Urging our nation's leaders to end hunger
 

World Cup 2014: Playing for a Better Future

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Bread for the World's World Cup series will use the occasion of the Cup to focus on the great advances many of the participating countries and players have made in fighting hunger and poverty. Each day, until the end of the tournament, we will highlight a country, or an individual player, that is making a difference.

Wednesday, July 9: Netherlands v. Argentina

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Robin Van Persie (Wikimedia Commons)

The Netherlands and Argentina meet today to determine the second team to play in the World Cup finals. Top scorer for Argentina and established futbol veteran, Lionel Messi, and the renowned striker for the Netherlands, Robin van Persie, are sure to be head turners throughout the match. Yet while both will be fighting to be the World Cup Champions, both are also making significant contributions to the fight against hunger and poverty worldwide.

Van Persie is an avid supporter of the New Street League and was a large proponent of the launch of the organization’s website. This charity is dedicated to changing lives through football, specifically for young children who are affected by hunger and poverty. Van Persie’s involvement in this organization is an essential part of his commitment to address issues that affect current generations to create a better world for future generations.

Within previous posts, we have discussed the generosity of Messi and his philanthropy. He has taken several initiatives to support the end of hunger and poverty in Argentina. Recently, Messi was initiated as a UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador to highlight the challenges faced by children and to fight for children’s rights. Messi brings his efforts to ensure that no child suffers from hunger to places around the world.

World Cup athletes who are also dedicated to changing lives give everyone, especially children affected by hunger and poverty, an opportunity to see how big dreams can make even bigger changes to benefit the lives of many. The work of athletes like Van Persie and Messi in the movement to end hunger is an indication of the significant progress these football stars make in their communities.

Double Your Impact and Help Protect Food Aid

By Woody Clinard

5367305116_01837af8af_zRight now, 1.3 million people are displaced after fleeing violence in South Sudan. Thousands upon thousands of children are struggling just to find their next meal. It’s absolutely heartbreaking, and Congress is poised to make it even worse.

We need to do something. That’s why a group of us have committed to match every dollar raised for Bread for the World until July 15, up to $50,000.

I’ve been involved with Bread for more than 17 years, and I’ve seen what our community can do when we come together to fight for what’s right. Truth be told, I’m usually a private person, but I’m speaking out because today – right now – is an important moment in the fight to end hunger. There is a bill in Congress that would make it harder to send food and other life-saving support to countries in crisis. The proposal in Congress would take food away from millions of the world’s hungriest people, many of them young children. I’m shocked and angry, and I bet you are too.

But the good news is that Bread for the World is working hard to protect food aid and other life-saving programs. Just last month, we won an important victory when the House voted to appropriate $10 million for the purchase of food aid closer to the place of need, allowing our food-aid dollars to be spent more efficiently and reach more people. By lobbying Congress, organizing our communities, and developing effective policy solutions, we are making a big difference for those who need us most.

Join me in giving what you can to Bread for the World. For the next six days, every $1 you give will yield $2 so that Bread for the World can advocate for programs that help end hunger at home and abroad.

I’m immensely proud of the work that Bread for the World has done in the years that I’ve been involved with them. Like many of you, I’ve donated, volunteered, and contacted my members of Congress. But now more than ever, we need to step up for the ones who need us most. Our faith calls us to action, and collectively we can make a difference. Let’s all come together to protect God’s children by lending our voices, our votes, and yes, our earnings to efforts that make a difference for hungry families.

Woody Clinard is a Bread for the World member from Winston-Salem, NC.

Photo: Liberian girl (Laura Elizabeth Pohl/Bread for the World).

 

World Cup 2014: Using Football to Climb Out of Poverty

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Bread for the World's World Cup series will use the occasion of the Cup to focus on the great advances many of the participating countries and players have made in fighting hunger and poverty. Each day, until the end of the tournament, we will highlight a country, or an individual player, that is making a difference.

Tuesday July 8: Germany v. Brazil

640px-Dani_Alves-_Scotland_vs_Brazil_Mar10Fighting for a spot in the 2014 World Cup finals, the home team of Brazil will battle it out with Germany for the first time since defeating them in the 2002 World Cup. Although both teams are legendary in the world of football, their experience of hunger is a study in contrasts.

