158 posts categorized "Maternal and Child Nutrition"
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.
(Left to right) Nancy Neal, Associate for Denominational Women's Organization Relations at Bread for the World; Blanche Smith, National Chair of the Action/Global Concerns Committee for Church Women United; and Robin Fillmore, Advocacy Coordinator for Church Women United, pose for a picture while delivering a petition to the State Department on Thursday, July 26. The petition thanks U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton for her work on the 1,000 Days campaign and encouraging her to continue her focus on the issue. The petition, which had about 5,000 signatures, was presented to Jonathan Schrier, special representative for global food security in the State Department. Photo by Bread for the World.
Bread for the World has partnered with denominational women's organizations to create the Women of Faith for the 1,000 Days Movement. As part of that advocacy work, Church Women United delivered a petition to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton thanking her for her work in the movement and asking her to continue to champion nutrition for women and children in the 1,000 days between pregnancy and a child's second birthday.
The women collected 5,000 signatures on the petition, which was circulated through their membership network, posted online, and shared with other denominational women's groups.
Blanche Smith, National Chair of the Action/Global Concerns Committee for Church WomenUnited and Robin Fillmore, Advocacy Coordinator for Church Women United joined Nancy Neal, Associate for Denominational Women's Organization Relations at Bread for the World to deliver the petition on Thursday, July 26. They met with Jonathan Shrier, the Special Representative for Global Food Security who received the petition on behalf of Secretary Clinton.
Ms. Smith told Mr. Shrier that Church Women United joins with other women's organizations to express their support for the initiatives of the U.S. Government to improve nutrition for mothers and children. Mr. Shrier responded that Secretary Clinton is very passionate about the 1,000 Days Movement. He thanked the Church Women for the petition, explaining that the support of the public helps the Secretary and the administration to continue to keep 1,000 Days in the forefront of their work.
School kids enjoying a healthy lunch with fresh fruit and vegetables. Photo by USDA.
Your donation will make a difference for hungry people. I want to personally thank those who contributed to our summer matching gift campaign. I am happy to report that Bread for the World raised over $180,000—surpassing our goal of $150,000!
An additional matching gift was made by a generous member, and now a total of $175,000 will be matched dollar-for-dollar.
I am grateful to everyone who participated in the campaign, which raised a total of $355,000 overall—a significant boost to Bread’s efforts to protect funding for programs that are vital for hungry people.
Thank you for your generosity and for making this campaign an overwhelming success!
Rev. David Beckmann is president of Bread for the World
As Congress debates ways to balance the U.S. budget during these difficult times, Bread for the World has urged our political leaders to form a circle of protection around funding for programs that are vital to hungry and poor people here in the United States and abroad.
This theme was picked up by Senator Chris Coons (D-Del.) as he spoke from the Senate floor yesterday. Sen. Coons said that in times of fiscal pressure, Congress must not shirk its responsibility to the most vulnerable members of our society:
(starting at 1:15 in the video above)
"Cuts, as you know, Mr. President, to essential services and programs are already deep. Although this isn't broadly known throughout the country, sacrifices have already been made here and pennies are already being pinched from programs that, in my view, serve the people who can least afford them. ...
"We must continue to make cuts across the board to move our way toward a sustainable federal deficit. But, Mr. President, cuts alone cannot responsibly make our path forward. ...
"We need to bring balance back to how we solve these problems and we need to do it in a way, that forms a circle of protection, Mr. President, around those who are most vulnerable in our society.
"In previous generations ... when they came together and reached the resolutions that solved our country's fiscal problems ... they put a circle of protection around the most vulnerable Americans. They chose not to slash or cut or eliminate those programs that are focused on the most vulnerable in our society: the disabled, low income seniors, children in the earliest stage in life.
"I think that it's important that we remember those values as we look at the choices we make here today, and as we come together in the months leading up to the election and, hopefully, after the election to craft a solution to our structural problem."
Thank you, Sen. Coons for taking a stand for all of us.
+ Read more about expanding the circle of protection.
Did you ever try to get to a far-off destination without a map? It’s not easy.
