Editor's note: Bread for the World has launched a Pray to End Hunger campaign. Please commit to pray with us to end hunger.
By Bread Staff
Food matters to children. In fact, it’s more critical to them than to adults. Proper nutrition in a child’s earliest years is essential for well-being as he or she grows. Well-fed children are healthier, have fewer behavioral problems, and learn more easily. Yet nearly 16 million children in the United States–one in five–live in households that struggle to put food on the table.
We know intuitively that children need our collective protection. Jesus told us to embrace children, “for it is to such as these that the kingdom of heaven belongs” (Matthew 19:14). In this season of Easter, let’s pray for the children of the world as well as those who care for them.
Join us as we pray for:
- Children around the world, that they would have the food they need for healthy development.
- Those who care for children, that they would have access to the resources necessary to provide for those under their care.
- Our leaders, that they would support children and their caregivers in the decisions that they make for this country.
God’s heart is given to all, with a special place for our children. We must work together for a world in which everyone has enough food. Thanks for taking the time to pray for children and those who care for them.
When you commit to joining in praying for an end to hunger, we will email you twice a month with specific prayer requests and sample prayers. To learn more about how you can get involved with prayer at Bread, please go here.
By LaVida Davis
It seems the news media is picking up on what many have known for a long time: Our criminal justice system is broken. But the explosion of the U.S. prison population is not just a criminal justice issue. It’s a hunger issue.
Register today for Bread for the World's webinar on Tuesday, April 21 at 4 p.m. EDT. We will examine the link between our criminal justice system and hunger.
For example, did you know?
- More than 1 in 10 prisoners were homeless in the months before incarceration. For those with mental illness, the rate is closer to 1 in 5.
- Studies show that a prison record reduces yearly earnings by 40 percent.
- Many returning citizens are denied government benefits, including SNAP (formerly known as food stamps), TANF (welfare), and housing assistance. These bans are a recipe for hunger and recidivism.
But in Congress and around the country, there is growing momentum for change. You can be a part of it.
Legislation is moving in Congress, and as a Bread for the World advocate, you bring something unique to this conversation. Your faith and your heightened concern for individuals struggling with hunger is different from other voices out there.
To learn about incarceration as a hunger issue and what Congress is doing, register now and join us next Tuesday, April 21 at 4:00 p.m. EDT.
You can start learning about the intersection of hunger and incarceration today by reading our latest fact sheet.
LaVida Davis is the director of organizing and grassroots capacity building at Bread for the World.
For the past 24 years, Somalia has been wracked by an on and off civil war. The conditions are so severe there that many of its citizens cannot survive in their own country and have fled south as refugees to Kenya. Hundreds of thousands are housed at the Dadaab Refugee Camp in northeastern Kenya. The camp, which is the largest refugee camp in Africa, is managed by The Lutheran World Federation and houses 350,000 Somali refugees. Here a boy stands amid temporary refugee shelters provided by the U.N.'s refugee agency. Photo courtesy of The Lutheran World Federation
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 more, act more, and give more. In this blog series, we will provide 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 April 19-25: Djibouti and Somalia
Lord, we give thanks for those who continue to serve others during times of great turmoil and difficulty, especially the many Christian aid agencies working in these countries. Even though they are frequently exposed to great danger, these brothers and sisters in Christ have not given up on Somalia. Each small sign of progress made in Somalia goes toward reestablishing it as a stable and prosperous country.
We pray for peace in Somalia and that clan and military leaders would repent of the devastation they have caused to the land and its people, and also the gruesome massacre of Christians at Garissa University College committed by the Somali militant group Shabab.
We lift up the hundreds of thousands of Somali refugees all over the world, and refugees from Eritrea and Ethiopia who have fled to Djibouti. Those who suffer from malnutrition and face starvation, who live without clean water to drink, and suffer with otherwise preventable diseases and infections. We ask all these things in the power of your spirit, and in the name of your son, Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
Note: These countries are so entrenched in conflict that poverty statistics are not available.
Prayer is a central part of Bread for the World’s work. To learn more about how you can get involved with prayer at Bread, please go here.
Watch a high-level panel featuring prominent faith-based organizations, religious leaders, and World Bank President Jim Yong Kim discuss the role of faith in combating poverty. April 15, 2015, World Bank Headquarters, Washington, D.C.
