Urging our nation's leaders to end hunger
 

344 posts categorized "Global Hunger"

Fostering a Culture of Solidarity to End Hunger

Woman_in_Sudan_prayingBy Allie Gardner

On Oct. 16, in observance of World Food Day, Pope Francis sent a message to the director general of the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), urging the FAO and the people of the world to recognize the “scandal” that is world hunger. “Hunger and malnutrition can never be considered a normal occurrence that we should become used to, as if it were part of the system,” Pope Francis wrote in his message.

The Pope cited a global culture of consumerism and waste as contributing to the “globalization of indifference that is slowly making us get used to the suffering of others as though it were a normal thing," and asked that we counteract this by educating ourselves in solidarity and humanity. "To build a society that is truly human means to always put the person and his/her dignity at the center," he wrote.

Tomorrow, Dec. 10, Bread for the World is joining Pope Francis in supporting a global "prayer wave" to end hunger. Organized by Caritas Internationalis, this wave of prayer is being supported by hundreds of Christian organizations across the globe. In Washington D.C., Bread for the World , and other faith leaders from the Circle of Protection will lead a prayer service on the East Lawn of the U.S. Capitol at noon. Please take a moment tomorrow, at noon in your time zone, to pray — individually, in a small group, or at your church.

This wave of prayer comes at a particularly critical time in our country. Congress is finalizing a  farm bill and cuts to nutrition programs that will impact millions of families that struggle to put food on the table. After you pray tomorrow, we ask that you call (800-826-3688) or email your members of Congress and ask them to vote against cuts to SNAP (food stamps) and take actions that will help end hunger in our country and around the world. Help us fight indifference toward suffering in the world and foster a culture of solidarity where we make sure all are fed, be they next door, in the next state, or on the next continent.  

Allie Gardner is a media relations intern at Bread for the World.

Help Bread this Christmas and Receive a Special Gift

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

By Rick Steves

If these times seem tough for our friends and family, imagine how tough they are for hungry and poor people. To add meaning to the holiday season, every Christmas I raise funds for Bread for the World through my traveling friends and network at Rick Steves' Europe Through the Back Door. This year the needs are particularly great. But that means the rewards are too! I'd love to send you a special Christmas package as thanks for a $100 gift to empower Bread's work. This gift package was so popular last year that I want to offer it again so you too can get on board—and even share this challenge with your loved ones.

I believe hungry people need a strong and compassionate advocate like Bread for the World—especially when there are so many interests competing for attention on Capitol Hill.

While the charitable work we do as caring people is important, we must remember that all the food provided by all the charities in our country amounts to only 4 percent of the food assistance available for poor and hungry people. Our government provides the rest. That means Bread's advocacy work has a huge impact on caring for the most vulnerable people among us. I'm convinced that supporting Bread is the very best way to leverage my charitable giving. That's why I've been a Bread member for 30 years.

I'd like to offer you this personal challenge: I'll match all gifts up to $100,000. I'm that excited about this opportunity to give hungry people a voice in our halls of government. Imagine, as an extended family of caring (and traveling) citizens, together we can empower Bread for the World’s work with $200,000.

David Beckmann, president of Bread for the World, recently told me how Bread's work is particularly needed now and how our financial support can translate into real help so desperately needed:

"We are at a point at which ideologues in Congress are threatening deep cuts in programs that provide help and opportunity to poor people in our country and abroad—programs such as SNAP [formerly food stamps] and international food-aid," he said. "Of course, all Americans can be enthusiastic about our government running a tight fiscal ship. But if the budget is to be balanced on the backs of poor people, innocent children will suffer, and the civility woven into the fabric of our society will be threatened."

I see Bread for the World not as a charity, but as a service. Bread is transforming my concern about hunger into effective action by smartly—and doggedly–working to protect struggling people in our country and around the world.

