Urging our nation's leaders to end hunger

25 posts categorized "Hunger Justice Leaders"

'Fighting the Good Fight'

Lizaura "Lizzie" German, right, visiting with a staffer from the office of U.S. Sen. Bob Menendez during Lobby Day. Jennifer Gonzalez/Bread for the World.

By Jennifer Gonzalez

Lizaura “Lizzie” German understands the issue of hunger. She manages a feeding program for Catholic Charities that serves people living in the Bronx, Manhattan, and Staten Island. Aside from offering food, the program also provides case management for individuals who need other resources.

But advocacy has never been a component of the program’s work – until now. Through a new relationship with Bread for the World, cultivated by Bread organizer Margaret Tran, clients of the feeding program are starting to find their voice.

In fact, clients have already participated in an Offering of Letters. Bread’s 2015 Offering of Letters: Feed Our Children is focused on ensuring Congress reauthorizes the child nutrition bill. The legislation is set to expire in the fall. 

To better help clients find their voice, German agreed to become a Bread for the World Hunger Justice Leader. HJLs, as they are affectionately referred to at Bread, are young faith leaders and clergy who come together to form intentional partnership and community with Bread to advance the work of ending hunger in our world.

When they go back to their hometowns, they work together with Bread staff, folks in their community, and other HJLs to engage more deeply in hunger justice ministry.

Ahead of Bread’s Lobby Day on June 9, German took part in training in Washington, D.C., that afforded her an opportunity to interact with likeminded individuals. “Sometimes you can get bogged down with the work we do,” German said. “You think, ‘I’m the only one going through this.’ So, getting a chance to speak with others around the country who are doing similar work to yours is reenergizing.”

German said the HJL workshops were "awesome." She especially liked workshops that focused on active listening. “I know it is common sense, but when you are doing a million things you forget to listen.”

As part of her HJL experience, she lobbied on Bread’s behalf. She visited with staffers from the offices of Sens. Bob Menendez and Corey Booker (and briefly with Booker himself) as part of a large New Jersey contingency made up of members from The Reformed Church of Highland Park, N.J.

She, along with the others, talked passionately about the need for Congress to reauthorize the child nutrition bill and pass the Global Food Security Act.

“Lobbying with the folks from New Jersey was amazing,” German said. “To see that you are not alone, that there are other people putting their faith into action along with you, was amazing. It’s like you are all fighting the good fight.”

She said she felt that everything she had experienced at Bread leading up to Lobby Day – the training, worship service, legislative briefing – prepared her well to go into the offices of members of Congress and lobby on behalf of hungry people.

She said she was able “to express why we were doing what we were doing and who we were doing it for.”  She added: “For someone who was unable to come to speak and worried about their children or not having enough food for themselves, we were sharing their story.”

The fact that the lobbying was taking place from a faith-based perspective added to German’s experience. “During Lobby Day, we were able to acknowledge a higher power at work,” she said. “That was so cool.”

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


Young Hunger Leaders United Through Bread for the World

By Patricia Bidar


Over the past decade, Bread has brought together hundreds of young leaders. Through the Hunger Justice Leadership training program, these young people are equipped to work to change the policies and conditions that allow hunger to persist. As with many Bread gatherings, these trainings in Washington, D.C., have resulted in some fruitful partnerships.

One is a serious partnership — the marriage of Terrance and Kiara Ruth, who met at the 2010 Hunger Justice Leaders training. Just over a year ago, their son, Miles, was born.


Both Terrance and Kiara were speakers at the 2015 Bread for the World Convention in mid-April in Raleigh, N.C., where the couple lives. The gathering galvanized over 200 people from throughout North Carolina and generated 223 letters to members of Congress.

Kiara feels God brought Terrance and her together. "The Hunger Justice Training was the first time anyone in my family had ever been on a plane," she remembers. "Few from my African Methodist Episcopal church back home have ever left Arkansas."

