Urging our nation's leaders to end hunger
 

World Prayers for Oct. 19-25: India, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka

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A farmer in India. Bread for the World photo

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 October 19-25, we pray for: India, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka:

Creator God, we lift to you this week the people of India, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka. We marvel at the rich diversity of cultures, faiths, histories, and people in these nations, bursting with vibrancy and life. We also lift to you the times when that diversity becomes the seedbed for resentment, conflict, and alienation. Bring peace, healing, and justice to the lives of all the people of these countries, especially those who suffer from the aftermath of wars, recurring climate disasters, human trafficking, and marginalization based on their ethnic identities. May these nations’ governments make human rights, an equitable stability, and reduction of violence priorities in their official actions.  

We raise up those who are displaced in these countries due to regional conflicts, in some of which our own nation has been involved. For all those people who are hungry and who live in grinding poverty, we ask for ways that we ourselves might be instruments of restoration and wholeness. We give thanks for the missionaries, health workers, educators, peacemakers, and others who continue to come alongside these nations’ people, offering hope and supporting opportunities for them to work for a better life for themselves and their families. In your holy and healing name we pray, Amen.

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

India: 21.9
Pakistan:
12.4
Sri Lanka: 6.7

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

Watch “The Last Hunger Season” Online


The Last Hunger Season Film Series: Part 1, "Expanding Possibilities." Watch other videos in the series here.

Today’s celebration of World Food Day lifts up the role of smallholder farmers through the theme, “Family Farming: Feeding the World, Caring for the Earth.” There are plenty of these farmers to celebrate: 500 million smallholder farmers live and work in the developing world. Most of them are women.

Last year saw the publication of The Last Hunger Season: A Year in an African Farm Community on the Brink of Change, a book by Roger Thurow, senior fellow for global agriculture and food policy at The Chicago Council on Global Affairs and longtime friend of Bread for the World. Now there is a series of short documentary videos online that bring the book to life, telling the stories of smallholder farmers in Kenya.

Here’s a description of the story:

Africa’s small farmers, who comprise two-thirds of its population, toil in a time warp, living and working essentially as they did in the 1930s. Without mechanized equipment, fertilizer, or irrigation; using primitive storage facilities, roads, and markets; lacking capital, credit, and insurance; they harvest only one-quarter the yields of Western farmers, half of which spoil before getting to market. But in 2011 one group of farmers in Kenya came together to try to change their odds for success—and their families’ futures. Roger Thurow spent a year following their progress.

In The Last Hunger Season, the intimate dramas of the farmers’ lives unfold amidst growing awareness that to feed the world’s growing population, food production must double by 2050. How will the farmers, Africa, and a hungrier world deal with issues of water usage, land ownership, foreign investment, corruption, GMO’s, the changing role of women, and the politics of foreign aid?

Watch The Last Hunger Season online. Learn more about Bread’s efforts to enact much-needed reforms to U.S. food aid. Then take action to help more smallholder farmers, like those shown in Kenya, and hungry people around the world as well. 

Two Billion People Suffer from ‘Hidden Hunger’

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A student who benefits from a USAID funded feeding program in Guatemala. (Joseph Molieri/Bread for the World)


By Kimberly Burge

According to a new report released this week, a staggering 2 billion people do not get the essential vitamins and minerals from the food they eat. They remain undernourished, suffering from the “hidden hunger” of micronutrient and vitamin deficiencies.

The annual Global Hunger Index (GHI) is released jointly by the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI), Welthungerhilfe (one of Germany's largest private development organizations), and Concern Worldwide. The 2014 report finds that, while great strides have been made to feed the world, 805 million people are still chronically undernourished because they do not get enough to eat. Even those who get sufficient calories can suffer from hidden hunger, an often overlooked yet critical aspect of hunger and nutrition.

Hidden hunger is often hard to detect, but is potentially devastating. Hidden hunger weakens the immune system, stunts physical and intellectual growth, and can lead to death. It wreaks economic havoc as well, locking countries into cycles of poor nutrition, lost productivity, poverty, and reduced economic growth.

