subsidies to shipping companies using food-aid funds. 

The House version (H.R. 4005), which passed by a voice vote, included legislation that would increase, from 50 to 75 percent, the amount of food aid that must be shipped on U.S.-flagged vessels. As a result, the cost of shipping food aid would increase by at least $75 million, and 2 million fewer hungry people would be reached.

The work Bread for the World members have put into shining a light on the harmful provision quietly tucked into the House bill is a testament to the power of speaking with a unified moral voice. You called, emailed, and petitioned senators who were considering the harmful legislation, making it clear that they were choosing to increase hunger or profit. You wrote letters to the editor in your local papers. You went to Washington, D.C., and met with your members of Congress. And when we called on faith leaders to sign on to letters, you responded by the hundreds.

When we live out our faith and answer the call to end hunger together, everything is possible. Yes, it’s possible for just one person to slay the giant with just the right hit, but it’s easier for many of us to topple the giant together.

But the fight is far from over. Amendments to increase transportation costs could still be introduced when the full Senate deliberates on the Coast Guard bill. Continue to tell your senators not to use food aid to increase subsidies to the world’s largest shipping companies, leaving 2 million more people hungry every year. 

If you haven’t done so, please add your name to our petition and let Congress know you care about your hungry neighbor – whether they live next door or on the next continent.

The Future of Food Aid is the Food for Peace Reform Act (S. 2421)

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U.S. food aid is an important tool in fighting child malnutrition. (Joseph Molieri/Bread for the World)

“They all ate and were satisfied, and the disciples picked up twelve basketfuls of broken pieces that were left over.” (Matthew 14:20)

Jesus fed more than 5,000 people with a miracle by multiplying loaves and fishes. We don’t need a miracle to feed millions more who suffer from hunger. We only need to multiply our efficiency by passing the Food for Peace Reform Act of 2014 (S. 2421).

Increasing efficiency means U.S. food aid can reach up to 9 million more hungry people around the world. Sens. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) and Chris Coons (D-Del.) recently introduced a bill that provides needed flexibility to deliver food aid, making the program more efficient. Urge your senator to co-sponsor S. 2421 and help build momentum to pass the bill.

Senate Bill 2421 would modernize U.S. food aid by:

  • Increasing flexibility to deliver food aid in the best way possible. In many cases, that means delivering food purchased in the United States, while in other cases buying food locally would be more effective and timely. In still others, the best way to meet the nutritional needs of hungry people would be through the provision of cash transfers or food vouchers.
  • Increasing long-term resilience by ending monetization– the practice of selling food to support development programs, which is incredibly inefficient, often distorts local markets, and can undermine longer-term food-security objectives.
  • Increasing efficiency by removing cargo-preference requirements on food aid. Food aid shipped under cargo preference costs taxpayers 46 percent more, on average, than competitively awarded ocean freight shipments. This legislation will save money and provide the flexibility to ship food without anti-competitive restrictions.

Reforming U.S. food-aid policy has been a cornerstone of Bread for the World’s efforts to end global hunger as far back as 1981 and is the focus of the 2014 Offering of Letters. Food aid not only responds to natural or man-made disasters around the world, but as we learn better ways to respond to hunger, food aid becomes an important tool in building long-term food security that can end global hunger.

Recently, Bread members helped pass reforms in the 2014 farm bill that will have a huge impact in the near future if Congress funds the programs. As the House and Senate work on their 2015 agricultural appropriations bills, Bread members will need to continue urging adequate funding to shore up the reforms already passed.

The danger of slipping backwards also lurks at every corner. Special-interest lobbies are working hard to increase cargo-preference provisions, denying food aid to millions. Faithful advocates must continue to be an obstacle.

Christians know we can live in a world without hunger. The Corker-Coons legislation is part of the exodus from hunger. When a senator adds his/her name to the bill as a cosponsor, he/she indicates support for the legislation. This helps build the momentum to pass the bill in the future, and signals strong support for food aid reforms now.

In Matthew, faced with a hungry crowd, Jesus performs a miracle and creates abundance out of scarcity. This illustrates that God wants the faithful to make the best use of our bounty and gifts when confronting hunger. We don’t need a miracle to face a hungry world – we need political will and common sense policy changes.

To find out more about how U.S. food-aid reform is moving in Congress and what you can do, join us for today’s conference call and webinar at 4 p.m. ET.  Register here.

Advocacy Helps Passage of Food Aid Amendment in House Spending Bill

Whipping the voteWhen it comes to saving lives, faithful advocates and Bread for the World staff spare no energy. Faithful advocacy continues to build the momentum to reform our government’s food-aid programs and bring hope and help to millions of people in need. This week’s large-scale advocacy has resulted in a victory that is worth celebrating.