"Terrance and I were assigned to the same work hub," Kiara continues. "Over the course of days, I saw his selflessness and his passion for justice. We were assigned to sit together at the culminating dinner the night before Lobby Day. Our tablemates all assumed we were a married couple."

At the April convention in North Carolina, Kiara spoke about her family's struggle. As a teen growing up in Arkansas, she and her family turned to a shelter to keep a roof over their heads. "Later, when we received food aid and were able to go to the grocery store — that was like Disneyland for us," she remembers.

Terrance grew up in Florida. His father was a military man; his mother, a nurse. After earning his Ph.D., Terrance became principal of AMIkids, a public high school for students who have been suspended from traditional schools. Ninety-five percent of the students qualify for free lunches. For many, that is the only meal they eat each day.

At the school, the day starts at 10:00 a.m., too late to provide free breakfast. So Terrace recruited a local donor to bring breakfasts to the school.

The school also has a garden to grow produce for students' families. At first, the students weren't taking the vegetables because they didn't know how to prepare them. Terrance and the teachers are now working with parents to ensure the vegetables are used.

Terrance writes a series of articles for EducationNC. The articles are framed as letters to Terrance and Kiara's son. The letters describe the reality of African-American students and express hope as Miles grows up. 

Kiara and Terrance worship at St. Paul AME Church in Raleigh. Terrance's faith inspires him to note that "Bread for the World's work is important because Scripture calls for it…Again and again, the Bible connects the holiness of God and food. Scripture correlates spirituality and nourishment. How can Christians possibly ignore hungry people?"

Kiara adds, "At the time I was participating in the Hunger Justice Leader training, my mother and my grandmother were both on food stamps. Bread for the World's work is much more than talking to elected officials about the hunger issue. We are here to do more than that. We are here to make something happen."

Kiara aims to keep her activism strong. "The more who join us, the more we can accomplish. And my job is to make clear to my congregation, my aunties and cousins, my neighbors, that they can help. Then change will happen. Lives will finally improve."

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!

Photo: Kiara and Terrance Ruth with their son Miles. Photos courtesy of the Ruths.

Patricia Bidar is a freelance writer.

Hunger Justice Leader Wins Brave Preacher Award

HJL at mic
Rev. Annie Edison-Albright went through Bread’s Hunger Justice Leader training in 2008. She subsequently became a Lutheran pastor in Wisconsin and has received an award for a sermon she preached on poverty.  (Jay Mallin)

By Stephen Padre

What happens after Bread for the World Hunger Justice Leaders are trained and return to their work? If you preach for your profession, like Rev. Annie Edison-Albright, pastor of Redeemer Lutheran Church, Stevens Point, Wisc., you might talk about hunger and poverty in your sermons and even be recognized for the risks it sometimes involves.

Edison-Albright is the 2014 recipient of The Beatitudes Society's Brave Preacher Award. The organization announced her as the winner of its award on Nov. 3 for a sermon she preached earlier this year. The theme of this year’s award was the violence of poverty and income inequality in the United States. Criteria for the award include the relationship of current context to biblical text, courageous proclamation, and attention to the preacher's craft.  According to its website, the mission of The Beatitudes Society is to identify and equip “emerging leaders to grow Progressive Christian faith communities for the sake of justice and the common good.”

Edison-Albright  describes her congregation, its response to her preaching, and her own anxiety about delivering her sermon in a news release from the organization:

"Redeemer Lutheran Church is an ELCA [Evangelical Lutheran Church in America] congregation where 50-90 people worship at one service every Sunday, located in Central Wisconsin in a small, predominantly Roman Catholic, college town. The congregation is almost entirely white, with significant diversity in age, socioeconomic status, political views, and religious background.