Bread for the World Institute has explored the issue of hidden hunger in several previous Hunger Reports. Frontline Issues in Nutrition Assistance: Hunger Report 2006 recommended food fortification and the addition of vitamin and mineral supplements to nutrition programs to help boost the health and nutritional status of those who are malnourished. For example, iodine deficiency causes problems with cognitive development and remains the world’s single greatest cause of preventable mental retardation. But developing countries are making efforts to add iodine to household salt, efforts that are paying off. Between 1997 and 2002, 67 percent of all households in sub-Saharan Africa were consuming iodized salt, along with 53 percent in South Asia, the Middle East, and North Africa; 80 percent in East Asia; and 91 percent in Latin America and the Caribbean. 

“Particularly in countries facing a high burden of malnutrition, hidden hunger goes hand in hand with other forms of malnutrition and cannot be addressed in isolation,” said Welthungerhilfe president Bärbel Dieckmann. “In the long-term, people cannot break out of the vicious cycle of poverty and malnutrition without being granted the basic right to nutritious food.”

Hidden hunger is not found exclusively in developing countries, however. It crosses borders and exists here in the United States as well, as the Institute’s Senior Editor Todd Post saw while researching Hunger Report 2012.

“In Philadelphia, I visited emergency rooms with Dr. Mariana Chilton, head of Witnesses to Hunger, who recruited women to participate in Witnesses first by targeting mothers who brought their babies to the emergency room for something they thought was unrelated to hunger,” recalls Post. “The children were suffering from a condition known as ‘failure to thrive,’ a precursor to stunting, which was malnutrition related.”

“Failure to thrive” is the clinical term for a child severely underweight for her age. Witnesses to Hunger was born out of Children’s HealthWatch, a multi-city research project that is studying the effects of hunger on the health and well-being of young children. The project screens children in emergency rooms and ambulatory care clinics at five medical centers across the country, since undernourished children have higher rates of hospitalization.

To read more about Witnesses to Hunger and Dr. Chilton’s work, see p. 52-53 of Rebalancing Act: 2012 Hunger Report.  

There was good news to be found in this year’s Global Hunger Index. The number of people going hungry has steadily decreased in most developing countries. Since 1990, hunger in the developing world has fallen by 39 percent, and 26 countries have reduced their scores by 50 percent or more. Angola, Bangladesh, Cambodia, Chad, Ghana, Malawi, Niger, Rwanda, Thailand, and Vietnam have seen the greatest improvements in their scores between the 1990 GHI and the 2014 GHI.

And bad news, too: Levels of hunger are still “alarming” in 14 countries, and “extremely alarming” in two, Burundi and Eritrea.

Kimberly Burge is the interim associate online editor for Bread for the World.

Join Us on Twitter for a World Food Day Town Hall

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Every year on October 16, the global community pauses to celebrate World Food Day and raise the profile of the ongoing struggle to end hunger and poverty. This year’s celebration will focus on the 500 million small family farms, which help feed the world. 

The majority of these family farms are in developing countries, and most are run by women. They contribute in critical ways to local economies, support sustainable development, and provide nutritious food to billions of people. They are crucial partners in the effort to end hunger by 2030. That’s why @Bread4theWorld and @WorldFoodPrize are encouraging our supporters and partners to do their part to advocate for and on behalf of small farmers.

In honor of World Food Day, October 16, @Bread4theWorld and @WorldFoodPrize Foundation will moderate a Twitter Town Hall at 11 a.m. CT (12 noon, ET). Our chat will focus on the critical role small farmers play in the fight to end hunger by 2030 and how each of us can play our part, too. 2010 World Food Prize laureate and Bread for the World President Rev. David Beckmann (@davidbeckmann) and 2014 World Food Prize laureate Dr. Sanjaya Rajaram (#RajWFP) will lead this public discussion with partners, bloggers, and leaders who are working together to end  hunger once and for all.

