Urging our nation's leaders to end hunger

24 posts categorized "National Gathering"

Leaning Into Revival at Bread for the World’s 2014 National Gathering

Recent graduate of Yale Divinity School, Bread for the World board member, and former Hunger Justice Leader Derick Dailey opens the 2014 National Gathering. (Laura Elizabeth Pohl/Bread for the World)

Starting where Bread for the World always starts, we began with the Word of God. 

In a sermon delivered at the opening of our 2014 National Gathering, Bread for the World board member and former Hunger Justice Leader Derick Dailey invited the audience – and all Bread advocates – to break the cycle of hunger and poverty. To do that, Dailey preached, believers must also break the cycle of complacency; we must exhibit grace and spiritually renew one another.  We must also revive Congress, which makes the policies and programs that can end hunger, both here at home and abroad.

Forty years ago, Art Simon founded Bread for the World to live out God’s vision that all have enough to eat. The National Gathering, being held this week in Washington, D.C., is a time of listening and learning as we work together to end hunger by 2030.  Dailey’s sermon reminded the audience that hope is integral to this work.

Two biblical narratives that illuminate hope and healing can guide the faithful in today’s world, where hunger and poverty persist. In Exodus, the Israelites come out of what seems like a hopeless sojourn in the dessert.  In Acts, the Apostle Paul revives after a sentence of stoning for healing a crippled beggar. 

Hope comes in realizing that we are not alone – we are partners with God in this work. Dailey reminded us that we worship with a “God of hope, and not a God of hopelessness. Not a God of scarcity, but a God of more than enough. Not a God of foreclosure, but a God with arms big enough for everyone and able to do more than we can conceive.”

Like those who have struggled in the biblical past, Bread for the World members face a wilderness. Sometimes the work to end hunger seems impossible because of the climate of brinksmanship in Congress. But, Dailey reminds us, that church can and should be a beacon of hope. God is bigger and better than politics, Dailey said.

“Congress is alive because it belongs to the American people, not big money and Super PACs. And the Church is definitely alive because it belongs to a risen Savior. “

Revival, says Daily, is the key, and only requires believing people "to surround us, revive us, resuscitate us, and breathe life back into our broken and crippled situations.” The faithful gathered today in Washington, D.C., and all across the nation, are shepherding a spiritual revival of renewed hope. And we take a message of hope and healing to Capitol Hill tomorrow as part of Lobby Day, shining God’s light in this broken world.


Read the full sermon delivered by Derick Dailey during today’s at Bread for the World’s National Gathering after the jump.

Believers who aren't in Washington D.C., today can still help spread hope and take a stand against hunger. Join us today! And remember to follow all of the happenings at the Gathering on Twitter and Instagram by following the hashatag #BreadRising.

Continue reading "Leaning Into Revival at Bread for the World’s 2014 National Gathering" »

The More Things Change ...

Bread newsletter 1981Bread is marking its 40th anniversary in 2014. For various celebrations this summer, we've been digging through the archives, looking at old photos of former staff members and past National Gatherings. One of our staff members found a newsletter from December 1981.

An article on the front page carries the headline "Food Aid Reforms Pass Conference" under the larger banner headline of "BFW Wins Major Victories."

"In a major BFW victory this year, a House and Senate conference committee passed a strong version of Bread for the World's hunger and global food aid reforms," the article begins.

"In reading this article, I thought about Bread for the World's current food-aid reform proposals and how, while food-aid programs have changed since 1981 and the reforms we are seeking are more advanced, in many respects, our efforts remain the same," said Beth Ann Saracco, international policy analyst in Bread’s government relations department, who had discovered the old newsletter.

The article reported that the inclusion of food-aid reforms in the farm bill in 1981 was directly linked to a "quickline" that Bread members responded to. The quickline — a notification sent out in the days before email — urged Bread activists to call their members of Congress in support of the reform provisions.

Today Bread has the power and immediacy of the internet to communicate with its activists. But staff in Washington, D.C., still use the same techniques — now in communications called action alerts — to generate the political will necessary to change outdated policies and implement more effective programs that better support people living in hunger and poverty.

"I remember that, while much has changed through the years, from staff members, to office locations, to the sheer size of our organization, much still remains the same," says Saracco, a staff member in her mid-20s who joined the organization in October last year. "We are still deeply guided by our faith and belief in the dignity of all human beings, which continues to motivate this important work. And, thanks to all those who have built this organization through the years, we, current staff and Bread members, stand on a solid foundation, committed to offering our contribution to this organization and its mission of ending hunger and poverty."