Today, Bread for the World will join a coalition of 50 faith-based, humanitarian, and advocacy groups to present A Roadmap for Continued U.S. Leadership to End Global Hunger. At a Capitol Hill event later this afternoon, members of Congress, policymakers, and NGO leaders will officially unfold the Roadmap, charting a course for a hunger-free world through smart investments.
The document reviews progress over the last three years towards the goals set out in the original Roadmap and offers recommendations to ensure continued effectiveness of U.S. global food security programs.
The Original Roadmap
In the wake of the global food price crisis of 2008, a broad-based coalition of non-governmental organizations, advocacy groups, and faith-based organizations developed a document titled the Roadmap to End Global Hunger, which was endorsed by over 40 organizations and became the basis for legislation introduced in the House of Representatives (H.R. 2817). The Roadmap presented a vision for a comprehensive and integrated U.S. strategy to increase global food security, including suggested levels of financial support for emergency, safety net, nutrition and agricultural development programs over five years.
Hunger remains one of the world's most pressing challenges, with almost a billion people—or one in seven worldwide—suffering chronic hunger. In addition, each year up to 100 million more may face acute hunger brought on by natural disasters and conflicts. Women and children are disproportionately affected by hunger and malnutrition. With population growth placing a strain on a limited natural resource base, and changing weather patterns creating more droughts and floods, feeding the world of the future presents a serious challenge.
Women in Jombo village, Malawi, take group cooking classes as part of the USAID-funded Wellness and Agriculture of Life Advancement (WALA) project designed by Catholic Relief Services. The women learn how to prepare nutritious meals for their families. Photo by Racine Tucker-Hamilton/Bread for the World
"Food is the moral right of all who are born into this world."
Norman Borlaug, Nobel laureate and "father of the Green Revolution."
Bread for the World intern Reginald Egede shares his story of growing up in a small town in Nigeria around children who didn't get enough to eat:
Growing up and attending boarding school in Nigeria, I had little contact with the kids my age who lived beyond the boundary of the school grounds. I would see them in passing once every two weeks while going on our customary “Sunday walk." Although these kids, whose parents were mainly farmers and traders, weren’t the most desperate, seeing their condition sometimes triggered some serious soul-searching.
Miango, on the outskirts of Jos, was a rural community I came to love for its scenery and tranquility, but deep inside I wanted much more for the warm-hearted villagers outside the school walls. All I was certain of was that the kids did not get enough to eat, but because I could not put myself in their shoes, I made of their plight what any kid my age and in my privileged position would: I believed their circumstance would improve sooner rather than than later. But it didn’t, and I learned that the situation is more desperate in other parts of the developing world.
The Horn of Africa is a remote corner of earth beset with conflict, disease, and famine. In Ethiopia alone, 4.5 million people required emergency food assistance and 300,000 children under the age of five were at risk of becoming severely malnourished last year. Clearly, these numbers ought to call attention to the plight of our brothers and sisters in Africa.
In parts of the continent, lack of rain has significant ramifications for small-holder farmers. The decimation of livestock and poor harvests, often caused by factors such as poor agricultural practices and climate change, result in many women and children suffering from malnutrition. Thankfully, a number of programs geared toward reducing malnutrition and hunger—especially during the critical 1,000-day window between a mother’s pregnancy and the child’s second birthday—are under way.
I sat in my cubicle mesmerized by my student’s depiction of his life for 13 years in rural Africa: raised beds of vegetables, dusty dirt roads stretching to the horizon, smiling faces dripping with sweat in the bright orange sun.
As a professor at Eastern University, I traded in my life in humanitarian aid, development, and missions for the privilege of training Christian relief workers with a powerful set of program planning and economic tools set within the framework of Kingdom principles. But on days like this one, I still feel like the student.
As David recounted stories of his narrow escape from war-torn South Sudan, he transported me to the joys and struggles of life as a refugee. I learned that David alone survived from his family. I heard the story of his settlement within a refugee camp outside of his nation’s borders, the new farming techniques he mastered, and the privilege given to him to travel to other sites to teach the art of soil cultivation, crop rotation, and farming.
According to USAID, this year more than 7 million children will die before reaching their fifth birthday. This shocking fact is the basis for a new campaign aimed at ending child deaths from preventable causes such as disease, hunger, and extreme poverty.
Watch the video below to learn more.