Be sure to join the conversation on Twitter on Thursday, October 16 at 11 am CT (12 noon ET) using #WorldFoodDay. And please share about the Twitter town hall with your network through social media channels, blogs, websites, and emails before the event.

Crippling All of Humanity: A Reporter’s Reflection on Seeing Child Malnutrition

By Robin Stephenson

Earlier this year, PBS NewsHour correspondent Hari Sreenivasan traveled to Guatemala and saw the effects of malnourishment firsthand. Malnutrition, he saw, diminishes human growth, but also the future growth of a country’s economy.

Half of Guatemala’s children lack access to nutritious foods in the first two years of life. They will never reach their full potential. Physically and mentally stunted for life, malnutrition leads to health problems and reduced mental capacity. In turn, this leaves a country with a weak labor force.

Sreenivasan met one-year-old Lidia Chumil, whose diet typically consists of beans and herbs. Her mother does not have access to the nutrients she needs to feed her daughter. Baby Lidia is underweight and small for her age. It is unlikely she can ever regain what she has lost.

Reducing child malnutrition is a complex problem that requires new ways of thinking. Guatemala’s minister of food security, Luis Enrique Monterroso, told Sreenivasan that a focus on poverty interventions in the past did not work. Today, the Guatemalan government targets malnutrition.

Reps. Ander Crenshaw (R-Fla.) and Adam Smith (D-Wash.) would agree that addressing malnutrition is key. In a recent contribution to The Hill, they write, “Specifically, addressing malnutrition requires coordinated planning and programming of effective nutrition-specific and nutrition-sensitive interventions across multiple sectors, including agriculture, health, nutrition, water and sanitation, social protection and humanitarian assistance programs.”

The congressmen go on to laud the recent introduction of a USAID nutrition strategy that will strengthen the impact of federal dollars by coordinating programs and resources across government agencies. “[The strategy] also acknowledges that high rates of chronic malnutrition can significantly impact a nation’s GDP potential, as well as other economic and social costs,” they write.

As a partner, the United States can bolster efforts by the Guatemalan government with new foreign assistance programs that also target malnutrition. The Feed the Future initiative, legislation that takes a multi-sectorial approach to ending hunger, was introduced in both chambers of Congress. The legislation develops a whole-of-government strategy that supports country ownership, nutrition, and food security.

More than Guatemala’s future is economically stunted by malnutrition. There is a global price to pay.  It is estimated that childhood malnutrition will cost the global economy some $125 billion in lost GDP growth by 2030. Not to mention, hunger is presently driving children to flee Guatemala for the United States, creating an immediate crisis on our border.

Although Sreenivasan saw malnutrition up close, in a personal reflection, he steps back and takes a global view. “The question I’m left wondering is what becomes of a world where a significant portion of the population grows up without even the basic nutritional foundation to give them a shot at anything else,” he writes.  “As the business leaders in our piece say, from an economic perspective, that kind of inequality will cripple the productivity potential of entire countries. But from a human perspective, it seems like it will cripple us all.”

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

A Gift of Song for Bread for World Sunday

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Opening plenary session of Bread for the World's 2011 Gathering, on Saturday, June 11, 2011, at American University. (Rick Reinhard)

Across the nation, from pulpit to pew, Christians will renew their commitment to ending hunger as part of the annual Bread for the World Sunday celebrations taking place this weekend, October 19. 

During a special church service, congregations commit themselves to the fight against hunger and poverty through education, prayer, and worship. Many churches will use song to inspire congregants. 

Longtime Bread supporters and co-pastors of Limestone Presbyterian Church in Wilmington, Del., Bruce and Carolyn Winfrey Gillette offer a new hymn they wanted us to share with you. Carolyn has written many original hymns used by Bread for the World members in past worship services.

