Urging our nation's leaders to end hunger
 

419 posts categorized "Global Hunger"

The PUSH to End Hunger

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University leaders meet at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C., to discuss ways to address hunger and malnutrition. Photo courtesy of Auburn University.

By Shalom Khokhar

Universities are known for being places of concentrated education and research. So when it comes to the issue of hunger, universities are institutions that can engage in agriculture, nutrition, environment, and other related disciplines. To that end, university leaders have an official group to address hunger.

Scores of university leaders from Presidents United to Solve Hunger (PUSH) gathered earlier this month to begin to implement the group’s action plan, which will leverage the collective power of the universities to address hunger and malnutrition.

Nearly 80 universities spanning six continents are now members of PUSH, having signed the Presidents’ Commitment to Food and Nutrition Security. Among the universities are Iowa State University, The Ohio State University, Texas A&M University, Stenden University (Netherlands), University of California System, Cornell University, William V.S. Tubman University (Liberia), and University of Miami.

David Beckmann, president of Bread for the World, attended the operational meeting and hunger forum, which took place at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C., on June 17. The Alliance to End Hunger, an affiliate of Bread for the World, is a PUSH supporter, along with other organizations such as the World Food Program and Stop Hunger Now.

PUSH was spearheaded by Auburn University’s Hunger Solutions Institute in Auburn, Ala. The PUSH action plan involves four core areas: teaching, research, outreach, and student engagement.

“PUSH is an effective mechanism for education, advocacy and engagement across national borders,” said Jay Gogue, Auburn University’s president.

Honduran President Juan Orlando Hernandez gave the Hunger Forum featured address. Hernandez has prioritized solving hunger and poverty in order to provide new hope to the youth of his country – many of whom flooded the shores of the United States last summer as illegal unaccompanied minors.

"I would never forgive myself if I had taken office as president and let slip a number of opportunities such as the one PUSH is offering the world," said Hernandez to the gathering of university, government, international organizations, business and civil society leaders.

Two Honduran universities are current PUSH members – Universidad Nacional de Agricultura and Zamorano University.

Food insecurity requires significant strides in areas like public policy, nutrition assistance, agricultural productivity, and community empowerment. These things can not only improve people’s lives locally, but can help us stay ahead of the hunger curve as global population increases and climate change affects harvest.

For instance, the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) (a PUSH supporter) is calling for a 70 percent increase in food production to meet the rising demands of an additional 2.3 billion people by 2050. In the words of attendee Shenggen Fan, director general of the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI), “Ending hunger will not be achieved unless there is a strategy supported by knowledge and research. Research institutes and universities play a key role in this endeavor.”

Now is the time to engage our resources and find sustainable solutions to hunger and malnutrition! Want to let your voice be heard and make a difference? Call/email Congress and ask them to protect and improve current nutrition programs such as SNAP, WIC, and the child nutrition bill.

Shalom Khokhar is a summer communications intern at Bread for the World. This post includes contributions from onsite reporters and press releases.

'Fighting the Good Fight'

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Lizaura "Lizzie" German, right, visiting with a staffer from the office of U.S. Sen. Bob Menendez during Lobby Day. Jennifer Gonzalez/Bread for the World.

By Jennifer Gonzalez

Lizaura “Lizzie” German understands the issue of hunger. She manages a feeding program for Catholic Charities that serves people living in the Bronx, Manhattan, and Staten Island. Aside from offering food, the program also provides case management for individuals who need other resources.

But advocacy has never been a component of the program’s work – until now. Through a new relationship with Bread for the World, cultivated by Bread organizer Margaret Tran, clients of the feeding program are starting to find their voice.

In fact, clients have already participated in an Offering of Letters. Bread’s 2015 Offering of Letters: Feed Our Children is focused on ensuring Congress reauthorizes the child nutrition bill. The legislation is set to expire in the fall. 