Bread's 2014 Offering of Letters is on the topic of food-aid reform. Bread is seeking a number of funding and policy changes to the U.S. government's food-aid programs so they can provide assistance overseas in more efficient, effective, and flexible ways.


Bread for the World is celebrating its 40 years of working with you to end hunger right now at our National Gathering! If you're not able to join us in person, we'll be providing updates via the blog, Facebook, and Twitter. You can also virtually participate in our annual Lobby Day; visit www.bread.org/call for details.

It's Up to You: Bread for the World's Virtual Lobby Day

(Left to right): Kay DeBlance, Rebecca Walker, Aaron Marez and David Ramos of Texas walk through the Russell Senate Office Building on their way to a meeting during Bread for the World's 2012 Lobby Day. If you can't join us in person for this year's Lobby Day, please support our efforts by pledging to call your members of Congress: www.bread.org/call. (Laura Elizabeth Pohl/Bread for the World)


By Eric Mitchell

Right now, we're at a turning point in the fight to end hunger.

There are two issues — food-aid reform and immigration reform — that are making their way through Congress right now, and decisions made by legislators in the coming weeks could impact our work to end hunger for years to come. Millions of people could be affected. During this critical time, hundreds of Bread members will be gathering in Washington, D.C., for our annual Lobby Day, and urging Congress to do the right thing. But in order to make the most of this opportunity, we need your voice.

Pledge to make a difference during Bread's Lobby Day by calling your members of Congress on June 9 — one day before we head to their offices.

We have a real opportunity to advance food-aid reform and immigration reform—two issues that are central to our goal of ending hunger. Here are the messages we’re taking to Congress on Lobby Day:

  • Pass immigration reform without delay! Immigration reform will reduce hunger by ensuring immigrants receive fairer wages and work in better conditions. Our Christian faith calls on us to welcome the stranger, and with Congress’ attention already turning to the November elections, the window for a vote on major legislation is closing quickly. Congress must act now to provide a path to legalization and citizenship for undocumented immigrants.
  • Reject changes to food aid that hurt the hungry! An obscure provision before Congress would change the transportation requirements for U.S. food aid in a way that would make the process of getting food to people in need slower and more expensive. Two million people would go without lifesaving food aid just to pad the bottom lines of a few powerful shipping companies, and that’s not right. Congress must reject any action that increases transportation costs for food aid and support common sense food-aid reforms.

With hundreds of Bread members coming to Washington just as these issues are being debated in Congress, we have a huge opportunity to effect change. But we need our entire Bread community — including you — to really have an impact. We need to make sure Congress hears a loud chorus of Christian voices.

Help end hunger by raising your voice. You are an important part of Bread for the World and we need your help — your at-home advocacy on June 9 will strengthen our in-person advocacy efforts on June 10.

So what do you say? Will you stand with us at this critical time? This kind of opportunity doesn't come around often. I hope to have you with us.

Eric Mitchell is Bread for the World's director of government relations.

Rick Steves, John Podesta at National Gathering


By Dr. Alice Walker-Duff

There's still time to register for Bread for the World's 2014 National Gathering on June 9-10. You won't want to miss our exciting lineup of powerful speakers and events.

On Monday, June 9, travel series host, guidebook author, and longtime Bread member Rick Steves will welcome you. John Podesta, counselor to President Obama, will talk about ending hunger by 2030.

That evening, partner organizations, former Bread board and staff members, and longtime friends will celebrate Bread for the World’s 40th anniversary over dinner. Your support has made it possible for us to celebrate 40 years of working together to end hunger.

Our celebration will culminate with Lobby Day on Tuesday, June 10. Former U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Dan Glickman will brief us before we raise our collective Christian voice in the halls of Congress. We want to reform U.S. food-aid programs and our broken immigration system. At our Lobby Day reception, we will recognize Reps. Ed Royce (Calif.-39), Eliot Engel (N.Y.-16), Spencer Bachus (Ala.-06), Frank Wolf (Va.-10), and Sen. Tom Harkin (Iowa) for being champions against hunger.

Please join us in God's great work of liberating people from hunger. Register today.

Dr. Alice Walker Duff is the managing director at Bread for the World.

Deliver Your Influence to Congress in Person


By Eric Mitchell

Will you join us in making a difference for hungry people on Capitol Hill?