Carolyn composed, “Is it Lawful to Pay Taxes?” based on the lectionary reading for October 19. In an email to Bread for the World, Bruce wrote, “We hope it will remind people of our shared responsibility to pay taxes, to work for our taxes being used well for the common good and also our ultimate loyalty always is to God.”

Bread for the World is blessed by our talented membership represented by people like Carolyn and Bruce and grateful for their gift of song.

“Is It Lawful to Pay Taxes?”
BEACH SPRING 8.7.8.7 D ("God Whose Giving Knows No Ending")

“Is it lawful to pay taxes when they prop up Caesar’s rule?”
So some people asked of Jesus, wanting him to seem a fool.
Saying “no” would be sedition; saying “yes” would be a sin.
Jesus changed the conversation, calling them to look within.

“Find a tax coin in your treasure; see the image that it bears.
Give to Caesar what is Caesar’s. (Give to rulers what is theirs.)”
Yet he pressed on with his message; “Give to God what is God’s own.”
We who bear our Maker’s image worship God and God alone.

Lord of all, in every nation, may your word be understood—
That we have an obligation to support the common good.
May our taxes, all together, fund our working hand in hand
So that life will be made better for all people in this land.

Still, we also hear your teaching: “Give to God what God is due.”
May no ruler—overreaching—try to take the place of you.
May we listen to your message, may we honor what is yours;
May we, living in your image, seek your kingdom that endures.

Biblical References: Matthew 22:15-22; Mark 12:13-17 and Luke 20:20-26. Tune: The Sacred Harp, 1844; attributed to Benjamin Franklin White (MIDI) Text: Copyright © 2014 by Carolyn Winfrey Gillette. All rights reserved. Email: bcgillette@comcast.net New Hymns: http://www.carolynshymns.com

Hunger in the News: Food Pantries, Refugee Children, Climate Change, Hunger Hot Spots, Nobel Peace Prize

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

Midstate food pantries see increases in need for services, though some do not have the supply to help,” by Naomi Creason, The Sentinel. “The study showed that 1 in 7, or an estimated 2 million people in Pennsylvania turn to food pantries and meal service programs to feed themselves and their families.”

In Africa, church leaders responding to climate change locally and globally,” by Fredrick Nzwili, Religion News Service.  “As climate change devastates communities in Kenya, church leaders are helping to address the crisis locally while also calling on industrialized nations to own up to their responsibilities for spewing greenhouse gas emissions into the atmosphere.”

Migrant children: Out of sight, still in mind,” by David Rogers, Politico. “Weeks before November’s elections, the child migrant crisis has dropped out of sight even as the children themselves have moved into that less visible but perilous maze — the nation’s immigration courts.”

United States Must Protect Migrant Children,” by Karen Musalo, The Daily Cal. “Instead of responding with compassion — or obeying our domestic and international laws — we have focused on deporting new arrivals and deterring others from following them.”

Now hunger threat shadows Ebola in West Africa,” by Umaru Fofana and Bate Felix, Reuters.  “The threat of hunger is tracking Ebola across affected West African nations as the disease kills farmers and their families, drives workers from the fields and creates food shortages.”

South Sudan: potential crisis looms as nation teeters between war and peace,” by Clar Ni Chonghaile, The Guardian.  “On Monday, leading aid agencies warned that parts of South Sudan could fall into famine early next year if fighting is renewed. The agencies – including Oxfam, CARE and Cafod – said the number of people facing dangerous levels of hunger was expected to increase by 1 million between January and March next year.”

Food Is Hope for Syrians Fleeing ISIS,” by William Lambers, Huffington Post Impact. “With conflict escalating in the region, we need to increase humanitarian aid. That is a massive challenge the international community faces right now. Donations have not been able to keep up.”

Nobel honors activism to empower most vulnerable of children,” by PBS Newshour. Hari Sreenivasan interviews Gayle Zemach Lemmon about the Nobel Peace Prize winners.

Happy International Day of the Girl Child!

