Urging our nation's leaders to end hunger
 

407 posts categorized "Global Hunger"

Food Aid Reform Gains Momentum in Senate

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USAID-donated rice distribution in West Point, Liberia. (Morgana Wingard/USAID)

By Bread Staff

Sweeping policy change can take time; but when that policy can potentially save millions of lives, faithful advocates remain vigilant.

Last year, thousand of you sent letters and emails and made phone calls asking Congress to reform food aid as part of the 2014 Offering of Letters campaign.  By the year’s end, your advocacy stopped harmful policy changes that would have increased shipping costs and reduced food to hungry people. You also set the stage for the Food for Peace Reform Act – legislation that can get more food to millions in need at no additional cost.

We begin the next stage of our advocacy as the Senate holds the first-ever hearing on food-aid reform.  American Food Aid: Why Reform Matters begins at 9:30 a.m. EDT this Wednesday. Bread for the World and several of our partners will live tweet the hearing using the hashtag #FixFoodAid.

In advance of the hearing, Bread for the World and a broad coalition of partners sent the following letter to members of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.  You can help build the momentum to pass food-aid reform too:  Contact your senator and urge him/her to cosponsor the Food for Peace Reform Act today.

As a diverse coalition from the nonprofit sector, we are strongly in favor of U.S. food assistance that delivers results faster, more effectively, and more efficiently. We applaud the leadership of the Chair and Ranking members of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Senators Bob Corker and Ben Cardin, for elevating the importance of the life-saving Food for Peace program and the need to maximize its reach and efficiencies.

For more than five decades, U.S. food aid programs have been assisting the poorest, most vulnerable people in the wake of disasters and other crises. We urge Congress to pursue common-sense reforms that increase the ability to reach more vulnerable people with both emergency and non-emergency assistance.

These common-sense reforms would come at no additional cost: In fact, increasing the flexibility of existing funding and delivery mechanisms can significantly increase the reach of our current programs to millions more people at no additional cost. The United States should be empowered to better utilize the tools necessary to respond to hunger and to match the type of assistance with the reality of any situation – including utilizing cash transfers, local and regional procurement, vouchers, and the delivery of U.S. commodities.

Small increases in flexibility in the 2014 Farm Bill and the FY2014 appropriations bills have already benefitted vulnerable people around the world. In the past year alone, these reforms have reduced costs, allowed a wider range of programming options to improve program outcomes, helped achieve more sustainable results, and reached 800,000 additional people, more quickly.

Flexibility in food aid has helped feed millions of refugees and internally displaced persons affected by the crisis in and around Syria. This includes a wide range of programs such as a U.S.- funded food voucher program for Syrian refugees in Turkey as well as distributing life- sustaining food bars purchased in the U.S. to Syrian refugees in Erbil, Iraq.

This is an important opportunity to expand the impact of one of our most vital international programs. We stand ready to work with Congress to ensure these gains can be realized.

Signatories:

Action Aid USA
Action Against Hunger
Alliance to End Hunger
American Jewish World Service
Bread for the World
CARE USA
Church World Service
Convoy of Hope
Edesia
The Episcopal Church
Evangelical Lutheran Church in America
Feed the Children
Friends Committee on National Legislation
Global Poverty Project
Helen Keller International
InterAction
Maryknoll Office For Global Concerns
Mennonite Central Committee U.S. Washington Office
MercyCorps
Modernizing Foreign Assistance Network
ONE
Oxfam
Save the Children
The Borgen Project
The Hunger Project
United Church of Christ, Justice and Witness Ministries
United Methodist Church ,General Board of Church and Society 28. USAID Alumni Association(UAA)

Tell Congress to Feed the Future

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Bread for the World.

By Beth Ann Saracco

April showers bring May corn, sweet potatoes, and beans. Yet, throughout the world, millions of people still go hungry.

Call (800/826-3688) or email your U.S. representative. Urge your U.S. representative to cosponsor the Global Food Security Act (H.R. 1567). Your advocacy today could make a lifesaving difference for hungry people around the world.

The rainy season has begun in East Africa — and so has the planting season for farmers there. If the weather cooperates, in just a few short months, these farmers will have produced enough corn, sweet potatoes, and other crops to feed their families — and some extra to sell at the markets for a profit.

Smallholder farmers in poor countries are very dependent on the weather. When all you have is a small plot of land, a turn from the normal weather patterns to drought or floods can spell disaster for you and your family. While hope is planted for many as crops go into the ground this season, 805 million people around the world are going hungry today.