So here's my challenge to you this Christmas: Help Bread for the World with your gift of $100 or more. As a thank you, I'll match that gift and send you three gifts (worth $50) from my Rick Steves' European Christmas collection:

  • "Rick Steves' European Christmas" DVD (our PBS-TV special celebrating a traditional, non-commercial, and sacred Christmas in seven different countries)
  • "Rick Steves' European Christmas" coffee-table book (the fun insights and best photos I gathered while producing the special)
  • "Rick Steves' European Christmas" music CD (produced while filming, featuring our 20 favorite European carols—this is my personal favorite for fresh new Christmas-time music)

I'll happily pay for the cost of these three gifts, as well as the shipping, so that Bread for the World can put 100 percent of your donation to work giving a voice to hungry people. Make your gift by Dec. 10 to receive this offer—and you'll get everything (along with our latest travel newsletter) in time for Christmas.

It's my hope that these gifts will add a wonderful new twist to your family celebrations for years to come (as they have for mine), while also enticing you to empower Bread for the World with your donation.

By the way, for every dollar Bread raises, it leverages $100 in terms of assistance and funding that is vital to hungry and poor people in our country and abroad. Assuming that ratio holds, if we hit our $200,000 target, that will mean that, together, we’ll generate $20 million of life-giving, hope-instilling funding for this cause.

Rick Steves is the host of public television's most-watched, longest-running travel series, "Rick Steves' Europe," and the author of more than 50 travel guidebooks.

Typhoon Haiyan: How to Help


Tacloban City, Leyte, Philippines, was one of the area most ravaged by Typhoon Haiyan. (Caritas/ CAFOD)

Rev. Edwin Amor is pastor of the Seventh Day Adventist Church in Tacloban City on Leyte Island in the Philippines — a city that news reports are calling the center of the disaster zone created by Typhoon Haiyan. His house was badly damaged, and there's no water, no power, no food, and no milk for his grandchild. Still, Amor, who is the local director of the Adventist Relief and Development Association, has opted to stay in Tacloban to help in the relief and recovery efforts.

He is helping coordinate the work of medical teams and performing other vital tasks in the aftermath of a storm that has left thousands dead, and hundreds of thousands without food, clean water, or shelter.

Many of Bread for the World's partners, including denominational disaster programs and faith-based relief agencies, are involved in emergency response. We encourage you to give to your denomination's relief and development agency, or support the efforts of organizations such as World Vision and Church World Service, both of which have mounted disaster-response campaigns.

Interaction, an alliance of more than 180 nongovernmental organizations around the world, including Bread for the World, has compiled a list of its member organizations that are responding to the crisis.

The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) has said it is sending emergency shipments of food to hard-hit areas of the Philippines, providing lifesaving humanitarian assistance in the wake of this tragedy. We ask that, in addition to making generous donations to service organizations, you continue your work to support U.S. food aid programs, which allow the U.S. government to respond quickly and effectively to such disasters, and help our brothers and sisters around the world in times of great need.

Your concern, your generosity, your advocacy, and your prayers are greatly appreciated.

A Window of Opportunity

The Power of 1,000 Days

As Congress uses a vote on a continuing resolution as a political football and a possible government shutdown looms, there are important anti-hunger issues at stake. This video, “The Power of a 1,000 Days,” is a reminder of the potential children hold for the future when they are given the opportunity to thrive. We could lose ground on the strides that have been made toward ending global malnutrition if the sequester is not replaced. The partisan conversation will likely continue as Congress debates the debt ceiling in mid-October, so every opportunity to remind our legislators that ending hunger must be part of the debate is critical.

If passed, the continuing resolution would keep the government running through mid-December, but the automatic across-the-board cuts of sequestration would not be replaced. In the next year, sequestration will mean:

  • More than 570,000 children in developing countries will be denied nutritional interventions during their first 1,000 days of development. These interventions save lives and help prevent the irreversible damage caused by malnutrition.
  • Roughly 2 million people around the world will experience reduced or denied access to lifesaving food aid.

The 1,000 days from the start of a woman's pregnancy through her child's second birthday offer a unique window of opportunity to shape healthier and more prosperous futures. Similarly, we have a window of opportunity that we can use to tell Congress funding food aid must be a priority.

