Urging our nation's leaders to end hunger
 

189 posts categorized "Maternal and Child Nutrition"

Hunger Doesn't Take a Vacation

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By Christine Melendez Ashley

Across the country, children are counting down the days until summer. Most children look forward to a summer filled with vacations and fun. Yet for some children, summer vacation means long months without nutritious school meals. 

Call or email your U.S. representative today. Tell your U.S. representative that child hunger doesn't take a vacation. Urge your U.S. representative to support legislation that gives hungry children access to meals during the summer months, like the Summer Meals Act (H.R. 1728).

Here in Washington, D.C., Congress is busy examining and considering child nutrition programs. This week, the House committee responsible for writing a new child nutrition bill will meet. Its hearing is blatantly titled "Addressing Waste, Fraud, and Abuse in Federal Child Nutrition Programs." In other words, they will consider ways to cut and gut these programs at a time when our children need these services most. Do they care more about waste, fraud, and abuse or getting children the meals they need?

Your representative needs to hear from you. Children are more likely to be at risk of hunger during the summer months. Six out of every 7 low-income children lack access to regular, nutritious meals during the summer. We can't allow Congress to take even more away from children who already lack so much.

Call your U.S. representative today. Urge your U.S. representative to support legislation that will feed our children — in the upcoming summer months and all year long. 

Bread for the World’s annual Lobby Day is June 9. Join us to make some real changes in Washington, D.C., when it comes to feeding our children. You don’t need to be a policy expert to participate. You just need to care. 

Registration is free but space is limited. Register today to reserve your spot!

Christine Melendez Ashley is a senior policy analyst at Bread for the World.

Lobby Day: A Bread Staffer Makes Her Voice Heard

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Kierra Jackson (left), a Bread for the World staffer, talks with activists while staffing a Bread literature table during Bread's Lobby Day. Rick Reinhard for Bread for the World.

Editor’s note: Bread for the World’s Lobby Day is on June 9. Ahead of Lobby Day, Bread Blog chats with Kierra Jackson, a major gifts coordinator/development officer at Bread, about her experience attending Lobby Day.

Q. Why have you attended Lobby Day in the past?

A.  I’ve always been nervous about lobbying – afraid that I didn’t know enough and that what I could contribute to a conversation around food justice wasn’t significant enough. But then I met with Bread organizers who equipped us about the issues, provided us with the facts, and encouraged us to share our stories about how hunger had touched our lives, our families, our communities. I felt a sense of strength, purpose, and a feeling that I belonged in those Hill offices when I came equipped with anecdotes about those affected by hunger.

I’ve continued to attend Lobby Day because I want to debunk the myth that the men and women in Congress are inaccessible and that our voices don’t matter. They do. I also lobby each year to be reminded that those in office are public servants. They are in office to serve the wills and the needs of the people they represent.

I want to debunk the myth that the men and women in Congress are inaccessible and that our voices don’t matter. They do.

Q. What has your previous lobby day experience been like?

A.  Last year, I lobbied with a small group of folks from Washington, D.C. We met with staffers with the office of Eleanor Holmes Norton, a congressional delegate from the District of Columbia. Many people think that, because D.C. doesn’t have a vote, visiting with Holmes Norton doesn’t matter. But it does. She is currently in her 13th term and has professional relationships and friendships with those who do have a vote. She also has access to the president. So, her buy-in—when it comes to the issues Bread cares about—really matters because she has great influence.

Q. What do you like most about participating in Lobby Day?

A. My favorite part is the reception at the end. Bread provides time and space to present awards to members of Congress who have been champions for hungry people.  I also am grateful for time when we’re encouraged to share from our experiences. There’s always a lot of positive energy at that final debrief. I leave feeling so proud to be a Bread staff member, supporter, and a lobbyist on behalf of those who experience hunger.

Q. This year’s Lobby Day is focused on ensuring Congress reauthorizes the child nutrition bill. Why is lobbying on this issue important to you?

A. I’m an aunt, a child-birth doula, and a neighbor to many children on my block. When it comes to children, you can’t use the excuse that poverty is their fault. Adults are responsible for the well-being of children. Hunger causes physical and emotional stress. I believe that it’s my personal responsibility to help those around me – especially the most innocent and vulnerable – to grow, develop, and become their best. Supporting the child nutrition bill promises positive outcomes for so many children in this country. It’s advantageous to see successive generations thrive. I feel a personal responsibility to that end.