While nearly all of Germany’s players come from upper- and middle-class family backgrounds, nearly all of Brazil’s players have used football to climb out of poverty. This is the story for Brazil’s offensive right back, Dani Alves. The son of a melon farmer, Alves spent his youth working as a farmer, trader, and waiter before rising to football stardom. By partnering with charities that deal with health, housing, and education, Alves has helped prevent other children from experiencing the same disparity that he faced as a child. 

“My commitment to charity work, especially with the neediest, allows me to give back some of the warmth and positivity that I receive on a daily basis,” wrote Alves on his website. Through individual efforts such as his, and collective efforts such as the Zero Hunger Initiative and The Organic Law of Food and Nutritional Security, Brazil has been slowly rising out of extreme poverty.

Despite having a comparatively privileged upbringing, Germany’s players have also encountered hunger. When discussing why he engages with charity work, German captain Philipp Lahm confessed that he was “shaken” by his visit to South Africa in 2007 to see the country that would host the 2010 World Cup and the poverty he saw there.

"I grew up in Munich with all the advantages that a good environment and family backing can give a child. I had a great start to life and got support all along the road to success as a professional footballer. Now I want to help others who haven’t been as lucky as I have." Soon after his trip, Lahm founded the Philipp Lahm Foundation which supports initiatives in both Germany and South Africa.

While each individual may differ in their personal experience with hunger, it is still a collective problem. Alves and Lahm show us that no matter what our socioeconomic backgrounds may be, we can all be part of the solution.

Photo:  Dani Alves (Wikimedia Commons).

Lobby Day is 'the coolest'

Libby capitol 2By Libby McDermott

As a Young Adult Volunteer [a program of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)] in Boston, I have gotten to do a lot of cool things: working with some amazing organizations, nonprofits, and farms; going to movie showings and panel discussions on a regular basis; and learning how to make things like applesauce, noodles, and chicken stock from scratch. Working with Bread for the World and getting to participate in and help with Lobby Day, aka the happiest and most chaotic day of the year for Bread staffers, was probably the coolest.

I flew into D.C. for the National Gathering and Lobby Day, June 9 and 10, along with hundreds of other Christians from all different backgrounds and denominations. I had the opportunity to meet wonderful people from all over the country and made some great connections with fellow Presbyterians.

What sets Bread apart from other nonprofit and social-justice, political-advocacy organizations is faith– it’s the source and reason for their power. There were political analysts and people from Washington who are knowledgeable and have influence, but that’s not who resonated with or moved the crowd. Speakers who shared their powerful testimony of being a young, undocumented American or being a returning citizen trying to get a job or a buy a house after being released from prison really got to the heart of why we do this work of political advocacy. Even when – especially when – the goal of ending hunger and poverty seems daunting and impossible, we are reminded that we are not alone and that we can do these things together in faith.

On Lobby Day, we heard great speeches about the day’s topics – immigration reform and food-aid reform – and why as Christians it’s important to be a voice for the voiceless. I couldn’t decide if it was a political briefing with a lot of Scripture or a sermon with a lot of specific numbers. Then it was game time. We split into regions, then states, then districts to plan the visits with our senators and representatives. I was in charge of the Massachusetts delegation, about ten in total. We planned who was going to say what, grabbed lunch, and got on the shuttle to Capitol Hill. The energy in the room and on the shuttle bus was pretty palpable; everyone was excited, nervous, and ready to go.

As we were riding on the van, it hit me – on streets full of charter buses and tourists, here we are, a group of Christians, all different kinds, from all over the country, coming together because our faith demands that we act when we see injustice, poverty, and hunger in the world, and that’s exactly what we were doing. It felt empowering, exciting, and important. One of or mottoes of the day was, “If you have the faith of a mustard seed, you can move Congress,” and that’s exactly what we were going to do.

We met with aides from Sen. Ed Markey's, Sen. Elizabeth Warren's, and Rep. Katherine Clark’s offices. We had great conversations with them all explaining why food aid and immigration reform are so necessary and why we care so much about the oppressed and the hungry. We even got to speak with Rep. Clark and take a picture with her.

At the end of the long day there was a reception to honor retiring members of Congress who have championed issues of ending hunger and poverty, usually because their faith, rather than political party, demands that they do so. Lobby Day ended with a worship service where people shared where they experienced God during the day and in their lobby visits. People raised up all of the hard work of the staff, the community among the members, the feeling of accomplishment and civic responsibility after meeting with Congresspeople and advocating for people who can’t pay for lobbyists.

