404 posts categorized "Global Hunger"
Women’s empowerment is the focus of this year’s Hunger Report, When Women Flourish…We Can End Hunger. Stephan Bachenheimer/World Bank.
By Robin Stephenson
In 2000, governments across the globe agreed to make ending hunger a priority. They established measurable goals and a common framework that would drive policy decisions and ultimately cut extreme poverty in half by 2015.
Like me, you may have first heard about the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) through your church.
In 2008, as part of its Offering of Letters workshop, my church’s advocacy committee set up eight stations in our sanctuary to teach us about the hunger-reducing goals. After learning about each MDG, our task was to write our members of Congress and urge them to act.
The first station was a pedestal with a bowl of rice on it. As I let the individual grains sift through my fingers, I reflected on a question written there: Can we cut extreme poverty in half?
I’ll admit that I was more of a skeptic than an optimist. Extreme poverty means living on $1.25 a day. In 1990, that was the wage that 43 percent of the world earned each day. The question seemed overwhelming and the solution impossible.
I couldn’t have been more wrong.
By 2010, the number of people who lived on $1.25 a day dropped to roughly 21 percent. In other words, we achieved the first goal and cut extreme poverty in half five years before the 2015 deadline!
Still, nearly 1 billion people continue to live on $1.25 a day. There is more work to do, but the MDGs expire in a little over 300 days.
Overall, the strategy was a success, and we have learned some surprising things. The world can and will galvanize around a plan to end hunger. We increase our impact when we have a shared strategy. By defining measurable goals, we now have data–even missing data–that can better inform a path forward.
Even when results were less than stellar, we gained valuable information. For example, women’s empowerment has been slow and uneven. In areas where the MDG framework helped empower women, progress against hunger is accelerated.
Fouzia Abdikadir Dahir, a Mandela Washington Fellow and native of Kenya, is one of those empowered leaders transforming her community.
Dahir founded the Northwestern Organization for Social Empowerment in her country. She contributed to this year’s Hunger Report, When Women Flourish…We Can End Hunger. “Being a pastoral woman from this region who has made it this far,” she writes, “I plan to use every opportunity to advocate for the rights of these women and girls.”
Now the question is what happens next. After another round of consultations with the world’s governments, the answer is coming in the form of a new framework: Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
The SDGs, expected to be adopted at a summit this coming September in New York, will set international development priorities through 2030. The suggested 17 goals aim to do more than halve extreme poverty – but end it.
Can we end hunger by 2030? After seeing what the world did in 15 short years, my answer is an emphatic yes!
Robin Stephenson is the national lead for social media and a senior regional organizer at Bread for the World.
By Robin Stephenson
Tonight at 9 p.m. EST, President Obama will deliver the State of the Union address – a time-honored tradition – and outline his priorities for next year. Immediately afterward, Sen. Joni Ernst (R-Iowa) will deliver the Republican response. Will hunger and poverty rank as priorities?
“The State of the Union matters to those of us working to end hunger,” says LaVida Davis, director of organizing and grassroots capacity at Bread for the World. “Both the president and the response will give clues as to what will be prioritized in next year’s budget. If they aren’t talking about ending hunger, they won’t fund the programs that will.”
Although the economy is improving, millions of families still struggle to make ends meet - 45 million Americans live at or below the poverty line. Policies that marginalize groups of individuals increase food insecurity in the United States. Laws passed with the aim of ending hunger make an impact. Internationally, the implementation of smart policies has achieved dramatic progress against hunger and poverty; the number of people living in extreme poverty has been cut in half since 1990. We believe that we can end hunger and poverty by 2030 if our nation’s leaders make it a priority.
Tonight we will listen for hunger-ending key words. Below is a list of the words or phrases we hope to hear. Positive reinforcement helps, so we will praise each mention as we live tweet the speeches from @bread4theworld.
Child nutrition: When one in five children lives in families that struggle to put food on the table, passing a child nutrition bill with improvements will give more children at risk of hunger access to healthy food. Protecting SNAP (formerly food stamps) will also be key to reducing child hunger.