But this can change — and our Congress can do something about it. The U.S. government plays an important role through Feed the Future, a global hunger and food-security program. This initiative operates in 19 countries. In 2013 alone, seven million small farmers grew more crops, and 12.5 million children received nutritious food. Improvements in food processing, production, and selling have made a significant difference in the lives of many farmers.

Recently, The Global Food Security Act (H.R. 1567) was reintroduced in the U.S. House of Representatives. This legislation would make the Feed the Future program law — a permanent program. This smart approach recognizes that, in order to end hunger, we don't just need to grow more food through building strong agriculture systems. We need quality, nutritious food as well.

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

Also, please join us on June 9 in Washington, D.C., for Bread for the World's annual Lobby Day. It’s a chance to speak to your members of Congress directly about these vital U.S. government programs that are helping to end hunger in so many ways. Visit our website to learn more and register.

Beth Ann Saracco is the international policy analyst at Bread for the World.

Loosening Poverty's Grip On The Next Generation

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By Bread Staff

Bread for the World, the World Bank, and leaders of 30 faith groups and organizations came together today to issue a bold call - let's end hunger and extreme poverty by 2030. 

Eradicating hunger and extreme poverty is no longer a dream, but a possibility in 15 years, according to research by Bread for the World and the World Bank.

"Now that it has become clear that it is feasible to end extreme poverty, faith communities are committing ourselves to ramp up our advocacy. We are building a movement that will translate this possibility into political commitment,” said Rev. David Beckmann, president of Bread for the World.

Since 1990, the number of people living in extreme poverty or on $1.25 a day has been halved to less than one billion. “This unprecedented progress in ending hunger and extreme poverty is an example of our loving God moving through time, transforming our world,” Beckmann said. 

Many countries, like Bangladesh, Brazil, and the United Kingdom have made huge strides in cutting hunger and poverty. However, hunger and poverty has increased in the United States. Today, 49 million Americans, including 15 million children, don’t always know where their next meal is coming from. 

Still, powerful forces in the U.S. Congress have been pushing for deep cuts in anti-hunger and anti-poverty programs. The cuts to these programs have so far been minimal thanks in part to a coalition of faith groups working to ending hunger.

“Now is the time for the United States to step up to the plate and make ending hunger and poverty a priority,” Beckmann said. “As Christians, we believe the moral measure of a country is based on how the most poor and vulnerable people fare.”

Learn more: Budget Basics & Resources.

 

Let's End Extreme Poverty and Hunger

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By Bread Staff

The figures are in the billions, but the message is simple. In the last 25 years, the number of people living in extreme poverty has fallen from nearly 2 billion people to fewer than 1 billion people  worldwide. People in extreme poverty live on less than $1.25 a day.

“Some say it’s impossible to end poverty – especially in just 15 years. But we know it’s possible,” said Jim Yong Kim, president of the World Bank, in a speech this week to kick off the organization's spring meeting.

Members of Bread for the World and our faith partners have known all along that we can end extreme poverty and hunger. The unprecedented progress that the world is making against hunger and poverty is an example of our loving God transforming our world (#faith2endpoverty).

We are the first generation in human history with the knowledge and capabilities needed to end poverty. “Ending extreme poverty is no longer a dream,” Kim said.  

During his speech, Kim presented varying pictures of poverty in the world, but one stands out: “Poverty is having to put your children to bed without food.”

Our 2015 Offering of Letters: Feed Our Children is one of the key tools to end hunger and poverty in the United States. We must ensure that our national child nutrition programs are fully funded. If you have not yet done so, tell your members of Congress that it must be so. 

 

Building the 2016 Federal Budget: Round 1

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Joseph Molieri/Bread for the World.


By Bread Staff

Before Congress left for its spring break, the House and Senate debated and passed their budget resolutions. The House resolution passed 228-199. The Senate resolution passed 52-46. When members of Congress return to Washington, the two chambers will iron out the differences and pass a budget for fiscal year 2016.

Every year, Bread for the World follows the federal budget process to ensure Congress adequately funds programs that provide hope and opportunity to people struggling with hunger and poverty.

This year, Bread is escalating its work on the budget. Unlike the past few years, one party now controls both the House and the Senate. This makes it significantly easier for Congress to cut anti-hunger programs.

Details of the Budget Proposals

Both the House and Senate sought to balance the budget within the next 10 years. They did so without raising taxes, touching Social Security, making any big changes to Medicare within the next decade, or cutting the defense budget. They actually increased funding for defense in some cases. So where did the trillions of dollars in cuts come from? Sixty-nine percent of the cuts in both budgets would be placed on the backs of low-income people.