As the video states, “malnutrition robs children of the ability to grow, learn, and thrive.”  Will our members of Congress forget the children in the din of political rhetoric this week? Or will the 870 million malnourished children worldwide who can be helped by simple and small investments in targeted nutrition be remembered?  It’s up to us to remind them.

Use our toll-free number, 800-826-3688, to be connected to the Capitol switchboard, or send an email.

In June, with Concern Worldwide, The Bread for the World Institute co-hosted the event Sustaining Political Commitments to Scaling Up Nutrition. A report of the summary and highlights in now available online.

Sequestration Threatens Lifesaving Food Aid

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Tohomina Akter attempts to feed her daughter Adia, 17 months, in Char Baria village, Barisal, Bangladesh, on Thursday, April 19, 2012. Tohomina finished 7th grade and hopes she can help educate her daughter to be a doctor. (Laura Elizabeth Pohl/Bread for the World)

“The one who gathered much did not have too much, and the one who gathered little did not have too little.” (2 Corinthians 8:15).

Famine is difficult for Americans to truly understand. Although poverty rates in the United States have surged with the Great Recession, programs like SNAP have helped put food on the table for those who have been hit the hardest. But famine — a perversion of God’s vision for humanity in the midst of global abundance – slowly and painfully withers life in the wake of human and natural disasters. For people who live in the world's poorest countries, the safety net is often weak or nonexistent.

Both the Old and New Testaments show a special concern for the poor; God’s people are called to change the systems that create poverty. Amos 5 tells us that we also are called to respond immediately to the groaning at the gates—an outcry exemplified by hunger. In the New Testament, the apostle Paul understood that the Christian call included responding to the need in Macedonia with a generosity that crossed borders (2 Corinthians 8-9).

Today, that humanitarian assistance often comes in the form of U.S. food aid and programs administered by USDA and USAID. For more than 50 years, U.S. generosity has saved lives. In fiscal year 2010, the United States spent about $1.5 billion on emergency food aid that benefitted about 46.5 million people in poor countries.

In 2011, famine in Somalia led to the death of more than 250,000 people in Southern Somalia, but many survived because of food aid and global generosity. Although rains and lowered food prices have helped, security issues still plague the region and continued vigilance on the part of the international community is vital.  IRIN reports that an estimated 870,000 will need food assistance by December of this year. 

As we have previously reported, the crisis is regional and the Horn of Africa has the highest rates of child malnutrition in the world. Programs targeting the nutritional needs of nursing mothers and infants are working. Last week, the UN reported that Ethiopia has reduced by two-thirds its child mortality rate, which is the rate of infants and children who die before age 5. 

The less than 1 percent of our budget that is invested in poverty-focused development assistance is saving lives and helping us answer our faithful call to love our neighbors, regardless of borders. The investments, however, are being diminished by sequestration, the automatic and indiscriminate budget cuts currently in place. If these cuts aren't replaced by a balanced approach, sequestration will deny nutritional interventions to 57,000 children and deny or reduce food aid to 2 million people. Congress must take action.

Congress is facing some big choices this week—lives are at stake.  Ask your senators and representative to pass a responsible budget that provides robust funding for international poverty-focused development assistance programs and puts an end to sequestration. Use our toll-free number, 800-826-3688, to be connected to the Capitol switchboard, or send an email.

Closing the Gender Gap: Miles to Go

Heather_turner_and_daughterToday is Women’s Equality Day, a time to commemorate the right of women to vote. Although we've come a long way in the fight for equality, there are still miles to go. The face of poverty is most often that of a woman and the lopsided statistics below help make it clear that hunger and poverty disproportionately affect women.
  • In the United States, single-parent households are the most likely to be poor. A snapshot from the National Center for Law and Economic Justice for 2011 reports 34.2 percent of single-parent homes headed by females were poor, compared to 16.5 percent of those headed by males. During that time, more than 5 million more women than men lived in poverty.
  • U.S. Census figures also show that women are still earning an average of  77 cents on the dollar compared to wages for men. Between 2010 and 2011, the number of men working full time increased by 1.7 million, compared to 0.5 million women.
  • Although women account for a little over 50 percent of the U.S. population, only 19 percent of our representatives in Congress are women. Women make up nearly half the labor force but they still only hold 4.2 percent of Fortune 500 CEO positions.

