Urging our nation's leaders to end hunger
 

Bad Connections: Ebola, Fear, and Growing Hunger

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(USAID/Flickr)

By Stephen Padre

With the latest death of another Ebola patient in the United States this morning, we seem to be entering another round of media frenzy over the virus. Even though we've been through the frenzy before, the stigma around it, both here and abroad, hasn’t gone away.

The Gospel of Luke contains the story of Jesus’ encounter with ten lepers (Luke 17:11-19). In the story, Jesus commits a double social faux pas—he interacts with people with leprosy and people who were also Samaritans.

In biblical times, lepers were shunned and sent to live on the edge of town, away from everybody else. And Samaritans were those “other people,” despised by the Jews because of their heritage and practices. Both groups were to be avoided by “true” Jews. But Jesus delivered a double whammy and healed the lepers in the Samaritan neighborhood!

A similar thing has happened recently in the United States. As one example, health care workers who have traveled to West Africa to help treat patients with Ebola have come home and been stigmatized. Rather than viewing them as medical heroes, we have regarded them out of our fear of this disease. They have been portrayed as contaminated and careless, when clearly their intentions were to assist in places that do not have the means to adequately treat a deadly disease.

Jesus sets the example in his interaction with the lepers. He crossed social and health boundaries to help. While all of us can’t do something directly in West Africa like doctors, nurses, or public health professionals, we can follow Jesus’ example and pray, act, and give out of support for what others are doing to address Ebola.

For Bread for the World, the Ebola crisis is also a hunger issue. A Nov. 12 article in the Washington Post, “As Ebola takes lives in Liberia, it leaves hunger in its wake,” tells about the ripple effects of Ebola there. As people have fallen ill with Ebola, workplaces have closed, and people have been out of an income. The activities of normal life in Liberia—buying and selling food at the market, planting and harvesting on subsistence farms—have been disrupted, and hunger has reared its ugly head.

“We need assistance. We need food here in Foya,” said Joseph Gbellie, commissioner for a rural, largely agricultural district in Liberia’s northwest, quoted by the Post. “If we don’t get help, it’ll be serious, I tell you.”

The federal government is still working to address Ebola—on behalf of the American people. Last week, President Obama requested $6.2 billion in emergency funding from Congress to fight the Ebola virus in West Africa and protect the United States from its spread.

Bread supports these types of U.S. government efforts and expenditures as part of its foreign assistance. If government funds—from taxpayer dollars—can assist in halting the spread of Ebola in places like Liberia, then hunger, as part of the closely associated fallout from the disease, can also be curbed.

Stephen Padre is the managing editor at Bread for the World.

Hunger in the News: Ebola Famine, Connecting Food and Health, Boosting Nutrition, Unemployment, Child Refugees

Hunger in News Graphic
A regular, non-comprehensive roundup of current news links on hunger and poverty issues from around the Web.

Liberia’s Ebola Famine,” by Abby Haglage and Nina Strochlic, The Daily Beast. “There are 1.7 million people experiencing food insecurity (defined by WHO as lack of “sufficient, safe, nutritious food [required] to maintain a healthy and active life”) in Liberia, Sierra Leone, and Guinea—and 200,000 of those cases are directly related to Ebola, according to the World Food Program.”

Making the connection between food and health,” by Dan Glickman, The Hill.  “[W]e must pursue new strategies that raise nutritional awareness and understanding and help us to integrate our thinking about food, nutrition and health outcomes.”

India moves up 8 places on Global Hunger Index.” The Hindu Business Line. “[India] is making progress against hunger, as India moved up eight places from last year on the Global Hunger Index (GHI) to rank 55th out of 76 nations.”

Can doubling down on food stamps boost nutrition?,” by Aimee Picchi, CBS Money Watch. “The FINI program, which is now accepting applications to fund new community-based programs through Dec. 15, plans on adding benefits to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), or food stamps, as a way to improve healthy eating for low-income Americans over the next five years.”

World is crossing malnutrition red line, report warns,” by Mark Kinver, BBC News.  “Most countries in the world are facing a serious public health problem as a result of malnutrition, a report warns.”

