Urging our nation's leaders to end hunger
 

363 posts categorized "Hunger and the U.S. Budget"

Veterans Hit Hard by Cut to SNAP

Today, as we observe Veterans Day and recognize those who served in the U.S. military, some veterans may be spending the day wondering where their next meal will come from.

This year, Veterans Day comes a little more than a week after an $11 billion cut in food stamp benefits went into effect. Millions of Americans, including many veterans, will see their grocery budgets shrink because of this change. 

According to Census figures, roughly 900,000 veterans, in any given month, lived in households that relied on SNAP in 2011. The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, in a recent study on how the Nov. 1 cut will impact veterans , found that thousands of vets in every state will be affected. "For low-income veterans, who may be unemployed, working in low-wage jobs, or disabled, SNAP provides an essential support that enables them to purchase nutritious food for their families," the study found. 

Philadelphia vet Bill Olsson recently told a local TV station that he is one of the 59,300 veterans in Pennsylvania who relies on SNAP, and that the Nov. 1 cut affects his ability to buy enough groceries to feed himself. "I have no income, and then no food stamps, how am I supposed to live?" Olsson said in an interview with KYW-TV. "Elderly people like myself have worked their whole life, and now can’t work, and depend on food stamps."

Congress is currently negotiating the farm bill, which will impact SNAP and other vital anti-hunger programs. Additional cuts to SNAP would make it even more difficult for millions of Americans, and thousands of veterans like Olsson, to eat.

Florida resident and Vietnam veteran Charles Boykin says, in the clip above, that he can't understand why legislators would do anything to reduce his SNAP allotment. "Why take it away from us?" he asks of Congress. "We were there for them, why can't they be there for us?"

*

Forty-nine million Americans live at risk of hunger — SNAP must be protected in the farm bill.   Email your members of Congress now and tell them that any final farm bill must not increase hunger.

Act Now: 80 Million Meals Eliminated Since Last Friday

A+ABy Eric Mitchell

Only the current Congress would allow cuts to critical anti-hunger programs, taking food away from parents struggling in this economy to put food on the table for their kids. Last Friday — on the first day of a month in which we celebrate bounty with a national feast—all families receiving SNAP (formerly food stamps) saw their benefits cut. The average family of four lost up to $36 a month.

This $11 billion cut over four years equals nearly 10 million meals each day. That's 80 million meals eliminated since the SNAP cut went into effect last Friday! This is as if nearly all of the residents of the states of California, Texas, Pennsylvania, and Colorado did not eat for a day. And some in Congress are pushing for far more extreme cuts to SNAP.

Email your members of Congress now and tell them this is unacceptable!

As we move toward Thanksgiving and Christmas and prepare to gather with friends and family around big meals and parties with lots of food, we know you will be making many trips to the grocery store. We encourage you to use your trips to the store as an occasion to give thanks to God for our bounty and as a reminder to take action on behalf of those who have experienced SNAP cuts. We invite you to say this prayer every time you visit the grocery store this season: God, empower us and our leaders to fill the hungry with good things.

In the coming weeks, as the number of eliminated meals from SNAP cuts grows, we will call upon you to continue saying this prayer as you buy food and share this message with your members of Congress.

Right now, Congress is debating whether to allow cuts to nutrition assistance for low-income women and children to continue under sequestration. Already, struggling seniors have had to go without 4 million meals because of cuts to the Meals on Wheels program, and if sequestration continues, another 4 million meals could be cut.

We can make a difference this fall, but there’s not much time. Congress has just a few weeks to reverse the harmful cuts put in place by sequestration and to pass a farm bill. And these cuts threaten so much more—funding for international emergency food aid, poverty-focused foreign assistance, nutrition assistance for struggling seniors and pregnant women, and Head Start for low-income children.

Tell your members of Congress that all should share in the bounty and they must not cut programs that help struggling families.

Thank you for your continued prayers and action during this critical time.

