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207 posts categorized "Hunger in the News"
by Matt Newell-Ching
Last October we featured a Breadblog post about a new effort by “Sesame Street” to provide resources and empathy for children and parents experiencing hunger. A recent interview in the New York Times “Motherlode” blog provides a sobering look at why the Muppets are taking on such a serious issue. Blogger KJ Dell’Antonia interviewed Dr. Jeanette Betancourt, Senior Vice President for Outreach and Educational Practices at Sesame Workshop:
When we realized that 9.6 million children under the age of 6 are impacted by food insecurity, [said Betancourt] we realized we needed to reach out to those children and their families.
We also wanted the children to see that they’re not alone …. Hunger can be a very hidden problem. And we wanted to help reduce the stigma of needing help.
The short answer to why they took this on? Because it’s increasingly relevant to Sesame Street’s audience, kids in the United States.
And let’s be clear—it’s relevant not only for kids who are experiencing hunger, but to their peers as well. “Sesame Street” has a unique way of inviting young minds to experience empathy, which—let me tell you, as the father of a toddler—is not an easy task. Growing Hope Against Hunger provides an important opportunity for parents to foster a “do unto others” moment with their kids. I know we’ll be watching it with our kids soon.
In her blog, Dell’Antonia makes another observation that is often overlooked:
The familiar Muppets can help a child through everything from big-kid beds to grieving. But when the average American throws away 33 pounds of food a month, Elmo and Big Bird shouldn’t need to help a child worried about being hungry for anything more than an extra cookie.
This underscores an important point: hunger in America is not a problem of food production. It’s a problem of food access.
The good news is that we know a lot about bridging access to food. And the best bridge to food for struggling families is through the Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program (SNAP, formerly food stamps). Yet, at this moment, SNAP is under threat in Congress.
+ Learn more about how to urge decision-makers to stand up for struggling families by defending SNAP.
Matt Newell-Ching is the Bread for the World western regional organizer.
Screen shot of North Carolina Bread activists taken from WFMY-TV.
Bread’s engine runs on the fuel of dedicated and faith-filled advocates across this nation who continually address decision makers on issues of hunger and poverty. When organizers see members independently creating events like the Bread for the World North Carolina Team did on Wednesday, we know we are doing our job right. With song and prayer, over 20 religious leaders and activists surrounded the Guilford County Department of Social Services, making public their concern for protecting programs that are critical to people experiencing hunger and poverty.
Vital domestic nutrition programs like SNAP (formerly food stamps) are facing severe cuts by Congress that could send more hungry to already overburdened church pantries. The Greensboro Urban Ministry got a small taste of the daunting task of feeding the recipients of such programs when a computer glitch stopped local SNAP benefits. Over a two-month period, 1,500 more people needed food, compared to the same period in the previous year.
Bread activist Bryan McFarland has a history of going the extra mile—advocating for an end to hunger by creating programs like “Jacob’s Join” that educate with song. Yesterday was no exception. With the help of Robert Herron, Frank M. Dew, Christine Byrd, Mike Aiken, and other organizers with Bread for the World’s Triad Chapter, the leaders sent a public call—not only to Greensboro, but also to North Carolina’s Senators Kay Hagen and Richard Burr— to maintain SNAP funding. Listen to what they had to say in a WMFY news story:
You don’t need Bread staff to create an event in your region. However, your Bread organizer can help you with press contacts, resources, and information about which issues are the most critical and timely. Creating the political will to end hunger is noisy business, but when advocates are empowered, active, and public, change happens.
Thank you for your fantastic work, Triad Team!
+Make the conversation about hunger public at a town hall meeting this month while Congress is on recess. We have resources for you here.
Robin Stephenson is regional organizer at Bread for the World.
Last night, David Beckmann, president of Bread for the World, appeared on PBS NewsHour to discuss the drought in the United States and its impact on food prices around the world.
Here's a highlight from the interview:
Ray Suarez: David Beckmann, is there any give in the world food system than there used to be? Some food experts are referring to a post-surplus world, where the number of mouths more closely matches the amount of food we're making.
Does this kind of event, this unusual drought, worst in 56 years, put more people in risk than we even realize?
David Beckmann: The system has changed in that world's population is growing wonderfully. A lot of people are getting out of poverty around the world. And so they are eating more food.
And there's going to be a growing demand for food, already is, all over the world. So that change has taken place. I think one thing that we're doing right as a world is investing in agriculture in poor countries around the world, helping poor farmer produce more, take advantage of higher prices to make a living and also meet local needs.
Screenshot from CNN.com
On Monday, July 9, we attended a briefing at the White House, during which President Obama called for extending tax cuts for the middle class and small business owners. While we were overwhelmed by this amazing opportunity to listen to our president, we also wanted to take a critical look at some parts of his speech.
During his speech, President Obama noted that he has cut taxes for Americans by an average of $3,600 per year during his tenure. He urged Congress to extend tax cuts for the middle class and small-business owners who make less than $250,000 for another year. He also called on Congress to allow tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans to expire by the end of the year. President Obama emphasized that 97 percent of U.S. business are small businesses, and are the economic root of the nation.
In an ongoing effort to strengthen the middle class President Obama said that we need to “widen the circle of opportunity” for middle class Americans. We found the president’s use of this phrase interesting. Since early 2011, Bread for the World and other organizations have called on Congress and the Obama administration to create a circle of protection around programs vital to hungry and poor people in the United States and around the world.