Don't Forget the Kinda Unemployed,” by Mike Cassidy, US News. “The headline unemployment rate leaves the underemployed invisible.”

US to offer refugee status to some undocumented child migrants,” by Rory Carroll, The Guardian. “Children under 21 in El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras with parents who are legal US residents could start applying next month under the plan.”

Get Ready To Watch This Lame-Duck Congress Sprint,” by Ron Elving, NPR.  “Judging by what we've seen so far, the "zombie Congress" that returned to town this week (the reelected and the not-so-lucky) will do more business in the weeks following the election than it did in many months preceding.”

 

We Pray for Justice in Ferguson

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(Bread for the World)

Bread for the World issued the following press release earlier today. 

Rev. David Beckmann, president of Bread for the World, issued this statement today as the country awaits the grand jury’s decision on the Michael Brown case. Brown, an unarmed 18-year-old African-American man, was fatally shot by Darren Wilson, a 28-year-old white police officer, on Aug. 9, 2014, in Ferguson, Mo. The grand jury is expected to render its decision to indict or not to indict Officer Wilson this month.

“Bread for the World holds the community of Ferguson, the City of St. Louis, the State of Missouri, and all in this nation in prayer. We pray for shalom, the peace of God thatconveys health, completeness, wholeness, integrity, soundness, welfare, security, reconciliation, prosperity, harmony, and justice.

We confess that we as a nation have allowed racial injustice and the circumstances like those in Ferguson and elsewhere throughout the country to persist. As we pray for forgiveness for ourselves and peace for Michael Brown’s family, we also pray for Darren Wilson, his family, and police officers.

“We support the young people and faith congregations in St. Louis who have vowed to solve these problems through non-violent means. They have sparked renewed interest in activism for a just society, where all can thrive, be respected, and be safe. Bread member and activist Mary Gene Boteler, pastor of Second Presbyterian Church in St. Louis; Bread board member Dr. Iva Carruthers of the Samuel DeWitt Proctor Conference; the St. Louis Metropolitan Clergy United; the Metropolitan Congregations United; and the Missouri-wide coalition Hands Up; Clergy United; the Don't Shoot Coalition; along with hundreds of courageous young people struggle to create a local resolution to this national problem and to recommend effective responses.

“We look forward to joining them and others during the Faith Table Gathering in Ferguson in early December to seek effective ways to hold public systems accountable and a unified, national, change agenda.

“Amid the soul searching that the death of Michael Brown revived, Bread recognizes that the legacy of slavery must be reconciled if we are to end hunger and poverty in the United States. Bread takes note that Missouri is the sixth-hungriest state in our nation. Nearly one million Missourians cannot adequately feed themselves or their families. This includes more than 308,000 children, many of whom rely on meals they get while at school.

“Bread also notes that the United States has the highest incarceration rate in the world and incarcerates people of color at alarming rates with an expansion and militarization of police forces. These factors contribute to hunger and poverty in many communities. We are encouraged that members of Congress from both parties have spoken out about injustices in the legal system, and Bread for the World will support legislation to address these issues.

“Bread is committed to ending hunger and poverty by 2030 while addressing these injustices today, and it works with all people of good will to accomplish that goal. We pray that in the end, justice will ’roll down like waters and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream’ (Amos 5:24).”

 

 

Running Out of Time: Help Children in Central America

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(Bread for the World)

By Eric Mitchell

The clock is counting down to December 11. On that day, the bill that is currently funding the U.S. government will expire. To prevent a government shutdown, Congress will need to pass a bill to continue funding federal programs.

This moment is an important opportunity! I believe we can secure key funding in this bill to address the violence, hunger, and poverty that is driving thousands of migrant children from their homes in Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador. I believe we can get Congress to include a comprehensive strategy to address these root causes of the child refugee crisis on our southern border.

Congress is finalizing this bill, and they need to hear from you today. Urge your U.S. representative and your U.S. senators to include the following provisions in any final spending bill:

  • $300 million for the State Department to address the conditions causing children to flee their home countries. This funding would support programs that promote economic development, repatriation and reintegration efforts for children who return to their home countries, services for at-risk young people, and help improve governance in Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador.
  • A strategy to address the poverty, lack of educational and employment opportunities, and the high rates of criminal gang activity that are driving children to flee to the United States and provide $100 million to implement this strategy.