The earned income tax credit (EITC) and the child tax credit: Low-income tax credits pull more children out of poverty than any other government program. It is time to make the credits permanent.
Paid family leave: The president will take executive action to extend paid leave to federal employees, reflecting a key recommendation in the Bread for the World Institute’s 2014 Hunger Report, Ending Hunger in America. Congress should follow suit with policy changes that will benefit all U.S. workers
Mass incarceration: Policies that regulate our criminal justice system are increasing hunger and poverty in low-income communities, especially communities of color. Passing smarter sentencing laws and improving the re-entry process for returning citizens would help restore fairness in our justice system.
Immigration reform: An estimated 11.2 million unauthorized immigrants live in the shadows where hunger and poverty persist. Reform should include a path to citizenship and also address the root causes of migration to the United States.
Feed the Future: A global hunger and food-security initiative, Feed the Future is a driver behind recent progress against global hunger. It is time to codify the initiative into permanent law.
Food-aid reform: By updating our food-aid policies, we can help feed millions more with no additional tax dollars.
AGOA: The African Growth and Opportunity Act seeks to increase mutually beneficial trade ties between the United States and Africa and can help move millions out of poverty.
Join the conversation on Twitter, and help us empower our leaders tonight. When they talk about hunger, make sure they hear us applaud with a tweet. Let’s start by asking them to talk about hunger now.
Robin Stephenson is the national lead for social media and senior regional organizer at Bread for the World.
By Fito Moreno
As snow covered Washington, D.C., yesterday, I sighed. I should have done my grocery shopping on Saturday and not indulged in Netflix. After work, I had to traverse a city that falls apart after only 2 inches of snow to grab milk, bread, and cereal, and walk on poorly shoveled sidewalks to get home.
Yet the mere fact that I live in a city where I can walk to the store to get groceries would be a blessing to millions living in conflict areas such as eastern Ukraine.
Food reserves in that part of the country are fully depleted, and infrastructure is partly destroyed, including transportation routes and city markets, according to a report by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. The simple task of buying a loaf of bread has become almost impossible in some areas due to the damage done by the conflict.
It is estimated that 5.2 million people are currently living in the conflict-affected area and a little over 1 million having been displaced.
The World Food Program is one of the major aid groups providing assistance to the region. It depends primarily on voluntary donations from national governments. The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) gave $3 million directly to the WFP in November to assist 120,000 Ukrainians affected by conflict.
Last year, Bread advocated to ensure that food aid was more flexible. With help from our members, we halted passage of a provision in a Coast Guard Reauthorization bill that would have increased the percentage of food aid required to be shipped on U.S. vessels from 50 to 75 percent. If it had passed, it would have reduced the reach of food aid programs by 2 million people annually.
Our advocacy also helped increase funding for poverty-focused development from $24 billion to $27 billion, which specifically goes toward international disaster assistance, global health, and USAID.
Making legislative changes on government policies might not be the sexy side of politics that trends on Twitter, but it allows us to respond efficiently to our brothers and sisters around the world when they need us most.
As I unpacked my eco-friendly grocery bag last night, I was thankful that I live in a conflict-free zone. I will continue to talk with my members of Congress to ensure families don’t go hungry because of conflict.
As the 114th Congress begins its work, we’ll need your help to ensure that food-aid reform is a priority. Bread will continue to work on this issue and urge Congress to pass legislation that helps those who need food the most to get it. Learn more: U.S. Food-Aid Reform.
Fito Moreno is acting manager of media relations and a media relations specialist at Bread for the World.
Editor’s note: Bread Blog is running a six-part series highlighting Bread for the World’s legislative wins in 2014. Today’s post looks at the Feed the Future Authorization/Global Food Security Act.
By Bread Staff
Feed the Future, a global hunger and food-security initiative, improves the livelihoods of smallholder farmers, strengthens maternal and child nutrition, and builds capacity for long-term agricultural growth. In fact, seven million small farmers grew more crops and provided nutritious food to 12.5 million children in 2013 alone under the program.