I left feeling exhausted but inspired and committed to this work of fighting injustice, and encouraged and grateful to be working with such a wonderful staff and to join my voice with this great cloud of witnesses on Capitol Hill.

Libby McDermott is an intern in the organizing department at Bread for the World and a participant in the Presbyterian young adult volunteer program.  This blog post originally appeared in Food and Faith, a blog of the Presbyterian Hunger Program.

Photo:  Libby McDermott in front of the Capitol in Washington, D.C., June 10, 2014. (Courtesy of Libby McDermott).

Congress Recommends Cuts to Poverty-Focused Development Assistance Funding

FY15 Funding Recommendations No L.HHS

Recently, the House and Senate Appropriations Committees passed their annual funding legislation for the State Department, the U.S. Agency for International Development, and other related agencies, known as the State-Foreign Operations (SFOPs) bill.  

Each year, the House and Senate Appropriations Committees meet to determine funding levels for vital programs that affect hungry people here in the United States and abroad. On the international front, Bread for the World specifically follows the parts of the budget known as poverty-focused development assistance (PFDA) accounts, which includes funding for various programs related to food and nutrition security, global health, basic education, water and sanitation, maternal and child care, refugee assistance, and emergency humanitarian response, to name just a few. 

While the House and Senate decided to recommend the same overall funding level for PFDA programs ($21.9 billion), this funding is slightly lower than current levels ($22.3 billion). Both the House and Senate made recommendations to cut global health programs, which includes funding for maternal and child health, nutrition, family planning, vaccines for malaria, tuberculosis, and tropical diseases, and HIV/AIDS treatment and prevention.

The Senate specifically approved a $100 million cut to Feed the Future. In the House, a 21 percent cut to International Organizations and Programs was also made. Funding in this account is used to support U.S contributions to international organizations like the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and the United Nations Development Program.

Thanks in large part to Bread for the World members and their advocacy efforts, we have helped prevent even more severe cuts from being recommended, but we continue to call on Congress to provide additional funding for PFDA programs before finalizing funding levels for the next fiscal year.

Additional resources will help us support humanitarian aid efforts in places in conflict like Syria, South Sudan, and the Central African Republic. Looking beyond emergency aid, we hope to not backtrack on the many investments we have made to long-term development programs over the years, such as with child survival.

These programs save lives. Due in part to American commitments, the number of deaths of children under five has dropped by half since 1990. In the past 12 years alone, 700,000 fewer children have died from pneumonia, 300,000 fewer children from malaria, and 100,000 fewer children from AIDS.

As these children grow into adults, their survival has the potential to translate into even greater stories of improved economic and social well-being, with benefits felt far beyond their households and country borders—even back on American shores. Congress must continue its vital role in ensuring this becomes a reality by increasing PFDA funding levels in the upcoming fiscal year.  

 

Hunger in the News: Poverty Drives Child Migration, Food Aid Rations Cut in Africa, Summer Food

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

"DHS: Violence, poverty, is driving children to flee Central America to U.S.," by Ana Gonzalez-Barrera, Jens Manuel Krogstad, and Mark Hugo Lopez, The Pew Center. "Of the thousands of unaccompanied children apprehended at the U.S. border in recent months, many can be attributed to poverty and regional violence in three Central American countries, a new U.S. Department of Homeland Security document finds."

"UN Forced to Cut Food Rations to African Refugees," by Kells Hetherington, Voice of America. “The cuts are ‘threatening to worsen already unacceptable levels of acute malnutrition, stunting and anemia, particularly in children,’ the WFP and refugee agency UNHCR said in a joint statement.”

"Programs Target Poverty in Obama's Five 'Promise Zones'," by Kelly McEvers, All Things Considered, NPR. "Persistent interracial poverty is a complicated problem. There are a lot of big forces that are perpetuating it."

"Bipartisan bill would extend unemployment insurance," by Cristina Marcos, The Hill. "Reps. Dan Kildee (D-Mich.) and Frank LoBiondo (R-N.J.) have introduced a bill that would extend unemployment insurance for five months."

“Sen. Patty Murray's plan to reduce summer childhood hunger” by David Sarasohn, The Oregonian.  “Twenty-one million kids get free or reduced-price school lunches, but summer food programs reach only three million of them.”

“What Kept Food Security from Improving After the Recession?“ by Alisha Coleman-Jensen, USDA, Food Assistance Branch, Economic Research Service.  “The association of food insecurity with unemployment, inflation, and the relative price of food are explored in our recent ERS report.”

