Urging our nation's leaders to end hunger
 

Urgent: Tell Your Representative to Vote NO on House Budget


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Update: The House proposed budget resolution passed: 228 yeas to 199 nays.  

By Eric Mitchell

The House of Representatives is about to vote on its fiscal year 2016 budget. The priorities the House budget lays out will not help end hunger. Please call (800-826-3688) or email your representative and say this budget is unacceptable.

The House is proposing severe cuts. They could lead to devastating increases in hunger and poverty in the U.S. and abroad. If we don’t challenge our representatives, here’s what their budget would do:

  • Take 69 percent of its $5.5 trillion in budget cuts from programs assisting low-income individuals – placing the burden on people who are already suffering;
  • Slash SNAP (food stamps) by at least 34 percent, the equivalent of up to 220 meals taken from each participant every year;
  • Cut lifesaving international programs by 16 percent. Funding for our international budget has already been cut by 22 percent. We can’t afford any further cuts.
  • By 2025, the budget would cut non-defense spending 33 percent below what it was in 2010. This puts programs like WIC, food aid, and poverty focused development assistance in serious danger; and
  • Let the 2009 improvements to the earned income and child tax credits expire, pushing 16 million people into – or even deeper into – poverty.

The House is voting TODAY. Your representative needs to hear that there are constituents in the district who find these cuts unacceptable. We should not be placing a greater burden on people who can least afford it.

Call (800-826-3688) or email your representative today! Urge a NO vote on the budget. The cuts to anti-hunger programs are horrific, too deep, and unacceptable.

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

David Beckmann Testifies on Capitol Hill Today

4682502331_7d649d4502_bBy Bread Staff

Rev. David Beckmann, president of Bread for the World, testified today before the House Subcommittee on State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs, urging its members to fully fund poverty-focused development assistance in the fiscal year 2016 budget.

“Extreme poverty around the world has been cut in half. 100 million people have escaped from hunger in just the past decade alone. Annual deaths from preventable diseases have fallen remarkably. Fewer children are dying of pneumonia, diarrhea, and AIDS,” said Beckmann in his prepared remarks. “U.S. poverty-focused development assistance helps build secure, healthy, and productive nations.”

Bread for the World believes that we can end hunger by 2030 with the right investments.

Both the House of Representatives and Senate are planning to finalize their budgets for FY 2016 this week. The House proposes cutting international poverty focused development assistance by 16 percent overall. The Senate proposal is better, but still results in a one percent decrease. Bread considers this assistance a major part of the federal government’s overall work in fighting hunger.

Beckmann asked that the subcommittee encourages the Obama administration to ensure the programs’ effectiveness through its nutrition strategy. Malnutrition limits cognitive abilities, stunts growth, and increases susceptibility to diseases, especially among children.

It is urgent to contact Congress in order to stop the cuts. Call your senators and representative at 800-826-3688 during the next 24 hours. Urge them to oppose cuts to programs that are working to end hunger and poverty in the U.S. and around the world.

Find more resources to understand the budget process here.

Scriptural Manna: 'Let Mercy Be Your First Concern'

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Editor's note: Bread Blog is running a year-long series exploring passages from The Poverty & Justice Bible published by the American Bible Society (Contemporary English Version). The intent is a theological exploration at the intersection of social justice and religion. The blog posts will be written by members of the church relations staff at Bread for the World.

"The Lord has told us what is right and what God demands: See that justice is done, let mercy be your first concern, and humbly obey your God." (Micah 6:8)

By Diane Ford Dessables

Last month, while attending Bread for the World’s race summit in Orlando Fla., a middle-aged white pastor and I were in conversation with each other. I am a middle-aged African-American woman. We sought to understand each other and be evermore serious about bringing Good News to a nation that is still coming to grips with its “original” sin – racism. We agreed that we needed to get serious about taking up the Cross.  If we are to make a commitment to follow Jesus anew, we need to do it with our eyes wide open.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, “The U.S. is projected to become a majority-minority nation for the first time in 2043,” with minorities projected to be 57 percent of the population in 2060. In response, fear and restrictive laws are creeping back into our culture and our politics — often without explicit racial bias. However, structural inequities are becoming more rigid, and systemic biases harder to eradicate. As a result, new coalitions are forming and old ones are partnering with new allies. Together, they are ministering with and on behalf of underserved societies. That is the reason the pastor and I were Spirit-led to be in each other’s company.

