Urging our nation's leaders to end hunger
 

355 posts categorized "Global Hunger"

David Beckmann: "Now is the time to invest more in programs like Feed the Future"


Chili is an all-year crop that provides an alternative and sustainable source of income to Kenyan farmers due to its resiliency to drought. To expand the productivity of chili farmers in Siaya County, a USAID project in Kenya is engaging in new partnerships with farmer/producer organizations to enhance access to credit that would enable farmers to obtain high-quality farm inputs and adopt modern farming methods. (Feed the Future/Antony Okonji)

Feed the Future, the U.S. Agency for International Development's (USAID) initiative to address global hunger and poverty, is now four years old. It is, by all accounts, a success: its programs have helped 7 million smallholder farmers and saved 12.5 million children from hunger and poverty, according to its recently released progress report. Yesterday, at the Feed the Future forum— a Washington, D.C., gathering of global leaders from the public and private sectors —Bread for the World President Rev. David Beckmann lauded the initiative and U.S. leadership in work to end hunger. “With 842 million people around the world still going hungry every day, now is the time to invest more in programs like Feed the Future," he said, adding that it is a "model of effectiveness."

But Beckmann also warned that Congress is currently poised to undo progress that has been made in addressing worldwide hunger and poverty.

A little-known provision slipped into a recent House bill increases something called "cargo preference," which effectively raises the transportation costs for food aid. This move benefits a few foreign-owned shipping companies, but takes away $75 million per year from U.S. international food-aid programs. This would limit the food aid our nation can provide in times of crisis.

“Now is not the time to reverse reforms to U.S. food-aid programs,” Beckmann said.

“We won some reform in this year’s farm bill, but in other legislation, the subsidized shippers managed to increase their subsidies at the expense of 1.4 million fewer people receiving food aid every year,” Beckmann continued. “Recently, the shipping lobby managed to convince the House of Representatives to increase their subsidy by directly taking away food aid from another 2 million hungry people. It is unconscionable to steal food from 3.4 million people hungry just to give more subsidies to three of the world’s largest shipping companies.”

While U.S. food aid does a lot of good in the world, requiring that nearly all the food commodities come from this country and be shipped by a few U.S.-flagged ships is not only a waste of taxpayer dollars, but puts the profits of shipping conglomerates before the needs of millions of people suffering from hunger and living in dire poverty.

Read Bread for the World's press release on the Feed the Future forum for more on Beckmann's remarks, and visit blog.bread.org/food-aid/ for updates on food-aid reform and cargo preference.

Pope Francis and Obama: When Faith and Government Meet

Pope_francis_president_obama
Pope Francis meets President Barack Obama at the Vatican on Thursday, March 27. (Getty)

By Billy Kangas

For President Obama, leader of the one of the wealthiest nations in the world, and Pope Francis, leader of the Catholic Church, to come together to discuss the need to address poverty and income inequality is historic. But what exactly does last Thursday’s meeting at the Vatican mean for hungry and poor people? Will it help shift Obama’s narrative on income equality from a focus on the struggling middle class to one on the hungry and impoverished in the United States and around the world? Does the fact that the two men were able to set aside any differences in opinion and find common ground in a desire to help the poor hint at a larger sea change?

The meeting raises many questions, but it also underscores the pope’s enormous potential to impact global politics, global leadership, and global priorities—including hunger and poverty. Exactly what does the so-called "Francis factor" contribute? Here are some observations to put Francis in perspective, and give some context to the life and ministry of this cleric, who is changing the world through small acts done with great love.

He's a leader from the developing world

This point is so key to understanding Francis. His voice has continually reminded me to look beyond my own cultural concerns and obsessions to see who the truly marginalized in this world are. As much as disparity and inequality remain significant and heart-wrenching issues in the United States, the inequality that ravages so many U.S. communities is often more acutely felt in the communities of the developing world. It is from these places that Francis emerged; it is in these places that he has spent his life of ministry. He reminds us to take our gaze away from our navels and to look into the pleading eyes of those who suffer under our indifference. 