Late yesterday, the House of Representatives began debate on its version of the fiscal year 2015 agricultural appropriations bill. Included in the bill was a vital amendment to provide funding for the USDA Local and Regional Purchase (LRP) program. This would help more people receive U.S. food aid at no additional cost. Rep. Ed Royce (R-Calif.-39), who has been a champion in the House for food-aid reform, led the bipartisan amendment. 

The LRP program was reauthorized at $80 million in the in the 2014 farm bill. Bread for the World members advocated for the LRP program, which would allow USDA the option to buy food close to the source of need rather than shipping lifesaving resources from overseas, which can take up to 14 weeks.

Bread learned about the LRP amendment during our annual Lobby Day on Tuesday when Royce spoke to Bread for the World members thanking them for their work to reform food aid and to receive an award from Bread for his work to reform food-aid programs during the farm bill debate last year. Yesterday, we emailed an action alert to our members, and calls began flowing into congressional offices urging House members to support Royce’s amendment that would provide minimal funding for LRP at $10 million. 

It appeared the amendment passed by a voice vote when offered by Royce, but a hold was called, which meant a recorded vote would be required. The groundwork had been laid the previous day when Bread members visited the offices of hundreds of lawmakers in Washington, D.C., to advocate about the importance of U.S. food aid and many more across the country called in to lawmakers’ Washington offices as part of a virtual Lobby Day. Just before the recorded vote, Bread staff followed up with urgent phone calls and emails to House offices urging them to support the Royce amendment.

Cheers erupted in the Bread offices when the vote count of 223 to 198 was announced. This vote is the latest in a series showing bipartisan support for food-aid reforms. Late last month, Sens. Mike Johanns (R-Neb.) and Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), offered an amendment to the Senate version of agricultural appropriations that passed out of committee with an additional $35 million for food-aid reform efforts.

If the final bill passes later this week, and the Senate version moves through its process, these bills will be conferenced (reconciled between the two chambers). However, the spending bill still has a long way to go before Oct. 1, which is the start of the fiscal year. The House will continue to debate, with a final vote expected at a later time.

We are grateful for the advocacy Bread for the World members continue to provide in support of reforms and adequate funding that can help save millions more lives. We encourage you to call your representative and thank him/her if he/she voted for the Royce amendmen,t or express your disappointment. You can see how they voted here.

Photo: Bread for the World staff make phone calls and send emails to congressional offices in support of an amendment that would fund local and regional purchase. Washington, D.C. (Eric Mitchell)

Organizations Send Letter to House Members on Food Aid Amendment

Update: The Royce amendment to fund  passed by a vote of 223 Yeas to 198 Nays. Thank you for your advocacy.

Bread for the World and several of its partner organizations sent a letter to House members today, urging them to include the Royce amendment in the 2015 Agriculture Appropriations bill (H.R. 4800).

Today, Rep. Ed Royce (R-Calif.-39) is introducing an amendment to the bill to ensure there is money for more efficient food-aid programs that can reach more people, in a more timely manner— including funding for local and regional purchase programs.

The full text of the letter is below.

The below organizations write in support of Congressman Ed Royce’s amendment to provide $10 million for the USDA Local and Regional Procurement Program. This program was permanently authorized in the recently passed 2014 farm bill, and would provide more flexible programming to compliment existing food aid programs, especially the McGovern-Dole Food for Education Program.

USDA analysis of the Local and Regional Procurement (LRP) Pilot Project created in the 2008 farm bill has shown that LRP practices typically enable food assistance to be delivered more quickly, at considerable savings, with the ultimate benefit of reaching larger numbers of vulnerable people. LRP also generates important developmental impacts by spurring local economic activity and helping form and strengthen local markets.

Funding local and regional procurement improves the long-term sustainability of school-feeding programs supported by McGovern-Dole. U.S. support for LRP can help countries make a transition to national ownership by reducing reliance on U.S.-donated commodities and operating their programs using their own local resources.

With limited resources available, this amendment ensures that our food aid dollars reach a greater number of people while using tax payer dollars efficiently. LRP enjoys broad bipartisan support and is considered important to the broader food aid reform effort. Failing to fund the LRP program would be a major setback to the food aid reform effort. We urge you to vote in favor of the Royce Amendment.

