Urging our nation's leaders to end hunger
 

Free Meals Don't Always Equal Poverty

OL2015-Blog
 

By Jennifer Gonzalez

Recently, The Washington Post ran a story with an eye-popping headline: “Majority of U.S. public school students are in poverty.”

The article reports that for the first time in 50 years, 51 percent of students attending public school in the United States came from low-income families, according to a report by the Southern Education Foundation.

The Washington Post used as a “rough proxy for poverty" the fact that 51 percent of U.S. public school students in pre-kindergarten through 12th grade in the 2012-2013 school year were eligible for the federal government’s free and reduced-price lunch program.

The fallout from the story was swift. Many critics rightly argued that “living in poverty” doesn’t exactly correlate with the number of students receiving free and reduced-price lunch. NPR, Mother Jones, and many other news outlets voiced concern over the inaccuracy of the headline and the story.

In fact, The New York Times made it clear in its own story about the foundation’s report that “children who are eligible for such lunches do not necessarily live in poverty.”

The U.S. Census Bureau defines “poverty” as a household of four people with an income of $24,000 a year. Free or reduced-price lunches are available to students from families of four that earn roughly $44,000 annually.

In other words, it’s more than likely that many students receiving free and reduced-price lunch live above the poverty line. Therefore, it’s hard to make the argument that a majority of students live in poverty based on the fact that they receive free and reduced-price lunch.

Incomeinfographic

To skew the numbers further, the Community Eligibility Provision (CEP) allows certain public school districts to offer totally free meals (both breakfast and lunch) to all its students even if they don’t qualify. The move is designed to help school districts reduce paperwork.

Any school district with 40 percent or more “identified students” can participate in the CEP. Identified students include those whose families receive SNAP (formerly food stamps) benefits or other federal government assistance. It also includes students certified to receive free school meals because of their status as being in foster care, enrolled in Head Start, homeless, runaway, or migrant student.

So the potential for over counting the number of students living in “poverty” is significant.

It’s unfortunate that The Washington Post made the error, because the truth is bad enough. At Bread for the World, we know that more than 1 in 5 children (nearly 16 million) live in a family that struggles to put food on the table.

Bread’s 2015 Offering of Letters: Feed Our Children is focused on children getting the meals they need. Even brief periods of hunger and malnutrition put children’s health at risk and carry consequences that may last a lifetime. Bread took great care to include only the number of low-income students receiving free and reduced-price lunch rather than every student receiving such a meal when the Offering of Letters was created.

Bread plans to work hard this year to ensure that Congress reauthorizes the child nutrition bill, which is set to expire this fall. The bill funds five major programs:  National School Lunch Program, School Breakfast Program, Summer Food Service Program, Child and Adult Care Food Program, and the WIC Program. These programs serve roughly 40 million adults and children nationwide.

Will need your voice to make sure our nation’s children receive the meals they need to grow into healthy adults. Join us in our effort!

Jennifer Gonzalez is the associate online editor at Bread for the World.

Child Nutrition Programs and the Committees Setting Policy

OL2015-Blog

By Robin Stephenson

There is an old saying: Laws are like sausages; it’s better not to see them made. But when it comes to crafting policy with the potential to feed more children, faithful advocates need to be in the kitchen and talking to the cooks – especially when 1 in 5 U.S. children lives at risk of hunger.

The kitchen, in this case, is the House Committee on Education and the Workforce and the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry.

Members of these two committees will create the first drafts of the laws that fund and set policy for our nation’s child nutrition programs – legislation that must be renewed every five years.  The 2015 Offering of Letters: Feed Our Children aims to ensure that children get the meals they need so they can learn, be healthy, and grow strong.

The legislation being considered this year sets the policy for programs that reduce hunger for children living in poverty – school lunch and breakfast programs, summer feeding programs, after-school and child care feeding programs, and The Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC).  When Congress renewed the legislation in 2010, it improved nutrition standards and access for some programs but sadly took the funding from other anti-hunger programs – namely SNAP (formerly food stamps).

As Congress takes up the child nutrition programs again, Bread for the World is urging Congress to pass legislation that protects nutrition programs and gives more hungry children access to the meals they need to thrive. And from the onset, anti-hunger advocates need to make it clear that taking funding from other anti-hunger programs is simply unacceptable.

For some of our Bread members, we are going to need your voice early if you have a member of Congress on the House or Senate committees with jurisdiction over the child nutrition legislation.  