The initiative was created in 2009 by the Obama administration. However, components of the initiative began during the George W. Bush administration as a U.S. response to the rapid rise in global food prices that occurred in 2007.
Traditionally, the program has been funded by Congress through annual spending legislation. Last year marked the first time Congress introduced legislation to authorize the program, which has been a long-standing Bread priority.
On Sept. 18, 2014, H.R. 5656, the Global Food Security Act, was introduced by Reps. Christopher Smith (R-N.J.) and Betty McCollum (D-Minn.), and Sens. Robert Casey (D-Pa.), Chris Coons (D-Del.), Mike Johanns (R-Neb.), Johnny Isakson (R-Ga.), and John Boozman (R-Ark.) introduced the companion bill (S. 2909) in the Senate.
This bipartisan legislation moved quickly through Congress, and on Dec. 17, 2014, the House overwhelmingly passed H.R. 5656 by voice vote, a one-year authorization of Feed the Future. In a Congress known for gridlock, this was a major victory. While this bill did not pass the Senate, congressional champions have indicated a commitment to introduce and pass legislation in 2015.
The future of this program remains in the balance without official statutory approval by Congress. The bipartisan bills in the House and Senate would permanently codify and authorize this comprehensive approach to global food security, ensuring the initiative continues beyond the current administration.
“Our legislative wins aren’t always grabbing headlines, but they’re significant and affect millions of lives,” said Amelia Kegan, deputy director of government relations at Bread for the World. “This list of legislative accomplishments reminds us that sustained, faithful advocacy really works and really does bring change. We’ve got our work cut out for us in 2015, but let these successes of 2014 motivate, inspire, and energize us for the path ahead.”
Bread will continue to work hard to make sure that Feed the Future becomes law in 2015. Continue to read Bread Blog throughout the year for the latest information on how you can help. Learn more: Feed the Future.
By Andrew Wainer
Bread for the World pushed hard in 2014 for Congress to address hunger, poverty, and violence in Central America - factors that drove the spike in child migrants to the United States earlier this year. Congress finally listened and tucked $130 million for a basket of poverty-reduction programs into the $1.01 trillion spending bill it passed in December.
In addition to the funding, the spending bill calls for “a strategy to address the key factors…contributing to the migration of unaccompanied, undocumented minors to the United States…Such strategy shall include a clear mission statement, achievable goals and objectives, benchmarks, timelines, and a spending plan.”
In simple terms, Congress looks like it is getting serious about addressing the root causes of immigration in terms of funding, research, and analysis. But much will depend on how the new funding is implemented. The U.S. Department of State and USAID will be responsible for implementing the migration and development strategy. However, there are few details right now on how the strategy will be developed, where the funding is coming from, and how it will be used.
The needs of the region are great. Violence is endemic in the Northern Triangle nations of Guatemala, El Salvador, and Honduras, where much of the recent unauthorized immigration has originated. Inequality is rampant, and, in some cases, more than half of the population of these countries lives in poverty.
But there are innovative pilot programs and models that should be considered as part of the migration and development strategy. Although a small agency, the Inter-American Foundation is a pioneer in implementing development programs in Central America that include evaluating their impact on deterring undocumented immigration.
There are also partnerships including philanthropic organizations like the Ford Foundation that have worked with towns in El Salvador, the Salvadoran diaspora in the United States, and Salvadoran municipalities to create livelihoods for women and mothers left behind by husbands who have migrated to the United States.
The Millennium Challenge Corporation has the potential to play a major role in reforming development policy in Central America. With investments of hundreds of millions of dollars in El Salvador and the approval of new grant money in Guatemala, any development strategy targeting migration in Central America should include the MCC in a central role.
Bread for the World will continue to watch developments on this front. And when needed, we will mobilize to ensure that Congress lives up to its commitment of addressing the migration issue in the United States.
Andrew Wainer is a senior immigration policy analyst at Bread for the World Institute.
This week, faithful advocacy won out over special interests in a modern-day David and Goliath story. Using messages of faith as virtual slingshots aimed at Congress, Bread members across the country told lawmakers to prioritize food for hungry people over profit for shipping conglomerates - and they listened.
