Urging our nation's leaders to end hunger
 

211 posts categorized "Foreign Aid"

What We Are Thankful For

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(Bread for the World)

By Rev. David Beckmann

We have a lot to be thankful for this year at Bread for the World, and you're at the top of the list. I thank God for you.

Here are just a few examples of the incredible work you have helped accomplish this year:

We won reforms that have allowed U.S. food assistance to reach 1.5 million more hungry people. Humanitarian crises in South Sudan and Syria along with the terrifying spread of Ebola in West Africa have dramatically increased the need for food aid, so our successful campaign to increase the reach of U.S. food aid could not have come at a more critical time.

As unaccompanied children crossed the U.S. border, fleeing violence at home and often deplorable treatment in detention centers, you opened your heart. You sent more than 10,000 personalized emails to your members of Congress urging them to protect these vulnerable children while addressing the root causes of their plight in the long term. A bill has been introduced into the House (H.R. 5368) to address these concerns.

On Monday, Bread for the World Institute launched its 2015 Hunger Report: When Women Flourish ... We Can End Hunger. Because of their leading role in farming, caregiving, and child nutrition, women are the primary agents the world relies on to fight hunger.  Your support makes this research and analysis possible.

And in June, we celebrated 40 years of your faithful advocacy and victories from earlier decades. We also launched Bread Rising: A Campaign to End Hunger, the most ambitious campaign in Bread's history. More to come on this campaign in the new year.

Through your dedication and through God's amazing work, we have accomplished so much. But our work isn't finished yet. As you gather around your Thanksgiving table, I ask you to pray for people who are hungry. And to pray harder for our nation and our leaders — that we might realize the political will to end hunger.

Are you asking yourself, "What more can I do?" If you have just five minutes, please help with this urgent opportunity to make a difference for people who are hungry around the world right now: email your members of Congress, and urge them to co-sponsor the Global Food Security Act (H.R. 5656 and S. 2909), which will boost agricultural development and address malnutrition. It passed out of the House Foreign Affairs Committee last week and will be voted upon next in the full House.

Rev. David Beckmann is the president of Bread for the World.

Anna Gaye: A Farmer's Story

By Robin Stephenson

Your calls and emails helped move the Global Food Security Act of 2014 over the first hurdle yesterday. H.R. 5656 passed out of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs. Now we encourage the Senate to do the same and hope to see both chambers vote on a final bill before they leave for the holiday recess in early December.

Anna Gaye’s story illustrates how the initiative is working to end hunger.

In 2013, President Obama met with Gaye and other farmers in Mampatim, Senegal who are decreasing food insecurity in their communities with the help of U.S. foreign assistance. Gaye is part of a 600-member farming cooperative that has been aided by USAID’s Feed the Future initiative. Gaye wrote about the meeting for USAID

First, I demonstrated a traditional method of rice processing. I tried not to smile as he took the heavy ram from my hands and started pounding the pestle himself. “That’s painful!” the president said through his translator, examining his hands a minute later. 

“That’s what women lived with every day before our partnership with Feed the Future,” I said.

That partnership brought, among other benefits, a portable, electric rice mill, which was also on display. The mill takes only 20 minutes to separate 40 kilograms of rice, which previously would take an entire day. The president was curious as to who actually owned the machine, and I explained our group manages it for our common use. 

The mill, I explained, was very important to our progress. My fellow farmers and I were initially reluctant to grow more rice since the task of having to pound so much more would be huge. Our acquisition of the milling machines changed all that. We were free from the drudgery of the pestle.  

The time saved also gives us more time to engage in commercial activities, such as the production and sale of palm oil and nutritious rice porridge made ​​with peanuts, not to mention time to prepare for the next growing season. 

Since 2010, the Feed the Future initiative has been addressing the root causes that create food insecurity. Farming cooperatives and knowledge sharing have helped farmers like Gaye increase their bargaining power and therefore, their food production. In 2013, seven million small farmers increased crop production and provided nutritious food to 12.5 million children that year alone.