To better help clients find their voice, German agreed to become a Bread for the World Hunger Justice Leader. HJLs, as they are affectionately referred to at Bread, are young faith leaders and clergy who come together to form intentional partnership and community with Bread to advance the work of ending hunger in our world.

When they go back to their hometowns, they work together with Bread staff, folks in their community, and other HJLs to engage more deeply in hunger justice ministry.

Ahead of Bread’s Lobby Day on June 9, German took part in training in Washington, D.C., that afforded her an opportunity to interact with likeminded individuals. “Sometimes you can get bogged down with the work we do,” German said. “You think, ‘I’m the only one going through this.’ So, getting a chance to speak with others around the country who are doing similar work to yours is reenergizing.”

German said the HJL workshops were "awesome." She especially liked workshops that focused on active listening. “I know it is common sense, but when you are doing a million things you forget to listen.”

As part of her HJL experience, she lobbied on Bread’s behalf. She visited with staffers from the offices of Sens. Bob Menendez and Corey Booker (and briefly with Booker himself) as part of a large New Jersey contingency made up of members from The Reformed Church of Highland Park, N.J.

She, along with the others, talked passionately about the need for Congress to reauthorize the child nutrition bill and pass the Global Food Security Act.

“Lobbying with the folks from New Jersey was amazing,” German said. “To see that you are not alone, that there are other people putting their faith into action along with you, was amazing. It’s like you are all fighting the good fight.”

She said she felt that everything she had experienced at Bread leading up to Lobby Day – the training, worship service, legislative briefing – prepared her well to go into the offices of members of Congress and lobby on behalf of hungry people.

She said she was able “to express why we were doing what we were doing and who we were doing it for.”  She added: “For someone who was unable to come to speak and worried about their children or not having enough food for themselves, we were sharing their story.”

The fact that the lobbying was taking place from a faith-based perspective added to German’s experience. “During Lobby Day, we were able to acknowledge a higher power at work,” she said. “That was so cool.”

Jennifer Gonzalez is the associate online editor at Bread for the World.

 

Let Your Gift Help Feed the Future

By Rev. David Beckmann

Right now, Congress is headed into a critical period of debate over crucial hunger-fighting programs. Feed the Future, which helps smallholder farmers move themselves out of poverty and feed their families, is one of the programs whose future hangs in the balance if we don’t rally enough support to protect it.

But there is good news—a few generous Bread members have banded together to match all gifts before June 30, up to $50,000. When you donate today, your gift will go twice as far to advocate for hungry families in need. 7003205009_e59798ec75_o

Thanks to the support of compassionate people like you, Bread for the World is fighting tooth-and-nail to protect hungry families by speaking up for Feed the Future, ensuring smallholder farmers around the world have the tools they need to feed their families and provide their children with a more promising future. This program is a desperately needed lifeline—and it’s at risk of being reversed, which would deal a devastating blow to families around the world who can least afford it.

As the leading faith voice on Capitol Hill advocating for Feed the Future and long-needed food-aid reform, Bread for the World needs your support to ensure a faith-based voice is heard in this debate. Give now to raise your voice for hungry people and have your gift matched!

When Bread members speak out together, politicians and policy makers take notice. Last year, when a bill to reduce critical emergency food aid made its way through Congress, Bread members like you spoke out against it. Through the strength of our combined voices, we defeated the provision that would have cost families so much.

I know that you hear our faith’s call to end hunger. Right now—when the resources that help so many move themselves out of poverty are at great risk—it is more urgent than ever that we stand together to heed that call. We need your support now to ramp up our campaign to protect Feed the Future and other life-saving hunger programs from crippling cuts.

We know well that kindness begets kindness. Don't delay! When you give by June 30, your gift will be matched, up to $50,000!, making it go twice as far to help advocate for the most vulnerable children and families around the globe.

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

Photo inset: A woman in Bangladesh, a Feed the Future country, works in a potato field. Shykh Seraj for Bread for the World.

 

Lead with Your Faith and Contact Congress

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A nurse visits with a patient in Jinja, Uganda. Improving global health is an aim of the poverty-focused development accounts. Laura Elizabeth Pohl/Bread for the World.