Eric Mitchell is Bread for the World's director of government relations.

Photo: Alex Morris feeds her son, André, in their Bend, OR, home. Alex depends on SNAP, WIC and other programs to care for André, who suffers from a serious medical condition that affects his hormonal system (Brad Horn).

 

Cutting Poverty and Expanding Opportunity


Good jobs that pay a living wage are key to addressing U.S. income inequality. Photo: Roofers install solar panels on a home in the District of Columbia (Courtesy of Mt. Pleasant Solar Coop).

By Allie Gardner

The U.S. economy is continuing to slowly, steadily recover, but too many families are not sharing in the nation’s economic growth, according to a new report from Half in Ten

“Resetting the Poverty Debate: Renewing Our Commitment to Shared Prosperity” finds that income inequality remained high even as the economy grew during the last year. This annual report tracks the nation’s progress toward cutting poverty in half over the next decade, and recommends a set of policy priorities that would help more families escape poverty and enter the middle class. The report cites job creation, boosting wages, and investing in family economic security as means of accomplishing this, and also calls on Congress to end sequestration, and invest in programs that keep Americans out of poverty.

Increasing the minimum wage would help narrow the gap between productivity and compensation, as well as boost the income of low-wage workers, the report finds. While the top five percent of U.S. income earners are the only group that has seen an increase in income since the end of the recession, poorly compensated workers have seen the largest declines in their wages over the last ten years.

The importance of federal safety net programs, such as SNAP (formerly food stamps) and Social Security, is also noted. The former has helped stabilize the food-insecurity rate in recent years, and the latter lifted the income of 25.6 million Americans above the supplemental poverty line. Rev. David Beckmann, president of Bread for the World, stressed the importance of these programs at the launch event for the report. Beckmann explained that SNAP “is very vulnerable to deep, deep cuts,” as many members of Congress do not prioritize it. “All of us need to rally around SNAP,” Beckmann added. 

Cutting poverty in half over the next ten years is an important mission.  In order to achieve this goal, Bread for the World believes that hunger and poverty must be put on the national agenda during the next election. Additionally, we must continue to remind our members of Congress that our nation's budget has to be a moral document that reflects our nation's concern for the most vulnerable. 

Allie Gardner is an editorial intern at Bread for the World.

Coming months bring busy Congressional agenda for hunger and poverty issues

Lobby Day Photo by Jim Stipe / Bread for the World
We will be calling on you during the coming months to protect SNAP and food-aid reform, help end the sequester, and advance immigration reform. Photo: Lobby day activists (Jim Stipe for Bread for the World).

The Oct. 16 budget deal in Congress re-opened the government and raised the debt ceiling for a few months longer. This deal and new deadlines have set off an intense period in which Bread for the World will have to work extremely hard to protect funding for programs that address hunger and help people move out of poverty in the U.S. and around the world.

From now through January, Bread for the World’s primary focus will be on three legislative priorities:

  1. Protecting SNAP and international food-aid reform during the final negotiations on the farm bill
  2. Advocating for a 2014 budget agreement that ends the sequester and provides revenues
  3. Advancing comprehensive immigration reform

Last week, some parts of this busy fall and winter legislative agenda got underway. Congress' budget conference committee held an organizing meeting and its first public meeting, and the farm bill conference committee held its first public meeting. Meanwhile, on Nov. 1, $11 billion in food stamp (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP) cuts went into effect.

We will need your help in order to achieve our legislative priorities, especially since the timing that these issues will be dealt with is tight. Here are key dates to note:

November 2013

  • 13: Budget conference committee holds its second public meeting
  • 25: Bread for the World Institute releases its 2014 Hunger Report: Ending Hunger in America

December 2013

  • 13: Deadline for the budget conference committee to reach an agreement

January 2014

  • 1: Certain effects of expired farm bill begin (milk prices, etc.)
  • 15: Continuing resolution for federal budget expires. Congress must pass a spending bill to prevent another government shutdown.