Bread for the World's 2014 Lobby Day will take place on Tuesday, June 10. The day is a unique opportunity for you to communicate personally with your members of Congress and their staffers in Washington, D.C. This year we will be focusing on two critical issues impacting hungry people in the United States and around the world: U.S. food aid programs and immigration reform.

Lobby Day will begin with worship, followed by an issues briefing, and then visits with congressional offices on Capitol Hill. We will be urging Congress to reform U.S. food aid programs and to pass comprehensive immigration reform.

In the evening, we will be hosting a reception honoring members of Congress who have worked to end hunger and poverty through their work in Congress. Reps. Ed Royce (Calif.-39), Eliot Engel (N.Y.-16), Spencer Bachus (Ala.-06), Frank Wolf (Va.-10), and Sen. Tom Harkin (Iowa) will be recognized for their efforts.

Registering is easy and free! Don’t miss out on the opportunity to be a part of another successful Lobby Day. I look forward to seeing you here in Washington, D.C., on June 10.

Eric Mitchell is Bread for the World's director of government relations.


To attend the full 2014 National Gathering June 9-10, register online today. The full rate for registration is $80. Lobby Day is free, but registration is required.

2014 National Gathering: Be Part of Something Big


By Dr. Alice Walker Duff

How many voices does it take to make history? Let's find out.

This June 9-10, join Bread members from across the country as we gather in Washington, D.C., to discuss plans to end hunger and poverty by 2030.

When you arrive in D.C., you will have a chance to:

Learn from policy experts and faith leaders about key issues affecting hungry people today—including immigration, mass incarceration, and sustainable food security.

Celebrate four decades of our work together to end hunger at our 40th anniversary dinner.

Act by urging your representatives in Congress to reform U.S. food-aid programs and our immigration system. On Lobby Day, you will find out how these reforms will impact hungry and poor people in the United States and around the world.

What will it take to end hunger at home and abroad? Join me for a conversation with Sheila Herrling, acting CEO of the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC), and Dr. Manuel Pastor, professor of Sociology and American Studies and Ethnicity at the University of Southern California.

This year's speakers also include:

  • Rick Steves, travel expert and longtime Bread activist
  • Gaby Pacheco, DREAMer and immigration-rights leader
  • Desmond Meade, returning citizen and PICO state director
  • Rev. Gabriel Salguero, president of the National Latino Evangelical Coalition
  • Rev. Nicta Lubaale, Kenyan pastor and food security champion
  • Tonya Rawe, CARE policy advocate

We are on the verge of one of the biggest achievements in human history — ending hunger.Come join other voices in the nation's capital this summer and help make this dream a reality.

Dr. Alice Walker Duff is Bread for the World's managing director.


Learn more about speakers and scheduling for the 2014 National Gathering, 40th Anniversary Dinner, and Lobby Day at http://www.bread.org/40. Register for all or one of the events by May 6 and pay only $40!

Photo: Beverley Booth (left) of Tallahasee, Fla., and Cecilia Wangeci of Bowling Green, Ky., clap during Lobby Day training during Bread for the World's 2011 National Gathering. (Jim Stipe)

Bread for the World's 2014 National Gathering: Join Us!

Bread for the World members at evening worship at the 2011 National Gathering. (Jim Stipe)
By Rev. David Beckmann
Please join us in Washington, D.C., June 9-10 for Bread for the World's 2014 National Gathering and to celebrate 40 years of working together to end hunger. We have a special $40 anniversary rate to say "thank you" and to encourage you to come.
Our Gathering will take place at Georgetown University Hotel and Conference Center and will include exciting speakers, new learnings, and inspiring worship. The official celebration of our 40th anniversary will be a dinner on Monday, June 9. The Gathering will conclude with Lobby Day visits to our members of Congress on Tuesday, June 10. Register for one or all of the events at www.bread.org/40.
When: June 9 to 10, 2014
Where: Georgetown University Hotel and Conference Center, 3800 Reservoir Road NW,                 Washington, DC 20007
Hotel reservations may be made by calling 888-902-1606 or booking online. A special rate of $169 per night is available for reservations made by May 6.
Theme: Bread Rising: Working Together to End Hunger and Poverty by 2030
Tentative Schedule
Monday, June 9

Working Together to End Hunger and Poverty by 2030
8:30 a.m.  Registration and Continental Breakfast
10 a.m. – 5 p.m.  Worshiping, Listening, and Learning Together

40th Anniversary Dinner
6 p.m. – 9 p.m.  Reception and Dinner

Tuesday, June 10

Lobby Day
8 a.m. – 8 p.m.
Briefing session followed by pre-arranged visits to members of Congress on Capitol Hill. The day concludes with a reception and worship.

