Urging our nation's leaders to end hunger

420 posts categorized "Global Hunger"

Making Hunger Data Speak

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.


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.

No Word for 'Climate Change' in Their Language, but They're Living It

Editor's note: Ahead of World Environment Day, which is June 5, Bread Blog examines how climate change is starting to affect agriculture in one country.

By Averill A. Amor

Goyoden is a small, rural town on the coast of one of the islands in the Philippines. Growing one’s own food is a necessity in a rural community such as Goyoden.

But that has become increasingly difficult. Shifting weather patterns have begun to disrupt the usual growing season cycle. IMG_0143

The first time I visited Goyoden was as part of an undergraduate student immersion experience. Each of us stayed with a local family for a few days in an attempt to understand the Goyoden way of life. My classmate and I stayed with Nanay (informal word for mother) Nory.

Nanay Nory makes a living working in shellcraft and selling her products in markets on the mainland. Her husband is a tailor who works from home. They generate enough income between them to buy seafood from local fishermen as well as staple foods from the mainland. They occasionally cook with edible plants that they grow behind their house.

Nanay Nory is also part of a group of women involved in small-scale agriculture – planting crops in a common garden near her house.

Whenever she spoke to us about the garden, she would talk about how it had become more difficult to tend to the garden over time; she also mentioned that there were certain months in the year when they could not fish, plant, or both—which would put stress on their food supply.  

When we asked her why it was hard to keep planting, she answered simply, “Mas mainit ngayon e.” Well, it is hotter these days.

For the Goyoden people, the stability of the seasons is essential for both their livelihood and nutritional needs.  But they’ve come to realize that the  seasons are changing; the dry season is getting drier—too dry to plant for some months—and the wet season is more erratic and unpredictable. There is no local term for climate change, but the community understands that the seasons are changing and keep adjusting, hoping for the better.

Goyoden is one community among many grappling with food insecurity as a result of climate change. Climate change is an issue with implications on the ground, most of all, and it is communities like Goyoden—the ones contributing the least to the problem—that are most in danger of suffering the consequences.

In the future, farmers may be hard-pressed to continue planting for profit, and fishermen dread the day their nets come up empty.

Averill A. Amor is a communication intern at Bread for the World.  

Photo: One of the Nanays (mothers) tending to her garden in Goyoden. Averill A. Amor/Bread for the World.


Fewer Hungry People Around the World, UN Report Says

Laura Elizabeth Pohl/Bread for the World. 

By Jennifer Gonzalez

Today, there are fewer hungry people around the world. The number has declined from about one billion 25 years ago to about 795 million today, or about one person out of every nine, according to the United Nations.

Out of the 129 nations monitored by the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), 72 achieved the target of halving the percentages of hungry people outlined in the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), according to the United Nations’ annual hunger report, published by the FAO, the International Fund for Agricultural Development, and the World Food Program

Bread for the World has long championed the MDGs as a way to help the world’s poor move out of a cycle of hunger and poverty.

The following are quotes from the publishers of the annual UN hunger report:

"The near-achievement of the MDG hunger targets shows us that we can indeed eliminate the scourge of hunger in our lifetime. We must be the Zero Hunger generation. That goal should be mainstreamed into all policy interventions and at the heart of the new sustainable development agenda to be established this year," said FAO Director General José Graziano da Silva.


"If we truly wish to create a world free from poverty and hunger, then we must make it a priority to invest in the rural areas of developing countries where most of the world's poorest and hungriest people live," said IFAD President Kanayo F. Nwanze. "We must work to create a transformation in our rural communities so they provide decent jobs, decent conditions and decent opportunities. We must invest in rural areas so that our nations can have balanced growth and so that the three billion people who live in rural areas can fulfil their potential."


"Men, women and children need nutritious food every day to have any chance of a free and prosperous future. Healthy bodies and minds are fundamental to both individual and economic growth, and that growth must be inclusive for us to make hunger history," said WFP Executive Director Ertharin Cousin.


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

Food Aid and Feed the Future: 2 programs, 1 mission

An African woman farmer. Sarah Rawson/World Food Program USA.