“Cyclists pedal for hunger in central Neb.” By Ellen Mortensen,  Kearny Hub.  “I listened to a speaker back in the early ’90s who said every time you take a breath, someone dies of hunger. I saw all the agriculture in our state, and it really bothered me that here we are with all this food and people are dying of hunger. I knew I had to do something about it,”

 

World Cup 2014: "Citizens suffering from extreme poverty and hunger can be liberated.”

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Bread for the World's World Cup series will use the occasion of the Cup to focus on the great advances many of the participating countries and players have made in fighting hunger and poverty. Each day, until the end of the tournament, we will highlight a country, or an individual player, that is making a difference.

By Bianca Brown

Saturday, July 5: Argentina v. Belgium; Netherlands v. Costa Rica

Messi_Copa_America_2011 Today, as the World Cup quarter finals draw near, Argentina will face Belgium, followed by the Netherlands v. Costa Rica.  After doing battle with the U.S. team, Belgium emerged victorious to compete with Argentina—which enters the match with three wins in the tournament. While both the Netherlands and Costa Rica have been equal in their matchups thus far, this game will decide which team has the most prowess and determination to advance.

Undoubtedly, Lionel Messi, team leader and top scorer for Argentina, will continue to drive his fellow footballers to victory. Keylor Navas, goalkeeper for Costa Rica, will also shoulder the hopes of his team. Both Messi and Navas have teammates who place great faith in their abilities. Even more impressive is that Navas and Messi are both faithfully dedicated to ending poverty and hunger in their home countries.

Having experienced poverty himself, Messi is an avid supporter of programs that fight hunger and poverty, and firmly believes in the importance of soccer as an outlet. “I believe that sports are really important for children…I learned my most important lessons in life through sport,” he has said. “It is where I had my opportunity, and I wish the same for them.”  

Similar to Messi, Navas has faith that, one day, no child will know the pain of hunger or the limitations of poverty. Navas has spoken about how his role in the World Cup is in the hands of God, and how he hopes to make the most of his time in the spotlight by giving back to those in need.  He believes that “with continual government reinforcement of poverty as a priority, citizens suffering from extreme poverty and hunger can be liberated.”

Keylor and Navas are not alone in their work to help their countries end hunger and support organizations that work to eliminate hunger worldwide—these players and their teammates rely on the support of their fans, both on and off the field.

Bianca Brown is an intern in Bread for the World's communications department and a senior at Georgia's Wesleyan College.

Photo: Lionel Messi at the 2011 Copa America. (Wikimedia Commons)

World Cup 2014: Chasing Soccer Balls and Dreams

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Bread for the World's World Cup series will use the occasion of the Cup to focus on the great advances many of the participating countries and players have made in fighting hunger and poverty. Each day, until the end of the tournament, we will highlight a country, or an individual player, that is making a difference.

By Bianca Brown

Friday, July 4: Brazil v. Columbia

As the World Cup approaches the quarter finals, today’s match between Brazil and Columbia is sure to be a demonstration of talent, strategy, and love of the game. Having won 15 matches so far, Dante, one of the stars of Brazil's squad, has said that the team is looking forward to the next game, and hopes to advance to the semifinals. With two wins, including one tough victory over Uruguay, Columbia has key player Carlos Sanchez to thank for many of the team’s game-changing tactics in the tournament.

Dante_Bonfim_Costa_SantosThe determination both men have displayed on the field can also be seen in their work to help people escape hunger and poverty.  

Dante, a center back for Brazil, first began playing soccer on the cobbled streets of Salvador. “Childhood in Salvador was tough…but through football I have been able to give a good life to my family. I am glad I have worked so hard for this and I had a chance to be a better person and help many people,” Dante said in a recent interview.  He supports several charities and organizations that are working to end hunger and poverty, including a campaign to help children’s villages in Brazil. Several other players on the team have also experienced hunger and poverty firsthand, and are working with programs in Brazil that address these problems.

Sanchez, a defensive midfielder for Columbia, was raised in poverty in a small city in the northwest part of the country. “There wasn’t always enough food to put a meal on the table at the end of the day,” he has said. Sanchez would often spend hours playing soccer not only to improve his skills, but to help him ignore hunger pains. Today, Sanchez supports UNICEF and its efforts to help end hunger and poverty in Columbia.

Both Dante and Sanchez are working to create a world where no one is hungry, and all children are free to chase not only soccer balls, but their dreams.

