166 posts categorized "Maternal and Child Nutrition"
(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.
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.
Alex Morris, from Bend, OR, depends on SNAP, WIC, and other programs to care for André, who suffers from a serious medical condition that affects his hormonal system. (Photo by Brad Horn/Bread for the World)
by Christine Melendez Ashley
Misinformation about the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, formerly food stamps) is far too prevalent. Sometimes it seems that I can’t check the news—or even Facebook—without reading another inaccurate claim about the program and its participants.
As a domestic policy analyst at Bread, I know that the facts tell a different story. SNAP served more than 46 million Americans in May. Here are some hard facts about the program:
Haitians build a USAID-funded irrigation canal. A rice field is at right. From the Bread for the World Institute 2011 Hunger Report. (Photo courtesy USAID)
In a New York Times opinion piece yesterday, Rev. David Beckmann wrote about how our fate is tied to poor people around the world. He describes why Americans should care about U.S. foreign assistance and why it's a great return on investment. You can read the full story below.
Our Fate Is Linked to Helping Others
by Rev. David Beckmann
This is not the time to cut back on international development assistance. For every dollar our government spends, only less than one cent (0.6 cents) is spent on foreign aid. The return on our small foreign aid investment can be measured in the millions of people we are helping throughout the world, and in our country’s economic well-being and national security.
by Keaton Andreas.
It is critical that we raise our collective voice on behalf of poor and hungry people as Congress debates funding for anti-poverty programs, which is exactly what a Bread for the World Covenant Church did this past Saturday.
Hunger was the topic of discussion this weekend at St. Charles Borromeo Catholic Church in Warr Acres, Okla. The Covenant Church hosted the forum “Fighting Hunger in Oklahoma.”
Oklahoma is the fifth hungriest state in the United States, with 47,871 families living in extreme poverty (less than $11,057 a year for a family of four) and a poverty rate for children under five of nearly 28 percent.
(Photo by Flickr user cnishiyama)
by Robin Stephenson
Hunger is a frequent companion for too many children. Around the world, 178 million children under the age of 5 are stunted because of inadequate nutrition during their first 1,000 days of life. Closer to home, one in five U.S. children face hunger every day because they live in households struggling to put food on the table.
These sobering facts can be changed with enough political will, but the first step is education.
Students play together outside at Lott Carey Mission School in Brewerville, Liberia. (Photo by Laura Elizabeth Pohl/Bread for the World)
by Sarah Dickey
The Olympics brings together the most physically fit athletes from nearly every country in the world. It is a time of joy and celebration. But with eyes on the world’s strongest athletes, viewers might easily forget that 925 million people in the world remain hungry. In July, the Guardian reported that the average Olympian eats six meals and consumes 6,000-10,000 calories daily—a foreign concept to people without enough food. The prospect of ever competing in the Olympics is bleak to the 178 million children around the world who suffer from stunting.
"Recent research shows that many children who do not have enough to eat wind up with diminished capacity to understand and learn. Children don't have to be starving for this to happen. Even mild undernutrition - the kind most common among poor people in America - can do it."
Carl Sagan, astronomer and Cornell University professor.
Bread for the World activist Kaela Volkmer (left) talks with Sen. Mike Johanns (R-NE) as staffers listen during Bread for the World Lobby Day in Washington, DC, on Tuesday, June 12, 2012. (Photo by Laura Elizabeth Pohl/Bread for the World)
More than 60 young religious leaders—"agents of change" from communities around the United States—came to Washington, DC, for Bread for the World's Hunger Justice Leaders training, June 9-11. Their jam-packed schedule included three days of worship, workshops, and a chance to lobby members of Congress on behalf of hungry and poor people. This story of one hunger justice leader comes from Bread's summer 2012 "Legacy of Hope" newsletter.
In two Nebraska congressional offices, newly minted Hunger Justice Leader Kaela Volkmer countered the myth that poor people abuse the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, formerly food stamps) and the Women, Infant, Children food program (WIC).
“It’s painful for me to see the polarization happening now. We must find a solution that doesn’t put poor and hungry people in greater peril, ” Volkmer said.
The night before, Kaela and 60 other young church leaders from across the nation were commissioned as Hunger Justice Leaders. The next day, the Hunger Justice Leaders joined hundreds of Bread for the World members in visiting congressional offices to urge members of Congress to protect funding for programs vital to hungry people.
Kaela calls the three lobbying visits she made “real world experiences in reasonable dialogue.” Face to face with Sen. Mike Johanns (R-NE), she told him about a mother who handed her baby to Kaela, begging for help feeding her children.
Kaela admits it wasn’t easy to respond calmly to charges that SNAP is “too big and rife with abuse.” But she came armed with the facts, and imparted them—also delivering a petition supporting the maintenance of levels of aid to hungry families signed by scores of her fellow Nebraskans.
Kaela’s Hunger Justice Leader colleagues were similarly impassioned and equipped by the training they’d just completed: “The training empowers the powerless. I thank God!” said Rev. Christina Reed of Washington, DC. “This has been a truly transformative experience. Through worship, conversation, song … I have felt the spirit of God moving.”
Rev. Libby Tedder of Casper, WY, agreed. She said the training program, sponsored by Bread for the World Institute, has enabled her to “speak with courage so that the eyes of the powerful will be opened to the plight of the hungry.”