By Bread Staff

A group of faith leaders from across the country will visit Capitol Hill on Wednesday to speak in support of funding for federal programs that are vital to helping people caught in disasters or who live in the daily grind of poverty. These individuals represent many faith backgrounds, but what unites them is their shared commitment to promoting the dignity of all people, including the world's most vulnerable. 

Will you join their efforts and call (800/826-3688) or email your member of Congress? You don't need to be a faith leader — just a person of faith. You can let your faith lead you to ask Congress to robustly fund humanitarian and poverty-focused development accounts within the International Affairs budget. PFDA accounts fund programs that reduce poverty and that carry out development and humanitarian assistance. These programs help to lift millions of people out of hunger, poverty, and disease around the world.

PFDA accounts provide both humanitarian relief and long-term, sustainable solutions to the problems of poverty and hunger. The work takes a wide variety of forms—agricultural development and nutrition, refugee assistance, emergency disaster assistance, global health, education, gender equality, water and sanitation, and more

As Christians, we are motivated by our faith in Jesus Christ. Alongside these distinguished faith leaders, you can make a significant difference in advocating for limited federal dollars for these programs, which continue to move millions of people out of hunger, poverty, and disease around the world.

Join these faith leaders from around the country and pray with us for an end to hunger and poverty in our world. But don't stop there. Ask Congress to robustly fund humanitarian and poverty-focused development accounts within the International Affairs budget.

Call (800/826-3688) or email your member of Congress today! Let’s work together to ensure that the world’s most vulnerable get the development and humanitarian assistance they deserve.

Women Farmers: 'The backbone of Africa'

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By Bread Staff

It’s imperative that the Global Food Security Act of 2015 (GFSA) is approved by Congress this year. Passage would make permanent the U.S. food and nutrition security program, Feed the Future.

So far, 48 House members and 6 Senators have cosponsored the Global Food Security Act (H.R. 1567/S. 1252). We expect to get even more cosponsors after our successful Lobby Day last week.

In fact, one Bread activists told her senator during last week's Lobby Day that it was important that the legislation pass because women farmers are the "backbone of Africa."

To date, Feed the Future has achieved impressive results, helping more than 7 million small-scale farmers increase crop production and providing nutritious food to more than 12.5 million children in 2013 alone. The GFSA would provide a first-ever comprehensive U.S. strategy to fight hunger and malnutrition, promote nutrition among pregnant women and newborns, and prioritize women smallholder farmers.

Both bills stress the importance of nutrition interventions, especially during the critical 1,000-day window from a woman’s pregnancy until her child’s second birthday. Such interventions help reduce stunting, lifelong poor health, impaired cognitive and physical development, and diminished productivity.

Similarly, both bills focus strongly on women’s economic empowerment, a significant component, considering that women are often heads of households and smallholder farmers, making them especially vulnerable to food insecurity. By further engaging women, Feed the Future aims to increase women’s farm yields and total agricultural output and close the significant 20 to 30 percent yield gap that currently exists between male and female farmers. This could result in 100 million to 150 million hungry people getting the food they need.

The bills are moving in Congress. H.R. 1567 has moved out of the House Foreign Affairs Committee and is ready for a House floor vote. S. 1252 is still in the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. Even though there is progress, we still need your help to ensure that the bills make it to the House and Senate floors for a vote.

Act now! Call/email your U.S. representative and U.S. senators today (800-826-3688). Urge them to support this legislation to improve global food security and better combat chronic hunger and malnutrition!

 

G-7 Commits to Ending Hunger and Malnutrition for Millions

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Bread for the World

By Bread Staff

Early this week, the G-7 leaders during their annual summit in Schloss Elmau, Krun Germany, committed themselves “to lift 500 million people in developing countries out of hunger and malnutrition by 2030.”

The theme of the summit—Think Ahead. Act Together — focused on food security and nutrition, the post-2015 development agenda, climate protection, and women’s economic empowerment, among other topics.