Bread for the World’s annual Lobby Day is June 9. Join us to make some real changes in Washington, D.C., when it comes to feeding our children. You don’t need to be a policy expert to participate. You just need to care. 

Registration is free ,but space is limited. Register today to reserve your spot!

This blog post interview was conducted, edited, and condensed by Jennifer Gonzalez, associate online editor at Bread for the World.

 

 

 

Lobby Day: Use Your Voice to End Child Hunger

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Bread activists on Capitol Hill during Lobby Day. Jim Stipe for Bread for the World.

By Amelia Kegan

Do you wonder whether your letters, calls, and emails to Congress break through the gridlock and partisanship on Capitol Hill? Could you use a reminder that your voice really does make a difference in Washington?

Looking at the news reports, it’s hard not to become cynical. I sometimes feel that way. But then Lobby Day comes around, giving me new energy and new inspiration. And each year, Lobby Day brings real results in the movement to end hunger.

Join us for Bread for the World’s annual Lobby Day on Tuesday, June 9, to personally and powerfully urge your senators and representative to support child nutrition in the U.S. and around the world. Registration is free and easy.

There is no better boost than Bread’s annual Lobby Day. Renew your faith in the power of your voice. Connect with other faithful advocates doing this work around the country. Get inspired.

I invite you to join us in Washington on Tuesday, June 9 for Bread’s 2015 Lobby Day. You don’t need to be a policy expert. You just need to care.

Nothing reminds me of the power of individual advocacy to end hunger like Bread’s Lobby Day. And it will be even better if you’re there with us.

Don’t delay. Register today. Registration is free but space is limited. Register today to reserve your spot!

Amelia Kegan is deputy director of government relations at Bread for the World.

Feed the Future Legislation Moves One Step Closer to Law



By Robin Stephenson

Renowned anti-hunger crusader and U.S. Rep. Jim McGovern says he loves Feed the Future, a U.S.-led initiative that combats hunger and malnutrition and improves global food security. 

Three-year-old Tunda Ramiya is a living testament to what the program can do. 

New Approaches to Nutrition Bear Fruit in MorogoroTunda was born in Tanzania’s Morogoro region. Forty-four percent of children in Morogoro under age five are chronically malnourished, robbing them of normal cognitive and bodily development. But Tunda is thriving.

Feed the Future gave her mother the resources and knowledge to ensure Tunda - and the rest of her family - eats a healthy and nutritious diet.

There are roughly 165 million children worldwide who deserve the same opportunity as Tunda. Instead, these children grow up stunted and will never reach their full potential. 

“Hunger is a political condition,” McGovern said in a recent interview about the program’s efficacy. “I mean, we have all the ingredients and know how to end it,” he said. “What we haven’t had in the past is the political will to put it all together and actually implement a plan. Feed the Future is the first big step in that direction.”

Feed the Future is the first-ever comprehensive U.S. food security strategy to address hunger and malnutrition in developing countries and take a holistic approach to ending hunger. 

Since the successful program was created in 2009, it has depended on the good will of Congress for a yearly appropriation. By authorizing (making permanent) Feed the Future, further gains will be made in improving the livelihoods of these smallholder farmers, strengthening maternal and child nutrition, and building capacity for long-term agricultural growth.

In other words, we need to make it a law.

Last month, the Global Food Security Act – the legislation that would make the program codified into law – passed out of the House Foreign Affairs Committee (H.R. 1567).

The bill got one step closer to becoming law yesterday. U.S. Sens. Bob Casey (D-Pa.) and Johnny Isakson (R- Ga.) introduced the Global Food Security Act of 2015 (S. 1252) last night in the Senate.

Read more in Bread for the World's statement to the press released earlier today: Bread for the World Applauds Introduction of Global Food Security Act in Senate

Take Action: Call your senators TODAY (800-826-3688). Urge them to co-sponsor the Global Food Security Act (S. 1252) to improve global food security and better combat chronic hunger and malnutrition!