By Robin Stephenson
Pope Francis called "poverty a scandal," and Gandhi said, "We must be the change we want to see in the world." Poverty is complex but solvable if enough of us act in unison. The question is: Do we have the faith to end poverty?
For the first time in history, a broad coalition of diverse religious leaders and faith-based organizations, including Bread for the World, believes we do and that the moment to act is now.
Over 30 religious leaders and groups are joining the World Bank to end the scandal of extreme poverty and be the force of change. In February, the coalition released a statement titled, Ending Extreme Poverty: A Moral and Spiritual Imperative.
Every faith views hunger and poverty as a moral problem. Leaders from these diverse religious traditions believe we can end extreme poverty by 2030. To do so, political leaders must implement evidence-based solutions. These religious leaders believe that moral consensus will help make it happen.
Recent history has shown it is possible to make dramatic progress against poverty when political leaders choose to make it a priority. Since 1990, the number of people living in extreme poverty or on $1.25 a day has been halved to less than one billion. Imagine the power of faith to accelerate that progress.
On a panel of faith leaders at World Bank headquarters in Washington, D.C., yesterday, World Bank President Jim Yong Kim talked about why the World Bank is teaming up with faith leaders to combat extreme poverty.
“If the 188 member countries of the World Bank can agree that our mission going forward is to end extreme poverty,” said Kim, “then it really is important for us to make common cause with religious institutions that have been saying this for millennia."
Evidence has shown us what works. To end extreme poverty, economic growth must directly impact the people we want to pull people out of poverty. To do so, Kim said we must concentrate on a three-pronged approach: develop strategies that grow economies, invest in people, and create social-protection programs that keep people from falling back into poverty.
Bread has been influential in forging relationships between faith leaders and the World Bank because we know the power of faith. In 40 years of faith-based, anti-hunger advocacy, we have seen how moral consensus can change the hearts and minds of decision-makers in Washington, D.C. Your advocacy was critical in pushing the U.S. government to act on the Millennium Development Goals that helped cut extreme poverty in half.
As religious leaders around the world stand in this historical moment and address the scandal of poverty, faithful advocates must also be ready to act and be the change.
Robin Stephenson is the national lead for social media and a senior regional organizer at Bread for the World.
By Zerline Hughes
Most of us are familiar with that now-antiquated Schoolhouse Rock cartoon on how a bill becomes a law. You know the one, where the talking bill travels on the steps of the Capitol singing about patience and courage, sitting and waiting in committee. Though still very applicable today, what that animated lesson doesn’t explain is how people – not necessarily our congressional leaders – are needed to help make a bill into a law.
Petitions, letters, emails, and phone calls to your representatives are definitely one way to make change happen. Even social media is a way to incite change. However, the most effective way to influence your members of Congress on an issue is to personally meet with them. And what better time than Bread for the World’s Lobby Day – when a host of advocates from all walks of life and from across the country band together to do it as a large contingency.
Bread’s Lobby Day is around the corner – June 9. This year, much is at stake. June will be an important month, and Congress will be in the middle of debating important pieces of legislation such as the reauthorization of the child nutrition bill, among others. We believe we can convince Congress to do what's right for people struggling with hunger and poverty. However, we can't do it alone. We need you!
“I'm on Capitol Hill quite a bit, and I can tell you there are many Christians in Congress. And they can be moved by Christ,” said Amelia Kegan, deputy director of government relations at Bread. “They can be moved by faith. Moved by the gospel. There's a power there that the special interests just can't compete with.”
Lobby Day will begin with worship, followed by an issues briefing, and then visits to congressional offices on Capitol Hill. In the evening, Bread will host a reception honoring members of Congress who have championed efforts to end hunger and poverty. The day will end with a closing worship service.
Walking through the halls of Congress and meeting decision makers or their staff is exciting and easy. For legislators, a visit from a constituent is a welcome event. They want to hear about what is going on at home.
Once you make it known to your member of Congress that hunger is of dire importance to you and your family, our hope is that it becomes their priority. You also empower your legislator to act on your behalf. When officials hear directly from constituents, they get a better understanding of what you and your counterparts deem important.
And that’s why we need you.
Join us June 9. Help bring us one step closer to ending hunger. Register today for Bread’s Lobby Day and join us in Washington, D.C., on Capitol Hill.