Girls in Zambia
Nasilele and Sandra in Lusaka, Zambia. Photo by Kimberly Burge


by Kimberly Burge

It’s fitting that today’s the day Malala Yousafzai has been named a co-recipient of this year’s Nobel Peace Prize (along with Indian children’s rights activist Khailash Satyarthi). Tomorrow is the third celebration of International Day of the Girl Child.

Malala captured the world’s attention when she was shot in the head by the Taliban for attending school and actively encouraging other girls to be in school in the Swat Valley, where she lived in Pakistan. After her remarkable recovery, she has become internationally renowned as an advocate for girls’ education worldwide. 

In 2012, the U.N. declared October 11 an official celebration of girls to raise awareness about gender inequality and issues that affect girls around the world. While girls experience higher levels of poverty and hunger, they also hold the key to greater development.  

Hunger and malnutrition disproportionately affect girls and women, who comprise 60 percent of the world’s undernourished population. Yet if women farmers had the same access to resources as men, the number of hungry in the world could be reduced by up to 150 million, according to the World Food Programme. There’s precedent for success in this area: A 63-country study by the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) found that as much as 55 percent of the reduction in hunger from 1970 to 1995 could be attributed to improvements in women’s status in society and increased education. The 2015 Hunger Report, produced by Bread for the World Institute, examines this issue in greater depth when it’s released next month.

Likewise, educating girls increases family incomes once they are grown. An extra year of primary school education boosts girls’ eventual wages by 10–20 percent. An extra year of secondary school adds 15–25 percent. But globally, 1 in 5 girls around the world is denied an education by the daily realities of poverty, violence, and discrimination. In sub-Saharan Africa, fewer than one in five girls makes it to secondary school. Secondary school completion rates for adolescent girls is below 5 percent in 19 sub-Saharan African countries.

Educating girls will benefit not just girls themselves and their families, but whole countries. Based on World Bank research and economic data, Plan International estimates the economic cost to 65 low- and middle-income and transitional countries of failing to educate girls to the same standard as boys is a staggering $92 billion each year.

Opportunities abound to empower girls. Right now, the follow-up plan is being developed for the post-2015 next steps in the Millennium Development Goals. A panel – co-chaired by Liberian president Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, U.K. prime minister David Cameron, and Indonesian president Dr. Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono – recommended that the post-2015 agenda should include a specific goal to empower girls and women. Adolescent girls were left out of the original MDGs, but this report recognizes their potential to end poverty, a significant step forward for the 250 million girls currently living in poverty.

Congratulations to Malala on her Nobel Peace Prize. Just imagine the change we can see in the world if we unleash the potential of girls everywhere.   

Kimberly Burge is the author of The Born Frees: Writing with the Girls of Gugulethu, about girls growing up in post-apartheid South Africa, which will be published next August by W.W. Norton. 

World Prayers for Oct. 12-18: Bangladesh, Bhutan, and Nepal

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Bangladesh. Bread for the World photo

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 October 12-18, we pray for: Bangladesh, Bhutan, and Nepal:

Good and gracious God, we come before you in thanksgiving for the many blessings you bestow.  We are grateful for the countries of Bangladesh, Bhutan, and Nepal in South Asia, for the wonder of their diverse landscapes, the majestic peaks, and vast mountain ranges.  We savor the rich and vibrant cultural heritage and spiritual history of this region.  These expressions are a reminder of your impressive power and the brilliance of your created order.  May we respect and savor all of your creation by living in ways that consider the consequences this region suffers related to climate change. 

As we pray for Nepal, Bhutan, and Bangladesh, we ask you to guide the political transitions and peace-building efforts in this region as governments and civil society work toward representative structuring and public accountability. We especially lift up those who are hungry or materially impoverished because this perpetuates injustices such as forced labor, human trafficking, and abusive working conditions.  May the light of your resurrection lead us to stand in solidarity with the people of South Asia. Amen.   

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

Bangladesh: 31.5
Bhutan: 12.0
Nepal: 25.2

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

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