With results like that, it is time to make the program permanent law. This is a smart approach that recognizes that, in order to end hunger, we don't just need to make more food, but we need quality, nutritious food and systems in place to get it to the people who need it most.

Let's keep the momentum going. Call (800/826-3688) or email your representative and both your senators, and urge them to cosponsor the Global Food Security Act (H.R. 5656 and S. 2909).

To learn more read, Bill Analysis: The Global Food Security Act of 2014.

Robin Stephenson is the national lead for social media and a senior regional organizer at Bread for the World.

Act Now: Tell Congress to Cosponsor the Global Food Security Act

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Stunting dropped an estimated 9 percent over the past three years in Ethiopia with the United States’ help through Feed the Future. An estimated 160,000 children are growing up stronger and healthier. (Nena Terrell/USAID)


By Ryan Quinn

Next week, many of us will be fortunate enough to gather around tables piled high with turkey, sweet potatoes, and pumpkin pie. In expressing our gratitude for the abundance before us, we can also call to mind the role we can play in ending hunger at home and around the world.

Sometimes that means service, like volunteering in a soup kitchen. But right now we have the opportunity to make a huge difference for hungry people with one simple action: Urge your members of Congress to cosponsor the Global Food Security Act today!

Right now, more than 800 million people around the world are hungry, and approximately 1 in 4 children under age five is stunted due to poor nutrition, leaving them with serious complications that can last their entire lives.

But this problem is solvable. Tomorrow, the House Foreign Affairs Committee will vote on legislation that would dramatically reduce world hunger, and it needs your support.

The Global Food Security Act would put in place the Feed the Future framework. This is a smart approach that recognizes that, in order to end hunger, we don't just need to make more food, but we need quality, nutritious food and systems in place to get it to the people who need it most.

The Feed the Future program would work on a local level to empower small farmers, growing the local economy while feeding hungry people. A true win-win.

Feed the Future can save lives. But it's important to act right now. The bill is about to go before powerful congressional committees that can push it forward or stall it indefinitely. We need an immediate and powerful show of support. Will you speak out now?

Call (800/826-3688) or email your representative and both your senators, and urge them to cosponsor the Global Food Security Act (H.R. 5656 and S. 2909). Your advocacy today could make a lifesaving difference for a hungry child.

To learn more read, Bill Analysis: The Global Food Security Act of 2014.

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

The Changing Story of Women

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Nimna Diayte. (Stephane Tourné/USAID)

By Robin Stephenson

The narrative of women is often a story of discrimination and marginalization. The face of poverty is disproportionately female. But as we write history, we have the power to change the story by empowering women.

New models of development show investing in women increases food security.

Programs, like Feed the Future, that make women’s capabilities a central component to agriculture and nutrition investment are yielding some impressive results: Seven million small farmers increased crop production and provided nutritious food to 12.5 million children in 2013 alone.

Nimna Diayté, a mother of six from Senegal, is one of those farmers. Diayté was barely making a living farming five acres of maize. A year later, she increased her acreage to 13 and tripled her income. Feed the Future helped create a collective so that farmers in Diayté’s community could increase their bargaining power. Diayté didn’t just benefit from the farming collective; she now leads it! Her knowledge and experience are transforming her community from one of scarcity to bounty.

She writes, “[t]he Feed the Future initiative helped us help each other, leading to the formation of a federation of some 3,000 producers who last year produced and sold 13,000 tons of corn on 5,000 hectares of land to feed our families and plan for next season.”

Bread for the World recommends Congress make Feed the Future permanent law.

In developing countries, most women work in subsistence farming. When women organize to work within groups, they are better able to overcome the gender discrimination they experience as individuals. Empowering women like Nimna Diayté as agents of change in the fight against food insecurity is the theme of the 2015 Hunger Report: When Women Flourish…We Can End Hunger.