Please call or email Congress today (Capitol switchboard: 800/826-3688)! Demonstrate your commitment to the least and most vulnerable among us. These boys and girls from Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador deserve to live in a world free of hunger, violence, and poverty. By funding programs and initiatives that address such problems, we can ensure a more dignified, hopeful, and promising future for them and all of God’s children.

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

World Prayers for Nov. 16-22: Cameroon, Central African Republic, and Equatorial Guinea

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Fried shrimp - Cameroon style - and white rice. Photo by Coco lago from Wikimedia Commons

This is a weekly prayer series that appears each Friday on the Bread Blog.

One aspect of Bread for the World’s new Bread Rising campaign is prayer. The campaign is asking Bread members to pray, act, and give. In this blog series, we will be providing a prayer for a different group of countries each week and their efforts to end hunger.
 
This prayer series will follow the Ecumenical Prayer Cycle, a list compiled by the World Council of Churches that enables Christians around the world to journey in prayer through every region of the world, affirming our solidarity with Christians all over the world, brothers and sisters living in diverse situations, experiencing their challenges and sharing their gifts.
 
We will especially be lifting up in prayer the challenges related to hunger and poverty that the people of each week’s countries face. In prayer, God’s story and our own story connect—and we and the world are transformed. In a prayer common to all of us—the Lord’s Prayer/the Our Father—we pray, “Give us this day our daily bread.” This line from this prayer can also be a prayer for the end of hunger.
 
We invite you to join Bread in our prayers for the world’s countries to end hunger. And we encourage you to share with us your prayers for the featured countries of the week or for the end of hunger in general.

For the week of November 16-22, we pray for Cameroon, Central African Republic, and Equatorial Guinea:

Triune God, we pray for relief and for peace among our brothers and sisters in Central and West Africa. God, the world’s great powers turn a blind eye, yet you see your children in Central African Republic starving, unsafe, displaced, and cut off from vital resources. Influence global leaders to put a stake in ending the crisis of conflict, violence, and displacement in that country. Enable bold U.N., UNICEF, and other relief workers to reach the poorest and most vulnerable with vital supplies to sustain life. Lord, not only do we ask for peace and relief but also for shalom, a true flourishing among people oppressed by cycles of poverty, hunger, and violence in C.A.R., Equitorial Guinea, and Cameroon. We pray for an end to attacks of the Boko Haram in Cameroon and that the people may flourish. Lord, you have made these places rich with resources to sustain the people; in Equitorial Guinea, oil is abundant, yet people still suffer from hunger and poverty. Guide their leaders to make unselfish decisions over resources management, that the people may prosper and live well, to your glory, in Equitorial Guinea. Spirit, renew the minds and hearts of rebels, politicians, and all the people of your church in these places. We pray for shalom. Amen.

Percentage of the population of these countries living below the national poverty line (2014 figures):

Cameroon: not available
Central African Republic:
62.0 (2011)
Equatorial Guinea:
not available

 Source: World Bank World Development Indicators as found in the upcoming 2015 Hunger Report

Tweet Congress: #FeedtheFuture

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Kenyan Farmer. (ACDI/VOCA)

By Robin Stephenson

Since 2010, Feed the Future programs have helped millions of farmers increase the amount of food they can grow and the the ability to feed their families. It is time to codify the program into law. With enough pressure from constituents, bills introduced in the House and Senate last month (H.R. 5656/S. 2909) could be voted on and passed during the lame-duck session. These bills would permanently authorize this comprehensive approach to global food security, ensuring the initiative continues beyond the current administration.

Learn more: Bread’s Bill Analysis: Feed the Future Global Food Security Act of 2014.

Both bills have been introduced into committee. For H.R. 5656 and S. 2909 to move forward, the committee leadership must schedule a mark-up. Committee members then vote on the marked-up version, and if passed, the bill moves out of committee and is eligible for a floor vote.  Leadership then determines if there is sufficient momentum to pass the bill and if so, will put the bill up for a vote from the full chamber. 