Photo: Tunda and her family. Africare via Feed the Future

Robin Stephenson is the national lead for social media and a senior regional organizer at Bread for the World.

NFL's Beachum Calls Lobbying Congress 'A Powerful Experience'

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Kelvin Beachum, Jr. visiting with Congressman Glenn "GT" Thompson (Pa.-5). Joseph Molieri/Bread for the World.

By Kelvin Beachum

As an offensive lineman for the Pittsburgh Steelers, proper nutrition is essential if I want to perform well on the football field. This is true for all of us. Especially kids. We have a responsibility to provide the next generation with the opportunity to reach their full potential.

But right now, one in five kids in the U.S. is at risk of hunger, and 2.6 million children around the world die each year as a result of hunger-related causes. I understand the issue of hunger. As a child, my family and I bounced around from WIC, free and reduced lunches, and some food stamp assistance when we qualified. There were times when we had enough, but there were also times that we needed help.

Not all children have access to the nutrition they need.

But they should.

On Tuesday, June 9, we have a chance to make some real changes in Washington, D.C., when it comes to feeding our children. June 9 is Bread for the World’s annual Lobby Day, and I invite you to be there. Register today.

I was just on Capitol Hill with Bread for the World. It was my first time lobbying Congress. What a powerful experience — for both me and my members of Congress. If you’ve been to Bread’s Lobby Day before, you know. If you haven’t, I urge you to find out.

You don’t need to be a policy expert. You just need to care. Registration is easy and free!

Kelvin Beachum, Jr. is a Pittsburgh Steelers left tackle and Bread for the World member.

The Power of the Phone Call

PhoneBy Jon Gromek

Making a call to Congress can be powerful. It is how you can make your voice heard on important issues like ensuring Congress reauthorizes the child nutrition bill.

We need you to speak up on Tuesday, May 5 and urge Congress to protect the nutrition programs that give hungry children access to the meals they need to thrive. Call (800) 826-3688 and ask for the office or your senators and representative and tell them to protect child nutrition programs by reauthorizing the child nutrition bill.

If you think making a call to Congress can’t make a difference, think again. About a year ago, I got an email late in the evening from my Bread for the World government relations’ colleagues. As is often the case in Congress, an important vote was scheduled last minute in the Senate Appropriations Committee that would provide $35 million for food aid and help feed an additional 200,000 people in need. 

The problem? The vote was set for 10 a.m. the following morning and would most likely fail. We needed our Bread members to make calls to their senators and representative no later than 9 a.m.!

Knowing it was a long shot, especially so late in the day, I nevertheless reached out to some of our most ardent members and activists in Indiana and asked them to contact Sen. Dan Coats (R- Ind.) who happened to be a critical vote. Good news slowly started trickling into my inbox the next morning. Several members committed to make calls before they went to work and followed up with emails. They learned that the senator was actually going to be absent from the vote but with some gentle encouragement and some timely back and forth between Senate staff over email, and phone, they convinced him to cast a yea vote by proxy. 

The vote passed by 16-14, with the senator casting a critical swing vote. A handful of calls one sleepy morning made the difference in the life of 200,000 people in need. Later that day, I got an email from one of the brave few who took a few precious minutes of his early morning to make those calls.  “When I got your note last night I thought ‘I don't have time for this,’ he admitted.  “God is very good. To get this result is great.”

In the coming weeks, members of Congress will begin the serious work of reauthorizing our federal child nutrition programs, including a hearing in the Senate scheduled for Thursday, May 7, at 10 a.m. EDT. Lawmakers will hold in their hands the lives and future well-being of children across the country who depend on the nutritious food they get from services like school meal programs and the Women, Infants, and Children Program (WIC) program. One in five children in the U.S. lives in households that struggle to put food on the table. In a country such as ours that is unacceptable.

We need you to speak up on Tuesday, May 5 and urge Congress to protect the nutrition programs that give hungry children access to the meals they need to thrive. Call (800) 826-3688 and ask for the office or your senators and representative and tell them to protect child nutrition programs by reauthorizing the child nutrition bill.

Jon Gromek is a regional organizer at Bread for the World.

How Good Policy Translates to Success

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Paprika pepper farmer in Tanzania. USAID.