Zerline Hughes is a media relations consultant at Bread for the World.
By Bread Staff
Bread for the World's 2015 Offering of Letters: Feed Our Children focuses on our federal government's child nutrition programs. The heaviest activity in Congress on this issue is expected later in the year when a bill setting funding and policy for the major child nutrition programs is introduced.
But some other legislative activity is happening. Following is an update on some of it:
Sens. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) and Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) reintroduced the Summer Meals Act of 2015 (S. 613) on Feb. 27. The bill aims to improve the summer meal programs and help give more children access to meals and programs during the summer months. The bill specifically would:
- Lower the area eligibility threshold to allow communities to participate if 40 percent of the children in the area are eligible for free or reduced-price meals. Currently, a summer meal site qualifies if 50 percent or more of children in the area qualify for free or reduced-price school meals as defined by school or census data. The current threshold prevents many communities with significant numbers of low-income children, but not a high enough concentration of poverty, from participating. In addition, the 50 percent threshold is inconsistent with federally funded summer programs, such as the 21st Century Community Learning Center programs and Title I, which have 40 percent thresholds. These important education programs should all be able to provide summer meals.
- Allow local government agencies and private nonprofit organizations to feed children year-round through the Summer Food Service Program. Currently, sponsors must apply to and operate the Summer Food Service Program and the Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP) separately in order to feed children — often the same children — after school and during the summer. This has created duplicative paperwork and confusing administrative rules that discourage participation.
- Provide funding for transportation grants to fund innovative approaches to providing meals and mobile meal trucks. Transportation is one of the biggest barriers to children's participation in summer programs. These grants will increase low-income children's access to summer meals in rural and other under-served areas.
- Allow all sites to serve a third meal. Many summer meal sites provide child care to working parents and operate all day, but most sites are able to serve only two meals. This leaves children without enough nutrition to get through the day or forces sites to use program dollars for food.
Bread for the World has endorsed this bill and supports this and other efforts to strengthen and improve summer nutrition programs.
The other primary bill to improve summer meals, which was introduced by Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.) in the previous Congress — the Summer EBT bill — has not been reintroduced yet in this Congress.
Keep those letters coming! Bread's office in Washington, D.C., has received a few reports from congregations elsewhere in the country about the Offering of Letters that they have held. Many more congregations and faith communities have letter-writing events planned for this year. Bread encourages you to keep your letters coming!
Urge Congress to strengthen our child nutrition programs, particularly the summer meals program. Tell Congress to also protect SNAP and other anti-poverty programs from harmful budget and funding cuts. Call (800/826-3688) or email your members of Congress today.
Photo: Joseph Molieri/Bread for the World.
By Bread Staff
Asma Lateef, the director of Bread for the World Institute, recently wrote about the integral role the Feed the Future initiative plays in ending global hunger. The U.S. House of Representatives recently reintroduced The Global Food Security Act (H.R. 1567), which would make the Feed the Future program permanent law.
Lateef's commentary appeared on the Feed the Future website. Here are some excerpts:
“Ending global hunger depends on giving people and communities access to the tools they need to feed their families and build stronger local food systems. That’s why Bread for the World’s grassroots members and staff have long advocated for U.S. leadership in investing in agriculture and food security in developing countries.
Feed the Future was created to do just that. It is the American response to the 2007-2008 global food price crisis that devastated tens of millions of poor and vulnerable people around the world.”
“Bread staff members have traveled to Bangladesh and Nepal to see the impact of Feed the Future. In southern Bangladesh, women with little formal education were coming together in “garden talks.” After a brief refresher on what good nutrition requires, the discussion moved to local foods that were rich in the various essential nutrients. In western Nepal, Bread staff went to a cooking demonstration. Along with a group of mothers with toddlers, they learned how to make a snack of potato patties more nutritious. The mothers were shown how they could do this without spending a lot of extra money, by cooking the patties in an egg batter and adding local vegetables they could grow themselves.
Food prices have stabilized in recent years and Feed the Future programs are enabling farmers and families, like these women, to learn how to make the best use of the resources available to them. Over the last five years, Congress has increased funding for agriculture and nutrition and is now considering a bill that would make Feed the Future permanent.
Bread for the World is working toward the day that all families are able to grow or buy enough nutritious food for an active, healthy life. Feed the Future – the program itself and its leadership by example – is bringing that day closer."