In some cases, the budgets were clear about their vision for how to accomplish those savings. The House budget cut $140 billion from SNAP (formerly called food stamps). The Senate budget proposed cutting Medicaid by $400 billion. Both budgets also allowed the 2009 improvements to the earned income tax credit (EITC) and child tax credit to expire. Those improvements have kept 16 million people from falling into or deeper into poverty.

Both budgets continued the additional cuts of sequestration, the automatic cuts Congress agreed to in 2011. These cuts are lasting and severe.

The House Budget proposal cut yearly non-defense appropriated spending by another approximately $759 billion on top of these sequestration cuts. By 2025, total funding for these programs (which includes foreign assistance, WIC, Head Start, and many other programs) would be at least 33 percent below what they were in 2010, adjusted for inflation.

The Senate budget proposal cuts yearly non-defense spending by another $236 billion on top sequestration. By 2025, total funding for these programs would be at least 24 percent below what they were in 2010, adjusted for inflation.

This puts even greater strain and heightens competition for every dollar, threatening funding for international foreign assistance, WIC, Head Start, low-income housing assistance, emergency food aid, and many other programs. 

Review of the Sequestration Agreements

Back in 2011, when Congress passed the law that established the sequestration cuts, it made an agreement. It was that automatic sequestration cuts would treat defense and non-defense spending equally.

During the committee mark-ups and floor debates, division emerged. Defense hawks protested the lower spending levels from sequestration. Ultimately, both chambers boosted defense spending by $96 billion in a special account that is not subject to the sequestration cuts or spending limit (known as Overseas Contingency Operations). However, a growing number of members of Congress are speaking out against the sequestration cuts, urging Congress to look to other areas in the budget, including revenues and other spending programs.

During the budget debates in late March, Bread stepped up its advocacy efforts, and our members responded. In particular, we urged the Senate to oppose several amendments. In the end, those amendments were either defeated or pulled before they could even get a vote.

Even though the House budget made horrendous cuts to programs that help people move out of poverty and put food on the table, there was a silver lining. Rep. Ed Royce (R-Calif.) got an entire section on food-aid reform included. This section: 1) asserted that cargo preference, monetization, and using only food commodities (practices in providing food aid that Bread believes are inefficient or harmful) “fails to use taxpayer dollars efficiently and effectively,” and 2) endorsed the Food for Peace Reform Act of 2015. This act would make many of the reforms that Bread has been seeking since last year’s Offering of Letters: Food-Aid Reform.

Round 2 and Beyond

When Congress returns after its two-week recess, it will conference the two budget resolutions. Bread will be watching closely to see what Congress agrees upon and the exact funding levels they give to specific programs.

We expect the spring and summer to be busy months as congressional committees mark up various budget bills. This could all come down to some important budget negotiations this fall between Congress and the White House.

Learn more: Budget Basics & Resources

Strength to Serve our Neighbors

By Bishop José García

This weekend, we celebrate Christ’s death and resurrection because the Passion forms the basis for everything we do as Christians. As advocates, we serve our neighbors, local and global, by working to end hunger. But Jesus did something before he served us by going to the cross. 14407747355_2bebecf966_o

He prayed.

Before he endured the cross “for the sake of the joy that was set before him” (Hebrews 12:2), Jesus took his disciples into the Garden of Gethsemane to pray: “Abba, Father, for you all things are possible; remove this cup from me; yet, not what I want, but what you want” (Mark 14:36).

Jesus knew what he had to do. He asked God to spare him from it if possible. Sometimes our advocacy can seem heavy and difficult, but we draw strength from the same place Jesus did—prayer.

Prayer both sustains our advocacy and calls for God’s continued action in this world. Will you join us and commit to pray for an end to hunger?

When you commit to joining in praying for the end of hunger, we will email you twice a month with specific prayer requests and sample prayers. 

Commit-to-pray twitter

Together, we can work toward an end to hunger and poverty around the world. Let’s follow Christ’s example and put prayer first.

Bishop José García is the director of church relations at Bread for the World.

 

Sprouted in Our Hearts Here and Grown for the Future There


By Beth Ann Saracco

In February, I found myself in an unlikely place for a girl raised in the Midwest. As I made my way through the packed Rubaga Cathedral in Kampala, Uganda, I noticed a women breast-feeding her baby. As a Bread for the World policy analyst specializing in international food security and nutrition issues, I was heartened to see her engaging in such a vital health and nutrition practice, beneficial to both mom and baby alike.  IMG_0376

 

Finding an open seat next to a father and son, I leaned forward and kneeled. Bowing my head and closing my eyes, I began to pray. My heart was light that morning — so joyful, and excited for the opportunity I had just received. In my work for Bread in Washington, D.C., I advocate in support of top-line funding levels and programs for agriculture and development, but I rarely observe implementation of these programs on the ground. Now was my chance, and I was about to embark on a 15-day trip through Uganda, Kenya, and Tanzania. 

