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31 posts categorized "Hunger Resources"
By Rev. David Beckmann
More than 6,800 of you have signed our petition asking the president to set a goal and work with Congress to end hunger. During his State of the Union address, President Obama outlined his proposals to help people climb out of poverty. But the March 1 sequester threatens WIC and poverty-focused development assistance, which are not exempt from deep automatic cuts.
These events make the presidential petition more important. Thank you so much for your support. We still have much to do, but the next step is easy: go see a movie.
This Friday, March 1, the documentary A Place at the Table will open in theaters nationwide. The film, from the producers of An Inconvenient Truth and Food, Inc., focuses on hunger in America.
A Place at the Table shows that we defeated hunger in the past and that we can do it again.
Please see the film—and invite your friends, co-workers, classmates, and family members to watch it with you. Click here to find a theater near you. A Place at the Table will also be available through iTunes and on-demand on March 1.
Bread for the World's 2013 Offering of Letters is also called "A Place at the Table" and launches on March 1. Together, the film and our Offering of Letters campaign will magnify our focus on ending hunger through changes in public policy.
Watch the movie, discuss it, and spread the word about the importance of ending hunger and poverty. A hunger-free world is within reach. God is at work in our midst, preparing an abundant table where all are welcome. With your voice we will convince our nation’s leaders to ensure all people a place at the table.David Beckmann is president of Bread for the World.
By Vince Mezzera
What makes a Bread for the World Sunday celebration? Is it a congregation conducting an Offering of Letters? For some churches, it is. Is it saying prayers for hungry and poor people, or for the work of Bread for the World? Again, yes—it can be as simple as that. Is it hearing a sermon about advocacy or Biblical justice, highlighting denominational or congregational hunger ministries, or engaging children in hunger awareness activities? Yes, yes, and yes.
Bread for the World Sunday 2012, which takes place on October 21, is just a few weeks away. If you are still planning your church’s involvement, there is no set formula for what you have to do in order to participate—your celebration can be as simple or as elaborate as you choose. What unites all of the churches that participate in Bread for the World Sunday is that, through education, prayer, and worship, they commit themselves to the fight against hunger and poverty in our country and around the world.
We’ve already heard from 2200 congregations that will join in Bread for the World Sunday 2012 and have ordered bulletin inserts and resource kits—and the majority of them are participating for the first time! Still more churches are visiting www.bread.org/sunday to download these and other materials—including PowerPoint slides and additional prayers and worship resources. Spanish-language resources are now available online, too.
And there is also still time to order print materials! Visit www.bread.org/sunday or our online store to place your order. This is your chance to join thousands of other Christians across the country as we lift up our voices on behalf of hungry people—will you add yours?
Vince Mezzera is Bread for the World's membership resources associate manager.
By Robin Stephenson
The first presidential candidate debate will be held tomorrow, Wednesday, October 3, at 9 p.m. ET, and will focus on domestic policy. The debate provides an opportunity to put domestic hunger and poverty in the spotlight, and social media can be used to drive the conversation. Fifteen percent of Americans—including one in five children—lived in poverty in 2011. It is critical that our political leaders address the most vulnerable members of our population, and with enough grassroots urging, they will.
At Bread for the World, we have created a debate Bingo Game, which can be downloaded and printed out. Each bingo card square contains a word or phrase associated with an issue that Bread members care about: "farm bill," "SNAP/food stamps," and "Earned Income Tax Credit," for example. As you watch the debates with friends and family, mark off a square every time either President Barack Obama or Governor Mitt Romney uses one of the words. Use the game as a tool to track how the candidates are addressing programs and policies most vital to poor and hungry people.Another way to amplify the message that poverty matters is to use social media channels. This month, Bread (along with many of our partner organizations) is encouraging its members to participate in the #talkpoverty campaign led by Half in Ten.
Do you have a question you'd like debate moderator Jim Lehrer of NewsHour to pose to the candidates? Tweet it to @newshour and use the hashtag #talkpoverty. Here are a couple of sample tweets:
My Presidential debate question @NewsHour: Will you support extending tax credits for working families? http://ow.ly/e4zj0 #talkpoverty
.@NewsHour Ask Candidates: Will you protect SNAP (food stamps), the most direct way to reduce hunger? #talkpoverty http://ow.ly/e9FVu
You can also create tweets using the facts on our Offering of Letters web pages on tax credits and domestic nutrition. If you are holding a debate house party, playing Bingo, or tweeting, take photos of the action and post them to your Facebook page or tweet it. Be sure to tag us!
Poor people cannot be forgotten during this election season, and it will take a loud chorus of anti-hunger voices to make sure the issues of hunger and poverty receive attention.
Robin Stephenson is social media lead/senior regional organizer, western hub.