"I felt called to preach about the extreme prejudice against people living in poverty, particularly attacks aimed at fast food workers striking for an increased minimum wage. I struggled with how to call out this injustice without singling out a few members of my congregation and letting the rest off the hook; the terrible Facebook memes I've seen are a symptom of a much larger, systemic sin that we all participate in. My goal was to convey that the people living in poverty whom we reject and dehumanize are incarnations of Jesus Christ. I worry that I didn't focus clearly enough on the systemic nature of the oppression faced by people living in poverty. I also don't like that it's clearly an example of a privileged pastor talking to (mostly) privileged people about (largely absent) people in poverty; I struggle with speaking honestly about the privilege in my context without creating an us/them dichotomy.

"My congregation is used to me preaching on topics in the news, so this sermon wasn't out of the ordinary in that way, but I found it challenging to prepare and nerve-wracking to deliver…A couple people have seen the sermon as an invitation into deeper conversation with me about poverty and politics, and I'm deeply grateful for that."

As for the $500 prize that comes with the award, Edison-Albright says, “My plan is to give $250 to Bread for the World, which invested in me and trained me as a Hunger Justice Leader back in 2008, and taught me so much of what I know about changing systems of injustice through advocacy.” She said she plans to give the other half to the Portage County Mobile Pantry, which delivers food to hungry people in the rural areas surrounding Stevens Point. “The Pantry just recently moved into their new home in my congregation's church building. I think this is a very Lutheran, very both/and approach: we need both charitable assistance and systemic change until hunger is eliminated completely."

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

A Tireless Hunger Justice Leader in Nebraska

Kaela_v_HJLBy Zach Schmidt

For Bread for the World organizers, there is a difference between our work in “remote” states and our work in the states in which we live. Understandably, we are able to be more present, more of the time, in our home cities and states. Our grassroots leaders in our various districts and states are our most valuable asset, and we identify, build, strengthen, and depend on them—especially in places we are not able to visit often.

In states like Nebraska, local leaders do the bulk of the heavy lifting when it comes to building relationships, organizing teams, and engaging their senators and representatives. When our advocacy efforts succeed in a state like Nebraska, it is abundantly clear that much of the credit goes to these local leaders. One such local leader is Omaha resident Kaela Volkmer, a mother of three and one of this year’s Hunger Justice Leaders.

Kaela has taken a lead role in our work to build Bread’s presence in Omaha and to build our relationship with Nebraska’s congressional delegation, especially Sen. Mike Johanns (R-Neb.), a member of the Senate’s “Gang of Eight.”

Continue reading "A Tireless Hunger Justice Leader in Nebraska" »

Advocacy and the 2012 Hunger Justice Leader Program


Photo: Hunger Justice Leaders pose in front of the Eisenhower Executive Office Building after meeting with people working in the White House Office of Public Engagement in Washington, D.C., on Monday, June 11, 2012. (Laura Elizabeth Pohl/Bread for the World)

Editor's note: This article originally appeared in The Chinook: GPNW Community of Christ, Autumn 2012 edition.

By Lyle Anderson II

We live in a world with enough food for everyone, and yet so many go to bed at night not knowing where their next meal will come from. Caring for, and seeking, an end to the injustices of hunger and poverty has been a part of our story as Community of Christ from our earliest beginnings as a movement, and a part of our calling we have been reminded of in Doctrine and Covenants 163:4a,c: “God, the Eternal Creator, weeps for the poor, displaced, mistreated, and diseased of the world because of their unnecessary suffering. Such conditions are not God’s will… Do not turn away from them. For in their welfare resides your welfare…. Prepare new generations of disciples to bring fresh vision to bear on the perplexing problems of poverty, disease, war, and environmental deterioration.”

It was a great honor to be selected as one of 70 young adult ministers from 16 Christian traditions and 26 states to participate in Bread for the World’s 2012 Hunger Justice Leaders Workshop. We descended on Washington, D.C., on June 8; over the next few days, we learned about hunger, poverty, anti-hunger and poverty programs, and citizen advocacy.

We were a diverse group of people from varying backgrounds, but we shared one thing in common: grounded in our faith as disciples of Christ, we had a conviction and passion to end the injustice of hunger.