“We welcome the G-7’s decision to continue its focus on food security by committing to lift 500 million people in developing countries out of hunger and malnutrition by 2030,” said Asma Lateef, director of the Bread for the World Institute. “It builds on previous G-7 commitments on hunger and nutrition, specifically the L’Aquila Food Security Initiative, and ensures these actions continue to empower women, smallholder and family farmers.”

The G-7 is composed of Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the United Kingdom, and the United States. In advance of the summit, German Chancellor Angela Merkel called on all G-7 countries to end hunger and absolute poverty by 2030.

As a result of the G-7’s decision, Bread for the World is urging Congress to demonstrate the United States’ pledge to this goal by passing the Global Food Security Act. The bill would make permanent Feed the Future, which has helped more than 7 million small-scale farmers increase crop production and has provided nutritious food to more than 12.5 million children in 2013 alone.

Feed the Future works hand-in-hand with partner countries to develop their agriculture sectors and break the cycles of hunger, poverty, and malnutrition.

“The United States’ leadership has been important in focusing global attention on hunger and malnutrition. Congress should demonstrate similar leadership by passing the Global Food Security Act,” said Eric Mitchell, director of government relations at Bread for the World. “This legislation has strong bipartisan support in both the House and the Senate, and we urge congressional leaders to move this legislation forward and support its passage.”

Last month, the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization announced that world hunger had dropped by 167 million in the previous decade, to 795 million. This was due in part to programs like Feed the Future, which are investing in small farmers in developing countries, increasing their productivity and their incomes.

Feed the Future can save lives. But it's important to act right now to ensure it continues. Call or email your members of Congress today. Urge your U.S. representative and U.S. senators to co-sponsor The Global Food Security Act.

Lobby Day 2015: A Great Day of Advocacy

By Jennifer Gonzalez

Over 250 Bread for the World activists descended on Capitol Hill on Tuesday in the summer heat of Washington to ensure that members of Congress support child nutrition in the U.S. and abroad, and also aid small-scale farmers around the globe. Bread activists specifically asked members of Congress to support the Summer Meals Act of 2015 and the Global Food Security Act of 2015.

The day was a success as activist after activist, young and old alike, met with senators and representatives (or their staffers). Some meetings were small, with just a handful of activists around a table, sharing their thoughts, while others were quite large.

About 15 members from the Reformed Church of Highland Park in New Jersey met with staffers of Sen. Bob Menendez’s (D-N.J.) office. The group later met with staffers from Sen. Cory Booker’s (D-N.J.) office and got a surprise when the senator unexpectedly showed up and spoke to them. The group was not scheduled to meet with Booker, but instead, only with a couple of staffers.

Here are some highlights from Lobby Day 2015:

The morning got off to a great start with some inspiring words from Amelia Kegan, Bread’s deputy director of government relations. She spoke at Capitol Hill Presbyterian Church, where activists took part in a worship service combined with a legislative briefing by staff members of Bread’s government relations department.

Activists spent the afternoon meeting with various members of Congress. A small group of Iowans met with Sen. Joni Ernst (R-Iowa). They were accompanied by Rev. David Beckmann, Bread’s president, and Christine Melendez Ashley, a senior policy analyst at Bread.

Maria Rose Belding, a former intern at the Alliance to End Hunger (Bread’s sister organization), who now works at a nonprofit emergency food pantry system, stressed the need for Ernst to support the Summer Meals Act of 2015. “For every seven children who receive a free school lunch, only one gets a summer meal,” she said.

A handful of Bread activists from Alabama met with a staffer in Rep. Terri Sewell’s (D-07) office. Suzanne Martin spoke about the need for members of Congress, such as Sewell, to cosponsor the Global Food Security Act. The bill would make permanent Feed the Future, which has helped more than 7 million small-scale farmers increase crop production and has provided nutritious food to more than 12.5 million children in 2013 alone.