“Our faithful advocates have an opportunity to influence the framework that starts the conversation,” said Christine Melendez Ashley, Bread for the World’s expert on domestic nutrition.  She encourages advocates to write letters and set up local meetings with committee members. 

“If we are making sure that the conversation begins with prioritizing vulnerable children, the final legislation will help close the hunger gap," she said.

Your voice can be especially critical as the process of reauthorizing the child nutrition bill begins. Hearings could begin soon, and it's important we not only pay attention, but also drive the conversation that is deciding on the future for our nation's children. Look at the lists below, and if you see your state, make sure your member of Congress hears from you.

House Committee on Education and Workforce, led by chairman John Kline and ranking member Bobby Scott.

 State

 Member

 State

 Member

 Arizona-05

 Matt Salmon

 Michigan-07

 Tim Walberg

 Arizona-03

 Raul Grijalva

 Minnesota-02

 John Kline

 Alabama-01

 Bradley Byrne

 Nevada-03

 Joe Heck

 California-53

 Susan Davis

 New York-08

 Hakeem Jeffries

 California-11

 Mark DeSaulnier

 New York-21

 Elise Stefanik

 California-50

 Duncan Hunter

 North Carolina-12

 Alma Adams

 California-41

 Mark Takano

 North Carolina-05

 Virginia Fox

 Colorado-02

 Jared Polis

 Ohio-11

 Marcia Fudge

 Connecticut-02

 Joe Courtney

 Oklahoma-05

 Steve Russell

 Florida-26

 Carlos Curbelo

 Oregon-01

 Suzanne Bonamici

 Florida-24

 Frederica Wilson

 Pennsylvania-11

 Lou Barletta

 Georgia-12

 Rick Allen

 Pennsylvania-05

 Glenn Thompson

 Georgia-01

 Buddy Carter

 South Carolina-01

 Joe Wilson

 Indiana-06

 Luke Messer

 Tennessee-01

 Phil Roe

 Indiana-04

 Todd Rokita

 Texas-15

 Ruben Hinojosa

 Kentucky-02

 Brett Guthrie

 Virginia-07

 David Brat

 Mariana Island

 Gregorio Sablan

 Virginia-03

 Bobby Scott

 Massachusetts-05

 Katherine Clark

 Wisconsin-06

 Glenn Grothman

 Michigan-08

 Michael Bishop

 Wisconsin-02

 Mark Pocan

Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry, led by chairman Pat Roberts and ranking member Debbie Stabenow.

 State

 Member

 State

 Member

 Arkansas

 John Boozman

 Mississippi

 Thad Cochran

 Colorado

 Michael Bennet

 Nebraska

 Ben Sasse

 Georgia

 David Perdue

 New York

 Kristen Gillibrand

 Indiana

 Joe Donnelly

 North Carolina

 Thom Tillis

 Iowa

 Joni Ernst

 North Dakota

 Heidi Heitkamp

 Iowa

 Chuck Grassley

 North Dakota

 John Hoeven

 Kansas

 Pat Roberts

 South Dakota

 John Thune

 Kentucky

 Mitch McConnell

 Ohio

 Sherrod Brown

 Michigan

 Debbie Stabenow

 Pennsylvania

 Bob Casey

 Minnesota

 Amy Klobuchar

 Vermont

 Patrick Leahy

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

Refugees in Jordan Face Increasing Hardship

Getting_UK-funded_food_vouchers_to_Syrian_refugees_in_Jordan_(9634944185) (1)
Syrian refugees receiving U.K.-funded food vouchers in Amman, Jordan through the U.N. World Food Program. Russell Watkins/U.K. Department for International Development via Wikimedia Commons.

By Jacob Chew

Jordan is currently host to 620,000 of the 3.8 million Syrians who have sought refuge from the ongoing conflict in the country. This is the largest ever refugee population received by Jordan, a developing country with limited economic resources and a high unemployment rate.

In January, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) issued a report highlighting the growing challenges faced by the more than 520,000 Syrian refugees residing outside UNHCR camps in Jordan.  “Living in the Shadows: Jordan Home Visits Report 2014” found that these refugees will face increasing difficulty in sustaining themselves as the four-year civil war in Syria continues unabated into 2015.

The UNHCR report highlighted the following:

Two-thirds of Syrian refugees live below the Jordanian poverty line of U.S. $96 per month. Female-headed households face higher levels of poverty than male-headed households.