That day, at the summit, I was curious to know how this pastor could begin to come to terms with the discomfort that loss of power, control, and privilege often produces. In response, he said, “I fear not knowing what I will become once I no longer have easy access to them.”

As I reflected on his words, I became keenly aware of two things: I am not responsible for addressing his fear; only he can do that through God’s love and grace. It is, however, my responsibility never to succumb to any temptation to use power, control or privilege as weapons to personally or systemically oppress another human being.

I responded, “I fear becoming what I abhor. I pray to God I’m spared from subjecting that on anyone else.”

Today, we are called to nurture a more complete relationship with God and a closer walk with Jesus; to commit to supporting and loving one another into a new way of being; to encourage each other’s prophetic voices and reach out together to heal the divides by which our communities are coming undone. 

The church today must not only reflect on how Jesus’ church can move beyond charity to justice, but we must also move beyond issues of socio-political justice, and contemplate the reason for and substance of our spiritual life. Today we must prepare together for the consequences of transcending our national spiritual status quo. It is out of this kind of movement that we will start to understand what Jesus meant when he said, “Anyone who has faith in me will do what I have been doing. He will do even greater things than these…”

We can’t end hunger and poverty without being in deepened relationship with each other. We must allow God’s promise to love us and help guide us anew to justice, and mercy in our world.

Diane Ford Dessables is senior associate for denominational relations at Bread for the World.

 

Women Can Help 'Feed the Future' and Much More

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Martha Akol is a former refugee who returned to her home several years ago in South Sudan. She is one of Africa's millions of women farmers who works hard to feed her family. Stephen Hovick Padre/Bread for the World

By Beth Ann Saracco

Earlier this month, the world celebrated International Women’s Day, a day to acknowledge women's economic, political, and social achievements. Around the world, improvements in the lives of women and their families have resulted in fewer maternal deaths, more educational opportunities, and increased political participation. What does this teach us? When women are healthy, empowered, and able to pursue educational and employment opportunities, everybody benefits.  

This is the primary message of the 2015 Hunger Report: When Women Flourish… We Can End Hunger. In order to end extreme hunger and poverty by 2030, we need to achieve greater gender equality and eliminate discrimination against women and girls. Unfortunately, in the U.S. and around the world, harmful cultural practices, national laws, and societal norms often leave women marginalized and unable to make decisions, especially ones that impact their own lives and those of their family and community.

The Hunger Report recommends that, in order to improve women’s empowerment and end extreme hunger and poverty worldwide, women should have more economic bargaining power.

If women had more control of their income and assets, their bargaining power in both the household and the market economy would increase, as well as their ability to feed and provide for themselves and their children. According to U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization estimates, if women in Africa and elsewhere had the same access to agricultural resources as men, they could grow 20 to 30 percent more food. This could move roughly 150 million people of out hunger and poverty!

To achieve this, the U.S. government must increase its investments in agricultural-development programs like Feed the Future. And it should place a stronger emphasis on programming that supports women smallholder farmers when it implements projects.

Since its creation in 2010, Feed the Future has achieved impressive results in its 19 focus countries, helping more than seven million small farmers grow more food and providing nutritious food to more than 12.5 million children in 2013 alone.  

Feed the Future is helping to create countries that are more food-secure and eating more nutritious food. But this program could do more.

In order to ensure greater participation of women in Feed the Future programs and continue the initial progress, this initiative must be made a permanent program that continues beyond the Obama administration. While the program has been funded by Congress in annual appropriations legislation, without official statutory authorization, Feed the Future may not have a future of its own. H.R. 1567, the Global Food Security Act, was introduced yesterday in the House of Representatives. This bipartisan bill would permanently codify and authorize a comprehensive approach to global food security, and it would build upon the successes the U.S. government has already achieved through Feed the Future.

What can you do?

Contact your representative, and urge him/her to cosponsor H.R.1567, the Global Food Security Act. Now is the time for policymakers to authorize a program that has a proven ability to address the complex problem of hunger, food insecurity, and malnutrition.

Beth Ann Saracco is the International Policy Analyst in Bread's government relations department.

Lent Devotions: Luke 23:33

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Editor’s note: This Lenten season, Bread Blog is running a series of devotionals from the Little Black Book, which was first created by Bishop Ken Untener of the Catholic Diocese of Saginaw, Mich. The devotionals are in the prayer tradition of Lectio Divina to help people pray the Passion of Our Lord.

When they came to the place called the Skull, they crucified Jesus and the criminals there, one on his right, the other on his left. (Luke 23:33)

Jesus finally meets his fate – crucifixion. Josephus, a first-century historian, called it “the most pitiable of deaths.”

