Urging our nation's leaders to end hunger
 

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. 

 

Quote of the Day: Raj Shah on Feed the Future

 

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A mother holds her child in a model home in Tigray, Ethiopia. (Nena Terrell/USAID)

"Through Feed the Future, we are harnessing the power of science, technology and innovation to unlock opportunity for the world's most vulnerable people. By creating and scaling cutting-edge solutions to our most pressing agricultural challenges, we can help the world's most vulnerable people move from dependency to self-sufficiency and out of the tragic cycle of extreme poverty."

USAID administrator Raj Shah quoted in a Nov 6, State Department press release, “U.S. Government Announces Child Stunting Rates Drop in Ethiopia, Maize Yields Increase in Zambia.”

Feed the Future programs in Zambia helped smallholder farmers increased maize production by 32 percent in one year. In the past three years, 160,00 fewer children under five in Ethiopia are malnourished because of Feed the Future and other United States Government initiatives.

Legislation that would authorize Feed the Future was introduced in Congress in September. If passed, the Global Food Security act (H.R. 5656/. S. 2909), would give the U.S. government the tools and resources it needs to better fight chronic hunger and malnutrition as well to expand and better coordinate U.S. investments in improving global food security.

Hunger in the News: Aid Shortages, Women Farmers, National Food Policy, Lame Duck

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

Iraq, Syria Face Chronic Aid Shortages,” by Ayesha Tanzeem, Voice of America.  “The United Nations says Iraq, Syria face a chronic shortage of aid funding despite the massive scale of the humanitarian crisis in the region.”

Women Feeding the World: Planet Forward Salon Searches for Solutions,” by Emma Shorr, Food Tank. "[W]omen are more affected by climate change in developing countries than men, and that women are also the solution to addressing serious issues such as nutritional deficiencies, food insecurity, hunger, and poverty."

How a national food policy could save millions of American lives,” by By Mark Bittman, Michael Pollan, Ricardo Salvador and Olivier De Schutter, The Washington Post. “A national food policy would invest resources to guarantee that “[a]ll Americans have access to healthful food” and “[t]he food industry [as the largest sector of our economy] pays a fair wage to those it employs,” among other things.”

As Lame-Duck Session Begins, Congress to Focus on Approps, Ebola, and Islamic State,” by Billy House and Rachel Roubein, National Journal. “[A]n omnibus spending bill, or some other more-temporary measure, must be taken up by this outgoing House and Senate to extend government funding beyond Dec. 11 and keep agencies operating.

“Is Food Insecurity Really on the Decline?” by Steve Holt, Take Part. “Gallup’s latest poll says it is, but antihunger advocates warn that poverty is still a persistent problem.”

Philippines Struggles to Recover a Year After Typhoon Haiyan Tragedy,” by Mong Palatino, The Diplomat.  “A year has passed since super typhoon Haiyan (Yolanda) wreaked destruction in the central part of the Philippine islands.”

Center for Rural Affairs: EITC effective ‘rural program’,” The Grand Island Independent. “The Center for Rural Affairs has released a new report that examines the impact of the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) on rural and small town America.”

Feed the Future Acts Introduced in Congress

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Feed the Future is helping increase opportunities for smallholder farmers like Alice Monigo in Uganda by providing trainings for women. (CNFA/Feed the Future)


New legislation in Congress, if passed, would give the U.S. government the tools and resources it needs to better fight chronic hunger and malnutrition as well to expand and better coordinate U.S. investments in improving global food security.

On Sept. 18, H.R. 5656 was introduced by Reps. Christopher Smith (R-N.J.) and Betty McCollum (D-Minn.) in the House. S. 2909 was introduced by Sens. Robert Casey (D-Pa.), Chris Coons (D-Del.), Mike Johanns (R-Neb.), Johnny Isakson (R-Ga.), and John Boozman (R-Ark.) in the Senate. These bills would permanently codify and authorize this comprehensive approach to global food security, ensuring the initiative continues beyond the current administration.

Background

Feed the Future was created at the end of the George W. Bush administration and early in the Obama administration as the U.S.’s response to the rapid rise in global food prices that occurred from 2007 until 2009. Since its creation in 2010, Feed the Future has achieved impressive results in its 19 focus countries, helping more than seven million small farmers increase crop production and providing nutritious foods to more than 12.5 million children in 2013 alone.

While the program has been funded by Congress in annual appropriations legislation, without official authorization, the future of this program remains in the balance.

Gains for Farmers

“We are delighted to see bipartisan legislation introduced in both the House and Senate,” said Rev. David Beckmann, president of Bread for the World. “This proves that ending hunger is not a partisan endeavor but a priority that should be held by everyone.”

By authorizing Feed the Future, further gains will be made in improving the livelihoods of small-holder farmers, strengthening maternal and child nutrition, and building capacity for long-term agricultural growth. While there are differences between the House and Senate bills, they are considerably alike in purpose. Specifically, both bills would require the administration to develop a whole-of-government strategy to address global food insecurity and malnutrition. This strategy is designed to help hungry nations around the world develop smart, long-term, country-specific agriculture policies and to ensure these nations independently meet the nutrition needs of their people.

Both bills stress the importance of good nutrition, especially during the critical 1,000-day window from a woman’s pregnancy until her child’s second birthday. This helps to reduce stunting, life-long poor health, impaired cognitive and physical development, and diminished productivity. There is a strong emphasis in the bills on working with local farmers to improve their techniques, helping to stabilize food production and improve self-sufficiency.

Both bills also focus strongly on women’s economic empowerment, a significant component, considering that women are often heads of households and small-holder farmers, making them especially vulnerable to food insecurity. By further engaging women, Feed the Future aims to increase women’s farm yields and total food output and close the significant 20 to 30 percent yield gap that currently exists between male and female farmers.

“Eliminating barriers for women farmers will not only help to sustain their long-term economic prosperity, but will also help to improve their children’s nutrition, health, and lifelong potential,” added Beckmann.

This post originally appeared in Bread for the World's November online newsletter.

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