By Alyssa Casey

Bread for the World is excited to see two different international food-security issues being acted upon in Congress - Feed the Future and food-aid reform! The issues are currently in two separate pieces of legislation, but there has been some discussion in Congress about combining them into a broader food security bill.

It is common for people - even members of Congress - to confuse the two issues. As they both move forward, we at Bread want to clarify the differences between these two vital but distinct pillars of food security.

Food Aid
Food-aid programs provide immediate assistance, usually in the form of actual food, but occasionally as cash or vouchers to purchase food. Aid is mostly provided in response to emergencies that immediately disrupt a country’s food supply, such as the recent earthquakes in Nepal and the prolonged crises in Syria and South Sudan.

The largest U.S. food-aid program, Food for Peace, originated in the 1950s following the aftermath of World War II. While largely successful, certain restrictions have remained virtually unchanged since that time. This includes the fact that nearly all food must be bought in the United States and transported mostly (at least 50 percent) on U.S.-flagged ships. With small changes and increased flexibility, this program can feed more people at no extra cost to U.S. taxpayers.

The Food for Peace Reform Act reforms the Food for Peace program by increasing flexibility and avoiding inefficiencies. Allowing more money to be spent purchasing local food is on average 30 percent cheaper and reaches people in need up to two months faster.

Feed the Future
Feed the Future is a much newer initiative, started in 2009 in response to the devastation caused by the spike in global food prices in 2007 and 2008. It assists countries in strengthening their agriculture sector in order to increase farm yields and develop better opportunities for trade and economic growth. Feed the Future integrates many aspects of food security into a smart, inclusive approach.

The program places significant focus on empowering women farmers to improve food security, since the majority of women in developing countries are smallholder farmers. It also integrates nutrition into agriculture so they are not just growing more food, but growing more nutritious food; and implements climate-sensitive agriculture so they are preserving fields and natural resources for future generations.

Feed the Future is currently dependent on the goodwill of Congress for yearly appropriations. The initiative could end in 2016 if it is not made into permanent law. The Global Food Security Act would authorize Feed the Future into legislation, allowing the program to continue beyond the Obama administration.

Why Do We Need Both?
Food aid targets today’s hunger – the immediate needs. Meanwhile, Feed the Future targets tomorrow’s hunger by investing in long-term agricultural solutions so communities are better prepared to deal with persistent hunger. When long-term development gives communities resilience – enables them to bounce back faster, they can rely less on emergency food aid and instead feed themselves. We need both programs to address the hunger of today and tomorrow.

Bread for the World’s annual Lobby Day is June 9. Join us to make some real changes in Washington, D.C., when it comes to feeding our children. You don’t need to be a policy expert to participate. You just need to care. 

Registration is free but space is limited. Register today to reserve your spot!

Alyssa Casey is government relations coordinator at Bread for the World.

Building Resilience for Women Farmers Through Trade

AGOA will help women farmers, like Anna Gaye from Senegal, increase economic growth in Sub-Saharan Africa, the region with the highest prevalence of food insecurity.

By Robin Stephenson

Give a woman a fish, and she will feed her family for a day, but teach a woman to fish, and her family will never hunger. Give her access to a market, and her community will prosper.

Last week, the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA), a trade preference bill, passed out of the Senate. If made law, the bill is one more piece of the puzzle to help women farmers – and their male counterparts – in their efforts to feed both their families and communities in sub-Saharan Africa, the region with the highest prevalence of food insecurity in the world.

Boosting the earning power of women as food producers to increase gender equality is a theme in the 2015 Hunger Report, When Women Flourish…We Can End Hunger. Women are the primary agents the world relies upon to end hunger. They are also critical to a nation’s economic growth.

AGOA was established in 2000 to spur market-led growth in sub-Saharan Africa by providing duty-free access to American markets. In the past 15 years, AGOA has boosted energy and apparel exports, contributing to job creation. The current legislation expires at the end of September. 

The bill passed by the Senate extends the trade policy for 10 years and includes improvements to increase agricultural exports. U.S. Sens. Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.) and Pat Roberts (R-Kan.) introduced an amendment that will strengthen the trade capacity of smallholder women farmers. Only about three percent of AGOA exports are agricultural, according to the Brookings Institution.

