Urging our nation's leaders to end hunger

Celebrating 5th Birthdays and Beyond

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Bread for the World President David Beckmann, at approximately age 5. To see the complete #5thbday photo gallery, visit 5thbdayandbeyond.org. (Photo courtesy of David Beckmann)

By Beth Ann Saracco

If you are on Facebook, and follow Bread for the World President David Beckmann, you may have noticed he recently updated his profile picture to a photo of himself as a young boy. The change commemorates the 5th Birthday and Beyond celebration, which recognizes the significant progress that has been achieved in child survival over the past 25 years, and the many contributions the United States has made in reaching this milestone.

Thanks in large part to bipartisan support from members of Congress, current and past U.S. administrations, private-sector partners, nongovernmental organizations (including Bread for the World), and other multilateral organizations and donor nations, the number of deaths of children under five has dropped by half since 1990. In the past twelve years alone, 700,000 fewer children have died from pneumonia, 300,000 fewer children from malaria, and 100,000 fewer children from AIDS.

As we celebrate these significant gains, we also reflect on the role Bread for the World has played, throughout its own 40-year history, to significantly improve child survival. In the last 25 years alone, Bread for the World has helped craft and pass major legislation that has reduced child mortality, including a bill that established the international Child Survival Fund. Each year, this fund helps immunize more than 100 million children in the developing world; since its establishment, the number of children dying daily from malnutrition and preventable diseases has fallen by 50 percent.  

In 1999, Bread for the World led the creation of the Jubilee Campaign, which was part of a worldwide movement that successfully urged Congress to forgive the debts of some of the world’s poorest countries. As a result, relief has reduced the debts of 36 of the world’s poorest countries by 90 percent. Many of these countries have been able to reinvest and expand basic education and health services.

In the new millennium, Bread for the World and its partners successfully advocated for the establishment of the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC), which provided a new, innovative way of administering U.S. foreign aid. Through its unique approach focused on good governance, accountability, and poverty reduction, MCC has supported nearly 40 countries with more than $8.5 billion in aid, ranging from food-security programs and health initiatives to water and sanitation projects.

Most recently, thanks in part to analysis from Bread for the World Institute, we are pushing to improve the nutritional quality of U.S. food aid. In addition, through the Scaling Up Nutrition (SUN) Civil Society Network, which supports civil society alliances at the country level, we are learning about the opportunities and challenges of scaling up nutrition in some of the countries most affected by malnutrition. This is helping inform our advocacy and our push for greater investments in maternal and child nutrition programs.

Working with a number of U.S. civil society partners, our advocacy efforts helped encourage and shape the U.S. Agency for International Development’s new nutrition strategy, which will better integrate and coordinate nutrition and nutrition-related programs across U.S. development assistance programs. Since we know the many links that exist between child survival and the right nutrition and care during the 1,000 days between a woman’s pregnancy and her child’s second birthday, these efforts will translate into even more mothers and children living longer, healthier, more productive lives.

Proudly, Bread for the World joins with other partners in recognizing the 5th Birthday and Beyond celebration, and extends particular gratitude to Congress and the administration for their continued support of vital programs that promote child survival and wellbeing. Together, we are working to ensure that all children not only survive to their fifth birthdays, but thrive well beyond them.

Beth Ann Saracco is an international policy analyst at Bread for the World.

World Cup 2014: Fighting Hunger in Nigeria

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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

Wednesday, June 25: Nigeria v. Argentina

As the World Cup matches draw closer to the finals, the first matchup today, between Nigeria and Argentina, is a highly anticipated one. Between the prowess of goalkeeper Vincent Enyeama, a team veteran of Nigeria, and that of famed Argentine high-scorer Lionel Messi, the game promises to be very compelling.

Enyeama has been called Nigeria’s best goalkeeper ever. He recently told BBC Sport that being able to represent Nigeria at the World Cup is “a great honour and I deeply appreciate it. I must first give glory to God, my team-mates, family and our beautiful fans for their remarkable support.” Just as exciting as watching Nigeria’s soccer team succeed is watching the country make progress against extreme hunger and poverty.  

Nigeria is the eighth largest country in the world, measuring by population; but recent studies reveal that 61 percent of Nigerian households live in poverty. Since 2012, 7.5 percent of the $262.6 billion budget the country’s government officials can access has gone toward fulfilling the country’s MDG targets, as well as Nigeria’s poverty-reduction goals. Initiatives to end hunger and create “a better Africa” have begun in Nigeria, and they focus on agricultural development. By allowing more tangible access to credit and land, participation opportunities in decision making, as well as access to agricultural extension services, the Nigerian government is prompting its citizens to get more involved in work to create a more food stable environment.

