Urging our nation's leaders to end hunger
 

420 posts categorized "Global Hunger"

Wanted: Singers to Join the Anti-Hunger Chorus

Singing
Joseph Molieri/Bread for the World

By Stephen Padre

The university I attended provided all students with a few extra academic credits every semester to take non-academic classes like music lessons or sports. In my senior year, I decided to take group singing lessons. My only experience in using my singing voice up to that point had been singing hymns with the congregation at church.

I remember how our teacher, a professional opera singer, taught us to use specific muscles in our lower torso to support our breathing. And she taught us to let the sound from our throat resonate in the cavities of our face. It was an odd feeling to use parts of my body that I didn’t even know existed. It felt awkward to be learning a skill in a new way.

In a way, I was learning something I had known all over again. I had used my voice before—speaking in my daily life and singing every Sunday at church. But to make one use of my voice more effective, I learned that I needed to support my voice and project it.

Bread for the World is an advocacy organization that encourages Christians to use their voices to influence Congress on legislation that affects people who are hungry and poor. In the same way that the singing teacher taught me to use my singing voice, Bread helps its members use their voices in advocacy. We encourage hunger advocates to support their voices and project them.

What do support and project mean for an advocate?

Supporting your voice means having some facts to share as evidence and having a story to tell that’s compelling. Both of these things are helpful in convincing someone to support something you believe in. Bread helps you find these or gives them to you. We can supply you with facts and information about hunger and its solutions. And you probably have a story about encountering hunger in your church or community. Perhaps you’ve volunteered at a soup kitchen or traveled abroad on a mission trip.

Projecting your voice means directing it toward people who can hear it. Bread also supplies this. We give you the means to communicate with your members of Congress and the times to do so. We alert you to legislation that is being considered and invite you to call, email, write to, or even visit your members of Congress.

Bread is here to help you and equip you in using your voice. Like my singing teacher, we can help you find your own voice, to bring out what’s beautiful about your tone and expression, and to choose what you want to sing.

One thing you can use your voice for today is the Global Food Security Act (H.R. 1567), which was reintroduced in the House recently. This legislation would make Feed the Future a permanent program. Feed the Future is a global hunger and food-security initiative of our federal government that would save many more lives if it were passed into law.

Call or email your U.S. representative today. Urge him/her 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 - our "choir" of voices on Capitol Hill. 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.

Stephen Padre is the managing editor for Bread for the World.

Finding Common Cause to End Poverty: The Power of Faith


Watch a high-level panel featuring prominent faith-based organizations, religious leaders, and World Bank President Jim Yong Kim discuss the role of faith in combating poverty. April 15, 2015, World Bank Headquarters, Washington, D.C. 

By Robin Stephenson

Pope Francis called "poverty a scandal," and Gandhi said, "We must be the change we want to see in the world." Poverty is complex but solvable if enough of us act in unison. The question is: Do we have the faith to end poverty?

For the first time in history, a broad coalition of diverse religious leaders and faith-based organizations, including Bread for the World, believes we do and that the moment to act is now.

Over 30 religious leaders and groups are joining the World Bank to end the scandal of extreme poverty and be the force of change. In February, the coalition released a statement titled, Ending Extreme Poverty: A Moral and Spiritual Imperative.

Bread-faith2endpoverty-meme-2Every faith views hunger and poverty as a moral problem. Leaders from these diverse religious traditions believe we can end extreme poverty by 2030. To do so, political leaders must implement evidence-based solutions. These religious leaders believe that moral consensus will help make it happen.

Recent history has shown it is possible to make dramatic progress against poverty when political leaders choose to make it a priority.  Since 1990, the number of people living in extreme poverty or on $1.25 a day has been halved to less than one billion. Imagine the power of faith to accelerate that progress.

On a panel of faith leaders at World Bank headquarters in Washington, D.C., yesterday, World Bank President Jim Yong Kim talked about why the World Bank is teaming up with faith leaders to combat extreme poverty.

“If the 188 member countries of the World Bank can agree that our mission going forward is to end extreme poverty,” said Kim, “then it really is important for us to make common cause with religious institutions that have been saying this for millennia."

Evidence has shown us what works. To end extreme poverty, economic growth must directly impact the people we want to pull people out of poverty. To do so, Kim said we must concentrate on a three-pronged approach: develop strategies that grow economies, invest in people, and create social-protection programs that keep people from falling back into poverty.

Bread has been influential in forging relationships between faith leaders and the World Bank because we know the power of faith. In 40 years of faith-based, anti-hunger advocacy, we have seen how moral consensus can change the hearts and minds of decision-makers in Washington, D.C.  Your advocacy was critical in pushing the U.S. government to act on the Millennium Development Goals that helped cut extreme poverty in half.

As religious leaders around the world stand in this historical moment and address the scandal of poverty, faithful advocates must also be ready to act and be the change. 

In 2015, Bread invites you to learn about hunger and to join us in our effort to end hunger by 2030.

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

Tell Congress to Put an End to Global Hunger

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Women farmers tending to their crops in Kamuli, Uganda. Laura Elizabeth Pohl/Bread for the World.

By Bread Staff

Asma Lateef, the director of Bread for the World Institute, recently wrote about the integral role the Feed the Future initiative plays in ending global hunger. The U.S. House of Representatives recently reintroduced The Global Food Security Act (H.R. 1567), which would make the Feed the Future program permanent law.  

Lateef's commentary appeared on the Feed the Future website. Here are some excerpts:

“Ending global hunger depends on giving people and communities access to the tools they need to feed their families and build stronger local food systems. That’s why Bread for the World’s grassroots members and staff have long advocated for U.S. leadership in investing in agriculture and food security in developing countries.

Feed the Future was created to do just that. It is the American response to the 2007-2008 global food price crisis that devastated tens of millions of poor and vulnerable people around the world.” 

“Bread staff members have traveled to Bangladesh and Nepal to see the impact of Feed the Future. In southern Bangladesh, women with little formal education were coming together in “garden talks.” After a brief refresher on what good nutrition requires, the discussion moved to local foods that were rich in the various essential nutrients. In western Nepal, Bread staff went to a cooking demonstration. Along with a group of mothers with toddlers, they learned how to make a snack of potato patties more nutritious. The mothers were shown how they could do this without spending a lot of extra money, by cooking the patties in an egg batter and adding local vegetables they could grow themselves.

Food prices have stabilized in recent years and Feed the Future programs are enabling farmers and families, like these women, to learn how to make the best use of the resources available to them. Over the last five years, Congress has increased funding for agriculture and nutrition and is now considering a bill that would make Feed the Future permanent.

Bread for the World is working toward the day that all families are able to grow or buy enough nutritious food for an active, healthy life. Feed the Future – the program itself and its leadership by example – is bringing that day closer."

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.

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

Bread-faith2endpoverty-meme-1

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

Capitol 2
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.

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