The report, which will launch November 24 at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C., looks at discrimination as a cause of persistent hunger and makes policy and program recommendations that would empower women both in the United States and around the world. Increasing women’s earning potential by boosting bargaining power, reducing gender inequality in unpaid work, increasing women’s political representation, and eliminating the wage gap between male and female labor directly contributes to ending hunger.

Before the turn of the 19th century, women’s work in the United States was confined to the home and was often unpaid. Women's work has long been a vital force in the U.S. economy and, with fair polices, may finally be free from entrenched and interconnected racism and sexism. With the recent elections, women's voices – a historic 100 voices in Congress - are an increasing influence in U.S. politics.

The story of women is unfinished, and the conclusion depends on what we do today. However, one thing is clear: empowering women benefits everyone.

To learn more about the 2015 Hunger Report, When Women Flourish…We Can End Hunger, read the executive summary. And join us Monday, November 24, 9:00 AM - 11:00 AM EST, as we live Tweet the launch with the hashtag  #Hunger Report.

Robin Stephenson is the national lead for social media and a senior regional organizer at Bread for the World.

Bad Connections: Ebola, Fear, and Growing Hunger

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(USAID/Flickr)

By Stephen Padre

With the latest death of another Ebola patient in the United States this morning, we seem to be entering another round of media frenzy over the virus. Even though we've been through the frenzy before, the stigma around it, both here and abroad, hasn’t gone away.

The Gospel of Luke contains the story of Jesus’ encounter with ten lepers (Luke 17:11-19). In the story, Jesus commits a double social faux pas—he interacts with people with leprosy and people who were also Samaritans.

In biblical times, lepers were shunned and sent to live on the edge of town, away from everybody else. And Samaritans were those “other people,” despised by the Jews because of their heritage and practices. Both groups were to be avoided by “true” Jews. But Jesus delivered a double whammy and healed the lepers in the Samaritan neighborhood!

A similar thing has happened recently in the United States. As one example, health care workers who have traveled to West Africa to help treat patients with Ebola have come home and been stigmatized. Rather than viewing them as medical heroes, we have regarded them out of our fear of this disease. They have been portrayed as contaminated and careless, when clearly their intentions were to assist in places that do not have the means to adequately treat a deadly disease.

Jesus sets the example in his interaction with the lepers. He crossed social and health boundaries to help. While all of us can’t do something directly in West Africa like doctors, nurses, or public health professionals, we can follow Jesus’ example and pray, act, and give out of support for what others are doing to address Ebola.

For Bread for the World, the Ebola crisis is also a hunger issue. A Nov. 12 article in the Washington Post, “As Ebola takes lives in Liberia, it leaves hunger in its wake,” tells about the ripple effects of Ebola there. As people have fallen ill with Ebola, workplaces have closed, and people have been out of an income. The activities of normal life in Liberia—buying and selling food at the market, planting and harvesting on subsistence farms—have been disrupted, and hunger has reared its ugly head.

“We need assistance. We need food here in Foya,” said Joseph Gbellie, commissioner for a rural, largely agricultural district in Liberia’s northwest, quoted by the Post. “If we don’t get help, it’ll be serious, I tell you.”

The federal government is still working to address Ebola—on behalf of the American people. Last week, President Obama requested $6.2 billion in emergency funding from Congress to fight the Ebola virus in West Africa and protect the United States from its spread.

Bread supports these types of U.S. government efforts and expenditures as part of its foreign assistance. If government funds—from taxpayer dollars—can assist in halting the spread of Ebola in places like Liberia, then hunger, as part of the closely associated fallout from the disease, can also be curbed.

Stephen Padre is the managing editor at Bread for the World.

Running Out of Time: Help Children in Central America

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(Bread for the World)

By Eric Mitchell

The clock is counting down to December 11. On that day, the bill that is currently funding the U.S. government will expire. To prevent a government shutdown, Congress will need to pass a bill to continue funding federal programs.