An estimated 80 percent of the population of sub-Saharan Africa lives in rural areas and depends on agriculture for their livelihood; 30 percent of gross domestic product (GDP) and 70 percent of employment comes from agriculture. Creating opportunity in markets can spur greater economic growth and reduce poverty.

Over half the farmers in the region are women, but historically they have had unequal access to resources. The U.N. Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) estimates if women had the same access as male farmers to resources, agricultural output could increase by up to 4 percent in developing countries. Gender inequality impedes a country’s potential to compete and prosper in a global economy. 

Feed the Future is a U.S.-led initiative that addresses the agency of women farmers. The program aims to increase gender equality and bolster food security in developing countries. (The future of the program also depends on congressional action). In 2013 alone, seven million smallholder farmers increased crop production and provided nutritious food to 12.5 million children with the help of Feed the Future.

AGOA builds on the work of Feed the Future and can open up markets and new opportunities for women farmers to sell their excess product. The House must vote on the bill next.

Women can and are overcoming hunger and poverty in their communities when given the opportunity. Increasing women’s agency as food producers is the first step in creating food security. Getting them to market will complete the journey.

Read Bread for the World’s press release:  U.S.-Africa Trade Legislation Passes in Senate.

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

Feed the Future Legislation Moves One Step Closer to Law

By Robin Stephenson

Renowned anti-hunger crusader and U.S. Rep. Jim McGovern says he loves Feed the Future, a U.S.-led initiative that combats hunger and malnutrition and improves global food security. 

Three-year-old Tunda Ramiya is a living testament to what the program can do. 

New Approaches to Nutrition Bear Fruit in MorogoroTunda was born in Tanzania’s Morogoro region. Forty-four percent of children in Morogoro under age five are chronically malnourished, robbing them of normal cognitive and bodily development. But Tunda is thriving.

Feed the Future gave her mother the resources and knowledge to ensure Tunda - and the rest of her family - eats a healthy and nutritious diet.

There are roughly 165 million children worldwide who deserve the same opportunity as Tunda. Instead, these children grow up stunted and will never reach their full potential. 

“Hunger is a political condition,” McGovern said in a recent interview about the program’s efficacy. “I mean, we have all the ingredients and know how to end it,” he said. “What we haven’t had in the past is the political will to put it all together and actually implement a plan. Feed the Future is the first big step in that direction.”

Feed the Future is the first-ever comprehensive U.S. food security strategy to address hunger and malnutrition in developing countries and take a holistic approach to ending hunger. 

Since the successful program was created in 2009, it has depended on the good will of Congress for a yearly appropriation. By authorizing (making permanent) Feed the Future, further gains will be made in improving the livelihoods of these smallholder farmers, strengthening maternal and child nutrition, and building capacity for long-term agricultural growth.

In other words, we need to make it a law.

Last month, the Global Food Security Act – the legislation that would make the program codified into law – passed out of the House Foreign Affairs Committee (H.R. 1567).

The bill got one step closer to becoming law yesterday. U.S. Sens. Bob Casey (D-Pa.) and Johnny Isakson (R- Ga.) introduced the Global Food Security Act of 2015 (S. 1252) last night in the Senate.

Read more in Bread for the World's statement to the press released earlier today: Bread for the World Applauds Introduction of Global Food Security Act in Senate

Take Action: Call your senators TODAY (800-826-3688). Urge them to co-sponsor the Global Food Security Act (S. 1252) to improve global food security and better combat chronic hunger and malnutrition!

Photo: Tunda and her family. Africare via Feed the Future

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

We Pray for Nepal

Farmer in Nepal.  USAID

By Bread Staff

Join us as we pray for the people of Nepal.  A magnitude-7.8 earthquake hit central Nepal on Saturday, from Mount Everest to Katmandu and points west, killing hundreds of thousands and leaving more than 100,000 homeless and in desperate need of relief.

The death toll is now at roughly 3,800, according to news reports.

We also pray for our many partner organizations, such as Catholic Relief Services and Church World Service, among many others, who are working hard to save lives in Nepal.

Nepal is a Feed the Future country.  As the poorest country in South Asia, two out of every three Nepalese suffer from food insecurity each year. The earthquake will make both short- and long-term food assistance critical. 