This week, in the final days of the 113th Congress, lawmakers passed a bill funding the Coast Guard for 2015 that rolled back proposals to increase subsidies to the world’s largest shipping companies to ship U.S. food aid.
Last spring, a provision was quietly slipped into a Coast Guard bill that the House passed, which called for an increase in the amount of food aid required to be shipped on U.S. vessels.
Bread advocates with the help of Bread organizers responded quickly by targeting key members on the Senate Commerce Committee, the committee that considered the legislation next.
Jon Gromek, a Bread regional organizer whose territory includes West Virginia, supported advocates as they engaged with Sen. Jay Rockefeller. He chairs the Senate Commerce Committee. Committee chairs are important advocacy targets because they are also the gatekeepers that can either allow or prevent bills from moving forward. West Virginia advocates made it clear to Sen. Rockefeller that feeding people was a moral issue.
“Nuns called Senator Rockefeller, echoing the call of faith leaders across the state who wrote to him on food aid reform,” Gromek said.
In Indiana, another member of the Commerce Committee heard from anti-hunger advocates. “Bread activists spent two hours on a Thursday morning before a critical committee vote to ensure Senator Dan Coats voted by proxy,” Gromek said. “His vote was a critical swing ‘yea’ to positively advance food-aid reform.”
Advocates also spoke up on the other side of the country. David Gist, who organizes in California, said persistence and teamwork was key to their efforts.
“The Bay Area Bread team lobbied Sen. Barbara Boxer to the point that Senate staffers became as adept as Bread members at articulating our talking points,” Gist said. Sen. Boxer is also a member of the Commerce Committee.
“A number of churches, unable to confirm local lobby meetings, chose to hand deliver their Offerings of Letters and used these drop-by visits,” Gist added. “In short, California advocates were relentless!”
From his base in Bread for the World’s Chicago office, organizer Zach Schmidt helped faith leaders in Illinois and Missouri get a message out. Schmidt organized sign-on letters that garnered hundreds of signatures by faith leaders.
In St. Louis, two more committee members were targeted through local media. “A diverse trio of leaders wrote an op-ed in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch in May, urging Sens. Roy Blunt and Claire McCaskill to reject a provision that would have harmed hungry people,” Schmidt said.
Meeting congressional staffers locally is another tactic Schmidt encouraged advocates to use.
“And most recently,” Schmidt said, “a group of leaders, led by Rev. Dr. Doyle Sager, met with staff from the senators’ offices to discuss this issue.” Sager is senior pastor at First Baptist Church, Jefferson, Mo.
All of this advocacy happened as part of Bread’s 2014 Offering of Letters: Reforming U.S. Food Aid. Next year’s Offering of Letters will focus on a different topic.
Bread will continue to work on food-aid reform and urge Congress to pass the Food for Peace Reform Act next year. For now, as this campaign and year draw to a close, let’s take a moment and celebrate the power of the faithful voice and the victories advocacy has won for people who are hungry.
“This is the fruit of faithful, persistent advocacy,” said Rev. David Beckmann, president of Bread for the World, in a statement to the press yesterday.
Learn more: U.S. Food Aid Reform
Robin Stephenson is the national lead for social media and a senior reigonal organizer at Bread for the World
Photo: (Bread for the World)
By Eric Mitchell
Thanks to your calls, letters, and emails, the House of Representatives just passed the Global Food Security Act late last night. The Senate has two days left to pass this bill into law.
People told us Congress was too gridlocked to pass this bill, but we proved them wrong. As people of faith, we spoke up with a united voice and convinced Democrats and Republicans alike to authorize Feed the Future, the program under this law. Last year, this program reached 12.5 million children.
Feed the Future is improving the lives of millions of people around the world, ensuring that young children receive the proper nourishment that enables them to grow and thrive. It also gives smallholder farmers access to new tools and technologies that improve yields and boost incomes.
If the Senate can pass the Global Food Security Act (S. 2909) in the next two days, Feed the Future will become law. We need the Senate to vote on this bill before leaving for the holidays. With only a couple of days left in the 113th Congress, we need you to act now!