We have miles yet to go.

  • Globally, women make up 45 percent of the world’s workforce, yet they are 70 percent of the world’s poor.
  • In impoverished nations, girls are less likely than boys to receive a basic education and globally, 584 million women are illiterate.
  • The World Economic Forum has reported that 82 out of the 132 countries improved economic equality between 2011 and 2012, but globally only 60 percent of the gender gap has been closed.

We have miles yet to go.

Each new policy that supports full inclusion and equality as it related to economics, politics, education, and health are mile markers on the road toward closing the gender gap. Closing the gender gap is part of the journey to end hunger. In the United States, policy is influenced and driven by the will of the people through exercising our voting rights. A day that reminds us how precious that right is, especially for women, is a good day to remember how powerful our voice as faithful advocates can be.

Part of the process to build the political will to end hunger includes keeping our legislators accountable, which is why Bread for the World has created the 2013 midyear voting scorecard.  For Christians, voting is part of the work we do to realize a just and equitable society where every man, woman and child has enough to eat. 

Photo: Heather Rude-Turner, 31, kisses her daughter Naomi, 5, after attending church, October 2, 2011.  (Laura Elizabeth Pohl/Bread for the World).

 

Jobs and God’s Concern for the Poor

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Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., at a press conference in March of 1964 (Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division).

The following is an excerpt from remarks given by Rev. David Beckmann, president of Bread for the World, at the March on Washington Anniversary Praise and Worship Service at Mt. Airy Baptist Church in Washington, D.C., on August 22, 2013.

It comes as no surprise that Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., a man guided by God’s love for all people, would speak passionately about economic justice for all, especially for African Americans.  Dr. King said this in a speech titled “Showdown for Nonviolence,” just before his assassination, when American cities had erupted in riots:

A nationwide nonviolent movement is very important.  We know from past experience that Congress and the president won’t do anything until you develop a movement around which people of goodwill can find a way to put pressure on them . . . This really means making the movement powerful enough, dramatic enough, morally appealing enough, so that people of goodwill, the churches, labor, liberals, intellectuals, students, poor people themselves begin to put pressure on congressmen...

Our idea is to dramatize the whole economic problem of the poor. . . We call our demonstration a campaign for jobs and income because we feel that the economic question is the most crucial that black people and poor people generally are confronting.  There is a literal depression in the Negro community.  When you have mass unemployment in the Negro community, it’s called a social problem; when you have mass unemployment in the white community, it’s called a depression.  The fact is, there is a major depression in the Negro community.  The unemployment rate is extremely high, and among Negro youth, it goes up as high as forty percent in some cities.

 We need an economic bill of rights.  This would guarantee a job to all people who want to work and are able to work.  It would also guarantee an income for all who are not able to work.  Some people are too young, some are too old, some are physically disabled, and yet in order to live, they need income . . . It would mean creating public-service jobs, and that could be done in a few weeks.  A program that would really deal with jobs could minimize ---I don’t say stop---the number of riots that could take place this summer.  Our whole campaign, therefore, will center on the job question, with other demands, like housing, that are closely tied to it. Much more building of housing for low-income people should be done. . .

On the educational front, the ghetto schools are in bad shape in terms of quality . . . They need more and special attention, the best quality education that can be given.

These problems, of course, are overshadowed by the Vietnam War. We’ll focus on the domestic problems, but it’s inevitable that we’ve got to bring out the question of the tragic mix-up in priorities.  We are spending all of this money for death and destruction, and not nearly enough money for life and constructive development. 

In his final Sunday sermon — at the National Cathedral on March 31, 1963 — Dr. King spoke of the need to eradicate poverty in our nation and around the world. 