Photo: John, a former banker who is one of the subjects of The Line, shops for himself and his three children at a food bank. (Film still from The Line)
By Sarah Godfrey
When Emmy-winning filmmaker Linda Midgett set out to find subjects for The Line, her short film documenting what it means to live at, or below, the poverty line in America, she had no trouble finding people dealing firsthand with hunger and poverty. What was difficult, Midgett says, was finding subjects willing to talk about those difficulties in front of her camera.
"I think it’s easy to find people who are struggling in these ways, but I think what was the bigger challenge was finding people willing to share their struggles publicly," she says. "I talked to food pantries, to various organizations, I talked to the Salvation Army. A lot of people I reached out to were not willing to go on camera.
"I don’t say that as a criticism," she continues. "But, for me, it highlighted how much shame is associated with being in poverty."
The Line goes a long way toward addressing the shame and the stereotypes that often surround poverty. The film tracks four subjects: John, who lives in the suburbs of Chicago and, after losing his six-figure job in the banking industry, finds himself dependent on food banks to feed his family; Sheila, a Chicago resident who grew up in poverty, escaped its clutches, and finds herself again facing financial difficulty after a debilitating accident; James, who moves from New York City to North Carolina in search of work, and still barely scrapes by, despite working long, hard hours; and Ronald, a Gulf Coast shrimper whose livelihood has been affected by both Hurricane Katrina and the BP oil spill.The Line was funded by a partnership of organizations, including Sojourners, World Vision, and Bread for the World. The film premieres tonight, at church viewings around the country, at 8 p.m., eastern time.
One of the things that separates The Line from other films tackling issues of hunger and poverty in America is the fact that Midgett allows the subjects to tell their stories themselves, without interference.
"I felt like one of the most important things I was trying to do with this film was to break down stereotypes of who poor people are, what they look like, what they sound like, and the best way to do that was just to let them talk," Midgett says. "As individuals, they're all so compelling, and have such unique perspectives, just the process of listening to them, in and of itself, breaks down stereotypes," Midgett continues. "Instead of thinking of 'poor people,' it becomes, 'oh, that’s Sheila, that’s John.' The more you know people by name, and know they're human beings, not statistics, the more it changes your heart."
Midgett says she was surprised by what a diverse cross-section of society her subjects represent—one of the most surprising things she learned while working on the film was that the rate of poverty in the suburbs is on the rise.
"I was not personally familiar with that info, so when I came across that, I said, 'whoa.' To see food pantries in these formerly strong middle-to-upper class neighborhoods, that really was shocking," she says. "The first [subject] in the film, John, he was a former president of a bank, and when the banking industry imploded, he got caught in that, and decided to make a career change to become a schoolteacher. His mom was a teacher, his grandmother—it was a noble profession and he felt drawn to it, but he wasn't able to find a full-time teaching job.
"He's in DuPage County, Illinois, one of wealthiest counties in the country—definitely in the Midwest—and he's feeding his three children with food from food pantries, living off of $12,000 per year. That was crazy for me—I went to Wheaton College in DuPage County, I know DuPage County as this very, very affluent community, and now the poverty rate there has skyrocketed, and all sorts of people are in [John's] position now."
Midgett hopes that, after the film's premiere tonight, communities will continue to share it, hold screenings at churches, and use it as a tool to discuss poverty going into the November elections and beyond. "The plan is to keep getting it out there, keep making it available to people, and hopefully people find it valuable and inspirational enough to keep sharing it," Midgett says.
The Line premieres at 8 p.m. ET tonight, at various church viewing parties scheduled around the country. Find one close to you here. If you'd like to host a screening after tonight, consider holding an adult forum and discussing the film along with the Circle of Protection presidential candidate videos. Contact your regional organizer for more information.
Sarah Godfrey is Bread for the World's associate online editor.
(Photo courtesy Meals on Wheels)
by Kristen Archer
We can all recall the nervous anticipation of waiting to receive our report cards in school—hoping we were able to bring that C+ in chemistry up to a B, praying we were able to maintain a solid A in history, dreading the look on our parents’ faces when our geometry grade was finally revealed.
Our days of receiving quarterly report cards for our own academic performance may be over, but there is one report card we should take note of: The National Foundation to End Senior Hunger’s Senior Hunger Report Card.
Distributed at an aging conference earlier this week—Perspectives on Nutrition and Aging: A National Summit—the report card grades our nation in eight areas with regards to senior hunger:
- overall performance,
- women’s studies
- multicultural studies
- home economics
- health and physical education
- and ethics.
Surprisingly, the nation failed to score higher than a C-minus in any of the categories.
(image courtesy Urban Ministries of Durham)
by Robin Stephenson
Simulating poverty does not give one the lived experience of poverty, but it can begin to expose the truth about choices—or lack thereof—that people working low-wage jobs face every day.
We are called to compassion—meaning to suffer together, but it can be hard to make a compassionate connection when paths don't cross. So when I’m invited to speak to church groups, I emphasize personal stories, knowing that statistics don’t always engender compassion and solidarity.