February 2014

  • 7: Debt-ceiling extension expires. Treasury Department begins using extraordinary measures to prevent default.

March 2014 or later

  • Treasury Department exhausts all extraordinary measures, and Congress must raise the debt ceiling to prevent a default.

Throughout this intense period, we will be calling on you again and again to help urge your members of Congress to advance our legislative priorities. Thank you for your commitment to ending hunger and for going with us into these busy few months.

Congressional Budget Negotiations Begin

Photo 06 cap bldg joe policy focus
(Joseph Molieri/Bread for the World)

By Traci Carlson

Last week, the congressional budget conference committee met to kick off negotiations.  The initial meeting of the committee was dominated by opening statements from some of the 29 members, rather than the serious talks that will occur over the next few weeks.

During the Oct. 30 hearing, the two committee chairs, Rep.  Paul Ryan (R-Wisc.) and Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.), set a collegial tone for negotiations, expressing interest in finding common ground. Although senators outnumber representatives nearly three to one, that will not give them an advantage during the votes.  

Congressional leaders have indicated they don’t expect the conference to emerge with a big, trillion-dollar, deficit-reduction deal. However, Bread for the World is hopeful that legislators will reach a smaller compromise that addresses sequestration for a year, or possibly two, without balancing the budget on the backs of struggling families.

Many members of the committee highlighted issues that are important to the 46 million Americans living in poverty. Members from both parties touched on continued high unemployment and long-term unemployment and the need for quality jobs that allow people to  lift themselves out of poverty, improving the economy in the process. Members also mentioned the need for a responsible budget with additional revenues, and the necessity of ending the sequester.

Sen. Christopher Coons (D-Del.) explicitly called for a “circle of protection” during his opening statement, promising to work toward a budget that prioritizes “the most vulnerable in our country and that honors our promises to our seniors, to our veterans, and to those about to retire, to protect them from harmful cuts.” Bread for the World appreciates his strong support and leadership in demanding that our nation’s budget decisions address hunger and poverty. Please support members of the conference who, like Sen. Coons, stand up for struggling families—call their offices and thank them.  

Overall, this initial meeting signaled a positive start. The negotiators expressed eagerness to work together, prevent additional government shutdowns, and pass a budget through the end of fiscal year 2014. The next public hearing is scheduled for Nov. 13.

As negotiations continue, there are four major issues Bread will be following. We will be watching to ensure that Congress:  

(1)Agrees on a budget that adequately funds programs serving struggling families in the U.S. and around the world,

(2) Replaces sequestration with a balanced plan that includes revenues and responsible spending cuts,

(3) Protects vital anti-hunger programs, such as SNAP, in any plan to replace sequestration, and

(4) Avoids protecting defense spending at the expense of non-defense programs.

Most of the negotiating and deal-making will occur over the next four weeks. It is imperative that your members of Congress hear from you, especially if they sit on the budget conference committee.  Call or email your members of Congress and tell them to: replace sequestration with a balanced plan that includes revenues and protects critical anti-hunger programs such as food stamps (SNAP).

Traci Carlson is Bread for the World's government relations coordinator.

SNAP, Non-Profit Supermarket Work in Tandem to Combat Hunger

 

Last month, residents of Chester, Pa., welcomed Fare & Square, the nation's first nonprofit grocery store. Fare & Square also has the distinction of being the city's only grocery store. Chester, a city about 20 miles southwest of Philadelphia, is a U.S. Department of Agriculture-designated food desert that lost its last supermarket more than 12 years ago.

Proximity to a grocery store can force shoppers to make food purchases based on ease of transport rather than taste, nutritional value, or cost. "To bring a gallon of milk is a hardship if you have to use two buses to get home," says Bill Clark, executive director of Philabundance, in the Moyers and Company video above. Philabundance is the anti-hunger non-profit organization behind the non-profit market model.