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

Photo: Vincent Enyeama, kicking a penalty shot. (Wikimedia Commons)

World Cup 2014: Mario Balotelli's Charity Work

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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

Tuesday, June 24: Italy v. Uruguay

Balotelli_wears_the_2014_Italy_Home_Kit_02For fans observing the highs and lows of the World Cup, the matches rage on today with Italy v. Uruguay; Costa Rica v. England; and Cote D’Ivoire v. Greece. Fans are looking to trailblazers such as Mario “Super Mario” Balotelli (Italy) to set the tone of the games. What many fans do not realize is that the star player overcame great obstacles, including hunger and poverty, in order to become successful.  

The number of people living in poverty in Italy is at almost 5 million. Even though the country puts resources toward investing in poorer countries, the nation is still working to increase its agricultural innovations to create a more food-stable nation, and also implementing nutrition education programs to emphasize the importance of reducing poverty and hunger.

Mario Balotelli is of Ghanaian descent, but was raised in Italy, first by his birth parents, and then by Italian foster parents. Balotelli entered foster care at the age of 3, after his father became gravely ill and could no longer provide for the family. Now that he is an international soccer star, Balotelli is said to give roughly half of his yearly earnings to charity.  He helped contribute to a children’s school in Sudan, and is a supporter of Médecins Sans Frontières (Doctors Without Borders), as well as several programs in different countries that support children living in poverty. Balotelli’s story, like those of many other players, should encourage fans of the sport to learn more about what they can do to help end hunger and poverty.

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

Photo: Mario Balotelli wearing the 2014 Italy home kit. (Wikimedia Commons)

Hunger in the News: Fewer Americans Blame Poverty on the Poor; Child Migrant Crisis

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

"Poll: Fewer Americans Blame Poverty on the Poor," by Seth Freed Wessler, NBC News. "As millions of Americans continue to struggle in a sluggish economy, a growing portion of the country says that poverty is caused by circumstances beyond individual control, according to a new NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll."

"How the U.S. compares on income inequality and poverty," by Elizabeth Shell, PBS NewsHour. Based on new data on income inequality. PBS NewsHour takes a look to see how the United States compares against the group’s 33 other countries — and its upcoming World Cup matches.

"Foreign Aid Isn't Charity, It's an Investment," by Charles Kenny, Businessweek. "One of the few bright spots of bipartisanship on Capitol Hill of late has been in global development. The House recently passed a bill to support President Clinton’s Power Africa initiative, which is designed to boost access to electricity access across six countries in the region. Both houses also managed to reauthorize PEPFAR –the President’s Emergency Fund for AIDS Relief– which provides antiretrovirals to nearly seven million people worldwide. The U.S. still ranks near the bottom of the list among rich countries in terms of the generosity of its overseas development program, but these two pieces of legislation at least suggest that altruism and fellow feeling have not completely evaporated in Washington. Nonetheless, U.S. foreign assistance –and aid programs the world over—still face a real challenge." 

"Michelle Obama vows again to fight delays in enforcing school-lunch standards," by Lenny Bernstein, Washington Post. First lady Michelle Obama vowed again Wednesday to fight attempts to delay enforcement of school lunch nutrition standards, expressing surprise and regret at proposals in Congress that would allow some school districts to seek waivers from requirements that they offer more healthful fare.

"13 facts that help explain America's child-migrant crisis," by Dara Lind, Vox. "The flow of unaccompanied immigrant children across the US-Mexico border — mostly from Central America — is continuing to gain attention as a humanitarian crisis. So here are 13 things you need to know to get a handle on what is actually going on along the border right now; what process the US has in place to deal with unaccompanied kids; and what the government can do now." 

World Cup 2014: Cahill and Sanchez Give Back

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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

Monday, June 23: Australia v. Spain; Netherlands v. Chile

Alexis_SánchezThe outcomes of the World Cup games have been exciting and shocking, so far.  Today, as the Netherlands and Chile face off, followed by Australia and Spain, the world will be watching players Tim Cahill (Australia) and Alexis Sánchez (Chile). Both are making moves to help their countries end hunger and poverty.

Australia is home to more than 36 million people, but approximately 12.8 percent of its population lives in poverty. Australia’s government is working with local groups to integrate principles of sustainable development that it hopes will reduce, and eventually eliminate, poverty and hunger.

Chile is also making advances toward a hunger-free nation by working to end the poverty that 14 percent of its population experiences. The country is working to provide a minimum income for poorer families, in addition to expanding provisions for public health, housing, and education opportunities for impoverished citizens. Many supporters of these efforts believe that by improving the current state of public education, inequality between the sexes, and providing more adequate means of developing the public welfare, it is possible to eradicate hunger and poverty.

