Urging our nation's leaders to end hunger

225 posts categorized "Hunger in the News"

Pastoral Advice for Our Nation's Political Leaders

By Rev. Gary Cook

It may sound a little silly to write a “pastoral” letter to the president and congressional leaders.  Politicians, after all, usually respond to power and money, not the advice of clerics. But right now, as the sequester looms and it is obvious that the political process is stuck— if not broken—it may be time for a little pastoral counseling.

Today nearly 100 Christian leaders from across the wide spectrum of the church spoke with one voice to our nation’s leaders. National leaders of Catholic, protestant, Orthodox, Pentecostal, and evangelical churches—leaders representing broad racial and ethnic diversity—offered encouragement and wise counsel in the form of a joint letter. We thanked them for their efforts and told them that we're praying for them. We urged them to skip the brinksmanship and compromise on spending cuts and revenues. We asked them to remember that the Bible tells us that the government has responsibilities concerning poor people. We told them to be clear about the moral choices they are making. 

Our leaders would be wise to listen to such advice.  But it is the paragraph that begins with “Finally” that is most exciting to me:

Finally, we ask both parties to work together toward ending hunger and poverty. The Circle of Protection continues to be committed to protecting vital programs for people in or near poverty in our country and around the world, but that is not enough. Help us reduce hunger and poverty by expanding opportunity and justice, promoting economic growth and good paying jobs, stabilizing family life, and protecting the well-being of children. We celebrate the progress the world is making against hunger, poverty, and disease, and we are encouraged by the possibility of ending extreme hunger and poverty globally. Dramatic progress against hunger and poverty in our richly blessed country is also possible. Please, protect the poor and help create the opportunities that make them poor no more.

After two years of being in the defensive “please don’t cut” mode, Christian leaders are asking Congress and the president to look beyond their current squabbles toward a goal of actually ending hunger and poverty. That’s good pastoral advice.

Rev. Gary Cook is director of church relations at Bread for the World.

Read the Circle of Protection letter here or below. Pastors, please click here to add your name to the letter.


Hunger in the News: Poverty Awareness Month, Food Waste


Looking for news on hunger and poverty? Hunger in the News is a regular roundup of notable links from around the Web.

"Poverty rates reflect 'serious moral failure'"

In recognition of Poverty Awareness Month, Bishop Jaime Soto writes an op-ed piece for the Washington Post. "Christ said, 'The poor will always be with you,'" he writes. "That is why the U.S. bishops and partners in the Circle of Protection remain steadfast in the call to protect poor and vulnerable people in the debates around the deficit reduction."

"Criminalizing Poverty"

Bobbie Ibarra, executive director of the Miami Coalition for the Homeless, writes a Huffington Post piece exploring the disturbing trend of criminalizing the behavior of the homeless: "Passing criminal ordinances does not solve this problem; it only makes the situation of persons experiencing homelessness worse by giving them a criminal record that prevents them from obtaining the employment or housing that would allow them to overcome their current circumstance(s)."

"Almost half of the world's food thrown away, report finds"

The Guardian reports that nearly half of the world's food—as much as 2 billion tons—ends up in the trash. The piece cites a study from the UK's Institution of Mechanical Engineers, which blames the waste on "poor engineering and agricultural practices," inadequate infrastructure,  poor storage facilities, and, in the Western world, unnecessarily strict sell-by dates, buy-one-get-one free deals that encourage shoppers to buy more than they need or can use, and consumer demand for cosmetically perfect food.

Hunger in the News: Cory Booker, Jim McGovern, Teen Poverty


Looking for the latest news on hunger and poverty? Here's a roundup of links from around the Web.

"#SNAPChallenge Day 7 Reflections": Cory Booker wraps up his weeklong SNAP challenge, offers some thoughts on the experience. "I will end the SNAP Challenge today but my attention and commitment to addressing food access does not stop here. I ask you to join me and those in your community who are working towards a just and sustainable food system that nourishes everyone," the Newark, N.J., mayor writes. 

"Congressman Jim McGovern Calls on President to End Hunger": Rep. McGovern (D-Mass.), in an op-ed piece, writes that "[i]t's time to act boldly."

"What $5 more an hour could buy a low-wage worker": Marketplace Radio looks at what a few more bucks an hour can mean to those who earn just above the minimum wage. His diet went from fast food dollar menus, to fresh food, now and then. “I thought I hit the jack pot,” he says. Johnny Smith, who received a $5/hr. pay increase after finding a job at Trader Joe's says his diet went from fast food dollar menus, to fresh food, now and then. “I thought I hit the jack pot,” he says. 