Continue reading "Advocacy and the 2012 Hunger Justice Leader Program" »

A Hunger Justice Leader Finds Her Voice

Shannon2By Eric Bond

Forty-five percent of children in Ohio were eligible for the National School Lunch Program this year, but many of those children went without meals during the summer. That fact strikes close to home for Columbus, OH, speech therapist Shannon Schlagbaum, who works with children in the public schools. Shannon knows about the toll that hunger takes.

"It affects children I know and love," said Shannon, a member of Bread for the World since 2007.

Those children were prime motivators for Shannon to come to our nation's capital this June for training as a Hunger Justice Leader—along with 75 other young activists. The training, conducted by Bread for the World, steeped participants in the biblical foundations of anti-hunger advocacy and honed their skills in creative community organizing.

The workshops culminated in Lobby Day 2012, during which Hunger Justice Leaders joined other Bread activists to lobby their members of Congress on behalf of hungry and poor people.

"It was a wonderful experience," said Shannon, who is also a Sunday school teacher at Vineyard Church, a nondenominational evangelical congregation in Columbus. "I believe that by changing policies and programs, we can provide help beyond the community in which we live."

Shannon said that she became a Christian at the age of 18 and shortly thereafter interned at a homeless shelter. "To be a Christian is to help other people," she said. "It really makes sense for people who have enough to help people who are hungry."

"Bread for the World is very blessed to be working with such a thoughtful and authentic minister whose work to end hunger is so clearly driven by a deep and abiding faith," commented Jon Gromek, a regional organizer for Bread.

During her time in Washington, DC, Shannon met with staffers for her elected officials, Sens. Rob Portman and Sherrod Brown and Rep. Steve Stivers, lobbying them to protect the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, formerly food stamps) under discussion in the farm bill.

"I was nervous," said Shannon, "but I reminded myself that I’m not in here for myself." Shannon was empowered by the notion that the United States is governed by the people. "I'm qualified to be there simply because I am a U.S. Citizen," she said.

Back in Ohio, now a full-fledged Hunger Justice Leader, Shannon refused to rest. She immediately set up in-district meetings with Sen. Brown and Rep. Stivers. She said that one of the best aspects of those follow up meetings is that she had the opportunity to express gratitiude to Sen. Brown for getting the word out about SNAP and for supporting the summer lunch program that serves many of the children in her teaching district.

Shannon is also sharing the work of Bread for the World in her church community as well as leading efforts to form a Bread Team in Central Ohio.

"She is the true embodiment of a Hunger Justice Leader," said Jon Gromek.

Eric Bond is Bread for the World's managing editor.

Dr. Barbara Clawson: "We Are Called Upon to Be Faithful"


Dr. Barbara Clawson at the Bread for the World dinner honoring Hunger Justice Leaders. (Photo by Laura Elizabeth Pohl/Bread for the World)

This profile of Dr. Barbara Clawson comes from Bread's Summer 2012 "Legacy of Hope" newsletter.

Bread for the World founder Art Simon calls Dr. Barbara Clawson “…a doer, one whose call to hunger ministries was shaped by her international experiences.” Indeed, Barbara’s life has been marked by international travel. The longtime Bread for the World member has visited and worked in at least 40 countries, many repeatedly.

“God has blessed me with many opportunities, especially overseas,” she said, “and with good health.” During decades of teaching and mission visits overseas, Dr. Clawson has witnessed global hunger and its effects.

Before she retired, Dr. Clawson worked as a teacher, most recently as a teacher educator at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. In her free time, Barbara likes to read and walk. And of course, travel, which she says has afforded her the opportunity to interact personally with people of all types.

Continue reading "Dr. Barbara Clawson: "We Are Called Upon to Be Faithful"" »

EvangelicalAdvocacy.org: Educating Ourselves on Hunger, Justice, Advocacy, and Faith

A mother works in the fields with her child in Moroto, Uganda. Photo by Adam Riddell/Samaritan's Purse.