This moment is an important opportunity! I believe we can secure key funding in this bill to address the violence, hunger, and poverty that is driving thousands of migrant children from their homes in Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador. I believe we can get Congress to include a comprehensive strategy to address these root causes of the child refugee crisis on our southern border.

Congress is finalizing this bill, and they need to hear from you today. Urge your U.S. representative and your U.S. senators to include the following provisions in any final spending bill:

  • $300 million for the State Department to address the conditions causing children to flee their home countries. This funding would support programs that promote economic development, repatriation and reintegration efforts for children who return to their home countries, services for at-risk young people, and help improve governance in Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador.
  • A strategy to address the poverty, lack of educational and employment opportunities, and the high rates of criminal gang activity that are driving children to flee to the United States and provide $100 million to implement this strategy.

Please call or email Congress today (Capitol switchboard: 800/826-3688)! Demonstrate your commitment to the least and most vulnerable among us. These boys and girls from Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador deserve to live in a world free of hunger, violence, and poverty. By funding programs and initiatives that address such problems, we can ensure a more dignified, hopeful, and promising future for them and all of God’s children.

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

Tweet Congress: #FeedtheFuture

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Kenyan Farmer. (ACDI/VOCA)

By Robin Stephenson

Since 2010, Feed the Future programs have helped millions of farmers increase the amount of food they can grow and the the ability to feed their families. It is time to codify the program into law. With enough pressure from constituents, bills introduced in the House and Senate last month (H.R. 5656/S. 2909) could be voted on and passed during the lame-duck session. These bills would permanently authorize this comprehensive approach to global food security, ensuring the initiative continues beyond the current administration.

Learn more: Bread’s Bill Analysis: Feed the Future Global Food Security Act of 2014.

Both bills have been introduced into committee. For H.R. 5656 and S. 2909 to move forward, the committee leadership must schedule a mark-up. Committee members then vote on the marked-up version, and if passed, the bill moves out of committee and is eligible for a floor vote.  Leadership then determines if there is sufficient momentum to pass the bill and if so, will put the bill up for a vote from the full chamber. 

Cosponsorship implies a commitment to vote in support of a bill and helps build the momentum for a floor vote.  Help us build momentum.  Look for your state, and if you have a member of Congress on one of the committees considering the Feed the Future Global Food Security Act of 2014, click on his/her name to automatically load a tweet. If you do not have a Twitter account, email or call your representative at (800) 826-3688 and ask him/her to cosponsor H.R. 5656.  And email or call your senators, and ask them to cosponsor S. 2909. 

Senate Foreign Affairs: 113th Congress Committee Members
*members in bold have cosponsored S. 2909: Global Food Security Act of 2014

State

Majority Member

State

Minority member

New Jersey

Chairman, Robert Menendez

Tennessee

Bob Corker, Ranking Member

California

Barbara Boxer

Idaho

James Risch

Maryland

Benjamin Cardin

Florida

Marco Rubio

New Hampshire

Jeanne Shaheen

Wisconsin

Ron Johnson

Delaware

Christopher Coons        

Arizona

Jeff Flake

Illinois

Richard Durbin

Arizona

John McCain

New Mexico

Tom Udall

Wyoming

John Barrasso

Connecticut

Chris Murphy

Kentucky

Rand Paul

Virginia

Tim Kaine

 

 

Massachusetts

Edward Markey

 

 

House Committee on Foreign Affairs:  113th Congress Committee Members
*members in bold have cosponsored H.R. 5656: Feed the Future Global Food Security Act of 2014.