So far, as the report explains, sixty percent of the families in Chester have signed up for a Fare & Square membership, which allows those with annual incomes equal to or less than twice the federal poverty level to receive store credit each time they shop. And sixty percent of the store's shoppers are using SNAP benefits to pay for their food. Fare & Square recognizes the importance of SNAP and similar programs in feeding the people of Chester—city residents can receive help signing up for benefits at the store.

Bread for the World activist Tara Marks once said that she didn't live in a food desert, but a "food mirage"—she was surrounded by plenty, but didn't have enough money to buy food. SNAP changed that for her. Putting a grocery store in a food desert is a huge step toward improving food accessibility, but nutrition assistance programs are critical in connecting hungry people with that food.

To learn more about food deserts, and the Fare & Square model, watch the video below, or read the full Moyers & Company report here. To find out more about what you can do to help protect SNAP, which is being debated as part of congressional farm bill negotiations that begin this week, click here or contact your Bread for the World regional organizer.

Charting the Importance of SNAP

24_bags_infographic_500px

On Friday, all households receiving SNAP (formerly food stamps) will see a reduction in their benefits, as a temporary SNAP increase included in American Recover and Reinvestment Act of 2009, more commonly known as the stimulus act, ends. Some families will see their benefits drop by as much as $36 per month.

On Wednesday, the House and Senate began negotiations around the farm bill. The two chambers must reconcile their respective versions of the legislation, including a huge difference in proposed cuts to SNAP: the Senate version of the bill cuts $4 billion from the program over 10 years, while the House version cuts $39 billion.

It's a critical time for SNAP and the 47 million Americans who rely on this vital program.

SNAP is the our nation's first line of defense against hunger. We know that any cuts to SNAP would make it more difficult for struggling families to put food on the table. Churches and charities, for all they do, can't make up the difference: one in 24 bags of food assistance comes from a charitable organization, and federal nutrition programs provide the rest, as the above graphic shows. 

If you'd like more visual proof of SNAP's importance, check out this series of infographics, from the Food and Environmental Reporting Network and Mother Jones, that illustrate the program's broad economic and public health benefits. If you have a member of Congress on the committee that is negotiating the farm bill, please ask him or her to work to protect SNAP and ensure that hungry people aren’t harmed in any final legislation. Find out if either of your senators or your representative is on the committee here.

SNAPgraphic1

 

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Meet the Budget Conference Committee

Patty Murray
Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.), chairman of the Senate budget committee, speaks about the importance of telling the stories behind the statistics during Bread for the World’s 2012 Lobby Day reception while President David Beckmann listens. (Rick Reinhard)

Between now and Dec. 13, the members of Congress listed below will be spending a good deal of time together as they attempt to come up with a bipartisan budget compromise. Their choices and proposals will have an impact on hunger in the years to come.

Last week, Congress reached an eleventh-hour agreement to pass a continuing resolution and raise the country's debt ceiling. The deal averted an economic catastrophe — for now.  The deal funds the government at current levels through Jan. 15, 2014, and raises the debt ceiling through Feb. 7, 2014 — just a temporary fix for the same problem and a new deadline for solving it.

While not written into the legislation, the deal also created a budget conference committee to negotiate a budget for the remainder of the 2014 fiscal year and address the automatic spending cuts of sequestration. The committee must report back to Congress with a budget framework by Dec. 13. This would give the House and Senate Appropriations Committees one month to finalize a  fiscal year 2014 budget. 

The members of the committee have no easy task ahead of them as they try to negotiate the House and Senate budgets, which have a $91 billion difference. The overall size of the pie will determine the amount of funding available for anti-hunger discretionary programs, which are stepping-stones to a hunger-free future. Sequestration, unless replaced, will continue to chip away at funding for programs such as food aid, WIC, Head Start, and Meals on Wheels. Defunding programs that address the root causes of  hunger  is not a solution.

