Urging our nation's leaders to end hunger
 

22 posts categorized "Hunger Report"

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.

Quote of the Day: Gary Cook

Food distribution"In the Biblical framework, God made three provisions for hungry people. One was the tithe, which was literally a tax, because the government was the same as the religious order, and allowed widows and orphans to eat. The second provision was that there would always be Sabbath and Jubilee, where every seven years and 50 years, there was land redistribution. This provision was to prevent a class of people who were always hungry. The last was gleaning, where corners of the field were deliberately not harvested so poorer members of the community could gather the remainder and use it to feed themselves.

Here, hungry people have access to food as a matter of right, not as a matter of charity."

    - Gary Cook, director of church relations at Bread for the World, quoted September 21, 2013, in The Christian Post.

As the economy slowly rebounds, 47 million Americans still depend on SNAP to put food on their tables. A recent bill passed in the House would cut the program by nearly $40 billion, putting a greater burden on the already struggling churches and charities that provide about $4 billion in food annually. Learn more about churches and hunger with this fact sheet and tell your member of Congress to protect SNAP in the farm bill.

Photo:  Food distribution in southeast Washington, DC, in November, 2009.  (Mark Fenton)

The Importance of the Best First Food

Five_month_old_boy_in_mexico

A five-month-old boy rests on his mother's back in a small town near Comitan, Mexico. (Laura Elizabeth Pohl/Bread for the World)

By Nina Keehan

Let's discuss one of the most basic forms of nutrition. It's the first, and most important, food in a child’s life: breast milk.

Whenever the subject of maternal and child nutrition comes up, more and more people are talking the critical 1,000-day window of opportunity, which is the period from start of a woman's pregnancy until her child's second birthday. According to a growing body of scientific evidence,  undernutrition during this time is disastrous.

"Healthy development, particularly brain development, depends on getting the right foods at this critical time," according to information in Bread for the World Institute's 2013 Hunger Report. "Hunger during this time is catastrophic, because the resulting physical and cognitive damage is lifelong and irreversible."

When the medical journal The Lancet ran a series on maternal and child undernutrition in 2008, it identified exclusive breastfeeding as one of the most successful interventions for improving child health and nutrition.

That means starting early is vital—and early means during the first 60 minutes of life. A recent Save the Children report, "Superfood for Babies," found that 95 babies would be saved every hour if they were immediately breastfed after birth. Equally impressive is the fact that infants who are exclusively breastfed during the first six months of their lives are up to 15 times less likely to die from diarrhea and respiratory infections, leading killers of young children.

Yet fewer than 40 percent of infants in developing countries are exclusively breastfed. And those low numbers are not isolated to the developing world: An article published by the Natural Resources Defense Council found that the United States has one of the lowest rates of breastfeeding in the industrialized world, and one of the highest rates of infant mortality.

"Data from 2003 indicate that 71 percent of U.S. mothers initiate some breastfeeding, and only 36 percent report feeding any human milk to their infants at six months...." the article stated. "Those numbers stand in marked contrast to Sweden, for example, where the breastfeeding initiation rate exceeds 98 percent and the rate at six months is 72 percent.”

Infants who are exclusively breastfed have fewer dental cavities, stronger immune systems, and, research shows, fewer psychological, behavioral, and learning problems as they grow up. Mothers  in the United States also get the advantage of a savings of $1500 a year on formula and feeding supplies.

There are many mothers who cannot, or choose not, to breastfeed for a variety of valid reasons—personal, situational, and otherwise. Still, it’s important to remove barriers to breastfeeding and ensure that all mothers who have a choice in whether or not to breastfeed have all of the information on its benefits.

Nina Keehan, a media relations intern at Bread for the World, is a senior magazine journalism and public health dual major at Syracuse University.

Please Buy That Funny-Looking Apple

'Fight Food Waste in the Home' photo (c) 2008, jbloom - license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/By Nina Keehan 

Every year 33 million tons, or 40 percent of the food in America, is thrown away. That number is so huge it’s hard to put it into context. Let me help:

It means that 1,400 calories per day, per person end up in the trash. That’s 150 trillion calories being wasted each year—enough food to feed 2 billion people.

