Urging our nation's leaders to end hunger
 

217 posts categorized "Foreign Aid"

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.

Recap: #WorldFoodDay Twitter Town Hall

October Webinar Recap: Elections to Lame Duck

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Congress returns to Washington, D.C. November 12.  (Joseph Molieri/Bread for the World)

By Robin Stephenson    

The halls of Congress remain relatively quiet as members are in their home districts and states during the last couple of weeks before the midterm elections. They will return to Washington, D.C., on November 12 to get back to the nation’s business. Will they bring back a new commitment to end hunger?

Stephen Hill, Bread for the World’s senior organizer for elections, says that depends on how Bread members are engaging current and potential members of Congress in the next two weeks.

Speaking to Bread for the World members during the monthly legislative update, Hill said, “Making hunger an elections issue requires advocates to build capacity, build relationships, and build for the future.”  Hill has been pioneering new practices to make hunger an election issue in Virginia’s 10th Congressional District, just outside Washington, D.C.

Bread for the World believes we can end hunger by 2030 by building political will to make ending hunger a priority for our nation’s lawmakers. Sending lawmakers to Washington, D.C., with a mandate to end hunger begins on the campaign trail when voters engage them on the issues publicly.  Hill urged advocates to use the election resources designed to make hunger an issue in the next few weeks and in the next couple of years as we head toward the presidential elections of 2016.

Senior domestic policy analyst Christine Meléndez Ashley told Bread members what to expect in the post-election landscape. 

In November, Congress will return to the nation’s capital for what is referred to as a lame duck session:  the final session of the previous Congress before the newly elected 114th Congress begins work in the new year. The first order of business will be the budget, which was extended earlier in the year but expires on December 2. Congress must also pass the fiscal 2015 National Defense Authorization Act and work on a bill to renew $85 billion in tax breaks for individuals and businesses before the short session ends, which is expected to be on December 11.

Several issues that affect hungry people remain unresolved in the 113th Congress.

With two pieces of legislation affecting international hunger, Meléndez urged Bread for the World members to continue asking their members of Congress to cosponsor key bills: In the Senate, The Food for Peace Reform Act (S. 2421) would free up much-needed food-aid resources to feed millions more people in need. Also in the Senate and House is The Feed the Future Global Food Security Act of 2014 (S. 2909/ H.R. 5656) – legislation that will give the U.S. government the tools and resources it needs to better combat chronic hunger and malnutrition as well as to expand and better coordinate U.S. investments in improving global food security. Bread for the World will continue to press members on passing immigration legislation that addresses hunger both here and in sending countries.

The next national grassroots conference call and webinar is scheduled for November 18.

 

Two Billion People Suffer from ‘Hidden Hunger’

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A student who benefits from a USAID funded feeding program in Guatemala. (Joseph Molieri/Bread for the World)


By Kimberly Burge

According to a new report released this week, a staggering 2 billion people do not get the essential vitamins and minerals from the food they eat. They remain undernourished, suffering from the “hidden hunger” of micronutrient and vitamin deficiencies.

The annual Global Hunger Index (GHI) is released jointly by the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI), Welthungerhilfe (one of Germany's largest private development organizations), and Concern Worldwide. The 2014 report finds that, while great strides have been made to feed the world, 805 million people are still chronically undernourished because they do not get enough to eat. Even those who get sufficient calories can suffer from hidden hunger, an often overlooked yet critical aspect of hunger and nutrition.

Hidden hunger is often hard to detect, but is potentially devastating. Hidden hunger weakens the immune system, stunts physical and intellectual growth, and can lead to death. It wreaks economic havoc as well, locking countries into cycles of poor nutrition, lost productivity, poverty, and reduced economic growth.

Bread for the World Institute has explored the issue of hidden hunger in several previous Hunger Reports. Frontline Issues in Nutrition Assistance: Hunger Report 2006 recommended food fortification and the addition of vitamin and mineral supplements to nutrition programs to help boost the health and nutritional status of those who are malnourished. For example, iodine deficiency causes problems with cognitive development and remains the world’s single greatest cause of preventable mental retardation. But developing countries are making efforts to add iodine to household salt, efforts that are paying off. Between 1997 and 2002, 67 percent of all households in sub-Saharan Africa were consuming iodized salt, along with 53 percent in South Asia, the Middle East, and North Africa; 80 percent in East Asia; and 91 percent in Latin America and the Caribbean. 

“Particularly in countries facing a high burden of malnutrition, hidden hunger goes hand in hand with other forms of malnutrition and cannot be addressed in isolation,” said Welthungerhilfe president Bärbel Dieckmann. “In the long-term, people cannot break out of the vicious cycle of poverty and malnutrition without being granted the basic right to nutritious food.”

Hidden hunger is not found exclusively in developing countries, however. It crosses borders and exists here in the United States as well, as the Institute’s Senior Editor Todd Post saw while researching Hunger Report 2012.

“In Philadelphia, I visited emergency rooms with Dr. Mariana Chilton, head of Witnesses to Hunger, who recruited women to participate in Witnesses first by targeting mothers who brought their babies to the emergency room for something they thought was unrelated to hunger,” recalls Post. “The children were suffering from a condition known as ‘failure to thrive,’ a precursor to stunting, which was malnutrition related.”

“Failure to thrive” is the clinical term for a child severely underweight for her age. Witnesses to Hunger was born out of Children’s HealthWatch, a multi-city research project that is studying the effects of hunger on the health and well-being of young children. The project screens children in emergency rooms and ambulatory care clinics at five medical centers across the country, since undernourished children have higher rates of hospitalization.

To read more about Witnesses to Hunger and Dr. Chilton’s work, see p. 52-53 of Rebalancing Act: 2012 Hunger Report.  

There was good news to be found in this year’s Global Hunger Index. The number of people going hungry has steadily decreased in most developing countries. Since 1990, hunger in the developing world has fallen by 39 percent, and 26 countries have reduced their scores by 50 percent or more. Angola, Bangladesh, Cambodia, Chad, Ghana, Malawi, Niger, Rwanda, Thailand, and Vietnam have seen the greatest improvements in their scores between the 1990 GHI and the 2014 GHI.

And bad news, too: Levels of hunger are still “alarming” in 14 countries, and “extremely alarming” in two, Burundi and Eritrea.

Kimberly Burge is the interim associate online editor for Bread for the World.

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.

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