Kaela Volkmer’s home congregation, St. Wenceslaus Catholic Church of Omaha, invested in her by sponsoring her Hunger Justice Leader training. Kaela serves as a member of the church’s human needs committee. Her particular passion is Catholic social teaching, which centers on addressing the root causes of inequity in addition to charitable acts.
“Catholic social teaching is so beautiful, rich, and needed in today’s world,” Kaela said. Kaela had assured St. Wenceslaus’s pastor that she would return equipped to bring back to the church the voice and the resources they need. “I came home unsettled, but in a good way,” she said. “I am ready to navigate the waters."
One of her first projects will be to help revitalize the parish’s Offering of Letters.
Rebecca Walker (middle) speaks to a staffer in Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison's office talk during Bread's Lobby Day in Washington, D.C., on Tuesday, June 12, 2012. Photo by Laura Elizabeth Pohl for Bread for the World.
With the House and Senate now in recess, no movement will be made on national hunger and poverty policies until mid-September at the earliest. But that does not mean that Bread for the World is in recess. Our members will be looking for opportunities to speak with their representatives at town meetings and other forums which often take place during these congressional breaks—especially with an impending election. Now is the time to influence your congressperson or senator to draw a circle of protection around programs for hungry and poor Americans.
When Congress reconvenes, it will resume debate about the farm bill and the budget. Make sure that your congressperson and senators know your views on these key issues.
For background information, here is a legislative update by Bread analyst Amelia Kegan:
The Farm Bill
Key food programs like the Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program (SNAP, formerly food stamps) are funded through the farm bill, which comes up for renewal every four years. Continuation of current funding levels has been in jeopardy during debate over this year’s bill.
We expected a one-year extension of the current farm bill under House Speaker John Boehner’s drought relief proposal. That would have saved SNAP from deep cuts for the time being. However, late Tuesday night, it became apparent there was not enough support to pass a drought relief bill with a one-year farm bill extension attached.
Pressure continues to mount on the House side for open debate on a farm bill before the September 30 deadline. Despite reports that Congress may have some wiggle room on the deadline, farm groups in particular are pushing Congress to act. Senator Stabenow has indicated that the House and Senate Agriculture Committees would be working behind the scenes on a farm bill compromise during the August recess. Both chambers may attempt to do something in September and we could see a short term extension as they try to hammer out differences between the House and Senate bills.
Last Thursday, Representatives Jim McGovern (D-MA), Rosa DeLauro (D-CT), and George Miller (D-CA) introduced H. R. 760, a resolution rejecting cuts to SNAP in the proposed House Farm Bill (H.R. 6083). The resolution is non-binding but it is an opportunity for members of Congress to show strong support for SNAP by co-sponsoring the resolution. This also presents an easy question to ask House members who are home for the August recess: “Do you support H.R. 760?”
Congressional leaders have agreed to a six-month continuing resolution (CR) to avoid the possibility of a government shutdown at the end of September. The CR would keep the government funded at the levels agreed to last August for FY 2013 in the Budget Control Act, which are $4 billion above current discretionary funding levels. The House and Senate will take up the measure when it returns in September. Some have speculated that a drought relief bill could be attached to the CR.
Last week, the House passed a one-year extension of the 2001 and 2003 tax cuts by a vote of 256-121. That vote on H.R. 8, the Job Protection and Recession Prevention Act of 2012, was mostly along party lines. Representative Johnson (R-IL) was the lone Republican to oppose the measure. Nineteen Democrats supported the bill.
H.R. 8 extended all the 2001 and 2003 tax cuts for income earned both under $250,000 and above $250,000. The bill continued the 2010 estate tax expansion, which exempts estates up to $5 million ($10 million per couple) from having to pay any estate tax and then reduces the tax on amounts over $5 million ($10 million per couple). At the same time, the bill discontinued the current EITC and CTC benefits, cutting back the 2009 improvements. If the 2009 provisions expire, here are some of the impacts:
- 8.9 million families, including 16.4 million children, would be harmed if earnings below $13,000 are no longer counted toward the tax credit.
- 3.7 million families, including 5.8 million children, would lose the Child Tax Credit entirely.
- 6.5 million families, including nearly 16 million children, would be hurt by the expiration of the EITC improvements.
Representative Levin, ranking member of the Ways and Means Committee, offered an alternative, which was very similar to President Barack Obama's proposal and Senator Harry Reid’s bill. That proposal extends all the tax cuts for everyone’s first $250,000, but it discontinues the tax cuts for income earned over $250,000. Moreover, that proposal extends the current Earned Income Tax Credit and Child Tax Credit benefit levels, including the 2009 improvements. That vote failed 170-257. No Republicans supported that proposal and 19 Democrats opposed it.
Neither of these two proposals will become law before the elections, but they act as dress rehearsals for the lame duck session and early 2013 when Congress will have to grapple with the expiring tax cuts in the context of other broad budget issues.
This is a crucial time to speak out against the growing issues of hunger and poverty in the United States. Give your congresspersons the support they need to stand for faithful policies.
- Learn more about these issues by reading about our mini campaigns featured on our Offerings of Letters web page.
Get updates on issues and actions to take on behalf of hungry people.