These leaders also have an opportunity to end the series of unnecessary crises, which puts our country's fragile economy at risk and makes struggling families uneasy and uncertain about the future. Congress must pass a moral budget that adequately funds programs that combat hunger and poverty. Moreover, Congress must replace sequestration with a balanced plan that has revenues and smart spending cuts that won’t increase poverty.

So, starting now and until Dec. 13, faithful advocates whose members of Congress sit on the conference committee need to support those leaders and urge them to do the right thing. Make phone calls and email them. Public dialogue can create public pressure, and raising your voice is critical to avoiding cuts that will take food off the tables of families who most need it. Write letters to the editor of your local paper supporting smart budget decisions that decrease hunger. Send your members of Congress public messages of encouragement and support on their Facebook and Twitter pages. Finally, be sure they know how hunger and uncertainty are affecting Main Street at home – tell the story.

Here is a sample tweet and Facebook post you can borrow, or you can craft one of your own.

Tweet: We need a moral budget to #EndHungerNow @RepPaulRyan. Replace #sequestration with revenue & smart spending cuts. #BreadActs

Facebook status update:  I’m urging Representative @Paul Ryan to use his position on the budget conference community to #EndHungerNow. Craft a moral budget that replaces sequestration with revenue and smart spending cuts.

The House Budget Conferees

State/District

Representative

Twitter

Phone

Wisconsin -01

Paul Ryan

@RepPaulRyan

(202) 225-3031

Oklahoma – 04

Tom Cole

@tomcoleok04

(202) 225-6165

Georgia – 06

Tom Price

@RepTomPrice

(202) 225-4501

Tennessee – 06

Diane Black

@RepDianeBlack

(202) 225-4231

South Carolina – 06

James Clyburn

@Clyburn

(202) 225-3315

Maryland -08

Chris Van Hollen

@ChrisVanHollen

(202) 225-5341

New York – 17

Nita Lowey

@NitaLowey

(202) 225-6506

*To tag your member of Congress on Facebook, you must first like their page.  To find their page, click on the hyperlink in their name.

The Senate Budget Conferees

State

Senator

Twitter

Phone

Washington

Patty Murray

@PattyMurray

(202) 224-2621

Oregon

Ron Wyden

@RonWyden

(202) 224-5244

Florida

Bill Nelson

@SenBillNelson

(202) 224-5274

Michigan

Debbie Stabenow

@StabenowPress

(202) 224-4822

Vermont

Bernie Sanders

@SenSanders

(202) 224-5141

Rhode Island

Sheldon Whitehouse

@SenWhitehouse

(202) 224-2921

Virginia

Mark Warner

@MarkWarner

(202) 224-2023

Oregon

Jeff Merkley

@SenJeffMerkley

(202) 224-3753

Connecticut

Christopher Coons

@SenCoonsOffice

(202) 224-5042

Wisconsin

Tammy Baldwin

@SenatorBaldwin

(202) 224-5653

Virginia

Tim Kaine

@SenKaineOffice

(202) 224-4024

Maine

Angus King

@SenAngusKing

(202) 224-5344

Alabama

Jeff Sessions

@SenatorSessions

(202) 224-4124

Iowa

Chuck Grassley

@ChuckGrassley

(202) 224-3744

Wyoming

Mike Enzi

@SenatorEnzi

(202) 224-3424

Idaho

Mike Crapo

@MikeCrapo

(202) 224-6142

South Carolina

Lindsey Graham

@GrahamBlog

(202) 224-5972

Ohio

Rob Portman

@robportman

(202) 224-3353

Pennsylvania

Pat Toomey

@SenToomey

(202) 224-4254

Wisconsin

Ron Johnson

@SenRonJohnson

(202) 224-5323

New Hampshire

Kelly Ayotte

@KellyAyotte

202-224-3324

Mississippi

Roger Wicker

@SenatorWicker

(202) 224-6253

*To tag a member of Congress on Facebook, you must first like his or her page. To find the member's page, click on the hyperlink in their name.