Call (800/826-3688) or email your U.S. senators today. Urge your senator to pass the Global Food Security Act (S. 2909)!
God is moving in our time to end hunger, and the legislation Congress considers is a part of that movement. You are a part of this movement! A bill that once appeared blocked by gridlock is so close to becoming law. Call your senators today, and push S. 2909 over the finish line.
Eric Mitchell is the director of government relations at Bread for the World.
Bread for the World celebrates today the 66th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the rights it set out. As a voice for and with people who are marginalized, we hold these rights closely and believe in the worth and dignity of all human beings.
Ensuring that all people have the right to live free of hunger and poverty is the reason Bread supports anti-poverty programs like the earned income tax credit (EITC), child tax credit (CTC), international food aid, and the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act.
The UDHR grew out of the Four Freedoms adopted by the Allied powers as basic war aims during World War II. The Four Freedoms are freedom of speech, freedom of worship, freedom from want, and freedom from fear.
The freedoms were based on a State of the Union address delivered by Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1941. FDR proposed that these freedoms were fundamental freedoms which everyone in the world ought to enjoy.
A major emphasis in FDR’s speech, coming during the Great Depression, is the freedom from want, which establishes a minimum entitlement to food, clothing, and housing. FDR began his speech with "freedom from want—which, translated into world terms, means economic understandings which will secure to every nation a healthy peacetime life for its inhabitants—everywhere in the world."
Article 25 in the UDHR recognizes the freedom from want and reads partially as “everyone has the right to a standard of living adequate for the health and well-being of himself and his family, including food, clothing, housing…”
FDR’s speech became the inspiration for the much-heralded “Freedom from Want” oil painting by Norman Rockwell. The painting, also known as “The Thanksgiving Picture” or “I’ll Be Home for Christmas,” depicts a family around a dinner table preparing to share a holiday meal.
The painting is the third in the Four Freedom series by Rockwell. The painting is an idyllic representation of family values and clearly illustrates the concept of the freedom from want. The painting, which was first published in “The Saturday Evening Post,” included a companion essay written by Carlos Bulosan, a Filipino immigrant and labor organizer.
Today’s anniversary is great cause for celebration and to reflect on the progress that has resulted from it. But at the same time, further push must continue to end hunger. Every year we produce more than enough to feed every single person in the world, yet nearly 1 billion go to bed hungry every night. This is the greatest scandal of our age. The problem is not a shortage but rather that undernourished people, who need food most, do not have access to it.
As the world’s largest donor of food aid, the United States can free up even more food resources and prioritize nutrition. A bill in the Senate, The Food for Peace Reform Act (S. 2421), addresses reform, and we are urging senators to cosponsor the bill. Celebrate the UDHR by advocating for the right to live free of hunger and email your senator today.
Will Coupe was a fall intern in the communications department at Bread for the World.
Photo: Wikimedia Commons
By Beth Ann Saracco
“I ask the U.N. not to leave us. We need food, diesel, and clothes…Soon it will start to snow. What do we do?”
These questions and this desperate plea were voiced by Aisha, a Syrian refugee, in an article by The Associated Press, who painted a picture of a dire situation coming together for people like her who have fled their war-torn country. Recently “60 Minutes” covered the Syrian refugee crisis and how essentials like access to food could soon dry up.
On Monday, the U.N. World Food Program (WFP) announced it would suspend its food voucher program due to a severe cash shortfall, a decision that will leave nearly 1.7 million Syrian refugees in neighboring countries, such as Jordan, Lebanon, and Turkey struggling to pay for food. Prior to the program’s suspension, the WFP was providing refugees with $15 to $45 monthly voucher cards to purchase food in local markets. The suspension couldn’t have come at a worse time – as winter approaches.
The demand for humanitarian aid around the world is unprecedented at the moment. In fact, the United Nations has declared “Level 3” humanitarian emergencies – the highest U.N. classification for the most severe, large-scale humanitarian crises – in Syria, Iraq, South Sudan, the Central African Republic, and West Africa.