“What I love about this bill is that creates resiliency and sustainability,” Martin said. “I hope she (Sewell) becomes a big champion of this bill.”

The day ended with a reception and worship service at the Cannon House Office Building. Four members of Congress were honored as “hunger champions” during the reception: U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), U.S. Rep. Karen Bass (D-Calif.-37), U.S. Rep. Jeff Fortenberry (R-Neb.-01), and U.S. Rep. Lucille Roybal-Allard, (D-Calif.-40).

Lobby Day ended with activists relaying personal stories from their day on Capitol Hill. Thanks to all who participated in this year’s Lobby Day. We can’t end hunger by 2030 without your continued strong voice!

Take Part in Virtual Lobby Day Today

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Laura Elizabeth Pohl/Bread for the World

By Bread Staff

Tomorrow, hundreds of Bread for the World members will be in Washington, D.C., advocating for legislation that would help end child hunger in the U.S. and around the world. Real change is possible — and we're on the precipice with three critical pieces of legislation moving in Congress right now:

  1. Child nutrition reauthorization
  2. The Global Food Security Act
  3. Budget bills that fund these programs

We realize that not everyone can make the journey to D.C., but can you take two minutes today to join us virtually ? A quick phone call (800/826-3688) or email from you will help amplify our message in a powerful way.

Please call (800/826-3688) or email Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton. Tell Congress to:

  1. Support legislation, like the Summer Meals Act of 2015 (H.R. 1728/S. 613), that closes the hunger gap and connects hungry children with the meals they need.
  2. Cosponsor and pass the Global Food Security Act (H.R. 1567/S. 1252), making permanent the U.S. food and nutrition security program, Feed the Future.
  3. Prevent cuts to programs that invest in children in the U.S. and around the world. Pass a budget deal that prevents sequestration cuts.

Want more information on these bills and talking points? Visit our virtual Lobby Day page at www.bread.org/lobbyday.

Your call or email to Congress today will make a huge impact in our work together to end hunger at home and abroad. I’m so inspired to see and hear so many people of faith, together amplifying calls to enact policies that will further that cause.

Climate Change Will Increase World Hunger

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iStockphoto

By Christopher Ford and Stephen Padre

Today is World Environment Day. Designated by the United Nations, it’s sort of a worldwide Earth Day. What gift from our environment and the Earth is more valuable and sacred than the food they produce? It keeps us alive, fuels our movement and work, and brings us pleasure.

As a Christian organization whose mission is to bring an end to hunger, Bread is concerned about our world’s food supply and, by extension, the environment, the source of food. And so, on World Environment Day, Bread wants to lift up the environment and join in the concern expressed about changes to our environment and how hunger could increase because of these changes.

To that end, Bread for the World Institute has released a Background Paper titled “Hunger and Climate Change: What’s the Connection?

The paper presents the premise that the world will not be able to end hunger and extreme poverty without confronting climate change and its threat to people who are poor and marginalized. Changing climate patterns will result in more droughts, floods, and extreme weather events, making it even harder to grow and secure food.

“It will be impossible to end hunger and extreme poverty without addressing the causes and impacts of climate change,” said Asma Lateef, director of Bread for the World Institute. “Climate change has already had a devastating effect on people’s lives, and the situation will only get worse. We need a global solution now.” 

According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, housed with the United Nations, changing climate patterns are projected to dramatically undermine food security. The poorest people will continue to suffer the most, especially those living in developing countries or who are subsistence farmers. They will need help in adapting to conditions that were difficult before climate change, and are now becoming much worse.

Later this month, Pope Francis will deliver his first major papal encyclical (letter to bishops). It will address climate change. The final draft of the encyclical specifically discusses the effects of climate change on the world’s poorest people and the need for the Roman Catholic Church and the leaders of other religions to come together and help them “prepare for the challenges of unavoidable climate and eco-system changes.”

Women are especially vulnerable to the effects of climate change, but they also possess valuable knowledge. Women grow more than half of all the food in developing countries, and up to 80 percent in parts of Africa—mostly for their family’s consumption. Extra efforts must be made to provide women with resources to adapt to climate change, as they are often overlooked by male agricultural extension agents.