Can 26 Members of Congress Help End 15 Days of Misery?

Hunger LineIt’s been a miserable 15 days for those Americans who are facing uncertainty and hardship because of an avoidable government shutdown.

The latest news reports indicate that the Senate has crafted a bipartisan extension of the debt ceiling through February, and a continuing resolution that would fund the government through mid-January and end the current shutdown. The proposal, if adopted, would need to pass both chambers and be signed by the president. Reporters are noting that congressional leaders are feeling pressure from an increasingly vocal group of Republicans in the House, which is a factor in these new developments.

Each day the shutdown continues more harm is done—especially to vulnerable populations. Each day makes it that much more difficult for low-income families to rebound. Each day, Main Street loses an estimated $160 million in economic activity. Each day of the shutdown is unacceptable. 

And it is going to get much worse if Oct. 17 comes and goes and Congress doesn’t act to ensure that the United States can pay its bills. 

Failure to raise the debt ceiling would likely send the country into a recession deeper than 2008’s, according to a Treasury Department report. The lesson from the last recession is clear—during times of financial crisis, the most vulnerable suffer and the ranks of the hungry grow. As a result of the last recession, SNAP participation increased—from 26 to 47 million in 8 years. A debt-ceiling default would prove disastrous for the crucial programs that kept hunger a bay and those who need them. The administration could be forced to delay or suspend billions of dollars in benefits for social security, SNAP, and other vital safety net programs.  The U.S. economy is just starting to recover from a period of low employment and high poverty and cannot absorb yet another crushing blow.

The Gospel reminds us again and again that we are to care for the widow, the orphan, and the alien. We are told we see Jesus when we feed the hungry. Advocacy is a witness to the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Even if you’ve already called your members of Congress about these issues, call again (1-800-826-3688), send an email, and tell your friends to call, too. We cannot stop until this situation is resolved in a responsible way.

If you are a resident of one of the states or districts listed below, your faithful advocacy around these issues is especially important. We have identified the following members of the House of Representatives who may be particularly influential in ending the shutdown and raising the debt ceiling. These members will play a critical role in months to come as Congress works to move beyond the current impasse and craft a final budget. January must not become a repeat of the last 15 days. Support and encouragement from constituents could make the difference. Call them today or, for those engaged in social media, tag them on your Facebook page or in a tweet.  Make sure they hear your story and understand that there is a human cost to inaction. 

State (district) 

