Urging our nation's leaders to end hunger
 

37 posts categorized "Hunger Resources"

The Gender Matrix

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Reprinted from the Hewlett Foundation Blog: Work in Progress. Bread for the World Institute is a Hewlett Foundation grantee. 

By Alfonsina Peñaloza

In the movie The Matrix, the main character, Neo, is offered two pills: a red one, which will show him the painful truth of life outside the Matrix; and a blue one, which will erase all memory of what has occurred and send him back to blissful ignorance within it. Sometimes I feel that trying to understand gender and development issues, we’re all Neo, working inexorably towards our own moments of choice. A word of caution: once you look at the world through the lens of gender-based differences in power and opportunity, you can never unsee it.

Today, Bread for the World Institute launched its flagship 2015 Hunger Report. This year’s edition focuses on women’s economic empowerment, tackling issues that are at the forefront of gender and development. Poverty affects women differently than men. Working conditions, discrimination, and social norms mean women and the work they perform (both within and outside the economy) are less valued then men and their work. Women experience more poverty in terms of income, and are also more impoverished in other ways—education, health, time.

Nowhere is this clearer than in the burden of domestic work. Women and girls are usually responsible for what is sometimes called reproductive work, such as taking care of family, cooking, and cleaning. More women have joined the workforce, but men have not stepped up at home, so overall women work more and get paid less. The upshot is that many women (particularly in low-income countries) work double shifts, one of which one is unpaid.

Bread for the World Institute's report also highlights the importance of collective action. A critical element of empowerment is voice, and women who advocate collectively for their rights are more likely to be heard.

Perhaps most important, the 2014 Hunger Report draws a very clear picture: Women are missing from economic data. We just don’t know how and how much women are contributing to the economy, since most of their work is undervalued, invisible in the statistics, or both. This is not a data gap like many others we worry about in global development; it’s a reflection of systemic gender-bias, and it prevents sound policy-making.

To accompany the report, Bread for the World Institute launched a powerful visualization tool to illustrate how women are missing from data.

The tool allows you to search by country, region and five main indicator categories: public life, human rights, health, education and economic participation. Each indicator – such as mortality rate or wage gap- is represented by a pixel, and all the pixels together make up the picture of a woman. The more data available, the clearer the image. The conclusion is stark: in most cases we can’t see the women, and so the visualization imparts a powerful message: without the data, women can’t be seen. And if they can’t be seen, how can women have a voice and a seat at the table where economic decisions are made?

Data

(As an aside: This tool was created at a hackathon, and initially set out to visualize data on women’s economic empowerment. It ended up taking a much more novel approach by visualizing the absence of data, rather than the data itself. It cost the organization no money other than the costs of organizing the hackathon—a great example of how innovation and creativity can go a long way in the face of limited resources.)

Bread for the World Institute has always included women in their reports. After all, the role that women play as caregivers and farmers puts them at the center of the hunger issue. However, this year’s report doesn’t just include women as research subjects; rather, it examines the social constructs and the gender biases in policies that hold women back, and impede development. You could even say that Bread for the World Institute has come to their moment of choice and decided to take the red pill, applying a gender lens to their work and seeing for the first time behind the “Gender Matrix.” Like Neo waking up to his revolution, there is no going back.

Alfonsina Peñaloza is a program officer in the global development and population program at the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation

 

Protecting Pregnant Woman in the Work Place

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Barbie Izquierdo and her son Aiden (Bread for the World).

Childbearing should not result in hunger. But when policies do not protect pregnant workers from job loss, they can experience a “poverty spell.”

In a letter to Congress last week, Rev. David Beckmann, president of Bread for the World, urged passage of legislation that would protect pregnant women in the work place. The Pregnant Workers Fairness Act (H.R. 1975/S.942) would protect pregnant workers from job loss so they can continue to feed their families.

Without work-place protection, Hilda Guzzman suffered health complications during her pregnancy. She told her story to The National Women’s Law Center. Refused by her employer the accommodation of a simple stool, Hilda was left standing eight to 10 hours a day in her position as a cashier. The toll on her body and her unborn child resulted in frequent visits to the emergency room and eventually the loss of her job. “During this time away from work, I had no paid leave or any other income,” she wrote.

America’s poverty-wage workforce is predominately female. The 2014 Hunger Report: Ending Hunger in America points out that women are already disadvantaged in the workforce. Improving job quality is one step toward ending hunger in America by 2030 and will require leadership at the federal level.

 

 July 31, 2014

Dear Members of Congress:

As an organization dedicated to ending hunger, Bread for the World urges you to support the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act (H.R. 1975/S.942). We cannot end hunger through our nutrition programs alone. Hunger will persist as long as families lack the resources they need to put food on the table. The best pathway out of poverty is a good job. That is why the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act is so important. This bill would not only promote nondiscrimination in the workplace, but would ensure that pregnant workers can continue to feed their families by providing protection from unreasonable job loss and denial of sufficient accommodation at work.