For Cahill and Sánchez, football is more than a game; it offers a way for them to give back to their communities and provide opportunities similar to those they received. Cahill has partnered with UNICEF to give professional-quality footballs to children in poor communities who do not have access to sporting gear. This generous feat was inspired by Cahill’s birthday wish to bring footballs to children around the world who could not afford them.

“I’ve been playing football for as long as I can remember. and it has been the catalyst for huge change in my life,” Cahill said in an interview. “[It] injects joy and laughter into even the most remote corners of the world, from schools to refugee camps.”

Sánchez has also said that the sport changed his life. He has said that if it weren't for football, he's still be washing cars and pushing carts—both things he did to earn money as a kid. Last year, Sánchez announced plans to give back to the community in which he grew up. While he participates in charity matches and gives Christmas gifts to children in his hometown of Tocopilla, he wanted to do more. He has met with government officials in Tocopilla to talk about how he can use his money and fame to support municipal projects to help children living in poverty.

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

Photo: Alexis Sánchez, in a 2006 match. (Wikimedia Commons)

Quote of the Day: Rick Steves

"Bread for the World lets Christians know that it's OK to get political in the fight to end hunger."

—Television host and travel expert Rick Steves, during Bread for the World's National Gathering. Steves met with Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.) to urge her to support food-aid reform and immigration reform during Bread for the World's 2014 Lobby Day.

If you haven't already, get political in the fight to end hunger! Start by signing our petition asking the Senate to reject a provision that would leave 2 million more people hungry every year, and email your representative and tell him or her to support compassionate, comprehensive immigration reform.

Photo: Rick Steves meeting with Sen. Patty Murray on Tuesday, June 10, 2014. (Joseph Molieri/Bread for the World)

World Cup 2014: 'When I get the chance to help other people, I will do it straight away.'

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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, June 20: Switzerland v. France; Honduras v. Ecuador

In Ecuador, major initiatives have been launched in an effort to address poverty in the country. According to recent data, 27.3 percent of Ecuadorians live below the poverty line. Support from players, such as Antonio Valencia, and external programs to end poverty have been reported in recent news.

ValenciaValencia sent a "thank you" card and a signed shirt to reward the efforts of students who raised funds for the most poverty-stricken communities in Ecuador. Valencia himself experienced poverty as a child and recalls several instances where he had to help his parents perform small jobs, such as collecting bottles, to help support his family. He told the students, “The fundraising events that you have done so far have raised an amazing amount of money, which I am very grateful for. There are many children living in poverty in Ecuador, and I know the funds will be vital for the community, and also very much appreciated.”

France has a relatively small (7.9) percentage of the population living in poverty. It has been able to stop the spread of poverty and hunger by encouraging its citizens to take advantage of the educational and food assistance available.

The poverty-reduction goals that France has enacted are focused on, among other things, strengthening the institutional environment around food security. Patrice Evra and Franck Ribery,  two French players who are avid supporters of organizations that work to end hunger, have been vocal about their dedication to this cause.

“Where I come from, people are very poor, and I would have been poor as well now, if it weren't for football," Ribery said. "I would probably be unemployed as well, like so many other people in the area.” Evra—a UNICEF Ambassador—says that, “as a father, I know how important it is to see my children eating food. When I think of other children who don’t have these things, I feel really sad. That’s why, when I get the chance to help other people, I will do it straight away.”

Photo: Antonio Valencia. (wikimedia)

Food Aid Update: Cargo Preference Provision Absent from Senate Bill

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During Bread for the World's 2014 Lobby Day, participant Pamm McGill of Las Vegas, Nev. and Bread for the World staffer Matt Newell-Ching meet with an aide for Senator Dean Heller (R-Nev.) about the importance of U.S. food aid. Washington, D.C., Tuesday, June 10, 2014 (Jim Stipe).

Truly I tell you, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you. (Matthew 17:20)

Faith has the power to move mountains – or topple giants, as the case may be. Faithful advocates have not let special interests nor politics deter them from pushing for reforms to U.S. food aid that can help feed millions more. Today, we can celebrate yet one more victory in the exodus to end hunger: Legislation that would increase transportation costs at the expense of food aid is currently absent in the Senate’s Coast Guard bill.