A few years ago I gained greater compassion and insight into the realities of poverty when I participated in an elaborate simulation. Even though it was imaginary, the activity made me stop and think about poverty as a time consuming and complicated condition.
A young girl enjoys breakfast at a local farmer's market. (Photo by Margaret W. Nea)
by Eric Bond
How much will you spend on food today?
For breakfast I ate two bananas (40 cents each), a handful of almonds (let’s say $1.00), a whole wheat bagel (65 cents), two eggs (21 cents each), and a cup of coffee from the corner café ($1.79). Having spent a total of $4.68, I felt thrifty, and I ate fairly well. I also broke the SNAP budget for an entire day.
The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, formerly food stamps) allots about $4.30 per person per day. Figuring out how to purchase 2,000 nutritious calories on that amount is a test of creativity and resources.
Try stretching those dollars when you live in a food desert, miles from a well-stocked, economical grocery store. What if you haven’t got any cooking appliances or the money to power them? What if you are working full time, earning barely enough to cover the rent? Would you have the time and energy to search for, purchase, and cook enough food to sustain yourself on $4.30 per day? Somehow you would have to find a way.
This is reality of the farm bill—which funds SNAP.
Maryland activists participate in Bread for the World's 2011 Lobby Day. (Photo by Jim Stipe/Bread for the World)
- Develop an “elevator speech” for why ending hunger is important to you as a Christian.
- Register to vote.
- Write a letter to your local paper saying that ending hunger is a priority for you as a voter.
- Learn what the candidates are saying about ending hunger.
- Speak about the importance of ending hunger at candidates’ town hall meetings.
- Engage your friends. Make sure they are registered and know what the candidates are saying about ending hunger.
- Magnify your voice by combining it with those of thousands of other Christians. Become a member of Bread for the World; organize an Offering of Letters.
- Engage your church.
- Give money and volunteer time to candidates who are committed to ending hunger.
- VOTE for candidates who are committed to ending hunger.
During the August recess, as we lead up to the lame duck session, Bread members are setting up meetings with members of Congress and their staff at local offices to make sure that hunger issues are part of the campaign conversations.
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.
Bread for the World activist Kaela Volkmer (left) talks with Sen. Mike Johanns (R-NE) as staffers listen during Bread for the World Lobby Day in Washington, DC, on Tuesday, June 12, 2012. (Photo by Laura Elizabeth Pohl/Bread for the World)
More than 60 young religious leaders—"agents of change" from communities around the United States—came to Washington, DC, for Bread for the World's Hunger Justice Leaders training, June 9-11. Their jam-packed schedule included three days of worship, workshops, and a chance to lobby members of Congress on behalf of hungry and poor people. This story of one hunger justice leader comes from Bread's summer 2012 "Legacy of Hope" newsletter.
In two Nebraska congressional offices, newly minted Hunger Justice Leader Kaela Volkmer countered the myth that poor people abuse the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, formerly food stamps) and the Women, Infant, Children food program (WIC).
“It’s painful for me to see the polarization happening now. We must find a solution that doesn’t put poor and hungry people in greater peril, ” Volkmer said.
The night before, Kaela and 60 other young church leaders from across the nation were commissioned as Hunger Justice Leaders. The next day, the Hunger Justice Leaders joined hundreds of Bread for the World members in visiting congressional offices to urge members of Congress to protect funding for programs vital to hungry people.
Kaela calls the three lobbying visits she made “real world experiences in reasonable dialogue.” Face to face with Sen. Mike Johanns (R-NE), she told him about a mother who handed her baby to Kaela, begging for help feeding her children.
Kaela admits it wasn’t easy to respond calmly to charges that SNAP is “too big and rife with abuse.” But she came armed with the facts, and imparted them—also delivering a petition supporting the maintenance of levels of aid to hungry families signed by scores of her fellow Nebraskans.
Kaela’s Hunger Justice Leader colleagues were similarly impassioned and equipped by the training they’d just completed: “The training empowers the powerless. I thank God!” said Rev. Christina Reed of Washington, DC. “This has been a truly transformative experience. Through worship, conversation, song … I have felt the spirit of God moving.”
Rev. Libby Tedder of Casper, WY, agreed. She said the training program, sponsored by Bread for the World Institute, has enabled her to “speak with courage so that the eyes of the powerful will be opened to the plight of the hungry.”
Kaela Volkmer’s home congregation, St. Wenceslaus Catholic Church of Omaha, invested in her by sponsoring her Hunger Justice Leader training. Kaela serves as a member of the church’s human needs committee. Her particular passion is Catholic social teaching, which centers on addressing the root causes of inequity in addition to charitable acts.
“Catholic social teaching is so beautiful, rich, and needed in today’s world,” Kaela said. Kaela had assured St. Wenceslaus’s pastor that she would return equipped to bring back to the church the voice and the resources they need. “I came home unsettled, but in a good way,” she said. “I am ready to navigate the waters."
One of her first projects will be to help revitalize the parish’s Offering of Letters.