Please join in prayer for the people of Nepal. This prayer is from the Catholic Relief Services resource center.

Loving God,

We pray for all those affected by the earthquake in Nepal as we offer the words of the psalmist, “Be strong and take heart, all who hope in the Lord” (Psalm 31:25)

May those who are paralyzed by fear …
Be strong and take heart

May those who have lost or are still searching for loved ones …
Be strong and take heart

May those who remain trapped under rubble …
Be strong and take heart

May those rescue workers who provide relief and recovery …
Be strong and take heart

May those who are moved with compassion to help …
Be strong and take heart

God, whose love knows no bounds,
fill all those who suffer with your comfort and peace.
We ask all this through Christ, our Lord. Amen

Interested in helping? Go to these denomination's relief organizations to find out what you can do: World Vision, Lutheran Disaster Response (ELCA), Church World ServiceUCC International Emergency Relief FundCatholic Relief ServicesUnited Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR), and Presbyterian Disaster Assistance

African Trade Legislation That Strengthens Food Security Moves Forward in Congress

African farmer scooping out the pink gooey cocoa from the pods. Laura Elizabeth Pohl/Bread for the World

By Bread Staff

Bread for the World released the following press release earlier today.

House and Senate Committees this week approved bills that will help to strengthen investments and promote future agriculture development in Africa, helping to alleviate hunger there.

The House Ways and Means Committee and the Senate Finance Committee passed the Africa Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA). This legislation aims to strengthen U.S.-Africa trade opportunities. While the existing authorization will expire on Sept. 30, 2015, legislation moving through Congress now would extend that authorization for another ten years.

“Reauthorization of AGOA could encourage job creation through trade for AGOA-eligible countries as well as the United States,” said Eric Mitchell, director of government relations at Bread for the World. “It is essential that our trade policies and agreements contribute to the efforts to reduce hunger and poverty.”

AGOA is the most important legislation that defines trade relationships between the United States and sub-Saharan Africa. Since it went into effect in 2000, exports under AGOA increased more than 500 percent, from $8.15 billion in 2001 to $53.8 billion in 2011. However, 95 percent of the total goods traded under AGOA was in the form of oil, gas, and minerals over that decade. AGOA reauthorization should focus on non-energy imports and include strengthening the capacity of smallholder farmers and businesses to create jobs and boost incomes.

An estimated 80 percent of the population in sub-Saharan Africa lives in rural areas and depends on agriculture for their livelihood. Female farmers often have fewer options in their livelihoods, including access to markets. The Senate version of AGOA includes a bipartisan amendment that will strengthen the trade capacity of smallholder women farmers. This language, which was introduced by Sens. Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.) and Pat Roberts (R-Kan.), leading members of the Senate Agriculture Committee, was overwhelmingly supported by the Senate Finance Committee.

“Through this language, AGOA will have a direct impact on Africa’s women farmers, as well as improving overall food security,” said Mitchell.

Bread for the World, its partners, and its members have consistently advocated for AGOA since 1998.

How Good Policy Translates to Success

Paprika pepper farmer in Tanzania. USAID.

By Beth Ann Saracco

Congress is listening to you! Less than two weeks ago, we asked you to contact Congress and urge your representative to cosponsor The Global Food Security Act. As a result of your advocacy, the bill passed out of the House Foreign Affairs Committee this morning!

Let’s keep this important legislation moving forward! Call (800/826-3688) or email your U.S. representative. Urge your representative to support and cosponsor the Global Food Security Act (H.R. 1567).

On a recent trip to East Africa, I met with a women’s cassava cooperative outside Sengerema, Tanzania. I was struck by the progress they were making in improving their lives and their families’ lives. The women plant cassava, process it into flour, and then sell the flour at the market. With the extra income they earn, standards of living in the community are rising, and the women and their families are seeing a higher quality of life.

This success is a prime example of the progress being achieved on farms throughout the world. Because of programs like Feed the Future, seven million small farmers grew more crops, and 12.5 million children received nutritious food. Such progress has occurred in tandem with the progress of the Global Food Security Act in Congress.