That statistic becomes even more disturbing when paired with the fact that 14.5 percent of U.S. households, or about 49 million Americans, don’t have enough to eat.

So if the numbers say we could feed all the hungry people in America four-fold with the food we throw away, why hasn’t that happened yet?

Mainly because wasting food is deeply ingrained in our lifestyle. It happens at every step of the production process and the blame lies with both individual consumers and large food service providers like restaurants and grocery stores. Customers don’t want to buy anything but the freshest, most appealing foods regardless of their edibility. And stores know it: the USDA estimates that supermarkets lose $15 billion annually in unsold produce even after rejecting large quantities from farmers. Stores and restaurants also encourage waste by promoting sales that make consumers buy more than they need or serving impossibly large portions.

According to a recent report by the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), even food banks and charities sometimes have to reject food donations when they receive an influx of far more than they are able to use.

The report also acknowledges expiration dates as a major issue. The dates often refer to quality, not safety. In fact, most food is still edible after its expiration date and stores are legally allowed to sell it, but consumer fears leave stores no choice but to throw it out.

In a featured story in Bread’s 2013 Hunger Report, José Graziano da Silva, director-general of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) , suggests the key to reducing waste is changing people’s perceptions about food through education. 

"In industrialized countries, the focus should be on food and nutrition education to reduce waste," he writes. "Per capita waste by consumers is between 95 and 115 kilograms a year in Europe and North America, while consumers in sub-Saharan Africa and South and Southeast Asia each throw away only 6 to 11 kilos a year."

It's time that we embrace buying imperfect produce and research when food actually goes bad—hungry people are depending on us.  

Nina Keehan, a media relations intern at Bread for the World, is a senior magazine journalism and public health dual major at Syracuse University.

A Recap of the MCC and Bread for the World #HungerHall

The 2013 Hunger Report Launch

As you may have heard by now, the 2013 Hunger Report, Within Reach—Global Development Goals, was released yesterday. During a launch event at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C., a panel of experts discussed the report, which calls for a renewed push to achieve the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) by the 2015 deadline and urges a focus on ending hunger and extreme poverty in new global development goals. 

The panel included Hon. Mwanaidi Sinare Maajar, Tanzanian ambassador to the United States;  Stephan Bauman, president and CEO of World Relief; Jonathan Shrier, acting special representative for Global Food Security, U.S. Department of State; and Rev. David Beckmann, president of Bread for the World Institute.  Ndimyake Mwakalyelye, radio and television journalist at Voice of America moderated the event.

A few highlights from the discussion are below. (All photos: Laura Elizabeth Pohl/Bread for the World)

Celebrate the Farmer

Marie-Crise

Marie Crise is able to use her SNAP benefits to purchase fresh, healthy fruits and vegetables at the Abingdon Farmers Market in Abingdon, Va. (Photo by Laura Elizabeth Pohl/Bread for the World)

by Eric Bond

On Monday, New York Times food columnist Mark Bittman wrote a tribute to the farmer—and the joy to be had from fresh produce. He points out that as much as chefs are in the spotlight these days, the bulk of the hard work and artistry in a meal happens on the farm:

These are tasks that take weeks, if not months, of daily activity and maintenance. Like anything else, you can get good at it, but the challenges that nature ... and the market ... throw at you are never even close to being under control in the same way that a cook controls the kitchen.

As Bittman revels in the fruits of labor coming to farmers markets in the waning days of summer, he recognizes the reality that many people do not have the access or the finances to enjoy the pleasures of fresh produce. Bittman calls for the following actions, which will better support small farmers, feed more hungry people, and share the bounty of a functioning farm system:

Continue reading "Celebrate the Farmer" »

Have You Voted Yet?

School-lunch-in-india

Children in India benefit from meals provided by their school. This lunch program was featured in the "Hunger Report," published by the Bread for the World Institute.

The Bread for the World board of directors helps set the direction for how Bread can best channel its resources to support anti-hunger programs around the world. (Photo by Jim Stipe/Bread for the World)

While you have to wait until November to cast your ballot in the U.S. presidential election, Bread members have a chance to vote now for their representatives on the Bread for the World board of directors.