Three-quarters of women entering the workforce will be pregnant and employed at some point in time. Many pregnant women, particularly those in physically strenuous jobs, inevitably face a conflict between their responsibilities at work and the physical demands of pregnancy. Despite existing protections, pregnant workers are often unnecessarily terminated from their jobs or denied minor modifications that would allow them to continue working during and after their pregnancy.

This is unacceptable; a choice between working under unhealthy conditions and risking the loss of a job is no choice at all.  We are deeply concerned that this population is disproportionately at risk for slipping into poverty; 28.9 percent of pregnant and postpartum women in the United States receive WIC, all of whom have incomes below 185 percent of the federal poverty level. Today, having a baby is one of the leading causes of a “poverty spell.” Allowing a pregnant woman to continue working could ensure that she is able to feed her family and meet basic needs without risking her own health or the health of her child.

Pregnant workers carrying God’s children should be celebrated—not punished. Employers must recognize the physical demands of pregnancy and make reasonable accommodations so that no pregnant worker should feel she has to sacrifice her pregnancy or her income. Please support the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act.

Sincerely,

David Beckmann
President, Bread for the World

Resource: The War on Poverty at 50

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Photo: President Lyndon B. Johnson shakes the hand of one of the residents of Appalachia during his 1964 poverty tour. (LBJ library photo by Cecil Stoughton)
 
2014 marks the 50th anniversary of President Lyndon B. Johnson’s declaration of a War on Poverty in his State of the Union address. Congress responded, and ending poverty became a priority for elected leaders. In the ensuing years, from the mid-1960s through the 1970s, the country made dramatic progress in reducing poverty. We have clear evidence of what we can accomplish when our government makes ending poverty a real priority. Still, while social safety net programs help millions of people year, it is time for our nation to renew its dedication to solving the problem of poverty. Despite many advancements made since 1964, poverty is still far too high in the United States

Bread for the World's new background paper "The War on Poverty at 50" closely examines the significant progress that has been made, and identifies reforms that will not only protect the gains this nation has made in addressing the problem of poverty, but move us toward solving it.

Read the background paper below, or in the May edition of Bread for the World's newsletter.

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Salvaging Food: Restaurants and Food Waste

[This is the first in a four-part series on salvaging food, reprinted with permission from the Bread New Mexico blog.]

360px-Dumpster-a-plentyBy Carlos Navarro

The issue of household food waste has grabbed a lot of headlines in recent months, but restaurant food waste is a problem not talked about as frequently. I started putting together this blog post to highlight how the City of Santa Fe and anti-waste nonprofit Reunity Resources developed a pilot progam to convert food scraps to compost.  As I was conducting research on how restaurants deal with leftover food, I came across a very interesting and comprehensive guide, put together by the National Restaurant Association and the U.S. Department of Agriculture), for restaurants to donate their leftover meals to food-salvage operations.

So, I decided to look at the issue in a four-part series. Part 1 offers excerpts from the guide; part 2 will provide excerpts from a memorial passed by the New Mexico state legislature to encourage the state's public schools to donate excess food; part 3 describes how food salvage got its start in Santa Fe; and part 4 looks at the operation that turns food scraps into compost.

Here are a few excerpts from the report "Food Donation: A Restauranteur's Guide."

Food Donation
Of the many methods employed to fight the problem of hunger in America, food recovery may be one of the best because it makes use of wholesome food that would otherwise be discarded. A June 1997 study by the US. Department of Agriculture (USDA) estimates that more than one-quarter of all food produced in the nation is wasted. The study, conducted by the USDA Economic Research Service, is the first of its kind in 20 years to examine and quantify food loss. The study found that, in 1995, about 96 billion pounds of food-or 27 percent of the 356 billion pounds of food available for human consumption in the United States-were lost at retail, consumer and foodservice levels... With little effort, [restauranteurs] can make a huge difference in the lives of children, the elderly, the home- less and even the working poor in their communities by doing something that is already second nature to most restaurant professionals-feeding people.

Rescuing Fresh Produce
Restaurateurs should begin their search for donation items by looking at the food they have in storage, such as fresh produce that will spoil before it can be used. While no one would want to eat anything that is moldy, there are many occasions when perfectly edible fruits and vegetables are thrown out because they have passed the point of restaurant quality or freshness or are discovered to have bruises or to be soft so that the produce cannot be served to customers.

Protection from Liability
One of the biggest obstacles to donating food to hunger programs has always been the prospective donor’s fear of liability. However, everyone involved in the fight against hunger is now breathing easier since the passage of the Emerson Good Samaritan Food Donation Act in October 1996. The coverage provided by this law-in combination with proper food-safety practices and thorough documentation-will go a long way toward protecting restaurants from liability in the unlikely case of a lawsuit involving donated food.