He brings a different narrative 

Our political system often only gives us two stories to choose from: the narrative from the left, and the narrative from the right. The stories from these two sides can become all-consuming, blotting out all else and creating an environment in which one is judged solely on where they fall on the continuum of conservative to liberal. Francis emerges with a different kind of story—it is not one driven by politics, wealth, or power, but humility, grace, joy, and sacrifice. It cuts us to the heart, and brings a challenge. His message is simple: God's glory; neighbor's good. There is little room for self-aggrandizement in that equation, and I have been convicted time and time again of my own sin and of my need for the transforming Grace of God in my life.

He has a different kind of power

Francis wields a significant amount of power, but it is not the kind of power that we have grown accustomed to in our contemporary world. He does not have the power of the nation-state, he does not have the power of a global corporation, he does not even have the power of a radical revolutionary. His power lies in his ability to remind millions that their allegiance is to the God who demonstrates love in Christ laying down his life. Francis has been a great communicator of that message. He has been an example of what Christ looks like, and that is a power we have rarely had to contend with in this modern age.

He is bringing to bear a tradition

Another reason the “Francis factor” must be taken seriously is that he is more than just a prophet, he is a pope. As a pope, he brings with him a tradition that is deep and rich and beautiful. He does not bring ideas that are his alone, which will flash in the pan of world history and be forgotten, but represents a movement grounded in 2000 years of theology, philosophy, and social teaching, from which countless others have given their lives to demonstrate the radical love of God in Christ. Francis will not be pope forever, but we can be sure he will not be the last to bear this radical call. The message Francis preaches is not his own, and it will continue long after he has gone. It is the message that continues to sustain us.

It remains to be seen exactly how the “Francis factor” might influence the agenda of Obama—and vice versa. But hopefully, at the very least, last week’s meeting signaled to the world the importance of coming together to address issues of hunger and poverty in our world. 

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Living out the mandate to work for God’s glory and neighbor’s good includes ensuring that all are fed. Bread for the World’s 2014 Offering of Letters, “Reforming U.S. Food Aid,” seeks smart forms to U.S. food aid programs—changes that would help feed millions more each year, at no additional cost to U.S. taxpayers. Visit http://www.bread.org/ol to learn more.

Billy Kangas is Bread for the World's Catholic Relations fellow.

Working to End Maternal and Child Hunger Year-round

Mother_daughterBy Kristen Youngblood Archer

“I fall, I stand still… I trudge on. I gain a little… I get more eager and climb higher and begin to see the widening horizon. Every struggle is a victory.” – Helen Keller

Today is March 31, the official end to National Women’s History Month. Like so many other months that have been assigned an issue of national or international importance, this month was dedicated in the late 1970s, around International Women’s Day, for the purpose of celebrating the achievements and contributions women have made to society, science, government, and our world at large.

The trouble with these months is that, well, they end. Once they’re over, we’re on to the next month or issue, and have forgotten all of the great things we learned, celebrated, and promised to do in the month prior.

At Bread for the World, we like to look at these important months as a time not only to celebrate, but to reflect on what has been done among specific communities of people to end hunger, and what more there is to accomplish. While these designated months (African-American History Month, Older Americans Month, Hispanic Heritage Month) serve as official rallying cries, we must pursue relevant issues and challenges throughout the year if we are to effect lasting change.

While Women’s History Month ends today, poverty, malnutrition, and hunger among women and children around the world continues. There’s still work to do.

With this in mind, Bread for the World has just completed two new “Hunger by the Numbers’ analyses on women and children.

The international analysis takes a look at the important role women play in development and ending hunger worldwide, particularly with regards to nutrition in the first 1,000 days from a woman’s pregnancy to her child’s second birthday. The domestic analysis highlights some key issues brought to light in the 2014 Hunger Report, Ending Hunger in America. From wages to childcare, this document evaluates some of the main factors that contribute to the hardships of workers in the United States.