State

Majority Member

State

Minority Member

California

Chairman, Edward Royce

New York

Eliot Engel, Ranking Member

New Jersey

Christopher Smith

America Samoa

Eni Faleomavaega

Florida

Ileana Ros-Lehtinen

California

Brad Sherman

California

Dana Rohrabacher

New York

Gregory Meeks

Ohio

Steve Chabot

New Jersey

Albio Sires

South Carolina

Joe Wilson

Virginia

Gerald Connolly

Texas

Michael McCaul

Florida

Theodore Deutch

Texas

Ted Poe

New York

Brian Higgins

Arizona

Matt Salmon

California

Karen Bass

Pennsylvania

Tom Marino

Massachusetts

William Keating

South Carolina

Jeff Duncan

Rhode Island

David Cicilline

Illinois

Adam Kinzinger

Florida

Alan Grayson

Alabama

Mo Brooks

California

Juan Vargas

Arkansas

Tom Cotton

Illinois

Bradley Schneider

California

Paul Cook

Massachusetts

Joseph Kennedy III

North Carolina

George Holding

California

Ami Bera

Texas

Randy Weber Sr.

California

Alan S. Lowenthal

Pennsylvania

Scott Perry

New York

Grace Meng

Texas

Steve Stockman

Florida

Lois Frankel

Florida

Ron DeSantis

Hawaii

Tulsi Gabbard

Georgia

Doug Collins

Texas

Joaquin Castro

North Carolina

Mark Meadows

 

 

Florida

Ted Yoho

 

 

Wisconsin

Sean Duffy

 

 

Florid

Curt Clawson

 

 

 Robin Stephenson is the national lead for social media and senior regional organizer at Bread for the World.

 

 

Congress Returns for Lame-Duck Session

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Feed the Future programs help families like the Aktars in Barisal, Bangladesh become food secure. There is an opportunity to authorize the program during the 2014 lame-duck session if Congress acts. (Laura Elizabeth Pohl/Bread for the World)


On Wednesday, the 113th Congress returns for its final session before the holiday break. Members are expected to work through December 11.

The short, upcoming session, commonly referred to as a lame-duck session (or a lame-duck Congress), is the work period after an election but before newly elected members replace outgoing members – those who are retiring, moving chambers, or have lost their seats during the election. For outgoing members of Congress, it is an opportunity to leave a legacy – passing important legislation that can help end hunger.

As our thoughts turn to holiday preparations of feasting and family gatherings, we should not forget those who face the season hungry. There are opportunities during the lame-duck session to address global food security, increase our ability to deliver food aid, and address the hunger causing the child refugee crisis on our southern border.

  • Appropriations: Congress cannot leave town without making some provision for government funding, which expires December 11, or it faces a government shutdown. Legislators could pass a short funding extension or start the new year off with the government fully funded.  A bill that would fund the remainder of fiscal year 2015 could come in the form of an omnibus – combining several small funding bills into a large bill requiring a single vote – or Congress could pass a straight-up extension of all programs at current funding levels, also known as a continuing resolution (CR), or a combination of the two. Congress should include funding that would address the violence, hunger, and poverty that have forced more than 68,000 children to flee their homes in Central America. 
  • The Global Food Security Act – Since 2010, Feed the Future programs have helped millions of farmers increase crop production and food security around the world. It is time to codify the program into law.  With enough pressure from constituents, bills introduced in the House and Senate (H.R. 5656/S. 2909) could be voted on and passed during the lame-duck session.
  • Food for Peace Reform Act: With multiple food crises dominating the news, there is an opportunity to build the political will to pass food-aid reform in the new year by increasing cosponsors to S.2421, The Food for Peace Reform Act of 2014.

January 2015 will usher in the 114th Congress, which will include those members who won seats in last week’s elections. If you are in a district or state with a newly elected member of Congress, now is a good time to introduce them to Bread for the World and talk to them about making ending hunger a legislative priority. Contact your regional organizer for more information on how you can set up an in-district meeting.

Congress acts when there is a tipping point of pressure from back home. By taking the time to reach out to our members of Congress now, we can help ensure a better and more prosperous 2015 for everyone. 