My prayer to God that morning was a simple one. I asked to be attentive and open to the East Africans I would soon meet so that I could share their stories with members of Congress, administration officials, Bread staff, and especially our committed Bread members. What I experienced in the days ahead left me in awe as I witnessed the resolve and commitment of so many East Africans in improving their own lives and transforming the future for their children. These are aspirations I believe people of all backgrounds, nationalities, and creeds share. 

As I learned about women's cooperatives and farmers' access to markets, new agriculture technologies from crop rotation to soil-fertility management to land-tenure rights, I began to understand how vital programs like Feed the Future are in not only contributing to a more food-secure world, but also in transforming the lives of each of the farmers I met. Feed the Future is the U.S. government's global hunger and food-security initiative.

Augustino was one such farmer in Tanzania. As he greeted me, I was immediately drawn to the words printed on the T-shirt he was wearing. It read, “Future of Africa.” In my mind I thought never has a truer statement been made, because Augustino, along with his wife and their children, truly do represent the promising future of their country and the continent on which they live. 

Now well-resourced with training they received from the agriculture cooperative in which they belong, Augustino and his wife have learned to produce higher-quality and larger yields of tomatoes. They have also recently expanded into cultivating rice, and they have aspirations to begin a trout fishery soon as well.

With their increased income, they can now afford to pay their children's school fees, buy more nutritious food to supplement their children's diets, and make other investments into their land. 

What dawned on me was that with just a little outside support, guidance, and training, Augustino's family did the rest. It's their focused, hard work that tills the soil, it's their bodies that carry heavy jugs of water to irrigate, and it's their personal resolve to harvest increased and higher-quality crops that ultimately is moving them from subsistence farmers to a mother and father who are ensuring their children's lives are filled with opportunity and upward mobility to a degree and depth their families have never known.  

Not surprisingly, my experience in East Africa reaffirmed my strong belief in the merits of programs like Feed the Future and the importance of ensuring Congress passes a law this year to authorize and make this a permanent program. But, it also did something else even more profound. 

Through my conversations with farmers and personal reflection and prayer, I found myself drawn even closer to our loving God and God's people. 

God is truly moving in our time, in your life and mine, and in the lives of Augustino and his family in Tanzania — and in others' lives in Africa and our entire world. And I am hopeful that with further discernment, prayer, and grace, we will continue our own sacred advocacy on Capitol Hill, and most importantly be drawn closer into relationship with our loving God and God's people. 

Beth Ann Saracco is the international policy analyst at Bread for the World.

Photo: Augustino, a farmer in Tanzania, is building a better future for his family and his continent by growing food in better ways. Beth Ann Saracco/Bread for the World.

Women's History Month: To End Hunger, Women's Empowerment Must Prevail

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By Bread Staff

Today concludes the Bread Blog posts celebrating Women’s History Month. It is fitting that it comes a few days after a Capitol Hill briefing on the 2015 Hunger Report When Women Flourish… We Can End Hunger.

Chisholm’s words are apt considering that discrimination is a significant roadblock to women’s empowerment. Because women are key to ending hunger by 2030, their empowerment is vital to the process.

“There is substantial evidence that educating girls, improving women’s health outcomes, and increasing their incomes pays huge dividends for their children, for their families, for their communities and for their countries, said Asma Lateef, director of Bread for the World Institute, during Friday's briefing.

The Hunger Report looks at discrimination as a cause of persistent hunger and makes policy and program recommendations in order to empower women both in the United States and around the world. Increasing women’s earning potential by boosting bargaining power, reducing gender inequality in unpaid work, increasing women’s political representation, and eliminating the wage gap between male and female labor directly contributes to ending hunger.

These issues were discussed during the briefing, which was hosted by the offices of U.S. Reps. Bobby Rush (D-IL) and Karen Bass (D-CA), Bread for the World Institute and the African American on the Hill.

Panelists included Margaret Enis Spears, director of the office of markets, partnerships and innovations, U.S. Agency for International Development; Ambassador Amina S. Ali, permanent representative, The African Union Mission to the United States; Shari Berenbach, president and CEO, United States African Development Foundation, and Rev. Dr. Angelique Walker-Smith, associate for National African American Church Engagement at Bread for the World.