"In Rust Belt, A Teenager's Climb from Poverty": The Washington Post profiles New Castle, Pa., teenager Tabitha Rouzzo, who is working to escape the poverty of her hometown.

"When Even Santa Can't Get A Job:" The latest installment in the Nation's "This Week in Poverty" series follows eastern Ohio resident Richard Crowe as he looks for work. “It’s funny, but it’s pathetic—a lot of people think you’re out here for a handout,” Crowe says.

Hunger in the News: Cory Booker, Jo Ann Emerson, Mark Bittman


Looking for the latest news on hunger and poverty? Here's a roundup of links from around the Web.

"The Good Farmer: Howard G. Buffett's Crusade to Eliminate Hunger in America": Parade profiles Howard G. Buffett—farmer, philanthropist, and son of Warren—who is working to fight hunger, through his own philanthropic foundation and work with Feeding America. 

"Hunger in Plain Sight": New York Times food columnist Mark Bittman says that SNAP and food banks need more funding, not less—something that should be apparent to anyone who looks at hunger "from a moral perspective (love thy neighbor, remember?) or a practical one[.]"

 "What's Behind Cory Booker's Food Stamp Challenge?": Time takes a hard look at the Newark mayor's SNAP challenge, which kicked off yesterday. Coverage also includes an excellent companion piece, "The Problem With Food Stamp Challenges."

"For the Poor, Recovery Is A Mirage": USA Today visits Troy, Ohio, a rural community that has seen a sharp increase in poverty over the last four years. "As lawmakers in Washington grapple with the "fiscal cliff" and Americans do their holiday shopping, thousands of people in Miami County are managing on little or no income."

"Jo Ann Emerson to Retire from House": Jo Ann Emerson (R-Mo.), an anti-hunger champion who introduced the Feeding America’s Families Act with Rep. Jim McGovern (D-Mass.), has announced that she will resign from Congress in February. 

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)

Ask President Obama and Congress to Work Toward Ending Hunger


By David Beckmann 

The 2012 elections are over. Whether your candidates won or lost, we are very thankful to you for raising hunger and poverty as campaign issues.

More than 120,000 of you viewed two video statements in which the presidential candidates explained what they would do to give opportunity to hungry and poor people. With your help, we raised the issues of hunger and poverty, at home and abroad, in the elections.

Now, please join us in asking President Obama to set a goal and work with Congress to enact a plan to end hunger.

The next few months are crucial. The president and Congress must address issues such as the farm bill, expiration of the 2001 and 2003 tax cuts, and the 2013 federal budget.  They also must agree on a balanced approach to deficit reduction. 

In the coming weeks we will have several key opportunities to remind our members of Congress not to balance the federal budget on the backs of hungry and poor people, and to instead create a circle of protection around programs vital to hungry and poor people.

Please join us in praying for President Obama and members of Congress.

David Beckmann is president of Bread for the World.

Take action! Watch President Obama's video statement and send him a letter asking that he set a goal and work with Congress to enact a plan to end hunger.

You can also contact the president on Twitter, using the sample tweets below:

.@BarackObama set a goal to #endhunger & work with Congress in assuring a place at the table for hungry & poor people. http://ow.ly/f5Scz

Don’t forget your promise to do your part to protect vital assistance for the least of these @BarackObama http://ow.ly/f5Scz #talkpoverty

Continuing the Fight Against Global Hunger and Malnutrition

Why, in a world with an abundance of food, are so many hungry? How is it possible that those with access to food can still be at risk of malnutrition?

On World Food Day, Asma Lateef, director of Bread for the World Institute, appeared on Voice of America's "In Focus" program to talk about these issues and the continuing fight against global hunger and malnutrition.

Lateef discussed the recent United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) "The State of Food Insecurity in the World 2012" report, which shows that great progress has been made in reducing hunger over the last two decades. She also talked about farming cooperatives (the focus of World Food Day 2012), the need to improve nutrition, and the ways in which those two issues are linked.

"As we think about building on the progress we've made against hunger over the last few decades, [we should be] thinking about integrating programs so that you are increasing farmer income, and also improving nutrition at the same time."

Watch the video and read Lateef's blog post on the progress that has been made in eradicating global hunger, and the work ahead.

Does Investing in Women and Girls Mean Leaving Boys Behind?

Photo: Schoolchildren in Malawi. (Racine Tucker-Hamilton/Bread for the World)

By Racine Tucker-Hamilton

As a woman who is the mother of two sons, I’m often torn between my strong belief in empowering women and girls and raising boys. My personal conflict was very evident last week while attending the Social Good Summit (SGS).