 

Quote of the Day: Raj Shah on Feed the Future

 

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A mother holds her child in a model home in Tigray, Ethiopia. (Nena Terrell/USAID)

"Through Feed the Future, we are harnessing the power of science, technology and innovation to unlock opportunity for the world's most vulnerable people. By creating and scaling cutting-edge solutions to our most pressing agricultural challenges, we can help the world's most vulnerable people move from dependency to self-sufficiency and out of the tragic cycle of extreme poverty."

USAID administrator Raj Shah quoted in a Nov 6, State Department press release, “U.S. Government Announces Child Stunting Rates Drop in Ethiopia, Maize Yields Increase in Zambia.”

Feed the Future programs in Zambia helped smallholder farmers increased maize production by 32 percent in one year. In the past three years, 160,00 fewer children under five in Ethiopia are malnourished because of Feed the Future and other United States Government initiatives.

Legislation that would authorize Feed the Future was introduced in Congress in September. If passed, the Global Food Security act (H.R. 5656/. S. 2909), would give the U.S. government the tools and resources it needs to better fight chronic hunger and malnutrition as well to expand and better coordinate U.S. investments in improving global food security.

Feed the Future Acts Introduced in Congress

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Feed the Future is helping increase opportunities for smallholder farmers like Alice Monigo in Uganda by providing trainings for women. (CNFA/Feed the Future)


New legislation in Congress, if passed, would give the U.S. government the tools and resources it needs to better fight chronic hunger and malnutrition as well to expand and better coordinate U.S. investments in improving global food security.

On Sept. 18, H.R. 5656 was introduced by Reps. Christopher Smith (R-N.J.) and Betty McCollum (D-Minn.) in the House. S. 2909 was introduced by Sens. Robert Casey (D-Pa.), Chris Coons (D-Del.), Mike Johanns (R-Neb.), Johnny Isakson (R-Ga.), and John Boozman (R-Ark.) in the Senate. These bills would permanently codify and authorize this comprehensive approach to global food security, ensuring the initiative continues beyond the current administration.

Background

Feed the Future was created at the end of the George W. Bush administration and early in the Obama administration as the U.S.’s response to the rapid rise in global food prices that occurred from 2007 until 2009. Since its creation in 2010, Feed the Future has achieved impressive results in its 19 focus countries, helping more than seven million small farmers increase crop production and providing nutritious foods to more than 12.5 million children in 2013 alone.

While the program has been funded by Congress in annual appropriations legislation, without official authorization, the future of this program remains in the balance.

Gains for Farmers

“We are delighted to see bipartisan legislation introduced in both the House and Senate,” said Rev. David Beckmann, president of Bread for the World. “This proves that ending hunger is not a partisan endeavor but a priority that should be held by everyone.”

By authorizing Feed the Future, further gains will be made in improving the livelihoods of small-holder farmers, strengthening maternal and child nutrition, and building capacity for long-term agricultural growth. While there are differences between the House and Senate bills, they are considerably alike in purpose. Specifically, both bills would require the administration to develop a whole-of-government strategy to address global food insecurity and malnutrition. This strategy is designed to help hungry nations around the world develop smart, long-term, country-specific agriculture policies and to ensure these nations independently meet the nutrition needs of their people.

Both bills stress the importance of good nutrition, especially during the critical 1,000-day window from a woman’s pregnancy until her child’s second birthday. This helps to reduce stunting, life-long poor health, impaired cognitive and physical development, and diminished productivity. There is a strong emphasis in the bills on working with local farmers to improve their techniques, helping to stabilize food production and improve self-sufficiency.

Both bills also focus strongly on women’s economic empowerment, a significant component, considering that women are often heads of households and small-holder farmers, making them especially vulnerable to food insecurity. By further engaging women, Feed the Future aims to increase women’s farm yields and total food output and close the significant 20 to 30 percent yield gap that currently exists between male and female farmers.

“Eliminating barriers for women farmers will not only help to sustain their long-term economic prosperity, but will also help to improve their children’s nutrition, health, and lifelong potential,” added Beckmann.

This post originally appeared in Bread for the World's November online newsletter.

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