Bread for the World has joined with the World Bank and leaders of 30 faith groups and organizations in calling for an end to hunger and extreme poverty by 2030. Research conducted by Bread for the World shows that ending hunger and extreme poverty is possible in 15 years. However, climate change may quickly undo any progress this is made.

“There is still time to prevent worst-case scenarios, but it will require the global community coming together to confront and mitigate the impacts of climate change,” added Lateef. “We urge our leaders to equip those who are most affected to adapt to this global crisis and implement strong measures that focus on the root causes of climate change.” 

Christopher Ford is the media relations manager at Bread for the World. Stephen Padre is Bread's managing editor.

 

Making Hunger Data Speak

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Seminary student Becca Rhodes gives a presentation during a Vizathon in San Francisco, Calif. Robin Stephenson/Bread for the World.

By Robin Stephenson

The view of a sun-bathed San Francisco Bay from the 12th floor of the Macys.com office building was stunning, but I hardly noticed it. I was enthralled with what was happening inside – a group of very talented volunteers turning lists of numbers into meaningful information about hidden hunger.

On Saturday, 75 data scientists, enthusiasts, and storytellers volunteered their time at a vizathon in Washington, D.C., and San Francisco, Calif. Bread for the World Institute, in partnership with the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI), HelpMeViz.com, and Living Data, sponsored the bi-coastal event.

Participants came to expose hidden hunger - the nutritional deficiencies that can cause serious health problems in children who don’t show visible signs of hunger. The goal of a vizathon is to translate data – in this case, from Malawi and Ethiopia - into a visual element that makes it easier to understand a complex issue.

Building greater awareness about hidden hunger – elusive, but no less destructive to human potential - is an important part of Bread's effort to end hunger by 2030. Globally, 24.7 percent of children suffer from stunting. Vitamin A deficiency is the leading cause of blindness in children.

“A lot of fascinating questions were raised,” said Derek Schwabe after the successful event. Schwabe, a research associate at Bread’s Institute, explained that Saturday was just the first step in building a final visualization tool that will accompany the 2016 Hunger Report, which will focus on hunger as a public health issue. "We will continue to find creative ways to tell that story,” he said. (See last year’s visualization on missing data and gender here).

17730196554_2b368ac042_kNihar Bhatt, an event facilitator and participant, is a data visualization expert at Macys.com and accustomed to teasing  information out of numbers – but not like this. Instead of using predictive analysis as a marketing tool, Bhatt asked the data if micronutrient deficiencies and the share of food eaten were correlated. Using the data set on Malawi, he was surprised he didn’t find a direct correlation. “That was my hypothesis, but the data I looked at didn’t show that,” he told participants during a presentation on his project at the end of the day.

Being a data professional was not a prerequisite for participation in the vizathon. Varied backgrounds and approaches lead to richer visualizations.

Becca Rhodes is not a data scientist; she is pursuing a Masters of Divinity at San Francisco Theological Seminary. Like Bhatt, she explored the connections between food sources and micronutrient deficiencies. However, Rhodes started by looking at words instead of numbers. “Since I’m not a data person, I thought this is what I could contribute,” she said.

By reading reports about Ethiopia, she learned that drought and floods most often contributed to crop loss -  and ultimately to seed loss. “That led me to my next question,” she said. “What kind of seeds are needed for the future?” Rhodes concluded that agricultural solutions to nutrient deficiencies must be specifically designed within the Ethiopian context.

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The diversity of talent and perspective, as groups huddled around computers on a sunny San Francisco day, was inspiring. These very smart people selflessly gave of their knowledge and skills. None are hunger experts by profession, but by the end of the day, all contributed to what we know about hidden hunger.

Photo Insets: Nihar Bhatt (center photo). Vizathon participants. San Francisco, Calif. Robin Stephenson/Bread for the World.

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

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