We hope these analyses will not only provide valuable information, but that they will encourage us to keep working to end hunger among women and children all year long.

Kristen Youngblood Archer is Bread for the World's media relations manager.

Photo: A mother and daughter in Nicaragua shell peas from their garden. (Margaret W. Nea)

Happy 100th Birthday, Norman Borlaug

Borlaug_field"Food is the moral right of all who are born into this world," —Norman Borlaug (March 25, 1914 – September 12, 2009)

Dr. Norman Borlaug—scientist, father of the Green Revolution, and Nobel Peace Prize receipient— would've been 100 years old today.

Borlaug's work transformed modern agriculture and fed billions of people in the process. His development of high-yield, disease-resistant varieties of wheat and other crops doubled the world's food production, prevented famine across the globe, and showed the world that ending hunger is within our reach. 

In honor of Borlaug's great achievements , there will be celebrations of his life around the world today, including the unveiling of a Borlaug statue in the U.S. Capitol Rotunda. The state of Iowa, Borlaug's birthplace, commissioned a 7-ft. bronze statue in his likeness to be displayed in the National Statuary Hall Collection.

Borlaug had special ties to Bread for the World, and served as an early board member of the organization. "No single person has contributed more to relieving world hunger than our friend, the late Norman Borlaug,"said Bread for the World President David Beckmann, in 2009. "Norman was truly the man who fed the world, saving up to a billion people from hunger and starvation."

The World Food Prize, which Borlaug founded, is collecting pledges from people around the world, who have vowed to continue Borlaug's work, in ways both big and small. Some have said they will  reduce their personal food waste, others have said they will work with small-scale farmers.

"Nothing could pay greater homage to the life's work of Norman Borlaug and his Green Revolution than to eradicate hunger around the world,"said Beckmann, who received the World Food Prize in 2010.

While the number of hungry people has dropped significantly over the past two decades, 842 million people continue to struggle with hunger every day. So, advocacy on any scale, whether calling your member of Congress and asking him or her to protect domestic nutrition programs, or sending handwritten letters in support of U.S. food aid reform, is an important, worthy tribute to Borlaug's legacy.

Photo: Norman Borlaug in 1964, scoring wheat plants for rust resistance in wheat breeding plots near Ciudad Obregón, Sonora, northern Mexico. (The International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center/CIMMYT)

Breaking the HIV-Hunger Trap

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Around the world, more than 400 million children live in extreme poverty and many suffer from malnutrition and illness. In countries hit hardest by the HIV/AIDS epidemic, this combination can be fatal. (Mariella Furrer/Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation)

This article originally appeared on the Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation blog.

By Chelsea Bailey

Around the world, more than 400 million children are living in extreme poverty. Subsisting on less than U.S. $1.25 a day, these children are often plagued by malnutrition and illness. In countries hit hardest by the HIV/AIDS epidemic, that combination can be fatal.

HIV has often been referred to as the “wasting disease,” because, if  left untreated, the virus wreaks havoc on the immune system, leaving the person emaciated  and making exposure to even the most common infections deadly. Similarly, prolonged hunger and malnutrition deprive the body of essential nutrients that support the immune system, making it that much more difficult for the  body to properly defend itself against infections.

When given the choice between being able to afford food or antiretroviral medications (ARVs), many choose to have food in their stomach. Nutritionists at the World Food Programme (WFP) have dubbed this cycle the “HIV- Hunger Trap.” 

But it is possible to break the cycle. In Lesotho, many children suffer the dual challenge of living with HIV and coping with hunger. Recognizing this, the Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation (EGPAF) integrates nutrition programs into all maternal, neonatal, and child health services in EGPAF-supported hospitals and health centers.

These “Nutrition Corners” are designed to improve the growth, development, and overall health of HIV-positive and HIV-exposed children.