The Hunger Report recommends that in order to improve women’s empowerment and end extreme hunger and poverty worldwide, women should have more economic bargaining power. If women had more control of their income and assets, their bargaining power in both the household and the market economy would increase, as well as their ability to feed and provide for themselves and their children.

According to U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization estimates, if women in Africa and elsewhere had the same access to agricultural resources as men, they could grow 20 to 30 percent more food. This could move roughly 150 million people of out hunger and poverty!

To achieve this, the U.S. government must increase its investments in agricultural-development programs like Feed the Future. And it should place a stronger emphasis on programming that supports women smallholder farmers when it implements projects. 

For more information on the integral role women play in ending hunger and poverty, make sure to read When Women Flourish… We Can End Hunger and also visit Bread Blog.

 

Women Can Help 'Feed the Future' and Much More

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Martha Akol is a former refugee who returned to her home several years ago in South Sudan. She is one of Africa's millions of women farmers who works hard to feed her family. Stephen Hovick Padre/Bread for the World

By Beth Ann Saracco

Earlier this month, the world celebrated International Women’s Day, a day to acknowledge women's economic, political, and social achievements. Around the world, improvements in the lives of women and their families have resulted in fewer maternal deaths, more educational opportunities, and increased political participation. What does this teach us? When women are healthy, empowered, and able to pursue educational and employment opportunities, everybody benefits.  

This is the primary message of the 2015 Hunger Report: When Women Flourish… We Can End Hunger. In order to end extreme hunger and poverty by 2030, we need to achieve greater gender equality and eliminate discrimination against women and girls. Unfortunately, in the U.S. and around the world, harmful cultural practices, national laws, and societal norms often leave women marginalized and unable to make decisions, especially ones that impact their own lives and those of their family and community.

The Hunger Report recommends that, in order to improve women’s empowerment and end extreme hunger and poverty worldwide, women should have more economic bargaining power.

If women had more control of their income and assets, their bargaining power in both the household and the market economy would increase, as well as their ability to feed and provide for themselves and their children. According to U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization estimates, if women in Africa and elsewhere had the same access to agricultural resources as men, they could grow 20 to 30 percent more food. This could move roughly 150 million people of out hunger and poverty!

To achieve this, the U.S. government must increase its investments in agricultural-development programs like Feed the Future. And it should place a stronger emphasis on programming that supports women smallholder farmers when it implements projects.

Since its creation in 2010, Feed the Future has achieved impressive results in its 19 focus countries, helping more than seven million small farmers grow more food and providing nutritious food to more than 12.5 million children in 2013 alone.  

Feed the Future is helping to create countries that are more food-secure and eating more nutritious food. But this program could do more.

In order to ensure greater participation of women in Feed the Future programs and continue the initial progress, this initiative must be made a permanent program that continues beyond the Obama administration. While the program has been funded by Congress in annual appropriations legislation, without official statutory authorization, Feed the Future may not have a future of its own. H.R. 1567, the Global Food Security Act, was introduced yesterday in the House of Representatives. This bipartisan bill would permanently codify and authorize a comprehensive approach to global food security, and it would build upon the successes the U.S. government has already achieved through Feed the Future.

What can you do?

Contact your representative, and urge him/her to cosponsor H.R.1567, the Global Food Security Act. Now is the time for policymakers to authorize a program that has a proven ability to address the complex problem of hunger, food insecurity, and malnutrition.

Beth Ann Saracco is the International Policy Analyst in Bread's government relations department.

Women: The Key to Ending Hunger

By Beth Ann Saracco

I recently traveled to East Africa to learn how international development policies in Washington, D.C., such as Feed the Future, impact and improve people’s lives on the ground in Uganda and Tanzania.

A powerful takeaway from the trip is that women are truly the chief agents the world relies on to fight hunger. But we need more women to be empowered.

That’s the message of our 2015 Hunger Report. And in celebration of Women's History Month, we’ve launched a new video that explains why. Watch the video.

Almost 60 percent of the world’s 805 million chronically malnourished people are women and girls. But if they are among the most vulnerable to hunger, they are also the best solution to the problem of hunger. The majority of the dramatic reduction in child malnutrition made in the developing world over the past few decades is due to improvements in the status of women. For instance, providing girls with just one extra year of schooling can increase individual wages by up to 20 percent.

Supporting Feed the Future can also empower women. It is a proven development program that can help the United States invest in women in agriculture worldwide. Contact your members of Congress and urge them to support upcoming Feed the Future legislation to improve global food security and better combat chronic hunger and malnutrition.

Learn more: Visit HungerReport.org to read the full report and explore interactive data tools that explain the crucial role of women in ending hunger.

Beth Ann Saracco is a policy analyst at Bread for the World.

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