By Beth Ann Saracco

Congress is listening to you! Less than two weeks ago, we asked you to contact Congress and urge your representative to cosponsor The Global Food Security Act. As a result of your advocacy, the bill passed out of the House Foreign Affairs Committee this morning!

Let’s keep this important legislation moving forward! Call (800/826-3688) or email your U.S. representative. Urge your representative to support and cosponsor the Global Food Security Act (H.R. 1567).

On a recent trip to East Africa, I met with a women’s cassava cooperative outside Sengerema, Tanzania. I was struck by the progress they were making in improving their lives and their families’ lives. The women plant cassava, process it into flour, and then sell the flour at the market. With the extra income they earn, standards of living in the community are rising, and the women and their families are seeing a higher quality of life.

This success is a prime example of the progress being achieved on farms throughout the world. Because of programs like Feed the Future, seven million small farmers grew more crops, and 12.5 million children received nutritious food. Such progress has occurred in tandem with the progress of the Global Food Security Act in Congress.

The Global Food Security Act would support efforts like those of the Tanzania cassava cooperative throughout the world. More families will be able to send their children to school, buy nutritious foods to supplement their children’s diets, and further invest in their land and businesses.

From Washington, D.C., to Tanzania, we are making great strides in our efforts to end global hunger and malnutrition. Yet our work remains unfinished. We need the House of Representatives to pass the Global Food Security Act. Making this global food and nutrition security program permanent will ensure progress against hunger continues.

Call (800/826-3688) or email your representative. Urge your representative to cosponsor the Global Food Security Act (H.R. 1567).  Let’s stand with programs like the women’s cassava cooperative in Tanzania by praying for an end to hunger and engaging in faithful advocacy alongside them.

Beth Ann Saracco is an international policy analyst at Bread for the World

Women Can Help 'Feed the Future' and Much More

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Martha Akol is a former refugee who returned to her home several years ago in South Sudan. She is one of Africa's millions of women farmers who works hard to feed her family. Stephen Hovick Padre/Bread for the World

By Beth Ann Saracco

Earlier this month, the world celebrated International Women’s Day, a day to acknowledge women's economic, political, and social achievements. Around the world, improvements in the lives of women and their families have resulted in fewer maternal deaths, more educational opportunities, and increased political participation. What does this teach us? When women are healthy, empowered, and able to pursue educational and employment opportunities, everybody benefits.  

This is the primary message of the 2015 Hunger Report: When Women Flourish… We Can End Hunger. In order to end extreme hunger and poverty by 2030, we need to achieve greater gender equality and eliminate discrimination against women and girls. Unfortunately, in the U.S. and around the world, harmful cultural practices, national laws, and societal norms often leave women marginalized and unable to make decisions, especially ones that impact their own lives and those of their family and community.

The Hunger Report recommends that, in order to improve women’s empowerment and end extreme hunger and poverty worldwide, women should have more economic bargaining power.

If women had more control of their income and assets, their bargaining power in both the household and the market economy would increase, as well as their ability to feed and provide for themselves and their children. According to U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization estimates, if women in Africa and elsewhere had the same access to agricultural resources as men, they could grow 20 to 30 percent more food. This could move roughly 150 million people of out hunger and poverty!

To achieve this, the U.S. government must increase its investments in agricultural-development programs like Feed the Future. And it should place a stronger emphasis on programming that supports women smallholder farmers when it implements projects.

Since its creation in 2010, Feed the Future has achieved impressive results in its 19 focus countries, helping more than seven million small farmers grow more food and providing nutritious food to more than 12.5 million children in 2013 alone.  

Feed the Future is helping to create countries that are more food-secure and eating more nutritious food. But this program could do more.

In order to ensure greater participation of women in Feed the Future programs and continue the initial progress, this initiative must be made a permanent program that continues beyond the Obama administration. While the program has been funded by Congress in annual appropriations legislation, without official statutory authorization, Feed the Future may not have a future of its own. H.R. 1567, the Global Food Security Act, was introduced yesterday in the House of Representatives. This bipartisan bill would permanently codify and authorize a comprehensive approach to global food security, and it would build upon the successes the U.S. government has already achieved through Feed the Future.

What can you do?