Undernourished children do not receive enough food to lead healthy and active lives, if this condition progresses it can lead to malnutrition, a physical state that makes it difficult for the body to resist disease.

Mothers and caregivers enrolled in Nutrition Corners can attend cooking demonstrations to learn about healthy eating and food preparation using locally available fare, such as sorghum porridge, beans, peas, vegetables, and fruits. Nutrition Corners also help EGPAF identify HIV-exposed children who are still breastfeeding and HIV-positive children who are younger than 2, so they can receive optimal support for HIV prevention, care, and treatment.

Monthly growth monitoring sessions identify undernourished children with low weight-for-age and weight-for-height. Mothers, caregivers, and children with unknown HIV statuses receive HIV counseling and testing services.

Caregivers and parents whose children do not nutritionally improve in three consecutive visits are given one-on-one counseling—while the parents and caregivers who have seen improvements are invited to talk to the entire group about their positive experiences.

The Nutrition Corners are part of the larger effort by EGPAF and the  Partnership for HIV-Free Survival (PHFS) program to reduce malnutrition in Lesotho, especially among HIV-positive women and HIV-positive children. PHFS is funded by the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) and the U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR). [Editor's note: Bread for the World advocated, and continues to advocate for PEPFAR and also supported the PEPFAR Stewardship and Oversight Act of 2013. which extended important provisions and reporting requirements that will help strengthen the program.]

We will not be able to see the end of pediatric HIV/AIDS without strong and sustainable health systems. Integrating nutrition programs into maternal, neonatal, and child health services brings us one step closer to ensuring a viable and efficient health system that not only eliminates pediatric AIDS, but also improves the overall health of women, children, and their families.

Chelsea Bailey is media relations coordinator at Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation.

Women: The Missing Link in Ending Hunger


Faustine Wabwire, senior foreign assistance policy analyst for Bread for the World Institute, appears on Africa 54, a Voice of America program about economic growth in Africa and the rural and urban divide. 

When you think of agriculture, is the role of women one of the first things that come to mind?  It should be, especially if you're thinking about agriculture in the context of global development. In developing countries like Bangladesh and Tanzania, women produce the majority of food. They are champions working hard to keep hunger at bay for their families and communities. Faustine Wabwire, senior foreign assistance policy analyst at Bread for the World Institute, calls women "the missing link" in the fight to end global hunger and poverty.

In the paper "A Global Development Agenda Toward 2015 and Beyond," Wabwire, a global affairs expert and frequent guest on Voice of America TV and Radio, says that to increase agricultural outputs, we must also increase gender equality for women. “Startling research findings show that, in fact, almost 55 percent of the reduction in hunger from 1970 to 1995 can be attributed to improvements in women’s status in society," she writes, adding that it's "more than agricultural or technological advances contributed.” Gender equality, she goes on to point out, is a precondition for overcoming poverty, hunger, and malnutrition.

This Saturday is International Women’s Day, which offers a perfect opportunity to start up conversations about women’s empowerment as a solution to ending hunger. It's an issue that Wabwire and the rest of Bread for the World Institute are exploring for the 2015 edition of the Hunger Report, an annual report that helps educate opinion leaders, policy makers, and the public about hunger in the United States and abroad. 

You can talk to Wabwire, and other members of the Institute staff, today between noon and 1 p.m. ET (9 a.m. PT) during a special Twitter chat on women's empowerment and ending hunger. They will answer questions and talk about the conditions and policies will help foster gender equality, and how can faithful advocates can support this work. Follow the hashtag #IWD2014 to join the conversation.

 

David Beckmann: Our Loving God is Moving History

More than 30 years ago, Bread for the World president David Beckmann lived and worked in Bangladesh, and saw extreme poverty while in the country. A few years ago, he and his wife went back for a visit, traveling to the northwest region where they once lived, and saw something amazing.

"What was best about this experience was that although people are still extremely poor, they are dramatically less poor than they were 30 years ago," Beckmann said during a talk at the Saint Thomas More Catholic Chapel and Center at Yale University on Feb. 9. "The changes have been spectacular."