Early-bird registration, before May 6, is only $40 per person (lodging not included).
I look forward to seeing you in June!
Rev. David Beckmann is president of Bread for the World.

In the Beginning: Art Simon on the Origins of Bread for the World

Member-profile-artBy Rev. Arthur Simon

As Bread for the World begins its 40th anniversary year, a host of treasured memories come flooding to my mind. Let me share a few of them with you:

The church and the people in the poverty-stricken neighborhood in New York City that became the birthplace of Bread for the World [Trinity Lutheran Church on the Lower East Side].

Our awareness in those early days that providing emergency assistance, though essential, did not get at the underlying causes of hunger and poverty.

The discovery that almost nothing was being done to challenge Christians as citizens to use their influence on members of Congress for national action against hunger.

The group of faithful Christians (seven Catholics and seven Protestants) who served as an informal "think tank" to explore the idea of a "citizens lobby" against hunger.

All of these things led us to our vision of a faith-based, politically nonpartisan movement that might mobilize people in every state and congressional district to serve as an outcry for action by Congress on specific measures to reduce hunger here and abroad. From the start, we made the decision to anchor our work in the Gospel of God’s providential care and saving love in Jesus. And we decided to help people link their faith in Christ with our stewardship as citizens in order to obtain justice for hungry people.

It seemed a simple and obvious way of following Jesus. But it also seemed a gamble. Would it work? Some told me it would not work, that Christians are wedded to direct aid only. They said a response that moves into the political arena would press a button too hot to touch. Stick to Band-Aids, they advised.

We prayed for wisdom and invited God's blessing, then decided to launch Bread for the World nationally. We were full of hope but also prepared for possible failure. To our astonishment, an initial mailing brought in several thousand members, and Bread for the World was off and running.

Our first major initiative, a Right to Food Resolution, was introduced in the U.S. Senate by Republican Mark Hatfield (Ore.) and in the U.S. House of Representatives by Democrat Don Fraser (Minn.). At first, no one paid any attention. Then folks like you began to write, and churches across the country joined the campaign. Members of Congress began hearing from their own voters—first a few letters, then dozens, then hundreds. The Right to Food became a lively issue that attracted the support of religious leaders and the press. And after vigorous debate, Congress passed it.

The campaign for the Right to Food brought us thousands of new members and showed that a relatively small number of citizens could wield influence way out of proportion to our numbers — and get Congress to take action against hunger.

Forty years later, Bread for the World members are still at it. Thanks to you, our efforts to end hunger have been blessed beyond measure. And again thanks to you, Bread for the World’s future looks even more promising.

Rev. Arthur Simon is the founder and president emeritus of Bread for the World.

Celebrate Bread's anniversary with us!Plan to join us June 9 to 10 in Washington, D.C., to celebrate our 40 years of working together to end hunger. There will be a 40th anniversary dinner on Monday evening, June 9, and our annual Lobby Day on June 10. More details will be provided at www.bread.org/40 as they become available.

Photo: Matt Newell-Ching

A Preacher’s Type of Gathering

Rev. Dr. James Forbes speaking at Bread for the World's 2013 National Gathering in Washington, D.C., on Sunday, June 9 (Joseph Molieri/Bread for the World).

By Minju Zukowski

When I look back on my experience as a volunteer for Bread for the World's 2013 National Gathering, I am invigorated. I feel optimistic and hopeful that we, as a society, are moving toward ending hunger.

Hearing the different preachers at the Gathering speak with power and conviction about ending hunger was truly an inspirational experience. Listening to the wisdom of these individuals helped broaden my perspective of what I can do in this fight.

Rev. Dr. James Forbes taught me that when I say grace before eating, I should not only let God know that I am thankful for the food, but also express concern for those individuals who are hungry. Taking the time to think about those who do not have enough to eat as I am about to receive food is a powerful motivator. It reminds me to keep those who are less fortunate in my heart, and also instills in me a sense of urgency. That urgency compels me to go the extra mile in the fight to end hunger.