Sincerely,

CARE
ONE
World Food Program USA
American Jewish World Service
Bread for the World
Church World Service
Mercy Corps
The Borgen Project
InterAction
Modernizing Foreign Assistance Network
Oxfam America
Save the Children

The vote is expected later this evening, and we need faithful advocates to act! Call your representative at 800-826-3688 and urge him or her to support the Royce amendment to the Agriculture Appropriations bill (H.R. 4800).  If you are on Twitter, please send the same message and tag your member in a tweet.

Act Now: Support Food-Aid Reform


Lutheran Development Service distributes food to people affected by drought in Swaziland in 2004. Many distributions of U.S. food-aid items are carried out by private relief and development organizations, many of them supported by U.S. churches. Today, Rep. Ed Royce is introducing an amendment to make sure there is money for efficient food-aid programs that will reach more people, faster and at no additional cost. (Stephen H. Padre)

Update: The Royce amendment to fund  passed by a vote of 223 Yeas to 198 Nays. Thank you for your advocacy.

By Ryan Quinn

Yesterday, during Bread for the World’s annual Lobby Day, hundreds of advocates walked the halls of Congress and urged their legislators to enact food-aid reform and immigration reform. Our efforts moved us one step closer to reaching our ultimate goal of ending hunger by 2030, but there is still more work to be done!

Today, Rep. Ed Royce (R-Calif.-39) is introducing an amendment to the fiscal year 2015 Agriculture Appropriations bill to ensure there is money for more efficient food-aid programs that can reach more people, in a timelier manner— including funding for local and regional purchase programs. This amendment will be on the House floor today!

We need you to call your representative at 800-826-3688 and urge him or her to support the Royce amendment to the Agriculture Appropriations bill (H.R. 4800). This amendment will fund money for local and regional purchase programs, allowing our international food aid to help more people, faster and at no additional cost. Again, this amendment is coming up for a vote today, so please take action now—it’s quick, easy, and will make a huge difference!

Ryan Quinn is Bread for the World's senior international policy analyst.

Act Now: Indecision Could Take Food Aid from 2 Million

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It seems like it should be an easy decision, but Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-W. Va.), is undecided on whether to increase cargo preference under a provision, tucked into a Coast Guard bill, that would increase profits to foreign-owned shipping companies, or ensure 2 million hungry people receive food they need to survive.

Faithful advocates across the country need to speak up now.

Rockefeller is the chair of the Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee, which is writing its version of the Coast Guard Reauthorization bill.  The House has already passed its version of the legislation, but it included a harmful provision that would increase, from 50 to 75 percent, the amount of food aid shipped from the United States on U.S.-flagged ships. As a result, the cost of shipping food aid would increase by at least $75 million, and, as a result, 2 million fewer hungry people would be reached.

In an interview published in Politico today, Sen. Rockefeller said, “I’m just flat-out undecided.” His concerns, Politico reported, center on issues of military readiness and claims that the shipping industry needs the business. Experts in the field of agricultural cargo preference and food security have publically stated that there is no evidence to back up claims from the shipping industry that jobs or military readiness would be affected.

What evidence does show is that increasing cargo preference would limit already-scarce resources used to combat global food insecurity, especially during periods of crises. Harming a program that spreads American goodwill globally and saves millions of lives just to line the pockets of a few largely foreign-owned shipping companies makes no sense. Ryan Quinn, Bread for the World’s senior policy analyst, has said it is a boondoggle - that it is not only a waste of time and money, but goes against our nation's values.

“We have fought so hard for reforms that will bring lifesaving aid to millions, all the while saving taxpayer dollars,” Quinn said today. “Why should those dollars instead go to subsidize shipping companies? It makes no sense to me. And the argument that increasing cargo-preference restrictions would support ‘military readiness’ is not supported by the facts.”

In a letter to Congress last year, the U.S. Department of Defense asserted that the subsidized vessels in question are not useful to the military. In fact, many of these ships are old, inefficient, and ill-suited to carry thousands of tons of food aid thousands of miles around the world.

Quinn said that he was pleased with the bipartisan support he has seen around food aid. Just this week, Sens. Corker and Coons introduced the Food for Peace Reform Act (S. 2421), which would provide up to 9 million more people with lifesaving aid at no additional cost by using taxpayer dollars more efficiently. The legislation would accomplish many of the requests included in the Bread for the World's 2014 Offering of Letters, Reforming U.S. Food Aid. Bread members visiting Washington, D.C., next week will be asking their senators to co-sponsor the bill as part of our annual Lobby Day.

“Increasing cargo preference could undo all that we have gained, and we must hold our leaders accountable,” said Quinn. 

Call your senator today at 800-826-3688 and tell him or her to oppose any increase in transportation costs for food aid.  Share the picture above on your Twitter or Facebook page, and visit bread.org/foodaid to sign our petition. Millions of lives should not be sacrificed to subsidize shipping companies!