Beckmann spoke about improvements to infrastructure, such as new roads and buildings, as well as how people's lives have changed—he saw children that looked better nourished, and met women who were taking advantage of new literacy education and microcredit programs. And these changes aren't unique to the country he once called home. "This same thing has happened in hundreds of thousands of communities in the world," he said. "The World Bank judges that the number of people in the world in extreme poverty has been cut in half in the last 30 years."

At the Saint More Catholic Chapel and Center to help celebrate the 30th anniversary of its soup kitchen, Beckmann spread the message that the dramatic progress that has been made in alleviating extreme hunger and poverty is evidence that ending hunger is within reach.

"Those of us who believe in God and can read about and understand this huge change in the world, I think we have to understand this as our loving God moving history," he said. "I've come to see this as a great exodus in our own time; this is God answering prayers on a huge scale. And I think our loving God is asking us to get with the program. Because in our time, it is clearly possible to make much, much more progress—probably to virtually end extreme poverty and hunger within a couple decades."

Beckmann also talked about what it will take to accomplish this—namely, building the political will to move our leaders and "change big systems in ways that will move us toward the end of hunger in our country and around the world."

By connecting with members of Congress—through letter writing and participating in Offerings of Letters, in-person visits, and writing letters to the editor, people learn “that we have power, we can change things," Beckmann said. "Learn how you can be an active citizen and make the world more like how you think God wants it to be."

Watch the full video of the tlak above, and then learn more about conducting an Offering of Letters, and what you can do to help move history.

USAID's Raj Shah Says Ending Extreme Poverty Within Reach

During remarks given at yesterday's National Prayer Breakfast in Washington, D.C., Dr. Rajiv Shah, administrator for the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), said that ending extreme poverty around the world is very much within reach.

"This morning, I want to share an overarching purpose worthy of this room that has come together to follow the teachings of Jesus," he said. "Let us work together to end extreme poverty in our lifetime. Because this is now achievable, but only if all of us—from science, business, government, and faith—come together for the poor.

"We can end extreme poverty for the 1.1 billion people who live on a dollar-and-a-quarter a day,” he continued. “We can end it for the 860 million people who will go to sleep hungry tonight. And we can end it for the 6.6 million children who will die this year before their fifth birthday."

After citing those bleak statistics, Dr. Shah spoke of "good news" to report: "On continent after continent, a smaller share of people live this way than at any other time in our history. And today, we know that a condition that defined the state of humanity when Jesus walked the earth and only started getting better in the last 200 years can actually be nearly eliminated in the next 20."

Shah also shared heartbreaking stories of those who've dealt with hunger and famine, and also the progress that has been made in eradicating poverty, through vaccines, clean energy, and improved nutrition that allows children to thrive.

"Those who lead partner countries will need to prioritize the poor, fight corruption, and work with businesses to solve problems,” Shah said. “Those who lead our great nation will need to make tough decisions that keep us committed to this mission and continue our nation’s proud history as the world’s humanitarian leader. And those who lead communities of faith need to do just as Pope Francis is teaching us—and shine a bright light on poverty."

Watch the full video of the National Prayer breakfast, which includes remarks from Dr. Shah and President Obama, and read more about the fight to end extreme poverty around the world in the 2013 Hunger Report, Within Reach. Bread for the World's 2014 Offering of Letters focuses on how smart reforms to U.S. food aid programs can help our nation better prevent hunger and starvation around the world. Learn more at www.bread.org/ol.

Bread with Your Coffee, Senator?

'Coffee' photo (c) 2012, Steven Lilley - license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/This is a story of how Bread for the World advocacy methods work. The elements of our story include a Republican senator, a barista, prayer, worship, an Offering of Letters, and a wealthy fundraiser, but this isn't a tale of inside-the-Beltway intrigue.