I sat in my cubicle mesmerized by my student’s depiction of his life for 13 years in rural Africa: raised beds of vegetables, dusty dirt roads stretching to the horizon, smiling faces dripping with sweat in the bright orange sun.

As a professor at Eastern University,  I traded in my life in humanitarian aid, development, and missions for the privilege of training Christian relief workers with a powerful set of program planning and economic tools set within the framework of Kingdom principles. But on days like this one, I still feel like the student.

As David recounted stories of his narrow escape from war-torn South Sudan, he transported me to the joys and struggles of life as a refugee. I learned that David alone survived from his family. I heard the story of his settlement within a refugee camp outside of his nation’s borders, the new farming techniques he mastered, and the privilege given to him to travel to other sites to teach the art of soil cultivation, crop rotation, and farming.

Continue reading "EvangelicalAdvocacy.org: Educating Ourselves on Hunger, Justice, Advocacy, and Faith" »

Our Thanks to YOU for Action on the Farm Bill

Bread for the World activists from Texas listen to a staffer in Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison's office talk during Bread's Lobby Day in Washington, DC, on Tuesday, June 12, 2012. Photo by Laura Elizabeth Pohl for Bread for the World.

As you’ve hopefully heard, the Senate finished their work on the Farm Bill yesterday afternoon. The bill passed by a vote of 64-35. While the final bill included $4.5 billion in cuts to SNAP over the next ten years, our work and voices did make a difference.

Harmful amendments to further cut, and even dismantle, SNAP were defeated on a strong bi-partisan basis. This will certainly help us in sending a strong message to the House of Representatives that deeper cuts to SNAP are unacceptable.

Additionally, the final bill included some common sense reforms to international food aid and to crop insurance. An amendment by Sens. Coburn and Durbin to limit crop insurance premium subsidies to wealthy farmers also passed on a strong bi-partisan basis.

The process now turns to the House where the Agriculture Committee will be marking up their own bill on July 11. Stay tuned for details and possible actions around the markup. We expect much deeper cuts to SNAP likely in the range of $14 billion over ten years.

We want to thank all of our activists for your work advocating for SNAP and international food aid as the bill made its way through the Senate. There is still much to be done, but we are glad to see the Farm Bill process moving forward.

Christine Meléndez Ashley is policy analyst at Bread for the World.

Hear Stories from Lobby Day and a Legislative Update from David Beckmann

(Left to right): Kay DeBlance, Rebecca Walker, Aaron Marez and David Ramos of Texas walk through the Russell Senate Office Building on their way to a meeting in Sen. Kay Hutchison's office (R-TX). They visited the office as part of Bread for the World's Lobby Day in Washington, D.C., on Tuesday, June 12, 2012. Photo by Laura Elizabeth Pohl/Bread for the World

Each year during Bread for the World’s Lobby Day, some participants experience the sheer joy of being heard by a decision maker and possibly changing someone's mind. Others find comfort in knowing that they did not remain silent, but spoke boldly for justice. And others need the comfort of faith as they are met with callousness while speaking to the need in God’s world. But one thing is for certain: All come away with stories.

Join us tomorrow, Thursday, June 21, for the grassroots webinar and conference call to hear an inspiring story from one of our Hunger Justice Leaders, who went from serving coffee to her Senator back in her home state, to visiting him on Capitol Hill to ask him to make policy changes that help hungry people.

Also, Bread for the World’s President David Beckmann will walk us through the legislative process and both the challenges and victories around the circle of protection so far this year, including the Farm Bill being debated in the Senate now.

The call starts promptly at 4 p.m. EST (1 p.m. PST) and lasts one hour. You will have the chance to ask questions to both our guest Hunger Justice Leader, as well as Rev. Beckmann.  Please register now.

Join the conversation on Twitter as well.  We’ll be using the hashtag #BreadWeb.  

Robin-stephensonRobin Stephenson is regional organizer at Bread for the World. 


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