Feed the Future can save lives. But it's important to act right now to ensure it continues. Call or email your U.S. representative today. Urge your U.S. representative to co-sponsor The Global Food Security Act.
SOCIAL SHARE: Click on the image above to open in a new window, then right click and save it. Tweet it or put it on your Facebook wall and tag your member of Congress. Tell him/her to #FeedOurChildren and pass a child nutrition bill that closes the hunger gap.
By Robin Stephenson
The moment has arrived!
The first step towards passing a child nutrition bill that can end the hunger gap is here. The House will hold its first hearing titled “Serving Students and Families through Child Nutrition Programs” this Wednesday at 10 a.m. EDT. You can watch the hearing via a live webcast.
“This really kicks off the moment when our Offering of Letters Campaign starts moving in Congress,” said Christine Meléndez Ashley, Bread for the World’s policy expert on child nutrition.
Every five years, Congress must craft a bill that sets the policy for child nutrition programs, which includes those for school meals, summer feeding, and the Women, Infants, and Children Program (WIC) nutrition program. Many of you have already written letters as part of the 2015 Offering of Letters: Feed Our Children, letting Congress know their constituents at home care.
Over 16 million children in the U.S. don’t always know where their next meal is coming from. School lunch or breakfast is sometimes the only nutritious meal children from low-income families receive. It is easier for a nourished child to pay attention in class and learn more quickly. A good education is one of the most effective ways to reduce poverty later in life.
As we tune into the hearing tomorrow, we look for signs the House Education and Workforce Committee – the committee that will write the first draft of legislation – has the facts and is making ending hunger its target.
“This is the committee’s first chance to hear from experts on child nutrition programs,” Meléndez Ashley said. “The hearing will not only give us insight into the future of programs that keep hunger at bay for millions of kids, but also signal what members are thinking about in terms of child nutrition policy priorities.”
For example, summer is the hungriest time for kids. Pilot programs have shown that we can improve access to nutrition during the summer months. This committee has the opportunity to build on those programs and reach more children.
Another area that Bread will watch closely is whether committee members are viewing child hunger with a wider lens.
Parents who utilize child nutrition programs usually have a job, but low-income paychecks are not stretching to the dinner table - let alone the lunch counter. The last time Congress passed a child nutrition bill, they cut SNAP (formerly food stamps), a program that helps put food on the dinner table. When nearly half of SNAP recipients are children, cutting benefits makes no sense if ending hunger is the priority.
The budget proposals passed by both the Senate and House last month repeat a disturbing trend in Congress to balance the budget by cutting anti-hunger programs, especially SNAP. Tomorrow the House Agriculture Committee will continue their series of hearings reviewing the food stamp program in what some fear is a veiled attempt to cut even more. It's time for a new trend: making ending hunger a priority.
Tell Congress to act for kids. Don’t let the moment slip us by.
Robin Stephenson is the national lead for social media and a senior regional organizer at Bread for the World.
By Bread Staff
Sweeping policy change can take time; but when that policy can potentially save millions of lives, faithful advocates remain vigilant.
Last year, thousand of you sent letters and emails and made phone calls asking Congress to reform food aid as part of the 2014 Offering of Letters campaign. By the year’s end, your advocacy stopped harmful policy changes that would have increased shipping costs and reduced food to hungry people. You also set the stage for the Food for Peace Reform Act – legislation that can get more food to millions in need at no additional cost.
We begin the next stage of our advocacy as the Senate holds the first-ever hearing on food-aid reform. American Food Aid: Why Reform Matters begins at 9:30 a.m. EDT this Wednesday. Bread for the World and several of our partners will live tweet the hearing using the hashtag #FixFoodAid.
In advance of the hearing, Bread for the World and a broad coalition of partners sent the following letter to members of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. You can help build the momentum to pass food-aid reform too: Contact your senator and urge him/her to cosponsor the Food for Peace Reform Act today.
As a diverse coalition from the nonprofit sector, we are strongly in favor of U.S. food assistance that delivers results faster, more effectively, and more efficiently. We applaud the leadership of the Chair and Ranking members of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Senators Bob Corker and Ben Cardin, for elevating the importance of the life-saving Food for Peace program and the need to maximize its reach and efficiencies.