Many of the sessions focused specifically on females: "Women Editors Take on the Intersection of Print, Digital and Social Good," "Connecting Girls Around the World," and "Women, Social Media and an End to Poverty.

As I was sitting through these sessions I kept thinking, where are boys and men in these conversations? Then finally, America Ferrera, an actress, producer, and activist, brought it up. She and fellow actress Alexis Bledel had recently returned from a trip to Honduras where they learned how women and girls are improving nutrition and fighting poverty in developing countries. The trip was organized by the ONE campaign and captured in this video.

Ferrera was a guest on the SGS panel "Women, Social Media and an End to Poverty." She told the audience that, in her experience, investing in women and girls doesn’t mean leaving boys behind.

“From what we saw [in Latin America], boys are raised by their mothers and the mothers will see that those boys have education and a different outlook toward women’s roles in society,” said Ferrera.

Her comments reminded me of my visit to a southern Malawi village last year, where I saw men playing an important role in improving nutrition for women and children. Kennedy Mbereko is one of those men. He’s well known in the Jombo village, where he serves as a member of a care group for a Catholic Relief Services project called Wellness and Agriculture for Life Advancement (WALA). Kennedy visits the homes of malnourished children and then documents their progress and growth.

While his notes and journals are central to his job, his presence alone makes a difference in a community where nutrition may be viewed as a ‘women’s-only issue.’ Mbereko is helping to break down barriers and engage other men in the area—including the village leader—around the issue of malnutrition.  

During Ferrera's panel discussion at the SGS, she also told the audience that we need more men to embrace and support the issues of improving nutrition and ending poverty in their communities.

“We need enlightened men to help change the minds of men who may not see the important role that women play in poverty eradication.”

There’s no question that women and girls must be at the table when determining the best ways to combat malnutrition and poverty, but we have to remember to save a seat for boys and men.

Racine Tucker-Hamilton is Bread for the World's media relations manager.

The Only Certainties in Life are Death and Taxes

TPC_chart(Graphic: Tax Policy Center, 2011)

By Sarah Godfrey

The now infamous video that shows presidential candidate Mitt Romney talking about “the 47 percent” of Americans who “pay no income tax” has the entire country discussing who does or does not pay taxes. Romney’s remarks have thrust into the spotlight a study that is actually a smart, common-sense analysis of taxation that shows that everyone—especially the poor— pays.

The "47 percent" figure is taken from a Tax Policy Institute study that found 46.4 percent of Americans did not pay federal income tax in 2011, but even the Institute itself has said its findings have been largely misconstrued.  “Commentators have often misinterpreted that percentage as indicating that nearly half of Americans pay no taxes. In fact, however, many of those who don’t pay income tax do pay other taxes—federal payroll and excise taxes as well as state and local income, sales, and property taxes,” the group wrote in a 2011 response to its findings.

Derek Thompson, writing in the Atlantic on Sept. 18, put it plainly: “When you hear ‘The 47 percent,' you should think old retired folks and poor working families.” The Washington Post’s Wonk Blog analyzed the same Tax Policy Institute study, and found that of the roughly 47 percent of those who don’t pay income tax, 60 percent are still paying into Social Security and Medicare. Another 22 percent of non-payers are retirees. “Only about 7.9 percent of households are not paying any federal taxes at all,” wrote Brad Plumer. “That’s usually because they’re either unemployed or on disability or students or are very poor.”

The poor actually often shoulder a greater share of the tax burden relative to their income, contrary to the conventional wisdom in some circles. A 2012 Citizens for Tax Justice study found that the poorest fifth of Americans, a group with an average cash income of $13,000 per year, saw 17.4 percent of their incomes go to taxes last year.

Continue reading "The Only Certainties in Life are Death and Taxes" »

Circle of Protection Featured On PBS' 'Religion & Ethics NewsWeekly'


David Beckmann speaking at the Sept. 12 Circle of Protection press conference. (Photo: Eric Bond/Bread for the World)

 On September 12, the Circle of Protection debuted exclusive videos of President Barack Obama and Governor Mitt Romney talking, on the record, about hunger and poverty. During the video release press conference at the National Press Club, faith leaders discussed the candidate statements as well as new U.S. Census Bureau poverty figures revealing that 15 percent of Americans—including one in five children—lived in poverty in 2011.

Coverage of the event was featured on the PBS news program "Religion & Ethics NewsWeekly."

Watch the Sept. 14 episode of "Religion & Ethics NewsWeekly" below (the Circle of Protection segment begins at the 4:30 mark):


Watch September 14, 2012 on PBS. See more from Religion & Ethics NewsWeekly.

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