Cosponsorship implies a commitment to vote in support of a bill and helps build the momentum for a floor vote.  Help us build momentum.  Look for your state, and if you have a member of Congress on one of the committees considering the Feed the Future Global Food Security Act of 2014, click on his/her name to automatically load a tweet. If you do not have a Twitter account, email or call your representative at (800) 826-3688 and ask him/her to cosponsor H.R. 5656.  And email or call your senators, and ask them to cosponsor S. 2909. 

Senate Foreign Affairs: 113th Congress Committee Members
*members in bold have cosponsored S. 2909: Global Food Security Act of 2014

State

Majority Member

State

Minority member

New Jersey

Chairman, Robert Menendez

Tennessee

Bob Corker, Ranking Member

California

Barbara Boxer

Idaho

James Risch

Maryland

Benjamin Cardin

Florida

Marco Rubio

New Hampshire

Jeanne Shaheen

Wisconsin

Ron Johnson

Delaware

Christopher Coons        

Arizona

Jeff Flake

Illinois

Richard Durbin

Arizona

John McCain

New Mexico

Tom Udall

Wyoming

John Barrasso

Connecticut

Chris Murphy

Kentucky

Rand Paul

Virginia

Tim Kaine

 

 

Massachusetts

Edward Markey

 

 

House Committee on Foreign Affairs:  113th Congress Committee Members
*members in bold have cosponsored H.R. 5656: Feed the Future Global Food Security Act of 2014.

State

Majority Member

State

Minority Member

California

Chairman, Edward Royce

New York

Eliot Engel, Ranking Member

New Jersey

Christopher Smith

America Samoa

Eni Faleomavaega

Florida

Ileana Ros-Lehtinen

California

Brad Sherman

California

Dana Rohrabacher

New York

Gregory Meeks

Ohio

Steve Chabot

New Jersey

Albio Sires

South Carolina

Joe Wilson

Virginia

Gerald Connolly

Texas

Michael McCaul

Florida

Theodore Deutch

Texas

Ted Poe

New York

Brian Higgins

Arizona

Matt Salmon

California

Karen Bass

Pennsylvania

Tom Marino

Massachusetts

William Keating

South Carolina

Jeff Duncan

Rhode Island

David Cicilline

Illinois

Adam Kinzinger

Florida

Alan Grayson

Alabama

Mo Brooks

California

Juan Vargas

Arkansas

Tom Cotton

Illinois

Bradley Schneider

California

Paul Cook

Massachusetts

Joseph Kennedy III

North Carolina

George Holding

California

Ami Bera

Texas

Randy Weber Sr.

California

Alan S. Lowenthal

Pennsylvania

Scott Perry

New York

Grace Meng

Texas

Steve Stockman

Florida

Lois Frankel

Florida

Ron DeSantis

Hawaii

Tulsi Gabbard

Georgia

Doug Collins

Texas

Joaquin Castro

North Carolina

Mark Meadows

 

 

Florida

Ted Yoho

 

 

Wisconsin

Sean Duffy

 

 

Florid

Curt Clawson

 

 

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

 

 

Rick Steves Has a Christmas Challenge for You

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Travel show host Rick Steves in Ireland (photo courtesy of Rick Steves).

By Rick Steves

To add meaning to the holiday season, every Christmas I raise funds for Bread for the World through my traveling friends and network at Rick Steves' Europe. This year, the needs are particularly great. But that means the rewards are too! I'd love to send you a special Christmas package as thanks for a $100 gift to empower Bread's work. This gift package was so popular the last couple years that I want to offer it again so you too can get on board—and even share this challenge with your loved ones.

I believe hungry people need a strong and compassionate advocate like Bread for the World — especially when there are so many interests competing for attention on Capitol Hill.

While the charitable work we do as caring people is important, we must remember that all the food provided directly by all the charities in our country amounts to only 6 percent of the food assistance available for hungry and poor people. Our government provides the rest. That means Bread's advocacy work has a huge impact on caring for the most vulnerable people among us. I'm convinced that supporting Bread is the very best way to leverage my charitable giving. That's why I've been a Bread member for over 30 years.