Carlos Navarro has been a Bread member for over 20 years and has led Bread’s presence in New Mexico for the last decade. He maintains the Bread for the World New Mexico website and blog, and serves on the Bread for the World board of directors.

Photo: A trash bag full of vegetables in a dumpster. (Flickr user Gabriel Amadeus)

Fighting Poverty By 'Transforming the Whole Pond'

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Susan and Russell Stall (Photo courtesy of Jay Spivey/FETE magazine).

Bread for the World members Susan and Russell Stall of Greenville, N.C., work to change systems and empower people. The couple recently traveled to Kenya, a trip organized by Dining for Women. Susan serves on the board of the local chapter of this global giving circle dedicated to helping women and girls in the developing world. The Stalls learned about Dining for Women when its founder addressed a JustFaith group that the Stalls facilitated in 2011.

JustFaith is a small-group curriculum that links spirituality and the church’s social justice mission. Bread for the World President David Beckmann, another speaker in the JustFaith series, also made a lasting impression on the Stalls.

“David told about meeting the mother of his adopted child,” Susan recalls. “This woman had made a contribution to Bread for the World. When David asked her what motivated the gift, the woman said that when she was a young, unwed, pregnant woman, she couldn't have survived without the government assistance that Bread for the World helps pass in Congress. Now that her life was stable, she wanted to support Bread’s work.”

“I was struck by how this person was helped—and even more that Bread for the World’s own leader was indirectly impacted by Bread's advocacy through his child’s birth mother. I was also struck by the inclusiveness David exuded when he addressed us. My son asked a question and David answered as though Hampton (the only teenager at the event) was the most important person in the room.”

In 2008, Russell founded Greenville Forward, dedicated to improving the Stalls’ home city. The effort mobilizes community conversations, leadership development, and community gardens, to name just a few. The latter is of special interest to Russell.

“Public gardens, especially in low-income neighborhoods, are becoming the new front porch, where people can see each other and visit, and grow healthy food to eat,” he says.

The Stalls are members of Triune Mercy Center, a non-denominational mission church, where affluent members sit shoulder-to-shoulder with homeless people, who make up half the congregation.  Susan calls the congregation “an incredible model.”  Triune recently hosted a large Offering of Letters.  These letters to Congress had a special significance, since many of them were penned by low-income and homeless constituents.

Susan and Russell have a son in college and another in his senior year of high school. Their oldest son, Hampton, worked as an intern at Bread for the World this past summer.

 The Stalls’ preferred mode of financially supporting efforts to end hunger is through gifts of stock to Bread for the World Institute.

“We’re not the top of the heap when it comes to income. But we do have resources,” Susan explains. “When we give appreciated stock, Bread for the World Institute gets the full amount—and we are not liable to pay capital gains tax on it. So giving stock has been a great mechanism for us. Being Bread members provides us with a way to advocate for the world’s most marginalized people.”

“Bread for the World could go out and give food to people,” Russell says. “But changing systems? Empowering people to speak out? That’s not teaching a man to fish. It’s transforming the whole pond!”

Hear Rev. Dr. James Forbes Speak Near You

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Rev. Dr. James Forbes speaking at Bread for the World's 2013 National Gathering (Joseph Molieri/Bread for the World).

When the Rev. Dr. James Forbes was a child, his family’s Raleigh, N.C., dinner table was a place not only where meals were shared, but where accomplishments were celebrated and compassion encouraged. After saying grace, the family members ate and talked about how they could best extend kindness and love to each other and the members of their community. “If we had been faithful in caring and sharing then we had the sense that justice and peace had a chance in the world,” Rev. Forbes, senior minister emeritus of the Riverside Church in New York City and president of the Healing of the Nations Foundation, said in a recent sermon.

During Bread for the World’s 2013 National Gathering, “A Place at the Table,” Rev. Forbes offered words to fortify advocates working to ensure that all families can gather around dinner tables filled with compassion, love, and nutritious food. Now, Rev. Forbes, who is often called "the preacher’s preacher," is traveling the country, conveying God’s message that we can end hunger.

In the coming months, he will be preaching in churches across the nation and leading homiletics workshops for ministers, pastors, and others who also preach to end hunger. Click here to see if Rev. Forbes is coming to a church near you and to obtain registration information.

Go to the Movies: See "A Place at the Table"

By Rev. David Beckmann

APATT movie poster_blog_resizeThe national discussion around hunger is changing — and your work is driving that change!

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.

Order Free Bread for the World Sunday Resources

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Photo
: Worship at St. Mark's Episcopal Church in Washington, D.C. The service was part of Bread for the World's 2011 Lobby Day. (Laura Elizabeth Pohl/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.

Play Presidential Debate Bingo and #Talkpoverty

 

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

or

.@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.

Director Linda Midgett Talks About 'The Line'

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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.

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