•Many Syrian families spend an average of 1.6 times their income in order to meet their needs. In order to do so, they have had to rely on their savings, sell their jewelry, borrow money from family and friends, and even pull their children out of schools in order to sustain themselves. Such strategies are unsustainable in the long term.

One in ten refugee families live in informal housing such as tents, caravans, basements, and rooftops. Almost half (47 percent) of refugee households are in living conditions regarded as bad or urgent, while 40 percent live with poor sanitary conditions.

•The Jordan government has issued most refugees with a service card that provides them with free access to public services and education. However, the influx of refugees has stretched existing public infrastructure to the seams. Overcrowded schools coupled with financial constraints resulted in only 53 percent of Syrian refugee children enrolled in school in 2014.

•Currently, UNHCR provides cash assistance to 14 percent of Syrian refugees living outside the camps. This has reduced the number of beneficiaries below the program’s poverty threshold by 20 percent. However, lack of international funding has prevented it from scaling up this program.

With no resolution to the Syrian conflict in sight and a lack of financial support for UNHCR’s work, we can expect levels of hunger and poverty among refugees to increase in the immediate future.

In the long term, competition for resources could increase tension between refugees and host communities. Continuing uncertainty and high school dropout rates could lead to the emergence of a lost generation of Syrians living in despair, which could affect peace and stability in the region.

Bread for the World members are urged to contact their members of Congress and ask them to increase funding for poverty-focused development accounts, including those that fund programs to alleviate poverty and hunger among Syrian refugees in Jordan and refugees elsewhere, and also urge Congress to pass important reforms to the food-aid system. With common sense reforms to make food-aid programs more flexible, efficient and effective, these programs could reach millions more people in Jordan and around the world.

Jacob Chew is an intern in the government relations department at Bread for the World.

Using Videos to Introduce Your Church, Campus, or Community to the 2015 Offering of Letters

OL2015-Blog

By Jon Gromek

We live in a country where nearly 16 million children (1 in 5) live in homes that struggle to put food on the table.  This year, Congress will debate the funding and policies for the programs that feed our children and nourish the minds and bodies of our brightest future. We will hear a great deal of facts and figures, statistics, and the minutiae of policies and programs. As important as these things are to the debate, one of the most important aspects in this national discussion is YOUR VOICE.

The decisions made this year will affect the health and well-being of mothers and children for years to come.  Last week, Bread for the World officially launched its 2015 Offering of Letters: Feed Our Children, which means it’s time for Bread members across the country to start writing letters to their members of Congress!  The Offering of Letters kit is a great resource for people everywhere to engage in advocacy and raise their Christian voice. Some of the most effective tools are the videos produced for the 2015 Offering of Letters campaign.

Be sure to watch the “Lunch ‘n’ Learn: The Importance of Child Nutrition Programs,” video and also the 60-second trailer.  Share them with a friend, or show them in preparation for a congregation-wide Offering of Letters.  Use the videos as a tool to engage and educate people in your congregation or community. Share them with friends and your congregation on Facebook. Post them on blogs. Show them during a Sunday school class, and invite reflection and discussion afterward. The videos not only put the issue of hunger in context, but also help put a face to what we are fighting for and the children who struggle with hunger every day.  

Through these short videos you can meet Barbie Izquierdo and her children, Aidan and Leylanie, a Philadelphia family that has benefited from child nutrition programs; hear from staff at elementary and high schools in Pennsylvania and Maryland who speak first-hand about the importance of investing in our children’s growth, development, and education. Use the stories as inspiration to go out into your own community to meet and talk with students and educators who live these programs. They are representative of families and community members in every corner of our country, and they are the reason to write, call, email, and visit your congressional leaders and tell them to “feed our children.”

Jon Gromek is a regional organizer at Bread for the World.

Hunger in the News: Child Hunger, Sundance, Latin America, and UN World Food Program

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

True Or False? Free And Reduced-Price Lunch = Poor,” by Will Huntsberry, NPR. “In the education world, you see this phrase all the time: "free and reduced-price lunch." What's the percentage at a given school? In a given district or state?”

We Must End Hunger in America, Starting With Child Hunger,” by Joel Berg, Moyers & Company. “Even though the United States is the wealthiest and most agriculturally abundant country in world history, food insecurity now ravages 49 million Americans — including nearly 16 million American children. This often-overlooked mass epidemic harms health, hampers education, traps families in poverty, fuels obesity and eviscerates hope, while sapping the US economy of $167.5 billion annually, according to the Center for American Progress.”