The senator is Dr. John Barrasso of Wyoming. He is not an ordinary senator, but he is chair of the Senate Republican Policy Committee (RPC) and fourth ranking member of Republican leadership in the U.S. Senate. The RPC advances Republican policies by providing positions on legislation, floor debate, and votes.

The barista is Rev. Libby Tedder Hugus of First Church of the Nazarene in Casper, Wyo. She was a barista at a Starbucks in Casper frequented by Sen. Barrasso and his wife, Bobbi.

In summer 2012, Hugus came to Washington, D.C., for training as one of Bread for the World's Hunger Justice Leaders. On Lobby Day during the event, she paid a visit to Sen. Barrasso's office on Capitol Hill. Nervously, she introduced herself as his barista in Casper. He then offered her coffee, apologizing that it was not as good as the one she brews for her.

"What others might consider ironic, I consider the imaginative humor of our Creator-God. I had travelled all the way from serving coffee to Sen. Barrasso in our Wyoming hometown to being served coffee by the senator in his office of power in Washington, D.C.," she writes on Bread Blog. "As I shared my story with Sen. Barrasso and used my voice to ask that he consider poor and hungry people while making vital legislative decisions, my jitters were swept away by God's spirit."

In October of this year, a group of ten churches in St. Louis all wrote letters about hunger and the budget debate to their members of Congress. They brought all of their letters to an event where Rev. David Beckmann, President of Bread for the World, preached. They offered the letters up to God before sending them off to Washington, D.C.

After the event, a leader of one of the churches, Roy Pfautch, approached Beckmann to set up meetings for him with several senators, including Sen. Barasso. Pfaustch contributes and raises money for Republican politicians.

Upon returning to Washington, Beckmann almost immediately got an appointment to meet with Sen. Barrasso.  The senator told Beckmann right away that he knows all about Bread for the World. 

"I went to church in Casper last Sunday, and the preacher was Libby Tedder Hugus," Sen. Barrasso recounted. "She got everybody in churches to write letters to their members of Congress about hunger and poverty. She didn't see me in the back of the church, but the senior pastor did, and he said, 'You know, I think we could save some money on stamps here.'"

In their meeting, Beckmann and Barrasso focused specifically on food stamps and international food aid. Beckmann said Bread is working for reforms in international food aid that would allow the United States to help an additional 2 to 4 million of the world's most desperate people every year at no additional cost — mainly by buying more of the food from local farmers. 

Sen. Barrasso was already convinced that reform would be good policy. He was, however, against it because of a sense that Wyoming farmers would be against it.

"Overall, I think Senator Barrasso changed his judgment about the politics around this issue," said Beckmann. "All because Roy Pfautch used a chit to set up the meeting and, even more, because of Libby Tedder Hugus' activism and the constituents' concern about hungry people that he experienced at that church in Casper."

It's proof that Bread-style advocacy can work — or that God can work among us in surprising but wonderful ways.

Join Pope Francis in Prayer Today at Noon

Woman-prayingBy David Beckmann

The day has come! A multitude of Catholics rallied by Caritas Internationalis and millions of other Christians and people of other faiths around the world are raising their voices in a "wave of prayer" today at noon (local time in every time zone) to end hunger.

Pope Francis has released a message in support of this worldwide effort. We hope his words will inspire you to join this prayer wave!

Would you join us today at noon? Pray individually or ask others to join you.

Today a clear and loud message of ending hunger in our time will rise to God. Hopefully it will also touch the hearts of our nation’s leaders in Congress when they are finalizing — at this very moment — a decision on the farm bill and harmful cuts to nutrition programs. At this critical time, they need to hear from you.

After you pray, please take action and call (800-326-4941) or email your members of Congress. Tell them not to cut SNAP (formerly food stamps), but to take actions that will help end hunger in our country and around the world.

If you need a prayer for this occasion, consider the prayers — from various Christian traditions — we have assembled at www.bread.org/prayerwave.

Together in prayer we can change the world.

David Beckmann is president of Bread for the World.

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