For more than five decades, U.S. food aid programs have been assisting the poorest, most vulnerable people in the wake of disasters and other crises. We urge Congress to pursue common-sense reforms that increase the ability to reach more vulnerable people with both emergency and non-emergency assistance.
These common-sense reforms would come at no additional cost: In fact, increasing the flexibility of existing funding and delivery mechanisms can significantly increase the reach of our current programs to millions more people at no additional cost. The United States should be empowered to better utilize the tools necessary to respond to hunger and to match the type of assistance with the reality of any situation – including utilizing cash transfers, local and regional procurement, vouchers, and the delivery of U.S. commodities.
Small increases in flexibility in the 2014 Farm Bill and the FY2014 appropriations bills have already benefitted vulnerable people around the world. In the past year alone, these reforms have reduced costs, allowed a wider range of programming options to improve program outcomes, helped achieve more sustainable results, and reached 800,000 additional people, more quickly.
Flexibility in food aid has helped feed millions of refugees and internally displaced persons affected by the crisis in and around Syria. This includes a wide range of programs such as a U.S.- funded food voucher program for Syrian refugees in Turkey as well as distributing life- sustaining food bars purchased in the U.S. to Syrian refugees in Erbil, Iraq.
This is an important opportunity to expand the impact of one of our most vital international programs. We stand ready to work with Congress to ensure these gains can be realized.
Action Aid USA
Action Against Hunger
Alliance to End Hunger
American Jewish World Service
Bread for the World
Church World Service
Convoy of Hope
The Episcopal Church
Evangelical Lutheran Church in America
Feed the Children
Friends Committee on National Legislation
Global Poverty Project
Helen Keller International
Maryknoll Office For Global Concerns
Mennonite Central Committee U.S. Washington Office
Modernizing Foreign Assistance Network
Save the Children
The Borgen Project
The Hunger Project
United Church of Christ, Justice and Witness Ministries
United Methodist Church ,General Board of Church and Society 28. USAID Alumni Association(UAA)
By Rev. Dr. Clint McCann
I had the privilege, along with Peggy Schaefer, to participate last month in a Community Hunger Seder in St. Louis, Mo.
Both of us are part of the St. Louis Bread for the World team. As a regular part of our strategy, we work cooperatively with other local anti-hunger organizations in the area to advance the goal of ending hunger.
During the Seder, we offered special readings. Sponsored by the Michael and Barbara Newmark Institute for Human Relations, the Bohm Social Justice Initiative of the Jewish Community Relations Council, and Ladue Chapel Presbyterian Church (PCUSA), this Seder featured a modification of the traditional Passover Hagaddah (liturgy).
The changes were designed to educate participants concerning the realities of and reasons for hunger among children in the United States, as well as to suggest actions to take to address the issue. The Hunger Seder Hagaddah was developed by the Jewish Council for Public Affairs and MAZON: A Jewish Response to Hunger.
Instead of the first traditional question at a Passover Seder, “How is this night different from all other nights?” the first question at the Seder was “Why is this year different from all other years?” And the answer was that this year involves the need to pass the child nutrition bill.
The bill funds five major programs: the National School Lunch Program, the School Breakfast Program, the Summer Food Service Program, the Child and Adult Care Food Program, and the WIC Program. Together, these programs provide nutritious meals to millions of children in schools and communities across the country. Passing a child nutrition bill that maintains funding levels, allows for more children to access needed meals, and protects other vital services from being used as funding offsets is Bread’s top advocacy campaign this year.
Many of the nearly 130 participants at the Seder put their faith into action by signing postcards urging Congress to “support critical investments and improvements in federal child nutrition programs.” The postcards also said, “Each year at our Passover Seders we say, ‘Let all who are hungry come and eat.’ Now is the time to reauthorize a child nutrition bill that will ensure all hungry children have the nutritious food they deserve.”
The postcards will be hand-delivered to the Washington, D. C., office of U. S. Sen. Roy Blunt of Missouri.
If we want to end hunger by 2030, we need to work together across the demographic and religious boundaries that often separate us. The St. Louis Bread Team is grateful for these vital and enriching partnerships, and we are excited to continue our work together this year and beyond!
Rev. Dr. Clint McCann is evangelical professor of biblical interpretation at Eden Seminary and a member of the St. Louis Bread for the World team.
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