I'd like to offer you this personal challenge: I'll match all gifts up to $100,000. I'm that excited about this opportunity to give hungry people a voice in our halls of government. Imagine, as an extended family of caring (and traveling) people, together we can empower Bread for the World's work with $200,000.

David Beckmann, president of Bread for the World, recently told me how we are at a critical juncture and how our financial support can tip the scales toward ending hunger, once and for all:

"The world is making dramatic progress against hunger, poverty, and disease, and it's happening in all kinds of countries — Bangladesh, Brazil, the United Kingdom. So it's clearly also possible here in the United States. There's a growing international consensus, and next year all the nations of the world are likely to agree on the goal of ending extreme poverty and hunger by 2030. But stronger leadership from our U.S. government is crucial for ending hunger and Bread for the World can play an important role in making hunger and poverty a priority for our government."

I see Bread for the World not as a charity, but as a service. Bread is transforming my concern about hunger into effective action by smartly — and doggedly — working to protect struggling people in our country and around the world. Gifts-for-BFTW-webpage

So here's my challenge to you this Christmas: Help Bread for the World with your gift of $100 or more. As a thank you, I'll match that gift and send you three gifts (worth $50) from my Rick Steves' European Christmas collection:

  • "Rick Steves' European Christmas" DVD (our PBS-TV special celebrating a traditional, non-commercial, and sacred Christmas in seven different countries)

  • Rick Steves' European Christmas coffee-table book (the fun insights and best photos I gathered while producing the special)

  • "Rick Steves' European Christmas" music CD (produced while filming, featuring our 20 favorite European carols — this is my personal favorite for fresh new Christmas-time music)

I'll happily pay for the cost of these three gifts, as well as the shipping, so that Bread for the World can put 100 percent of your donation to work giving a voice to hungry people. Make your gift by Dec. 10 to receive this offer — and you'll get everything (along with our latest travel newsletter) in time for Christmas.

It's my hope that these gifts will add a wonderful new twist to your family celebrations for years to come (as they have for mine), while also enticing you to empower Bread for the World with your donation.

By the way, for every dollar Bread raises, it leverages $100 in terms of assistance and funding that is vital to hungry and poor people in our country and abroad. Assuming that ratio holds, if we hit our $200,000 target, it will mean that, together, we'll generate $20 million of life-giving, hope-instilling funding.

As an alternative thank-you gift, you're welcome to select an autographed copy of the updated 2nd edition of Travel as a Political Act, my book sharing how my travels have made me so appreciative of the issues of hunger and poverty and the work of Bread.

Rick Steves is the host of public television's most-watched, longest-running travel series, "Rick Steves' Europe," and the author of more than 50 travel guidebooks.

David Beckmann Speaks to NPR About the New Congress and Poverty

Beckmann

by Stephen H. Padre

Bread for the World’s president, Rev. David Beckmann, was the lead expert who was interviewed this morning on NPR’s “Morning Edition” in a story about how anti-poverty groups are preparing to work with the next Congress.

Last week’s midterm elections resulted in a Senate that will become Republican-led in January, when the 114th Congress begins. Since the polls closed last Tuesday, there has been a lot of analysis about what the Republican-dominated Congress will mean for President Obama, the government at large, and outside groups like Bread, which try to influence Congress on national policies and spending.

“Many Republicans now are talking much more than they were a few years ago about opportunity for everybody, including people who are really having a tough time. So I think there’s some chance that we could see some bipartisanship. That’s our hope and prayer,” Beckmann told NPR reporter Pam Fessler, sounding a hopeful note about Bread’s work with the new Congress.

Fessler said that Beckmann “sees opportunity in areas such as helping ex-offenders get back on their feet. It’s an issue in which Republicans have expressed a growing interest as they try to broaden their party’s appeal.” The issue of returned citizens is one that Bread sees as a hunger-related issue. It addressed it in the 2014 Hunger Report.

The story went on to note that Beckmann acknowledged two leading Republicans—Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wisc.) and Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.)—have put forth plans to address poverty among Americans. “There’s disagreement on the details, but the seeds of debate are there,” she said.

Other experts who were interviewed in the story include Meredith Dodson of the anti-poverty group Results. She noted that child nutrition programs need to be reauthorized by Congress next year, an area the story said has had bipartisan support for in the past. Bread for the World’s 2015 Offering of Letters will focus on this area.