The one thing Rev. John McCullough said that really struck me was that “the government is not our enemy, our silence is.” It is easy to place blame on our government for all of our country's problems, but if we don’t use our voices to stand up for what we believe in, we’re just as much at fault. 

I was also moved by the powerful speech given by Rev. Luis Cortes Jr. during the Gathering. Rev. Cortes talked about the importance of using the word hunger, and the power that it holds. While terms such as "food insecurity," are important in our work, we must always remember that those words connect to hunger, which is a very real, painful feeling for millions of people around the world.

I challenge everyone to join me in acting on these lessons. Give thanks to God for what you have, and also remember to acknowledge those who are hungry every time you eat. Get the word out about hunger by bringing up this issue with your pastors, co-workers, friends, and family members. If anything is ever going to change, more people need to be informed. 

And, finally, raise your voice to your lawmakers—they are the people who, with the stroke of a pen, can determine the fate of hungry people in this country and around the world. Don’t ever let your voice be silent and keep hunger on your mind, in your thoughts, and in your prayers.

Minju Zukowski, a senior marketing major at Towson University in Maryland, is Bread for the World’s media relations intern.

John Lewis: "Never give up until everyone has food."

RepjohnlewisBy David Beckmann

In the closing minutes of Bread for the World’s 2013 National Gathering, Rep. John Lewis entered a caucus room packed with hundreds of exhausted Bread members who had spent the day walking the halls of Congress, meeting with their lawmakers on behalf of hungry and poor people. The civil rights leader brought them to their feet with a rallying cry:

“Continue the fight. Continue the struggle. Never give up until everyone has food.”

Thanks to you and thousands of other faithful advocates, we are making progress against hunger. This was clear at our National Gathering, held in Washington, D.C., June 8-11. More than 1,000 anti-hunger advocates joined us in prayer, training, education, and advocacy.

On Lobby Day, Tuesday, June 11, Bread members engaged legislators or their staff in 199 meetings, telling our stories and those of people in need, urging our leaders to consider the most vulnerable when they cast their votes—and reminding them that we are holding them accountable. Three-quarters of the Senate was visited by Bread members during Lobby Day.

Quietly, steadily, we are building a critical mass in the fight against hunger and malnutrition, especially as it affects the youngest and most vulnerable.

On Monday, June 10, participants from more than 20 countries joined us for a special day-long international meeting, “Sustaining Political Commitments to Scaling Up Nutrition,” which was convened by Bread for the World Institute and Concern Worldwide.

Leaders from governments, nongovernmental organizations, and civil society joined Bread members to take stock of the movement to improve nutrition for mothers and children during the critical 1,000 days that lead to a child’s second birthday.

SUNmovementOver the past three years, 40 countries with high malnutrition rates joined the movement to Scale Up Nutrition (SUN) and have highlighted nutrition in their development agendas, while donor governments and nongovernmental organizations are investing in new and innovative ways to prevent and treat malnutrition and undernutrition. Immediately prior to the June 10 meeting, world leaders committed $4.15 billion to scale up direct nutrition interventions and an additional $19 billion for nutrition-sensitive programs in agriculture and other sectors.

Our 2013 National Gathering revealed the power and the glory of God working through us to end hunger. I am filled with gratitude for your commitment to this important work. I thank all of you who attended the Gathering or sent prayers as we took our message to Capitol Hill.

NewsletterlazarusAnd I thank everyone who worked behind the scenes or took center stage to bring us together for a remarkable long weekend. We enjoyed a sold-out production of Lazarus: The Musical, which was created by Joel Underwood, with new music by Bill Cummings.

We shared a special screening of the documentary A Place at the Table, followed by a meaningful discussion with the people who shared their lives onscreen and in the companion book, Barbie Izquierdo, Bob and Michaelene Wilson, and Sharon Thornberry—as well as director Kristi Jacobson.

Our workshops and plenaries were led by renowned experts from across many fields. And Bread volunteers, interns, and staff kept it all humming.

I have so much more to share from the Gathering: stories, photos, and details about the progress that we are making to end hunger. You will be receiving a follow-up newsletter in a couple of weeks with important information about where we go from here to end hunger.

In his keynote address, Dr. Rajiv Shah, administrator for the U.S. Agency for International Development renewed the commitment of the U.S. government and applauded the advocacy campaigns of Bread for the World:

“Together, you form one of the greatest movements alive today—the fight to make hunger, malnutrition, and extreme poverty permanently a thing of our past.”

David Beckmann is president of Bread for the World.

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