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Read more about S. 2421, the authorization bill to reform U.S. food aid released this week.

Ask a Pastor: Why Should We Talk to Congress About U.S. Food Aid?

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Rev. Dave Buerstetta blesses an offering of letters at the Woodridge United Methodist church outside of Chicago, Ill. Assisting him are Jason Shubert (l) and Tim Waynick. (Patti Cash)

Rev. Dave Buerstetta of Woodridge United Methodist Church in Chicago, Ill., recently added his name to a letter asking his senator to protect food aid. We asked him why he thought it was important for the faith community to be part of the conversation on food aid with Congress. Here is what he said:

Loving God with our whole selves and loving our neighbors as ourselves requires seeking justice. Seeking justice requires trying to change the cultural systems that make, and keep, people poor or hungry or oppressed. So seeking justice – transforming systems to better emulate the Reign of God on earth, for which we pray every single week – requires advocacy.

We have some neighbors who are hungry. We have other neighbors who are members of Congress with the power to keep 2 million more neighbors from becoming hungry. Of course we should talk with members of Congress about this! We cannot let ourselves be scared off from the vital work of justice advocacy simply because doing so means engaging in the political process. That's how systems are changed.

In other words, in addition to being the hands and feet of Jesus in the world, we must also seek to be the voice of Jesus in the world, speaking with and for the poor, the hungry, the oppressed. That is why I added my name to the letter; that is why I hope you will too.

Buerstetta practices what he preaches. The letter to his Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), asking him to protect food aid for 2 million people is an example of seeking justice and loving our neighbor. As a leader in Congress, Sen. Durbin can influence policy that affects how much food the United States can deliver to people in need overseas — and as a constituent, Buerstetta can influence Sen.Durbin.

Legislation recently passed by the House of Representatives would decrease the amount of assistance the U.S. can give while increasing profits for shipping companies. The Senate is now writing its version of the bill, and we are asking senators that any legislation to increase transportation costs for shipping food aid be stripped from the bill.  Several senators have been targeted as having particular influence at this time.  We are asking faith leaders from Alaska, Illinois, Indiana, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, Nevada, Washington, Wisconsin, and West Virginia to urge their senators to protect U.S. food aid. The letters will be delivered in person on Tuesday, June 10. 

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You can read more about Rev. Buerstetta’s work in the Nov. 2012 edition of Bread for the World’s newsletter.

Rick Steves Op-ed to Protect U.S. Food Aid

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Travel show host Rick Steves in Ireland. (Photo courtesy of Rick Steves)

Rick Steves, television and radio personality, travel expert, and longtime Bread for the World member, wrote an opinion piece on U.S. food aid that was published in The Seattle Times yesterday. In his guest contribution, titled "Protect U.S. food aid from the shipping industry," Steves, a resident of Washington state, asks Sen. Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.) to protect food aid. He also calls on Washington voters to support her efforts to do so.

Last month, the House of Representatives passed a bill that included a provision that would increase the cost of shipping food aid by at least $75 million. This increase would mean 2 million fewer hungry people would benefit from lifesaving food-aid programs. The bill is now being considered by the Senate Commerce Committee, of which Cantwell is a member. Bread for the World is asking the committee members to strip any provisions that would increase transportation costs for food aid.

A frequent traveler, Steves has a perspective on global hunger that motivates him to advocate that U.S. food aid be made more efficient.  In his guest post, he writes:

I care about this issue in part because of my work as a travel writer. Having spent a third of my adult life overseas, it’s clear to me: While we are a compassionate society, we can be oblivious to the consequences that some of our choices have on struggling people. Sure, we have our economic challenges. But 90 percent of humanity would love to have our crisis. Half of humanity is struggling to survive on $2 a day. When you travel, you understand that’s a real crisis.

I believe that, even if motivated only by greed and national security interests, if U.S. citizens know what’s good for ourselves and our country, we don’t want to be extremely wealthy in a world with lots of hunger. U.S. food aid, which saves millions of lives each year, is vital in combating this challenge. And making every food-aid dollar count is a responsible use of taxpayer money, a moral imperative and in America’s interest.

Read the piece in its entirety on The Seattle Times website

Bread for the World is asking Washington state faith leaders to sign a letter to Sen. Cantwell asking her to protect U.S. food aid. The letter, addressed to Cantwell and other members of the Senate Commerce Committee, will be delivered June 10 during Bread for the World's Lobby Day.

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Learn more about Bread for the World's 2014 Offering of Letters: Reforming U.S. Food Aid on the Offering of Letters website.

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