It is told in three words – “they crucified him.” Jesus shares the spotlight with two criminals. They get more ink than he does.

The sentence of Pilate has been carried out: “They crucified him.” It’s all over but the dying.

The physical torture Jesus experienced in the crucifixion would have been the worst of his entire life. None of the four Gospels describes his pain. Words can only do so much. “They crucified him” is enough.

The cross. It will become the mark of a Christian . . . the logo of Christianity . . . the symbol that leads every procession . . . the sign I make upon myself . . . the sign parents trace on the face of a sleeping child . . . the very first ritual action at Baptism . . . the first spoken words at every Mass . . . the last words spoken at the grave.

Let there be no Christian home without a cross.

Let not a day pass that I do not look at the cross.

I’m nine days away from Good Friday. Now, or sometime today, find a cross. Look at it. Touch it.

               

Rep. Jim McGovern Uses Paper Plates to Tell SNAP Stories

By Robin Stephenson

During a floor debate on the fiscal year 2016 House budget proposal today, Rep. Jim McGovern (D-Mass.) used paper plates to illustrate the human stories behind hunger statistics. The budget resolution, if enacted, would cut SNAP (formerly food stamps) by at least 34 percent, the equivalent of up to 220 missed meals annually for each SNAP participant.

SNAP served more than 46 million Americans in 2014.  You can find data about your community and its SNAP households in a state-by-state interactive map created by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA).

“The numbers don’t lie,” McGovern said. “But the stories are far more powerful.”

McGovern, a Bread for the World board member, recently asked SNAP participants to send their messages to Congress on paper plates. The following are samples of messages McGovern read out loud on the House floor earlier today:

“SNAP means that as a single mother I was able to finish college, feed my family, and find a career where I am able to advocate for a program that really works."

“SNAP means dignity.”

“SNAP matters to me because no senior should have to choose between buying food or paying for their medication.”

“When I was a child my father left, and the only reason we could afford food was because of food stamps.  I never get a chance to say thank you.  So, thank you.”

The House will continue to debate the budget resolution with a final vote expected later this week. The Senate is also considering a budget resolution that could lead to devastating increases in hunger and poverty in the United States and abroad. 

It is urgent to contact Congress in order to stop the cuts. Call your senators and representative at 800-826-3688 during the next 24 hours. Urge them to oppose cuts to programs that are working to end hunger and poverty in the U.S. and around the world.

Find more resources to understand the budget process here.

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

 

 

Join National Call-in Day on the Budget

6a00e551df2162883401bb080d8688970d-320wiBy Eric Mitchell

Today, the Senate and the House of Representatives start debating their 2016 budget resolutions. As we told you yesterday, votes on these budgets will determine anti-hunger policy for the rest of this year and beyond.

If passed, the proposed budget cuts could lead to devastating increases in hunger and poverty in the United States and abroad. For example:

  • The House budget proposal drastically cuts SNAP (formerly food stamps) by at least 34 percent, the equivalent of up to 220 missed meals annually for each SNAP participant.
  • Lifesaving international programs would be cut by 16 percent in the House budget. Funding for the international budget has already been cut by 22 percent. We can’t afford any further cuts.
  • 69 percent of the budget cuts in both the House and Senate come directly from programs benefiting low-income people – placing the burden on those who are already suffering.
  • Both budgets keep the automatics budget cuts of 2011 (called sequestration) in place – and cut even further. This puts programs like WIC, food aid, and poverty-focused development assistance in grave danger.  

Raise your voice with thousands of faithful advocates. Call your senators and representative at 800-826-3688 in the next 24 hours. Urge them to oppose cuts to programs that are working to end hunger and poverty in the U.S. and around the world

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

Lent Devotions: Luke 23:27-32

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Editor’s note: This Lenten season, Bread Blog is running a series of devotionals from the Little Black Book, which was first created by Bishop Ken Untener of the Catholic Diocese of Saginaw, Mich. The devotionals are in the prayer tradition of Lectio Divina to help people pray the Passion of Our Lord.

A large crowd of people followed Jesus, including many women who mourned and lamented him. Jesus turned to them and said, “Daughters of Jerusalem, do not weep for me; weep instead for yourselves and for your children for indeed, the days are coming when people will say, ‘Blessed are the barren, the wombs that never bore and the breasts that never nursed.’ At that time people will say to the mountains, ‘Fall on us!’ and to the hills, ‘Cover us!’ for if these things are done when the wood is green what will happen when it is dry?” Now two others, both criminals, were led away with him to be executed. (Luke 23:27-32)

Unlike the crowd in the previous scenes, there is no suggestion here of hostility. Among them are some women – public mourners who wailed in lamentation over criminals on their way to execution.

Jesus turns their grief away from him and laments the death of their beloved city and its inhabitants in years to come – the terrible Roman siege of Jerusalem (66-70 A.D.).

Luke also notes that two criminals were part of the procession, an echo of what Jesus said at the Last Supper: “For I tell you that this scripture must be fulfilled in me, namely, ‘He was counted among the wicked.’”

This whole scene is a sad one. Women lamenting. A death march of criminals – “dead men walking.”

There is a time for sad thoughts and sad songs. No easy answers. Hardly any words.

Just the Lord and I together for a while.

Our Final Four

9303717422_458bed2397_bBy Eric Mitchell

The rest of the country might be talking March Madness, but Congress is about to take some important votes that will determine anti-hunger policy for the rest of this year and beyond.

We need your voice these next five days. And not just once. We're going to need you repeatedly. You will be hearing a lot from us because this is our final four to ensure funding for our country’s anti-hunger programs.

Last week, the House and Senate introduced their fiscal year 2016 budget resolutions. Both include drastic cuts to programs that help people in poverty put food on the table and provide for their families. The House cuts SNAP (formerly known as food stamps) by $140 billion over the next decade. This is the equivalent of 220 missed meals annually for each SNAP participant. The Senate’s proposal is less specific, but nearly 70 percent of its $4.7 trillion cuts would be to low-income families and people struggling in poverty.

This week, the House and Senate will vote on these proposed budgets. They will also vote on a host of amendments — some that could be very bad, such as eliminating funding for foreign assistance. Can you commit to taking one action each day this week?

Monday (March 23), Call or email your members of Congress and tell them to protect funding for anti-hunger and anti-poverty programs. Protect SNAP and Medicaid and end sequestration so annually funded programs don't see such drastic cuts — programs like WIC, foreign assistance, and Head Start.

Tuesday (March 24), is a national call-in day. People all over the country will be coming together to call and email their members of Congress, urging them to protect programs like SNAP, Medicaid, foreign assistance, and other anti-hunger programs. Bread for the World is teaming up with other anti-hunger organizations to produce the loudest chorus of voices that we can.

Wednesday (March 25), the Senate may begin voting on the budget. There could be hundreds of amendments. We will know what they are by Wednesday. We may contact you if you live in a state with a senator who is especially critical for a vote. We'll also be posting information throughout the day on our Facebook page, Twitter, and blog.

On Thursday (March 26), we expect the House to vote on its budget. We'll be calling on you to urge your representative to vote no. Be prepared to get an email from Bread for the World with talking points and call-in and email information. The vote could be close, and we'll need you to weigh in.

By Friday (March 27), the Senate should wrap up its votes on the budget. The Senate will vote on hundreds of amendments late into the night.

Are you ready? We are. Get pumped because we need you this week! It's tip-off, and you can start right now. Call (800/826-3688) or email your senators and representative today and urge them to protect funding for anti-hunger programs by ending sequestration cuts and opposing cuts to SNAP and Medicaid.

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

Women's History Month: Helping the Poor Among Us

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By Bread Staff

In honor of Women’s History Month and International Women’s Day, Bread Blog, Institute Notes, and Bread for the World’s social media platforms are celebrating the ingenuity, fortitude, and spirit of women during the month of March.

Today, Mother Teresa’s words ring truer than never before. Last week, the House and Senate released devastating budget proposals that could jeopardize the availability of healthy and nutritious meals for adults and children.

The budget proposals include cuts of $140 billion to SNAP (formerly called food stamps) and $400 billion to Medicaid. Under these cuts, SNAP participants would lose 220 meals a year or 10 weeks’ worth of food.

SNAP is the largest child nutrition program in the country. It provides meals for 21 million children. Medicaid provides coverage for 28 million low-income children. Hungry children cannot learn, and unhealthy children will not reach their full potential.

Mother Teresa was a champion for the poor. Let us all strive to live up to her standard –one in which every human being is afforded the same worth and dignity. 

Bread for the World this week plans to ensure that vital safety-net programs are protected by harmful cuts when the House and Senate vote on their budgets. Make sure to read Bread Blog and follow us on Twitter and Facebook to find out how you can help.

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