Another expert from another anti-poverty group who was interviewed said that she will continue to do what they’ve always done—have people who rely on programs like SNAP (formerly food stamps) tell lawmakers their personal stories. This is something that Bread has also encouraged as it urges people across the country to communicate with their members of Congress by phone and through emails, letters, and in-person visits.

Overall, the story, as Beckmann noted in his interview, was that, regardless of which party is in control of Congress, organizations like Bread are wanting to debate the issues of how to address poverty in the public sphere and be part of a dialogue with decision makers.

Stephen Padre is Bread for the World's managing editor.

 

 

 

After the Elections: Looking Forward

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(Ed Schipul
/Creative Commons)

By Lavida Davis

The elections are over, and the barrage of campaign rhetoric is finally quieted, but now a new dialogue begins. Let’s make ending hunger a part of it.

Register for the November grassroots conference call and webinar: After the Elections: Looking Forward on Tuesday, November 18 at 4 p.m. (EST).

What do the election outcomes mean for people of faith committed to ending hunger? Transition periods offer new opportunities. Join us this month for a special post-election conference call and webinar. Our experts will analyze the election results through the lens of hunger. You will get a preview of legislative priorities in the lame-duck session and through 2015. Plus, there is an exciting possibility for a last-minute effort to pass The Global Food Security Act!

We hope you can join us on Tuesday, November 18 at 4 p.m. (EST).

Submit your questions ahead of time to Tyion Miller at tmiller@bread.org. Check out our comprehensive how-to guide on the webinar conference call and register today.

LaVida Davis is the director of Organizing and Grassroots Capacity Building.

Congress Returns for Lame-Duck Session

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Feed the Future programs help families like the Aktars in Barisal, Bangladesh become food secure. There is an opportunity to authorize the program during the 2014 lame-duck session if Congress acts. (Laura Elizabeth Pohl/Bread for the World)


On Wednesday, the 113th Congress returns for its final session before the holiday break. Members are expected to work through December 11.

The short, upcoming session, commonly referred to as a lame-duck session (or a lame-duck Congress), is the work period after an election but before newly elected members replace outgoing members – those who are retiring, moving chambers, or have lost their seats during the election. For outgoing members of Congress, it is an opportunity to leave a legacy – passing important legislation that can help end hunger.

As our thoughts turn to holiday preparations of feasting and family gatherings, we should not forget those who face the season hungry. There are opportunities during the lame-duck session to address global food security, increase our ability to deliver food aid, and address the hunger causing the child refugee crisis on our southern border.

  • Appropriations: Congress cannot leave town without making some provision for government funding, which expires December 11, or it faces a government shutdown. Legislators could pass a short funding extension or start the new year off with the government fully funded.  A bill that would fund the remainder of fiscal year 2015 could come in the form of an omnibus – combining several small funding bills into a large bill requiring a single vote – or Congress could pass a straight-up extension of all programs at current funding levels, also known as a continuing resolution (CR), or a combination of the two. Congress should include funding that would address the violence, hunger, and poverty that have forced more than 68,000 children to flee their homes in Central America. 
  • The Global Food Security Act – Since 2010, Feed the Future programs have helped millions of farmers increase crop production and food security around the world. It is time to codify the program into law.  With enough pressure from constituents, bills introduced in the House and Senate (H.R. 5656/S. 2909) could be voted on and passed during the lame-duck session.
  • Food for Peace Reform Act: With multiple food crises dominating the news, there is an opportunity to build the political will to pass food-aid reform in the new year by increasing cosponsors to S.2421, The Food for Peace Reform Act of 2014.

January 2015 will usher in the 114th Congress, which will include those members who won seats in last week’s elections. If you are in a district or state with a newly elected member of Congress, now is a good time to introduce them to Bread for the World and talk to them about making ending hunger a legislative priority. Contact your regional organizer for more information on how you can set up an in-district meeting.

Congress acts when there is a tipping point of pressure from back home. By taking the time to reach out to our members of Congress now, we can help ensure a better and more prosperous 2015 for everyone. 

 

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