Sundance aims to provoke global discussion about poverty, hunger,” by Anne Wilson, The Salt Lake Tribune. “A group of teens in North Philadelphia, armed only with cellphones and iPads, have learned how to make their world at once bigger and smaller by sharing the lives of children their age in Nigeria, Kazakhstan and France.”

Hunger in Iraq: An interview with Chloe Cornish of the UN World Food Program,” by William Lambers. "The UN World Food Programme (WFP) is the lead agency providing food aid to starving Iraqis. Chloe Cornish, a WFP officer, recently visited Erbil City in Northern Iraq, where many civilians have fled for their lives. In the following interview, Cornish talks about the hunger emergency in Iraq and how WFP is helping these war victims."

Venezuela’s woes bring Latin America poverty reduction to a halt,” by Tom Murphy, Humanosphere. “After years of substantial improvements in Latin America’s poverty rates, a new report shows that since 2012 rates have stalled and that the number of people living in extreme poverty has increased.”

$77 billion a year to cut child poverty in half? A bargain, report says,” by Stacy Teicher Khadaroo, The Christian Science Monitor. “When the Children’s Defense Fund went about putting together its latest report on child poverty in America, it did something new: It put a price tag on its proposals. To reduce child poverty by 60 percent in just a few years would cost $77 billion a year, it found."

 

EITC Awareness Day: The Value of Hard Work

6521600217_39fdfe9bf8_oBy Robin Stephenson

Imagine you work full time at a minimum-wage job. Now imagine you are married and have two kids. To supplement your meager income, your partner finds part-time employment - also at the minimum wage.  Your combined income for the year is roughly $22,000. You are officially considered poor.

For over 45 million Americans, this is not an exercise in imagination. It is their reality.

For these hard-working families, there are two provisions in the tax code that provide a lifeline: the earned-income tax credit (EITC) and the child tax credit (CTC).

Heather Rude-Turner shared her story with Bread members in 2010.  She was struggling to put enough food on the table for her two young children. By 2012, we saw how her hard work and the EITC had helped improve conditions for her family.

“Having that extra income, the EITC, gave me that extra cushion to take care of our basic needs and then save some money,” Rude-Turner said. 

Her life began to change the first year she claimed the nearly $3,000 in refundable tax credits she qualified for. She was able to cover her rent and buy the computer that helped her gain a college degree in child psychology.

For years, Bread for the World has advocated that tax credits for working families be made permanent. Simply put, they help end hunger. The EITC alone moves more children out of poverty than any other government program. For communities still recovering from the recession, the credits continue to be a critical economic boost.

In 2009, Congress improved the tax credits that gave hard-working mothers like Rude-Turner the opportunity to move her family out of poverty. Those improvements are set to expire in 2017, unless Congress takes action. The loss of the improvements would be devastating for the 16 million working families struggling to make ends meets, including 8 million kids, who would be pushed into or deeper into poverty.

In the State of the Union address and the Republican response, President Obama and Sen. Joni Ernst (R-Iowa), respectively, both spoke about reforming our tax code. Making the 2009 improvements permanent should be a top priority for Congress. Today, EITC Awareness Day, provides the perfect opportunity to remind our members of Congress that millions of hard-working families depend on the EITC and the CTC.

Call (800/826-3688) or email your representative and both of your senators today. Urge them to make the 2009 EITC and CTC improvements permanent.

It seems like such an obvious truth: If you work a full-time job, you should make enough to feed your family. The reality is that, unless we support tax credits for working families, saying we value hard work also becomes just an exercise of our collective imagination.

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

 

World Prayers for Feb. 1-7: Ireland and the United Kingdom: England, Northern Ireland, Scotland, and Wales

Belfast Cathedral 3This 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 February 1-7: Ireland and the United Kingdom: England, Northern Ireland, Scotland, and Wales

Lord we thank you for your great depth of mystery and beauty, which you have shared glimmers of through the beautiful diversity of our nations and ethnicities. 

We call to mind specifically Ireland and the United Kingdom: England, Northern Ireland, Wales and Scotland. 

We pray for healing and forgiveness in the times that we have failed to see your beauty embedded in our racial and national diversity. And rather, have used it for abuses and power.  We pray specifically for the wounds that still exist across these countries and in the hearts of those who identify with disenfranchised groups within these countries. We pray for your great and never ending love to bring healing and reconciliation to all the hearts throughout these lands. 