The Global Food Security Act would support efforts like those of the Tanzania cassava cooperative throughout the world. More families will be able to send their children to school, buy nutritious foods to supplement their children’s diets, and further invest in their land and businesses.

From Washington, D.C., to Tanzania, we are making great strides in our efforts to end global hunger and malnutrition. Yet our work remains unfinished. We need the House of Representatives to pass the Global Food Security Act. Making this global food and nutrition security program permanent will ensure progress against hunger continues.

Call (800/826-3688) or email your representative. Urge your representative to cosponsor the Global Food Security Act (H.R. 1567).  Let’s stand with programs like the women’s cassava cooperative in Tanzania by praying for an end to hunger and engaging in faithful advocacy alongside them.

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

Improving Nutrition is Essential to Ending Global Hunger

A Ugandan family shares a meal together. Kendra Rinas for Bread for the World.

Editor's note: This article first appeared on the World Food Program USA website. It was co-written by staff members from Bread for the World Institute and World Food Program USA.

By Scott Bleggi and Allan Jury

“Good nutrition is the bedrock of human well-being.” This compelling truth opens the 2014 Global Nutrition Report.

For young children, good nutrition enables the body to grow and develop to its full potential. Studies show that well-nourished children are more likely to succeed in the classroom and earn higher wages as adults than their malnourished peers.  

This is why the Roadmap to End Global Hunger’s 2015 Policy Brief identifies nutrition as one the four main pillars of an effective U.S. strategy to build global food security. 

It is particularly important to focus on good nutrition during the first 1,000 days, a window of opportunity between a woman’s pregnancy and her child’s second birthday. The negative effects of poor nutrition during the 1,000 days are irreversible, while getting the right nutrients at this time produces lasting benefits in both mental and physical development. 

Spending on nutrition support for mothers and young children is a proven investment. In fact, recent analysis shows that for every $1 invested in improving nutrition, $16 is returned to the economy through improved worker productivity and lower health care costs. 

U.S. leadership is essential for maintaining international political will and adequate funding to reduce global malnutrition. Malnutrition has many causes and effective nutrition programming is needed to address each of these causes:

  • We need better nutrition education for expectant and new mothers, including the importance of exclusive breastfeeding for babies up to age six months. 
  • We need to support programs that increase the availability of nutritious foods, especially fortified foods and nutrition supplements for pregnant women and children 6-24 months. 
  • We need to help communities gain access to clean water and adequate sanitation to reduce the risk of diseases that rob the body of its ability to absorb vital nutrients.

When the world acts to address malnutrition, the results are more than just impressive economic statistics. With WFP’s help, millions of mothers worldwide are witnessing their children grow and prosper.  

Take Khourn Kom, a young mother who lives with her family in a two-room house in rural Cambodia. Throughout her pregnancy and her baby’s first six months, Kom received monthly distributions of Super Cereal from the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP). When her child turned seven months old, WFP began providing a different product Super Cereal Plus, which responds to the unique nutritional needs of children 6-23 months.

"This food is good for my son,” Kom told WFP staffers in the field, adding that she now feels confident her son will grow into a strong, healthy boy.

As the 2014 Global Nutrition report points out, the well-being of all people begins with good nutrition: “Without good nutrition, people’s lives and livelihoods are built on quicksand.”  

Let’s advocate together for a smarter approach to global nutrition, along with robust levels of funding that can turn quicksand into a rock-solid foundation for the future health and success of malnourished children everywhere.

The Global Food Security Act (H.R. 1567) was recently reintroduced in the U.S. House of Representatives. 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.

Call or email your U.S. representative today. Urge your U.S. representative to co-sponsor The Global Food Security Act.

Scott Bleggi is senior international policy analyst at Bread for the World Institute, where he supports the organization's larger advocacy efforts to end hunger and poverty, with a focus on maternal and child nutrition policies and programs in U.S. government developmental assistance.

Allan Jury is senior advisor at World Food Program USA, where he works with lawmakers and advocates to shape U.S. food and agriculture policies. Before joining WFP USA in 2013, he worked as the director of the U.S. relations office for the United Nations World Food Program after spending 25 years abroad working for the U.S. Department of State.

Stay Connected

Bread for the World