And unlike in national elections, in which voters are often subjected to divisive, winner-take-all politics, voting for members of Bread’s board is a harmonious action. This multidenominational, bipartisan group of Bread candidates is united in its mission to eliminate hunger—just like you are.

Each year, one-third of our board members are chosen by the entire Bread for the World membership. This year, 14 candidates have put their names forward to represent Bread. Choices range from a former U.S. Presidential candidate to a founder of a food bank. Each of these individuals has already done much to end hunger, and each brings specific insight, skills, and connections to the table. Bread members can vote for seven of them.

Continue reading "Have You Voted Yet?" »

Bread Film to Be Shown at United Nations Association Film Festival

RickySherilyn_ScreenGrab_500px

Siblings Ricky Horton (left) and Sherily Shepard (right) are former tobacco farmers who now grow produce in Blackwater, VA. Screen grab from the short film "In Short Supply: Small Farmers and the Struggle to Deliver Health Food to Your Plate."


by Laura Elizabeth Pohl

I pulled the envelope out of my work mailbox, noted its thinness and thought, "A rejection from the United Nations Assocation Film Festival. Ah well."

I didn't open the letter for a few hours and when I did, what a surprise. "In Short Supply: Small Farmers and the Struggle to Deliver Healthy Food to Your Plate,” was accepted into the festival. It will be on the big screen in the San Francisco Bay Area sometime between October 18-28 (exact date TBD). Great news for Bread for the World and the three of us who collaborated on the film: Brad Horn, multimedia storyteller now working at the Washington Post; Molly Marsh, Bread's former managing editor; and me.

The film illustrates some of the uncertainties small American farmers face, from unpredictable weather to changing immigration laws. Through the stories of Ricky Horton and Sherilyn Shepard, siblings who grow tomatoes, cucumbers, and other vegetables in southwestern Virginia, the short film aims to show how the American food system poses obstacles to delivering healthy foods to American homes.

You can watch the story below—and, of course, in the Bay Area this fall. Hope to see you there!




Laura-elizabeth-pohlLaura Elizabeth Pohl is the multimedia manager at Bread for the World. You can find her on Twitter at @lauraepohl.

 


Hungry Farmers and the Challenges of African Agriculture

Francis-Wanjala-Mamati-praying-for-rain
Francis Wanjala Mamati praying for rain. Photo by Roger Thurow.

by Roger Thurow

In Lutacho, Kenya, the rains were late. It was mid-March 2011, and the farmers of western Kenya were still in the grip of the brutally hot dry season. The year before, the seasonal rains that usher in the corn planting began at the end of February; by March of that year the first shoots of the stalks were already pushing through the soil. Now, though, the fields remained parched and the farmers nervous.

And every day the farmers’ worry increased. They knew that a drought, bringing great hunger, was spreading across the eastern and northern realms of their country and throughout the Horn of Africa. Western Kenya, one of the breadbaskets of the region, was usually blessed with good rains. But the extended dry season had made some of them anxious that the drought might reach them as well.

“What if it doesn’t rain?” I asked Agnes Wekhwela, one of the farmers. She was 72 years old, two decades beyond the average life expectancy in Kenya. Her face was creased with wrinkles and wisdom. She had more experience divining the weather than most anyone else.

“It will rain,” she said firmly.

It was a cloudless day, with a brilliant blue sky. “How can you be so confident?” I pressed.

“God knows where we live,” she said, again with great certainty. “God knows who we are.”

A few days later, her bedrock faith was confirmed. The rain began falling, the farmers planted, the heat and the anxiety broke.

That conversation with Agnes became a touchstone for me. Yes, I thought, God knows where the farmers live, God knows who they are. But do we?

That conversation and those questions drove my efforts to report on the lives of these farmers, their hopes and fears, their struggles and triumphs. Every day I was with them, my conviction grew stronger: we must know who they are.

Continue reading "Hungry Farmers and the Challenges of African Agriculture" »

Stay Connected

Bread for the World