Urging our nation's leaders to end hunger
 

33 posts categorized "Hunger Resources"

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

Revforbesgathering

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.

Striving for Better Grades

Better grades blog 8.24.12

(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,
  • economics
  • geography
  • 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. 

Continue reading "Striving for Better Grades" »

Can You Make It Through the Month?

 Spent. 8.24.12

(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.

Continue reading "Can You Make It Through the Month?" »

Eating on $4.30 per day

Girl-eating

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.

Continue reading "Eating on $4.30 per day" »

Ten Ways Christians Can Help End Hunger During Elections

10 ways to end hunger 8.15.12

Maryland activists participate in Bread for the World's 2011 Lobby Day. (Photo by Jim Stipe/Bread for the World)

  1. Develop an “elevator speech” for why ending hunger is important to you as a Christian.
  2. Register to vote.
  3. Write a letter to your local paper saying that ending hunger is a priority for you as a voter.
  4. Learn what the candidates are saying about ending hunger.
  5. Speak about the importance of ending hunger at candidates’ town hall meetings.
  6. Engage your friends. Make sure they are registered and know what the candidates are saying about ending hunger.
  7. 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.
  8. Engage your church.
  9. Give money and volunteer time to candidates who are committed to ending hunger.
  10. 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. 

Contact your Organizer who can help you set up a meeting or find a town hall or just check out our elections resources and keep ending hunger a priority and part of the conversation.

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