The WFP made the decision to suspend the Syrian refugee program due to the complex nature of the Syrian crisis and a shortfall in funding from pledges not received. At a pledging conference earlier this year in Kuwait, more than $2 billion was pledged by donor countries, but only about 40 percent has been committed, leaving a shortfall for this month of $64 million. Refugee operations in Kuwait cost approximately $35 million a week.
To fill the gap, the WFP is calling on major donor countries like the United States and Middle East countries including Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, the United Arab Emirates, Qatar, and Bahrain to make good on their pledges. While the U.S. has met a large portion of its commitment, it needs to place this issue at the top of its diplomatic agenda and use its leadership to urge other nations to meet their own pledging commitments.
Furthermore, Congress needs to take action and pass President Obama’s Ebola supplemental request of $6.2 billion. The request is critical because the money supports the International Disaster Assistance account which funds not only the U.S. response to Ebola overseas, but also some of the U.S. contribution to the WFP. We urge Bread for the World members to call Congress and ask their senators and representative to pass President Obama’s Ebola supplemental request and include funding for the International Disaster Assistance account.
Beth Ann Saracco is an international policy analyst at Bread for the World
Former Bread for the World staffer and board member Gyude Moore is paving the way for a more food-secure Liberia. Bread is pleased to learn that Moore, a native of Liberia, was confirmed today as the West African nation’s new Minister of Public Works.
Leading the government agency responsible for fixing Liberia’s road system, Moore faces a daunting, but not insurmountable task. The nation is still recovering from a 14-year civil war – recovery that is now complicated by the worst Ebola outbreak in history.
The Ebola virus, affecting several West African countries, is expected to leave a full-blown food crisis in its wake. More than 3,000 Liberians have died from Ebola, leaving harvests endangered, markets disrupted, and food prices high. Increased food insecurity adds urgency to fixing Liberia’s highways and byways, conduits to move life-saving resources throughout the country. The deplorable state of roads makes reaching quarantined communities with food and health services unnecessarily difficult and time consuming.
Moore is ready for the challenge. “Ebola has re-emphasized the need for these roads as they are the major connection between rural communities and health facilities,” he wrote in an email to Bread after his confirmation. “I am excited about the opportunity of expanding these roads into parts of the country that are yet without roads.”
Liberia has 66,000 miles of roads, but less than 7 percent are paved. USAID reports, “it is cheaper, by volume, to ship rice the 7,500 miles from Thailand to Monrovia than it is from Gbarnga, a leading agricultural community just over 100 miles away.”
Although the resource-rich nation remains one of the poorest, Liberia has made steady economic progress through hard work and strategic partnerships.
“Our road infrastructure development is a critical portion of our poverty reduction and development strategy,” Moore said in the email. “This is especially true for our farm to market-feeder road programs.”
The West often takes roads for granted, but for fragile post-conflict countries like Liberia, an impassable thoroughfare is a roadblock keeping agricultural products from markets with dire consequences for farmer’s livelihoods.
Agriculture accounts for 61 percent of Liberia’s GDP, and strengthening the industry is a key component in overcoming high rates of hunger and malnutrition. Investments from U.S.-funded Feed the Future and companion programs are critical to Liberia’s efforts to build agricultural resiliency. Feed the Future takes into account the entire agricultural value chain – all inputs required to move a product from farm to consumer.
Earlier this year, Feed the Future helped farmers produce a rice surplus in Lofa County. But surpluses won’t lead to economic self-sufficiency if farmers can’t reach a market to sell them. Passable roads are an important link in the agriculture value chain.
Moore’s days as a grassroots organizer may seem like a lifetime ago, but he has never forgotten them. “In essence, I never really left Bread,” he said in the email, “because even in this role, I’m doing the same things we did at Bread, except now in a different capacity.”
Read more about Moore’s path back to Liberia in this 2012 Bread for the World interview.
You can support legislation to make Feed the Future permanent by contacting your member of Congress today and urging them to cosponsor the Global Food Security Act of 2014.
Robin Stephenson is the national lead for social media and a senior regional organizer at Bread for the World.
Inset photo: Liberian road. (USAID)
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