We pray for the leaders of these nations, that their hearts would be humbled, so that you may use them as agents of love.  Love that would welcome strangers, repair wounds with neighbors, feed and clothe the hungry and poor throughout their lands.  We pray for a transformation only available within the power of your love.  We pray for you to become visibly present in the actions and words of these countries’ leaders and all the peoples throughout Ireland and the United Kingdom: England, Northern Ireland, Scotland, and Wales. Amen.

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

Ireland: 5.5
United Kingdom: 14
England: Not available
Northern Ireland: Not available
Scotland: Not available
Wales: Not available

Source: The CIA World Factbook and the World Bank World Development Indicators as found in the new 2015 Hunger Report.

Photo: An inside view of The Cathedral Church of St. Anne in Belfast, Northern Ireland. Stephen H. Padre/Bread for the World.

This Weekend, It's All About Football (But Not the Kind You Think)

  

By Fito Moreno

While the rest of the country is asking, “Seahawks or Patriots?” as we approach the Super Bowl this Sunday, I’m thinking about a different kind of football—the kind the rest of the world plays (soccer). We’re approaching the end of the Africa Cup of Nations, and I’m hoping for an Algeria vs. Ghana game during the quarter finals this weekend.

But I’ll also be thinking about the issue of hunger. Aside from Algeria being one the strongest squads in the tournament, Ghana’s two late-game winning goals against Bafana Bafana, and the drawing of lots that will place either Mali or Guinea into the quarterfinals, one thing has really stood out in this tournament: its focus on ending hunger in Africa.

Last week, I saw this video by the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO). The campaign, “African Football Against Hunger," a collaboration between the FAO and the Africa Cup, draws attention to the commitment by African leaders to end hunger in Africa by 2025. The campaign’s potential for exposure is huge considering the total audience per match is approximately 650 million people (take that, Super Bowl!). Last year’s Super Bowl was watched by 111 million people in the United States.

This is one of the few times when I actually enjoy the collision of my two worlds--my love of sports and my desire to see an end to hunger. A key highlight of this campaign is the importance of investing in agricultural development and the impact it is going to have on employment, strengthening rural livelihoods, and meeting the food challenges of a growing population. This is crucial since regional markets in many parts of Africa are still dominated by foreign food imports and will be critical to the 223 million people in sub-Saharan Africa who are undernourished.

Part of how the United States helps African nations invest in agricultural development is by purchasing food locally when providing food aid. This was part of Bread’s Offering of Letters campaign last year to make U.S. food aid more flexible. This encourages the growth of local communities and helps prevent local economies from floundering.

The campaign also stresses the importance of social safety nets and the rights to access resources in order to support small-scale farmers. These farmers work more than 60 percent of the agricultural land and are composed in large part of women.

Sports and advocacy go hand in hand. As Jose Graziando da Silva, FAO director-general, said, “Eradicating hunger requires teamwork and perseverance--the same qualities that players in the Nations cup show us on the field.” As I watch the quarterfinals this weekend, both my inner sports fan and inner advocate will be rooting the teams on.       

P.S. My money is on the Seahawks!

Fito Moreno is acting manager of media relations and a media relations specialist at Bread for the World.

  

Introducing Bread's 2015 Offering of Letters: Feed Our Children

_E0A9711
Barbie Izquierdo
and her children, Leylanie and Aidan. Joseph Molieri/Bread for the World.

By Barbie Izquierdo

In many ways, I’m just like you. It bothers me that some people look down on people living in poverty, as if we’re different. We’re smart, we have wants, and we have needs.

And as a parent, I want the best for my children—Aidan, who’s 7, and Leylanie, who’s 9—just as you want the best for your children or grandchildren or children in your community. But sometimes circumstances don’t enable us to provide the best for them. For me, it was losing my job several years ago during the recession and not having the income to buy all of the food my children needed.

Many of you may remember me from Bread for the World’s Offering of Letters in 2013. My children and I appeared in the documentary A Place at the Table that was part of Bread’s campaign that year.

I’m happy to tell my story again for Bread for the World in this year’s Offering of Letters: Feed Our Children and speak about why child nutrition programs are important to my children and me – and the 16 million kids in our nation who struggle to get enough to eat.