Contact your representative, and urge him/her to cosponsor H.R.1567, the Global Food Security Act. Now is the time for policymakers to authorize a program that has a proven ability to address the complex problem of hunger, food insecurity, and malnutrition.

Beth Ann Saracco is the International Policy Analyst in Bread's government relations department.

Women's History Month: The Power of the Collective Voice

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By Jennifer Gonzalez

In honor of Women’s History Month and International Women’s Day, Bread Blog, Institute Notes, and Bread for the World’s social media platforms are celebrating the ingenuity, fortitude, and spirit of women during the month of March.

Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor holds a distinctive place in our nation’s history as the first Hispanic appointed to the U.S. Supreme Court. She is also only the third woman to serve in the nation’s highest court.

Sotomayor has credited her mother as her “life inspiration.” It a reminder of how important it is for women to support each other, whether it’s our own mother, a co-worker, a college mentor, or a best friend.

The 2015 Hunger Report When Women Flourish… We Can End Hunger notes that the power of women’s “collective voice” is essential to solving the world’s many social ills such as persistent poverty and hunger. For example, the report highlights the work of Bread for the World’s Women of Faith for the 1,000 Days Movement, which is focused on the importance of nutrition for pregnant women and young children, especially during the 1,000-day window (from pregnancy to a child’s second birthday).

For more information on the integral role women play in ending hunger and poverty, make sure to read When Women Flourish… We Can End Hunger and also visit Bread Blog.

Jennifer Gonzalez is the associate online editor at Bread for the World.

 

Growing Up Poor in Rural America

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By Robin Stephenson

Clark Fork, Idaho is an idyllic rural community nestled near the northern tip of the state. The town has a median income of just under $28,000 a year and a population of 530. In November, the school district said it could no longer afford to serve hot meals at Clark Fork Junior-Senior High School.

Chris Riggins, the town's mayor, is concerned about food-insecure students. "The hot lunch that they receive here at school, a lot of them, this is the only hot meal they get during the day," Riggins told a local news station. 

Roughly 35 percent of rural populations live in high poverty, according to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). Rural areas are defined as having populations of fewer than 2,500 and not adjacent to a metro area. More than 25 percent of all rural children live in poverty – significantly higher than their urban counterparts.

16160848070_43f57f9ce4_kThe National School Lunch Program (NSLP) is a nutrition intervention tool that provides food to children who need it – food that gives them the fuel to learn. But a growing number of rural schools are struggling to make the program work for them.

The Bonner County Daily Bee reports that the numbers don't add up for Clark Fork. The school averages about 100 enrolled students a year and nearly half qualify for the federal government free and reduced-lunch program (available to students in a family of four that earn roughly $44,000 annually). About 20 students opt into the program on a regular basis. The federal government reimburses the school $2.58 for reduced lunch and $2.98 for free lunches. The $70 in revenue, however, is not enough to cover the $395 a day it takes to run the program.

Volume helps cut costs in schools with larger student populations.

Community eligibility, a provision in the 2010 child nutrition reauthorization bill, has the potential to help many struggling schools. If over 40 percent of students qualify for free lunch, all students get free lunch for schools that opt in. By eliminating application and fees, the streamlined process eases the burden on schools and increases the total reimbursement. Unfortunately, for a small school like Clark Fork, the numbers are not in their favor: Only 30 percent of the student body qualifies for free lunch.

The obvious solution to child poverty is stable, living-wage employment for parents. In the absence of adequate work, safety net programs, such as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, formerly food stamps), the earned income tax credit, and child nutrition programs increasingly bridge the gap between income and cost of living. Nationally, the child poverty rate stands at 18 percent. Without government interventions the rate would be 33 percent, according to a recent analysis.

Kids deserve the chance to reach their potential no matter where they live. Anti-poverty programs like SNAP and school lunch, which keep hunger at bay, must be strengthened and protected for the sake of our children.

Urge Congress to strengthen our child nutrition programs, particularly the summer meals program. Tell Congress to also protect SNAP and other anti-poverty programs from harmful budget and funding cuts. Call (800/826-3688) or email your members of Congress today.

Robin Stephenson is the national lead for social media and a senior regional organizer at Bread for the World.

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