The Senate recently introduced its version of the Coast Guard Reauthorization Act (S. 2444). Thanks to your efforts, it does not take critical food-aid dollars away from hungry people to subsidize the world’s largest shipping companies. The bill now faces a vote by the Senate Commerce Committee. If it passes, it will still need to pass the full Senate and eventually be reconciled with the House version of the bill, which provides for increased subsidies to shipping companies using food-aid funds. 

The House version (H.R. 4005), which passed by a voice vote, included legislation that would increase, from 50 to 75 percent, the amount of food aid that must be shipped on U.S.-flagged vessels. As a result, the cost of shipping food aid would increase by at least $75 million, and 2 million fewer hungry people would be reached.

The work Bread for the World members have put into shining a light on the harmful provision quietly tucked into the House bill is a testament to the power of speaking with a unified moral voice. You called, emailed, and petitioned senators who were considering the harmful legislation, making it clear that they were choosing to increase hunger or profit. You wrote letters to the editor in your local papers. You went to Washington, D.C., and met with your members of Congress. And when we called on faith leaders to sign on to letters, you responded by the hundreds.

When we live out our faith and answer the call to end hunger together, everything is possible. Yes, it’s possible for just one person to slay the giant with just the right hit, but it’s easier for many of us to topple the giant together.

But the fight is far from over. Amendments to increase transportation costs could still be introduced when the full Senate deliberates on the Coast Guard bill. Continue to tell your senators not to use food aid to increase subsidies to the world’s largest shipping companies, leaving 2 million more people hungry every year. 

If you haven’t done so, please add your name to our petition and let Congress know you care about your hungry neighbor – whether they live next door or on the next continent.

World Cup 2014: Captivating Fans, Fighting Hunger

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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

Thursday, June 19: Uruguay v. England; Japan v. Greece

While the breathtaking feats of athleticism displayed by World Cup players are captivating fans worldwide, nothing is quite as amazing as the progress that the participating countries have made in moving us toward a hunger-free world.

According to recent data, 16 percent of Japan’s population lives below the poverty line. Japan’s poverty-reduction goals are focused around improving the promotion of educational, health, and employment opportunities to support the national welfare. While the country is working to reduce the number of impoverished citizens within its borders, Japan is also responsible for a large number of charitable efforts outside of the country. In 2005, Japan proclaimed the year to be the “Year of Africa” in an effort to raise awareness among the international community about African issues. In 2011, many of the players on Japan’s football team participated in a charity match to help raise money for earthquake relief off the Pacific coast of Tohoku. In a statement made by the team, the members said they all felt a responsibility to donate money to the victims of the crisis.

Similarly, in Uruguay, the estimated percentage of citizens living below the poverty line is about 18 percent of households. Government officials in Uruguay are seeking to support early education opportunities in order to strengthen the established schools in both rural and urban areas. By supporting these institutions, the government is also encouraging stronger public health and nutrition, which, in turn, support its poverty-reduction goals.

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

Photo:  Japan v. Brazil 2006 FIFA World Cup. (Wikimedia Commons)

Wheat Scientist Awarded World Food Prize

Dr. Rajaram and Dr. Borlaug work in wheat fields in Mexico. (Photo courtesy of CIMMYT)

Bread for the World is joining the anti-hunger movement in congratulating wheat breeder Dr. Sanjaya Rajaram as this year’s World Food Prize laureate.
Rajaram was named the 2014 laureate this morning at a ceremony at the State Department in Washington, D.C., where Secretary of State John Kerry gave keynote remarks.
The award is known as the “Nobel Prize for Food and Agriculture.” It’s given annually to a person who has worked to improve the quality, quantity, or availability of food in the world.
“When you do the math, when our planet needs to support two billion more people in the next three decades, it’s not hard to figure out: This is the time for a second green revolution,” Kerry said. “That’s why Dr. Sanjaya Rajaram is being honored with the World Food Prize. We are grateful for the hundreds of new species of wheat Dr. Rajaram developed, which deliver 200 million more tons of grain to global markets each year and feed millions across the world.”
Born in India and a citizen of Mexico, Rajaram is being honored for his work in creating more than 480 varieties of bread wheat that are grown in 51 countries. Both small and large-scale farmers around the world have benefitted from Rajaram’s work with high-yielding wheat. Rajaram conducted the majority of his research in Mexico at the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center (CIMMYT). His work there led to a prodigious increase in world wheat production – by more than 200 million tons during the 25-year-period known as the “golden years of wheat” – building upon the successes of the Green Revolution.
Rajaram is a protégé of Dr. Norman Borlaug, who in 1987 created the prize that Rajaram received today. Borlaug, who would have turned 100 years old this year, was a board member of Bread for the World.
Bread for the World’s president, Rev. David Beckmann, received the World Food Prize in 2010.

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