There is another thing closely related to racism that I could like to mention as another challenge.  We are challenged to rid our nation and the world of poverty. Like a monstrous octopus, poverty spreads its nagging, prehensile tentacles into hamlets and villages all over our world.  They are ill-housed, they are ill-nourished, they are shabbily clad.  I have seen it in Latin America; I have seen it in Africa; I have seen this poverty in Asia. . . .Not only do we see poverty abroad. I would remind you that in our own nation there are about forty million people who are poverty-stricken. . . . I have seen them in the ghettos of the North; I have seen them in the rural areas of the South; I have seen them in Appalachia. 

I have just been in the process of touring many areas of our country, and  I must confess that in some situations I have literally found myself crying. . . America has the opportunity to help bridge the gulf between the haves and the have-nots.  The question is whether America will do it. There is nothing new about poverty. What is new is that we now have the techniques and the resources to get rid of poverty.  The real question is whether we have the will.     

Dr. King was right that the moral character of poverty has changed, because we now know how to get rid of it.  Since Dr. King’s time, lots of countries have, in fact, reduced poverty — countries as diverse as Bangladesh, Ethiopia, Brazil, and Great Britain.

In the 1960s and early 1970s, our country cut our poverty rate in half.  The economy was strong, and the Civil Rights movement and the War on Poverty made a difference.  But we never built the broad movement for economic justice that Dr. King called for, and our poverty rate is now higher than it was in 1974.

But we have an opportunity now to build the movement against poverty that Dr. King envisioned.  African-Americans, Latinos, white people of modest means, and young people came out to vote in large numbers in the last election.  The faith community has been effective in fending off the powerful forces that are pushing to decimate programs for poor people.  The movement for immigration reform has become electric.  And just recently, we have seen growing awareness of the injustice of mass incarceration.  Right now, we are seeing courageous labor actions among fast-food and Walmart workers.   

God, help us to build the broad movement against poverty that Dr. King envisioned.

A New Occupation in Greece: Hunger

'Assos, Kephalonia, Greece' photo (c) 2012, Paul Wilkinson - license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/

By Jon Gromek

I recall my Yiayia (Greek for "grandmother") telling me stories as a child of what it was like growing up in Greece under Axis occupation during World War II. Food was scarce; life was harsh.

Almost all the food that was grown and collected had to be given to the occupying soldiers, leaving very little for the villagers on the island. Many throughout Greece developed “starvation recipes” which were invented as ways to stay alive—grinding chickpeas when there was no ground coffee, collecting breadcrumbs in a jar to have something extra at the end of the week, and even hunting stray cats and dogs on the streets for food. Others, like my Yiayia, took to breaking curfew at night and smuggling what food they could to the neediest of families, risking their lives while doing so. Time has passed, but in recent years a new occupation has taken hold in Greece, bringing about another wave of hunger and poverty among the country's poor and middle class: austerity.

I recently had a chance to travel back to Greece to visit family. I was prepared for a lot to have changed since my last visit six years ago, but was unprepared for what I saw and learned. 

Traditional charities that have long helped families make ends meet, like food banks and soup kitchens, have been strained under austerity. Now, up to 90 percent of families in the poorest parts of Greece are dependent on food assistance to keep them afloat. According to the Greek Orthodox Church, faith-based ministries now feed an estimated 55,000 people a day in Athens alone and the need is still growing. My aunt and uncle, both public school teachers in Athens, told me of the all-too-often occurrence of children going to school hungry—some close to starving.  UNICEF recently estimated that nearly 600,000 children (1 in 3) live under the poverty line in Greece and more than half that number lack basic daily nutritional needs. 

In many ways, Greece’s attempts to get its fiscal house in order have been on the backs of hungry and poor people. We see in Greece what we know at Bread for the World: private charity cannot fill the gap in responding to the needs of those who are hungry. If recent proposed cuts to SNAP take effect and the sequester continues we will see more and more families and children go hungry and be robbed of opportunity—just like an entire generation in Greece. 

When I reflect on what my Yiayia risked her life and fought for in the dark of night those many years ago, it certainly was not this; it was for a world where all have enough and all are fed.  In the coming weeks, urge your members of Congress to protect SNAP and replace the sequester with a balanced approach. Congress needs to hear from you about the world you want to see for the next generation.