Representative

Twitter

Phone number

Alaska – at large

Rep. Don Young

@repdonyoung

(202) 225-5765

Arkansas – 02

Rep. Tim Griffin

@RepTimGriffin

(202) 225-2506

California - 22

Rep. Devin Nunes

@Rep_DevinNunes

(202) 225-2523

Florida - 25

Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart

@MarioDB

(202) 225-4211

Florida – 15

Rep. Dennis Ross

@RepDennisRoss

(202) 225-1252

Florida – 13

Rep. Bill Young

n/a

(202) 225-5961

Idaho – 02

Rep. Mike Simpson

@CongMikeSimpson

(202) 225-5531

Illinois – 13

Rep. Rodney Davis

@RodneyDavis

(202) 225-2371

Minnesota – 03

Rep. Erik Paulsen

@RepErikPaulsen

(202) 225-2871

New Jersey – 02

Rep. Frank LaBiondo

@RepLoBiondo

(202) 225-6572

New Jersey – 03

Rep. John Runyan

@RepJonRunyan

(202) 225-4765

New Jersey – 07

Rep. Leonard Lance

@RepLanceNJ7

(202) 225-5361

New York  -02

Rep. Peter King

@RepPeteKing

(202) 225-7896

New York – 11

Rep. Michael Grimm

@repmichaelgrimm

(202) 225-3371

New York – 22

Rep. Richard Hanna

@RepRichardHanna

(202) 225-3665

Oklahoma -04

Rep. Tom Cole

@tomcoleok04

(202) 225-6165

Pennsylvania - 06

Rep. Jim Gerlach

@JimGerlach

(202) 225-4315

Pennsylvania – 07

Rep. Pat Meehan

@RepMeehan

(202) 225-2011

Pennsylvania – 08

Rep. Mike Fitzpatrick

@RepFitzpatrick

(202) 225-4276

Pennsylvania – 11

Rep. Lou Barletta

@RepLouBarletta

(202) 225-6511

Pennsylvania – 15

Rep. Charlie Dent

@DentPressShop

(202) 225-6411

Virginia – 01

Rep. Rob Wittman

@RobWittman

(202) 225-4261

Virginia – 02

Rep. Scott Rigell

@RepScottRigell

(202) 225-4215

Virginia – 04

Rep. Randy Forbes

@Randy_Forbes

(202) 225-6365

Virginia – 10

Rep. Frank Wolf

@RepWOLFPress

(202) 225-5136

Washington – 08

Rep. Dave Reichert

@davereichert

(202) 225-7761

*To tag a member on your Facebook wall, you must first like their page.

Photo:  At Our Daily Bread Employment Center in Baltimore, Md., people line up for the Hot Meal Program, 2010. (Jim Stipe)

Changing the Conversation: The #FaithfulFilibuster

  FaithfulFilibuster-9
Rev. David Beckmann calls for an end to the government shutdown that affects our most vulnerable citizens on Oct. 9, 2013, outside of the United Methodist Building in Washington, D.C. (Photo courtesy of Circle of Protection)

Religious leaders are gathering on Capitol Hill each day Congress is in session for a "Faithful Filibuster" that will continue until the government shutdown ends. In contrast to the dialogue centered on blame and gamesmanship inside the Capitol, people of faith are reading from more than 2,000 biblical verses reminding our nation's leaders that a moral government places caring for the most vulnerable before of political gain. 

An inability to agree on a budget and the raising of the debt ceiling is weakening our economy and harming our most vulnerable citizens; each day the stalemate continues, the impacts on hunger compound. Before the shutdown, 33 religious leaders sent a letter to Congress warning that a shutdown would adversely affect the economy and people struggling with hunger. With one in seven Americans living below the poverty line and the nation's fragile economy recovering from one of our worst recessions in decades, playing political games right now is irresponsible and foolish. "It is time to move from the blame game to some resolution," said Bread for the World President Rev. David Beckmann.

The Circle of Protection organized the “faithful filibuster.” Speaking to the human cost of inaction at the Wednesday opening, Rev. Beckmann said, "I am appalled by the harm that the government shutdown is doing to poor people. When I was leaving my office on Friday, one of the cleaners told me that four of janitors in our building have been laid off because of the government shutdown." 

Today, 800,000 furloughed federal employees live in uncertainty and the collateral damage radiates throughout the private sector. Yesterday, the Department of Labor reported a surge in unemployment claims.

"I am terrified by the likelihood of a financial crisis," said Rev. Beckmann.  "It will hurt all of us, and it will hurt hungry and poor people most of all." (Read "What Does the Government Shutdown Mean for Hunger?" on the Bread Blog for more information on how the government shutdown will impact anti-hunger programs.)

Grounding our actions in faith and hope, Beckmann reminded the gathered that we work in relationship to the Creator. "God is with us, God hears the cries of the poor," he said before he began reading verses from Isaiah 40 and 41.

Join us on Twitter or Facebook, and remind Congress that shared needs must take precedence over political victories. What biblical verse calls you to end hunger?  Tell and tag your member of Congress in a tweet or on Facebook and use the hashtag #FaithfulFilibuster

It is critical Congress hear from faithful advocates. Send your members of Congress an email (your calls may not get through during the shutdown) and use the power of your local paper to message them through letters to the editor. Each day the impasse continues, people suffer—and each day, Rev. Beckmann and other religious leaders will gather to read scripture until common sense and a spirit of cooperation prevail.

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