Photo: Dante, playing in a 2013 match. (Wikimedia Commons)

‘Not Called to Win; Just to be Faithful’

Advocacy-in-actionElections aren't all about winning, are they? A group of Bread activists in the Birmingham, Ala., area realizes that they have an uphill battle in getting their issues heard by candidates in this fall's elections, but they are staying focused on what's important: just being faithful in their advocacy.

Alabama's 6th Congressional District, based around the suburbs of Birmingham, is represented by Republican Spencer Bachus, who is retiring from Congress when his current term ends in 2015.

A runoff election in July will determine which Republican candidate will compete for Bachus' seat in the general election in November. The Republican nominee is almost certain to win in the district, which the National Review Online called "the reddest district in the country."

In the meantime, the Bread activists in the area are deciding how to raise issues of hunger and poverty with the final two candidates as well as getting themselves organized for general and ongoing advocacy activities for Bread.

Suzanne Stigler Martin has done most of the coordinating of the Bread group and reviving its membership after a previous leader, who had built a strong group over a number of years, left and members fell away.

The earlier group of activists had worked hard to win Bachus over on issues related to hunger, and the congressman had actually changed his mind about debt relief in the Jubilee Campaign of 2000. The current group is looking to continue the legacy they've had with Bachus with his successor.

With Martin, the current group has organized itself into teams so that leadership is not so dependent on one person and so the work is spread out.

The teams divide the work into areas such as outreach to churches, advocacy, and elections strategy. The group started a Facebook page to promote their work and provide education on hunger and poverty issues. During the slower summer months, the group plans to add educational items on immigration reform.

The group has been actively trying to engage new congregations in the area in Bread work, encouraging them to hold an Offering of Letters or move to the "next level" by adding advocacy if they have a food pantry or soup kitchen, for example. The group has used the visits of Bread's regional organizer, LaMarco Cable, to encourage congregations to connect with issues being debated in Washington, D.C.

For its congressional campaign work, Martin said the group tried to contact all of the candidates running in the primary with three basic questions related to hunger and a deadline to respond. They planned to post the responses on their Facebook page.

Martin said that it was a challenge for the group to try to contact seven or eight candidates, so it has decided to wait until there are just two candidates in the general election. She said in a primary campaign candidates tend to be focused more on winning the nomination and less on issues.
Martin has other tips for similar groups that want to be involved in congressional campaigns:

  • Appoint a person to monitor candidates' campaigns for events that Bread activists can attend.
  • Try to get to know the candidates as human beings. Befriend them so that you become a trusted source or adviser on hunger issues.
  • Work your networks. If nobody in your group knows a candidate directly, maybe a friend knows a candidate and can make an introduction.

Overall, Martin says advocacy work is for the long-haul. "There's a lot of opportunity. It just takes time," she said. Her group's work shows that it's about developing relationships with not only political candidates in a campaign but also with church members. She adds: "We are not called to win; we are just called to be faithful."

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

Defend the Rights of the Poor: Tell Congress to Pass Immigration Reform

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Rosa tends to the family live stock, a usual task for many children in rural Guatemala where she lives. Child malnutrition rates are also among the highest in the world causing an annual GDP loss estimated at $300m. Immigration reform must address the poverty and hunger that drives migration.  (Joseph Mollieri/Bread for the World)

By Eric Mitchell

Tens of thousands of unaccompanied children are crossing the southern U.S. border. In their home countries, many of these children face violence, extreme poverty, and hunger. With hopes for a better future for their children, parents have made the difficult decision to send their children thousands of miles away to escape the horrible conditions at home.

Your Representative needs to hear from you! We need to flood their offices with calls and emails in the next 48 hours.

Politics may be blocking comprehensive immigration reform, but Congress shouldn’t wait to act! This issue is more than just law enforcement or what happens at the border. Congress must address the root causes of migration.

Can you take two minutes right now to contact your Representative? Simply say: I urge you to pass legislation that supports development-assistance programs, especially those addressing migration push factors, including hunger and poverty.

Call (800-826-3688) or email your U.S. representative today and urge for a vote on immigration reform.

If we support successful development programs in countries like Honduras and Guatemala, we can help to not only reduce hunger and poverty, but also the likelihood of parents sending their children to migrate alone to the United States.

There are only a few days left before Congress leaves for its August recess. Our faith calls us to “defend the rights of the poor.”

Please help us get  calls and emails to Congress in the next 48 hours.

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

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