This year, Bread is focusing on the meals and nutrition that children need. My own children receive free breakfasts and lunches at the school they attend in the Philadelphia Public Schools system. I know they and millions of other children need to eat well every day so their minds are ready to learn. Getting enough food every day also fuels their growing bodies and helps keep them healthy.

When my children grow up, I don’t want them to know poverty like I’ve known it as a SNAP and WIC recipient. When more than one in five children in this country live in a family that struggles to put food on the table, many children already know the harsh reality of poverty.

I hope you’ll join me and Bread in speaking up for the federal government’s child nutrition programs, which provide meals for children in schools and outside of schools in various ways. The law that governs these programs is up for reauthorization this year, and Bread wants Congress to continue to make strong investments in children through these nutrition programs.

Now is the time to plan an Offering of Letters in your church, campus, or faith community.

The success of this campaign depends on your faithful advocacy. Let’s make sure that our country’s children get the meals they need to learn, grow strong, and be healthy.

Learn more about the 2015 Offering of Letters: Feed Our Children. Order an Offering of Letters kit, or visit the OL website where you can find downloadable resources in English and Spanish. For more information about how you can host an Offering of Letters, contact your regional organizer today. 

Barbie Izquierdo is an anti-hunger advocate, mother, and college student. Barbie and her family were featured in the 2013 documentary A Place at the Table.

Ending Poverty Could Nearly End Hunger, New Report Says

Marian
Marian Wright Edelman, president of the Children's Defense Fund, speaks about her organization's demand to end child poverty in the United States. Photo courtesy of the Children's Defense Fund. 

By Jennifer Gonzalez

Americans who experience hunger are not doing so because of a shortage of food in the United States. A visit to any supermarket or farmer’s market would confirm that. Rather, they are hungry because they live in a cycle of poverty that prevents them from earning enough money to provide adequately for their families.

Roughly 45 million Americans live at or below the poverty line. Twenty-one million of those are children who are living either in poverty or extreme poverty. These children are more likely to experience hunger.

On Wednesday, the Children’s Defense Fund released a report demanding an end to child poverty with an immediate 60 percent reduction. Ending Child Poverty Now calls for investing an additional 2 percent of the federal budget to expand existing programs and policies that would lead to increase employment, make work pay, and ensure children’s basic needs are met. As a result, 97 percent of children living in poverty would benefit, and 60 percent of them could escape poverty immediately.

Seventy-two percent of black children living in poverty, who have the highest poverty rates in the United States, would no longer be poor.

“America’s poor children did not ask to be born; did not choose their parent, country, state, neighborhood, race, color, or faith,” said Marian Wright Edelman, president of the Children’s Defense Fund, during a press briefing at its national headquarters in Washington, D.C.

“It’s way past time for a critical mass of Americans to confront the hypocrisy of America’s pretension to be a fair playing field while almost 15 million children languish in poverty,” she added.

The report outlined several policy improvements to reduce child poverty by 60 percent. Among them:

  • Increase the earned income tax credit for lower-income families with children.
  • Increase the minimum wage from $7.25 to $10.10.
  • Make child care subsidies available to all eligible families below 150 percent of poverty.
  • Make the child and dependent care tax credit refundable with a higher reimbursement rate.
  • Base SNAP (formerly food stamps) benefits on USDA’s Low-Cost Food Plan for families with children.
  • Make the child tax credit fully refundable.

Many of the policy changes that the Children’s Defense Fund advocates for in its report are similar to those Bread supports already. At Bread, we know all too well the impact poverty has on hunger. That’s why we work hard to ensure that the nation’s safety net is protected from budget cuts.

The earned income tax credit along with the child tax credit are among our country’s most effective anti-poverty tools. Bread is calling on Congress to ensure that these two measures stay intact. Both expire in 2017. Making the 2009 improvements to these credits permanent would prevent 16 million people—including 8 million children—from falling into or deeper into poverty.

And this year, the Offering of Letters focuses on the importance of nutrition among children. In 2013, 15.8 million children—more than one-fifth of all children in the United States—lived at risk of hunger. Bread plans to work diligently this year to ensure that Congress reauthorizes the child nutrition bill, which is set to expire this fall.

The link between poverty and hunger is well established. Let’s not continue to look the other way as millions of children in the United States continue to live in poverty and suffer from hunger.

In 2015, Bread invites you to learn about hunger and to join us in our effort to end hunger by 2030.

Jennifer Gonzalez is the associate online editor at Bread for the World.

 

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