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152 posts categorized "Maternal and Child Nutrition"
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.
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.
Yesterday marked the first day of summer. While school is out for kids everywhere, some children who rely on the free and reduced meal program at their schools go hungry. Every year millions of students receive free school meals through the National School Lunch Program. Unfortunately, only a fraction get those meals in the summer.
As a college students, my wife Colleen and I both spent a summer working with Project Connect (now Faces Without Places), in Cincinnati, OH. This program served to connect students who were homeless with services and enrichment programs during the summer, and an important part of the summer program was making sure the children were fed! Students received breakfast, lunch, and a large snack before they went home for the day through programs like the Summer Nutrition Program ( a program funded through the federal government). For many kids, this “snack” was the last meal they would eat until breakfast the next morning. Below are some of our memories of serving in this program for one summer:
Colleen: As a teacher, I’ve often walked over to a student, given him or her the “teacher look,” and calmly held out my hand many times. Usually it’s for a twisted paper clip or a mysterious beeping device. I’ll never forget the time at Project Connect when I walked over to a student, held out my hand, and he sheepishly emptied his pockets to hand me a plastic fork and spoon. The soup kitchens didn’t have enough utensils, so families had to provide their own. What a burden on this small boy to always think about how to get -- and eat -- his next meal.
Jon: I recall watching several kids sneaking off extra food in their pockets to take home with them for later. It was technically not allowed, but I couldn’t bring myself to force them to put it back.
Colleen: A good, healthy meal has been shown to affect a student's attention and performance. As a teacher, I know that students learn best when they don’t have to worry about where their next meal comes from. Students learn best when they can be kids first and students second. Being hungry in the summer doesn’t let you be much of a kid.
Jon: I know these experiences reminded us both that some of the most vulnerable members of our society are children who must go without the simple blessing of breakfast, lunch, or dinner, especially during these summer months. Unfortunately many programs that help children like those we worked with in Cincinnati are at risk of being cut. We pray Congress will prioritize funding and create a circle of protection around these vital programs. Write a letter and make a phone call to your member of Congress. Let’s let kids be kids and make sure hunger is out for the summer. And the rest of the year too!
Photo caption: Children in a Head Start class in Tuscon, AZ, eat a nutritious lunch. Photo by Jeffrey Austin.
In October 2011, Bread for the World hosted a delegation of religious leaders during a visit to three African countries -- Zambia, Malawi, and Tanzania -- that are known as SUN countries for their commitment to "scaling up nutrition." The group was able to witness, first-hand, small but mighty successes on the ground. Rev. Derrick Boykin, Bread's associate for African American leadership outreach, was among the group. In this video reflection on his journey, he asks African-Americans to join him in speaking up for Africa.
The U.S. House of Representatives recently passed the Donald M. Payne International Food Assistance Improvement Act of 2012. This bipartisan-supported legislation is one of the first bills to highlight the importance of nutrition during the critical 1,000 days between pregnancy and a child's second birthday.
If passed into law, this bill will significantly benefit women and children in developing countries, especially those in Africa. That this legislation was even introduced demonstrates the growing understanding among congressional leaders that good nutrition is critical to improving the lives of poor people around the world.
African countries are also taking nutrition and development into their own hands. An exciting example of this is the growing number of African leaders who recognize the devastating impact of malnutrition during the 1,000-day window. Twenty African countries have committed to turning the tide on malnutrition by joining the Scaling Up Nutrition (SUN) movement — a committed effort to reducing malnutrition in the developing world.
Q: What signs of poverty and hunger do you see in your communities?
A: I am an associate pastor and director of worship ministries in the Community of Christ. The church in Salem, OR, is really aware of hunger and poverty and they are engaging. They are trying to provide food for the weekend for kids in schools who otherwise would go without.
Q: Why do you work to advocate for hungry and poor people?
A: Hunger is a part of my own story. Even though I wasn’t necessarily aware of it, my mother’s shared stories from my childhood. As a follower of Christ, it’s just part of my essential calling to embrace the worth of all persons and caring for creation and for people.
Q: What have you learned through the Hunger Justice Leaders training?
A: I learned about the connection across the wide spectrum of Christianity. Despite all the things that divide us, there’s that common awareness and strength that we can be united in reflecting Christ when we work on hunger. I also learned that I’m not the only one who struggles to think about how to best engage our churches. And through our meetings with the White House, I realized that our voice really does have an impact. I learned not to give that up.
Q: Can you share one of the stories that your mom shared with you?
A: When we were children, one of the stories she told is how at times, even with the help of WIC, which was the only thing we had food-wise, we were still struggling financially. At one point, my mother had gone to try to get help from the faith community. A church member came and brought a box full of food and my sister and I were unpacking it and putting things away. My sister was so excited when she saw a gallon of milk that she said, does this mean we can have milk with our cereal again? It was then that the church member saw how bare our cabinets were.
This shows that sometimes you’re not necessarily aware of what the person sitting next to you at church is going through.
Photo by Flickr user ricardodiaz11
Yesterday, an NPR story highlighted a new initiative by school food services in New Haven, Connecticut, to combat hunger among children through the use of food trucks. An increasingly popular form of food service for hip, urban foodies, the food truck is now being used to provide hungry kids in New Haven with food during the summer months when school meals are unavailable. Many people don't know that children growing up in low-income households depend on school meals for their daily food.
According to the story:
This year, Cipriano plans to serve 40,000 meals during July and August. The truck's now got a generator and electric refrigerators. He's serving basic bagged lunches for now — usually a sandwich, a piece of fruit, a carton of milk. But soon he hopes to add more trucks to serve hot meals, or even offer a walk-in truck with a salad bar like the ones that are popular with students at New Haven school cafeterias.
Cipriano’s idea is catching on. The story reports that Fayette County in Indiana is also planning to use a food truck in an effort to decentralize feeding sites so families with transportation problems can still have access to food in the summer.
Keeping children across the country nourished during the summer is a yearly struggle. Back in 2009, Bread for the World reported that “there are far fewer summer food sites than schools providing meals … the result is that about nine out of 10 children who receive free or reduced-price lunch do not receive meals from the Summer Food Program.”
Certainly, churches and congregations can help to ensure that children have access to nutritious meals when school is out by signing up to be a Summer Food Service Program (SFSP) sponsor or meal site. But many churches are already feeling the weight of feeding hungry people in their communities. (Read this testimonial from a local pastor.) So we also advocate asking Congress to continue to support programs such as SNAP and WIC, which would help families gain the ability to serve meals at home that their children would normally receive at school.
Jeannie Choi is associate editor at Bread for the World. Follow her on Twitter @jeanniechoi.