Jon Gromek is regional organizer, central hub, at Bread for the World.

Cuts Cost Lives: Nutrition Funding in Danger

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Khato Rana plays with her daughter Rita, 2, at the Nutrition Rehabilitation Home in Dhangadhi, Nepal. The facility, run by Nepali NGO Rural Women's Development Unity Center (RUWDUC), restores malnourished children back to health (Laura Elizabeth Pohl/Bread for the World).

That four in 10 Nepali children are stunted because of malnutrition is outrageous. We have the knowledge to solve widespread malnutrition — but will we?

The 2013 Offering of Letters video "Malnutrition is Everywhere" shows targeted investments in nutrition work. The short video, shot at the Nutrition Rehabilitation Home (NRH) in Dhangadhi, Nepal tells a story of hope. Nutrition interventions result in positive outcomes for mothers and their children in the first 1,000 days between pregnancy and age 2.

“Within a month or so, you can see the change in a child,"said Pinky Singh Rana, board member at the Rural Women’s Development Unity Center. "You can see the positive attitude of the mothers in how seeing a child who had almost died overcoming that. It’s really a such a satisfying feeling for us also.”

The NRH and organizations like it are saving lives and helping children reach their full potential with support from U.S. development assistance. Each year, 3 million children die from causes related to malnutrition and 165 million suffer from its consequences. Food aid, currently in danger of severe cuts, not only mitigates and prevents hunger but also shows that our nation values children all over the world—something Christians strongly believe. 

Food aid does more than just save lives; it's an investment in a stable and peaceful future. In the briefing paper "Sustaining U.S. Leadership and Investments in Scaling Up Maternal and Child Nutrition," senior foreign policy analyst Scott Bleggi writes, “There is solid evidence that demonstrates that improving nutrition – particularly early in life, in the 1,000 days between a women’s pregnancy and a child’s second birthday, has a profound impact on a country’s long-term economic development and stability.”

Progress on improving nutrition for vulnerable children like those in Nepal would be undermined if proposals to slash food aid become law. In the House version of the farm bill, food aid would be cut by $2.5 billion dollars. The Senate version would reform the food aid program, making it more flexible and able to reach more vulnerable mothers and infants in the first 1,000 days.

Sequestration is also chipping away at global anti-hunger programs. This year has already seen a $1 billion cut to poverty-focused development assistance (PFDA) because of these automatic across-the-board cuts. A recent appropriations bill approved in the House would further slash PFDA by a devastating 26 percent.

Our nation’s leaders have an opportunity to make history with small investments in anti-hunger programs – PFDA comprises less than 1 percent of the federal budget.  Reforms to food aid could save even more lives. But, Congress needs motivation. They need to hear from their constituents that investing in human lives is a priority. During the month of August, reach out to your members of Congress and let them know that cuts can and do cost lives.

Tell President Obama to Address Poverty

Petition to Presdient
As part of the 2013 Offering of Letters campaign, Bread for the World is petitioning the President to make ending hunger a priority. (Robin Stephenson).

Ignoring poverty won’t make it go away, but if one were to listen to our nation’s leaders, you might think that is their plan.

Allotting only 26 percent of his presidency addressing poverty—ranking last among all presidents since John F. Kennedy, according to the Washington Times—President Obama has not yet proposed a comprehensive strategy to alleviate growing poverty. We are petitioning the president to show leadership on this issue.

A recent Kids Count report by the Annie E. Casey foundation shows that child poverty is on the rise. In 2011, 23 percent of children lived in poverty—an increase of 3 million since 2005. Poverty, especially child poverty, impedes the future potential that can move our nation forward. As Christians we know that there is enough of everything to go around, from food to shelter, but what there is not enough of is political will. We are called to a vision where all have a place at the table.

We need to remind President Obama of his promise, made during the last election campaign, to earnestly address hunger and poverty. With enough pressure, we can show that there is a large constituency of people who want to take hunger out of the shadows. We can start the conversation.

Tell President Obama to make ending hunger a top priority of his administration. Add your name to this petition and ask others to join you and talk poverty.

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