On the hard wood of the basketball court, in the midst of team huddles, layups, and bounce passes, one would not expect to find champions of hunger, but that was the case during last Friday's game between the San Antonio Silver Stars and the Mystics − Washington, DC’s Women’s National Basketball Association (WNBA) franchise team.
On July 6, during half-time, Bread for the World took center court to receive the Mystic’s Capitol One Community Champion award. During every home game this season the team recognizes a group or individual who is making a difference in the community as part of their “Investing for Good” philosophy.
Previous "Community Champions" include Horton’s Kids, an organization that provides youth literacy services and emergency food assistance for local families in need; Back on my Feet, a nonprofit that assists the homeless and other underserved populations through running activities; and Young Women’s Project, a multicultural group that teaches teens and young women how to become strong leaders in their communities.
Although the Mystics didn’t get the “W” in Friday’s game against the San Antonio Silver Stars, the team led in assists in the fight against hunger.
Photo caption: Racine Tucker-Hamilton receives the Capitol One Community Champion Award at the Washington Mystics game in Washington, DC on July 6, 2012. Photo by Scott Bleggi.
Sister Simone Campbell, executive director of Network, a national Catholic social justice lobby, speaks at the "Nuns on the Bus" tour stop on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC, on Monday, July 2, 2012. Photo by Laura Elizabeth Pohl/Bread for the World.
From June 17 to July 2, a small group of nuns toured the nation by bus to protest budget cuts that would endanger poor and hungry people in the United States. Known as the "nuns on the bus," this powerful contingent of women religious raised awareness at every stop on their tour about cuts to federal funding for programs such as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, formerly food stamps). The bus tour ended yesterday with a rousing rally in Washington, DC (see our coverage of the event here). Today, we sat down with Sister Simone Campbell, executive director of Network -- a primary organizing group of the bus tour -- to hear her stories from the road and find out what we can expect next from the "nuns on the bus."
Read part 1 of our interview below. (Part 2 will be posted on the Bread Blog later this week.)
Why did you want to go on a bus tour of the nation?
Well, we needed to get the story out into the country about what was going on, on Capitol Hill. People don’t understand what’s happening with the House budget. And we needed to get to places where ordinary people are. Unlike some presidential candidates, you can’t exactly fly from place to place for us. So it seemed to make sense to do a bus. And then we got to joking about nuns and school buses (laughing). But, actually, it was a genius idea.
Screenshot of UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon taken from UNICNetwork video.
The UN Secretary General, Ban Ki-moon, recently issued the Zero Hunger Challenge, a tool to initiate high-level advocacy to create significant advances in food security. Ban Ki-moon is careful to note in his video address (below) that he is not issuing a new challenge, but is extending an invitation for others to join in the fight to end hunger through five objectives: worldwide access to adequate food; and end to stunted children under 2 years old; sustainable food systems; 100 percent growth in smallholder productivity and income; and zero waste of food.
The most compelling point in the UN Secretary General's address is when he shares a memory from his childhood:
"When I was a child in war-time Korea, many families faced starvation and shortages. Many countries, including my own, took bold steps to end hunger. But almost 1 billion people still do not have enough to eat. I want to see an end to hunger everywhere, within my lifetime."
Watch Ban Ki-moon's brief video address below, and stay tuned to the Institute Notes blog for further analysis of the Zero Hunger Challenge.
Jeannie Choi is associate editor at Bread for the World. Follow her on Twitter @jeanniechoi.
Bread for the World activists from Texas listen to a staffer in Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison's office talk during Bread's Lobby Day in Washington, DC, on Tuesday, June 12, 2012. Photo by Laura Elizabeth Pohl for Bread for the World.
As you’ve hopefully heard, the Senate finished their work on the Farm Bill yesterday afternoon. The bill passed by a vote of 64-35. While the final bill included $4.5 billion in cuts to SNAP over the next ten years, our work and voices did make a difference.
Harmful amendments to further cut, and even dismantle, SNAP were defeated on a strong bi-partisan basis. This will certainly help us in sending a strong message to the House of Representatives that deeper cuts to SNAP are unacceptable.
Additionally, the final bill included some common sense reforms to international food aid and to crop insurance. An amendment by Sens. Coburn and Durbin to limit crop insurance premium subsidies to wealthy farmers also passed on a strong bi-partisan basis.
The process now turns to the House where the Agriculture Committee will be marking up their own bill on July 11. Stay tuned for details and possible actions around the markup. We expect much deeper cuts to SNAP likely in the range of $14 billion over ten years.
We want to thank all of our activists for your work advocating for SNAP and international food aid as the bill made its way through the Senate. There is still much to be done, but we are glad to see the Farm Bill process moving forward.
Christine Meléndez Ashley is policy analyst at Bread for the World.
Screenshot from video by Moyers & Company
Sister Simone Campbell, executive director of Network Lobby, is travelling throughout the United States on a two-week tour called, "Nuns on the Bus." The group of nuns are travelling to highlight their opposition to the House budget put forth by Rep. Paul Ryan that cuts funding to programs that help poor and hungry people.
In this short video produced by Moyers & Company, Sister Simone Campbell outlines the importance of protecting funding for food stamps in particular, and mentions Bread for the World's $50,000 campaign. She says:
"Bread for the World tells it that just on the food stamps alone Congressman Ryan is wrong that the churches can take care of this issue, because the cuts that are proposed and have been passed by the House is going to require every church, every synagogue, every mosque, every house of worship in the United States each year for 10 years to each raise $50,000. It’s impossible!"
Watch the video below: