Urging our nation's leaders to end hunger
 

158 posts categorized "Social Justice"

Ending Poverty and Realizing the Dream

By Marsha Casey

“Faith is taking the first step even when you can’t see the whole staircase.”

—Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

Mlk_wiki_commonsBlack History Month honors those who have paved the way for the victories and successes of African-Americans, ensuring each generation has a brighter future than the last. What started, thanks to historian Carter G. Woodson, in 1926 as a weeklong observance is now a month that celebrates of the accomplishments of African-Americans. I often wonder where our country would be today had it not been for the tireless efforts of Harriet Tubman, Fredrick Douglass, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Malcolm X, and the countless others whose names never made it into the history books.  

Though we’ve come a long way with respect to equality among all Americans, poverty is still an injustice that many face. During his second inaugural address on Jan. 21, President Barack Obama said, “We are true to our creed when a little girl born into the bleakest poverty knows that she has the same chance to succeed as anybody else, because she is an American, she is free, and she is equal—not just in the eyes of God but also in our own.”

This statement's power was only heightened by the fact that it was delivered by the first African-American president on a day observing the birth of a man who stood for civil rights, justice, and equality—Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. 

In order to see Dr. King’s dream realized, and show respect to those African-Americans who have sacrificed and advocated so that all people could have the rights they are entitled to, it is imperative that we work to put an end to poverty. As Black History month comes to a close, let's redouble our efforts to achieve Dr. King's vision of a "beloved community," in which all people can share in the wealth of the earth. We must continue urging our lawmakers to set a goal to end hunger and reduce the federal deficit responsibly, so as not to further burden those who didn’t create it.

Marsha Casey is a media relations intern at Bread for the World. She is a student at Montgomery College Takoma Park, Silver Spring Campus.

Photo: Martin Luther King Jr. leaning on a lectern (1964). From the United States Library of Congress's prints and photographs division, through Wikimedia Commons.

A Day, and a Year, of Reflection

Martin-Luther-King-1964-leaning-on-a-lectern_wikimedia-commonsBy Bishop Don diXon Williams

2013 will be a year of reflection on a number of significant events in our nation’s history.

Fifty years ago, Martin Luther King was arrested and wrote his seminal work “Letter from a Birmingham Jail."

Fifty years ago, Eugene “Bull” Connor used fire hoses and police dogs on black demonstrators prompting people to have a change of heart about civil rights because of the brutality that was seen on TV.

Fifty years ago, Medgar Evers, whose  wife will give the invocation at the inauguration of President Barack Obama today, was murdered just outside his home.

Fifty years ago, 250,000 people were inspired by Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have A Dream” speech.

Fifty years ago, four young girls (Denise McNair, Cynthia Wesley, Carole Robertson, and Addie Mae Collins) were killed when a bomb exploded at the 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, Alabama.

Fifty years ago, President John F. Kennedy was assassinated.

This year not only marks the 50 year anniversary of all of those events, but the 150th anniversary of one of the most significant events in this country's history. On Jan. 1, 1863 , another soon-to-be-assassinated president signed the Emancipation Proclamation, ending slavery. Each year, in thousands of African-American churches across the nation, we still celebrate “Watch Meeting Night” as a way to commemorate that day.

On that day in 1863, one old lady said, upon hearing the news, said “Mr. Lincoln signed the papers, but it was God that set us free.” Given the state of our nation and world 150 years later, the question becomes, free to do what?

Despite the incredible strides African-Americans have made, we continue to suffer disproportionately from hunger, poverty, unemployment, and income and education disparities. When compared with the U.S. population as a whole, we are more likely to be poor and more likely to go hungry. According to U.S. Census bureau figures, more than one in four African-Americans  lived in poverty in 2010. And one in four African-American households struggled to put food on the table.

Today, we celebrate not only the birthday of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., but the second inauguration of the President Barack Obama. It is a time to rejoice, but also a time to pray for the president, and also ask him to set a goal and work with Congress on a plan to end hunger. Perhaps, in another 50 years, when we look back on 2013 we'll remember it as the year that marked the beginning of the end of hunger.

Don-williams

Bishop Don DiXon Williams is racial/ethnic outreach associate at Bread for the World and sits on the board of bishops of the United Church of Jesus Christ, Baltimore, Md.

Photo: Martin Luther King Jr. leaning on a lectern (1964). From the United States Library of Congress's prints and photographs division, through Wikimedia Commons.

Happy Human Rights Day

Grannies_enjoying_lunch
Photo: Friends who are part of the jjajja (grandmother) group at St. Francis Healthcare Services in Jinja, Uganda, laugh over their lunch on Saturday, May 21, 2012. (Laura Elizabeth Pohl/Bread for the World)

It is the most basic of all human rights and over 100 countries have some level of reference to this right in their constitution. And yet over 900 million people live in perpetual hunger. 'Give us today the food we need' is the first material petition in the Lord’s Prayer. And the fact that it flows from the lofty statements about God’s transcendence is a clear commitment of a God who is concerned about our most basic needs.

—Rev. Joel Edwards, international director of Micah Challenge, in the 2013 Hunger Report

Today is Human Rights Day, an annual celebration of human rights and an opportunity to advocate for the full enjoyment of all human rights by everyone everywhere. On Dec. 10, 1948, the UN General Assembly adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights—Human Rights Day has been observed every year, on Dec. 10, ever since.

This year, the spotlight is on "the rights of all people — women, youth, minorities, persons with disabilities, indigenous people, the poor and marginalized — to make their voices heard in public life and be included in political decision-making," according to the UN.

If you're a hunger advocate, you can use your voice today to remind everyone—your friends, family, co-workers, and elected officials—that the right to food is a basic, fundamental human right. A few suggestions: 

  • Inform others about poverty-focused foreign assistance, which accounts for just 0.6 percent of the federal budget, but feeds millions of people--and saves millions of lives--around the world each year. 
  • Spread the good news about the extraordinary progress has occurred in countries around the world in reducing rates of hunger and poverty.

Write Your Own Letter to the Editor

'These Hands' photo (c) 2008, InnocentEyez - license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nd/2.0/

Speak up and judge fairly; defend the rights of the poor and needy. (Proverbs 31:9).

Congress is on the verge of making budget decisions that will determine our country’s ability to address hunger and poverty for years to come. With crucial programs that prevent hunger at risk, the Christian call to act on behalf of the most vulnerable has never been more critical. How we treat our neighbors is a concrete expression of how we love God.

A bipartisan group of senators, known in Washington as the “Gang of Eight,” met last week to set the framework for a comprehensive deficit reduction package. They will continue talks this month, as they work to come up with a budget plan that balances cuts and revenues.

Drastic cuts without increased revenue will jeopardize the safety net that has protected millions of Americans during this recession. Foreign assistance programs that save lives and provide long-term anti-hunger solutions are also in danger, even though they comprise less than one percent of the federal budget.  

You can use your voice to shape the outcome in real ways. Writing a letter to the editor is a simple way to express your beliefs and encourage public discussion of these issues. Your members of Congress read this stuff! They care what you have to say—especially around election time!

Getting a letter published is a good way to let Congress know that you expect to see a moral budget that prioritizes the eradication of hunger and poverty. Even if your congressional representatives aren't members of the Gang of Eight, they still have a role to play. They can influence key negotiations and urge congressional leaders to do the right thing, but they need public outcry to spur them to action. 

Below is a sample letter to the editor. The template gives a general idea of what a good letter to the editor should look like, but be creative, and personalize your letter as you see fit. If you want to enhance your message with statistics on hunger and poverty, feel free to cite Bread's fact sheets on the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, formerly food stamps), and faithful tax policy or our 2012 Offering of Letters website.

For additional tips on composing a letter, see Bread's "How to Write A Letter to the Editor" guidelines.

Hungry and poor people do not have lobbyists working to protect the programs they depend on, but you can use your voice to advocate on their behalf.

Continue reading "Write Your Own Letter to the Editor" »

Does Investing in Women and Girls Mean Leaving Boys Behind?

Children_in_malawi
Photo: Schoolchildren in Malawi. (Racine Tucker-Hamilton/Bread for the World)

By Racine Tucker-Hamilton

As a woman who is the mother of two sons, I’m often torn between my strong belief in empowering women and girls and raising boys. My personal conflict was very evident last week while attending the Social Good Summit (SGS).

Many of the sessions focused specifically on females: "Women Editors Take on the Intersection of Print, Digital and Social Good," "Connecting Girls Around the World," and "Women, Social Media and an End to Poverty.

As I was sitting through these sessions I kept thinking, where are boys and men in these conversations? Then finally, America Ferrera, an actress, producer, and activist, brought it up. She and fellow actress Alexis Bledel had recently returned from a trip to Honduras where they learned how women and girls are improving nutrition and fighting poverty in developing countries. The trip was organized by the ONE campaign and captured in this video.

Ferrera was a guest on the SGS panel "Women, Social Media and an End to Poverty." She told the audience that, in her experience, investing in women and girls doesn’t mean leaving boys behind.

“From what we saw [in Latin America], boys are raised by their mothers and the mothers will see that those boys have education and a different outlook toward women’s roles in society,” said Ferrera.

Her comments reminded me of my visit to a southern Malawi village last year, where I saw men playing an important role in improving nutrition for women and children. Kennedy Mbereko is one of those men. He’s well known in the Jombo village, where he serves as a member of a care group for a Catholic Relief Services project called Wellness and Agriculture for Life Advancement (WALA). Kennedy visits the homes of malnourished children and then documents their progress and growth.

While his notes and journals are central to his job, his presence alone makes a difference in a community where nutrition may be viewed as a ‘women’s-only issue.’ Mbereko is helping to break down barriers and engage other men in the area—including the village leader—around the issue of malnutrition.  

During Ferrera's panel discussion at the SGS, she also told the audience that we need more men to embrace and support the issues of improving nutrition and ending poverty in their communities.

“We need enlightened men to help change the minds of men who may not see the important role that women play in poverty eradication.”

There’s no question that women and girls must be at the table when determining the best ways to combat malnutrition and poverty, but we have to remember to save a seat for boys and men.

Racine Tucker-Hamilton is Bread for the World's media relations manager.

Jesus' Way: September's Bread for the Preacher

PastorBy Carter Echols

Did you know that each month, the church relations department at Bread for the World produces a resource specifically for pastors?  Whether you are searching for inspiration for a sermon you're writing, or just a lectionary enthusiast, Bread for the Preacher is for you.

In the month of September, the lectionary reminds us of core values and behaviors for followers of Jesus: pursuing God's will, integrating our inner and outer lives, refusing to show partiality based on money, and supporting other disciples. At the same time, the church program year begins again, schools start, and an election season demands attention.

In the midst of this busy-ness and the cacophony of campaign ads, how do we stay centered in Jesus' life-giving way? This month's lectionary commentators help us see the biblical texts and our own circumstances through a Godly lens.

Explore reflections on social hypocrisy, justice for the poor, discipleship, vindication, and power in this month’s readings on the website, where you can also sign-up to have the resource emailed to you each month.

Carter

 

Carter Echols is congregational engagement associate at Bread for the World.

 

Photo: Senior Pastor Judith VanOsdol leads the noon church service at El Milagro (The Miracle) Lutheran Church in Minneapolis, MN.  (Photo by Laura Elizabeth Pohl)

The Group Affect in Full Effect

Group affect 8.29.12
 
Bread for the World multimedia manager Laura Pohl videotapes interview with Bread staffer Lamont Thompson and Racine Tucker-Hamilton monitors audio. (Photo courtesy of Racine Tucker-Hamilton/Bread for the World)


by Racine Tucker-Hamilton

When I walk into the Bread for the World office each morning, I never know what my day will hold…literally. Earlier this week I was “holding” a microphone and monitoring audio during a video shoot.

Despite my day-to-day surprises, one thing is a constant, whatever I’m doing—writing press releases, creating  Facebook posts, or pitching to reporters—I know that my work will be part of a team effort. I am fortunate to work with a very talented communications department. Many of my team members are newsroom professionals, and they not only embrace the idea of collaborative thought and teamwork—they live by it. I know that my pitch to a reporter isn’t as compelling without the best photos or videos from our multimedia manager; my copy editor ensures that my media releases don’t include typos or errors; and our online creative unit makes sure that my message is disseminated widely with strong, reinforcing graphics.

Last October on a trip to Africa, I witnessed teamwork in full effect in a small village in southern Malawi. The women from Malawi’s Jombo village gathered for group cooking classes as part of a joint USAID and Catholic Charities project. Together, the women learned how to prepare nutritious foods and then returned to their homes to dish up healthy meals for their families. These woman understood that they can accomplish a great deal collectively, that as a team they can improve the lives of their families, especially babies and young children.

You too, are part of a team that can make a difference in the lives of hungry and poor people here in the United States and around the world. When you contact your members of Congress and tell them that you want them support legislation that helps poor people lift themselves out of poverty, you are making an impact. 

But imagine what could happen if you ask members of your church or book club or parents at your child’s school to join your efforts: your group approach would surely get the attention of your Congressional representatives.

Put the group affect in full effect.

Racine-tucker-hamilton

Racine Tucker-Hamilton
 is media relations manager at Bread for the World.

Why 1,000 Days?

ITD blog 8.27.12
In early 2011, Desire came to Omoana House, a rehabiliation center in Njeru, Uganda, as a malnourished young girl. But with proper healthcare and feeding – including nutrition supplements provided by USAID, she has grown healthy. (Photo by Laura Elizabeth Pohl/Bread for the World)

by Inez Torres Davis.

Nutrition for the pregnant woman and her child through the age of two years is such a critical window of opportunity. Women with our own children or women who have never given birth, but have participated in nurturing children “get” how critical this is. And, maybe it’s easier for us to have these conversations for this reason, but I would really like to see men of faith step up for this one and make the commitment to have these conversations!

The 1,000 Days Movement addresses the need for those who “have” to be sure that child-bearing women, women who are pregnant, and infants from birth to two years of age receive the nutritional diet they require to avoid life-threatening physical and mental health issues such as stunting, protein deficiency, and cyclical starvation. Cyclical starvation is when the body has a hunger season each year in which important nutrients are completely lacking from their diets thus providing short term and long term health problems and in many cases, death.

While visiting three countries in Africa with Bread for the World in 2011, I saw the raw and measurable difference nutritionally caring for pregnant women and infants makes in the life of a community as well as in the life of a child. One Malawi village had not had a single case of cholera since learning how to secure clean water, sanitation, and create supplemental nutrient-rich feedings for pregnant women and babies. Dozens of Zambian infants are receiving healthy starts in health clinics and through the campaign for non-HIV positive mothers to nurse their babies.

Here in the United States, programs like the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC) and the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, formerly the food stamp program) provide a nutritionally sound base for children who would otherwise suffer the debilitating effects of malnutrition. Dollar for dollar supporting the nutrition of pregnant women and babies is money “best” spent whether it is spent domestically or as international development aid.

The call of the gospel is the call to be present with the disenfranchised. I can’t think of a more disenfranchised or disempowered person than the infant born to a malnourished woman. Simply put? This is the work of the gospel. Start to share this good news!

 

Ineztorres-davis-230wInez Torres Davis is director for justice at Women of the ELCA.

How Cold Soup Could Help End Tomato Farm Worker Abuses

Recipe for Chage 8.27.12

                                                                                                   (Photo by Flickr user photo _ de)

by Racine Tucker-Hamilton.

Earlier this summer we told you about Bread for the World partner, the International Justice Mission’s campaign, “Recipe for Change”. The goal of the campaign is to increase awareness about the issue of abuses in America’s tomato fields. The campaign asks major supermarket chains to support the Fair Food Program and develop a zero-tolerance policy against the mistreatment of workers on Florida’s tomato farms. Each week Recipe for Change features a tomato recipe from a guest writer and this week’s contribution is from Bread’s president, Rev. David Beckmann. Learn more about how you can be a part of “Recipe for Change” and make a mean bowl of gazpacho.

Racine-tucker-hamilton


Racine Tucker-Hamilton is media relations manager at Bread for the World.

Striving for Better Grades

Better grades blog 8.24.12

(Photo courtesy Meals on Wheels)

by Kristen Archer

We can all recall the nervous anticipation of waiting to receive our report cards in school—hoping we were able to bring that C+ in chemistry up to a B, praying we were able to maintain a solid A in history, dreading the look on our parents’ faces when our geometry grade was finally revealed. 

Our days of receiving quarterly report cards for our own academic performance may be over, but there is one report card we should take note of: The National Foundation to End Senior Hunger’s Senior Hunger Report Card

Distributed at an aging conference earlier this week—Perspectives on Nutrition and Aging: A National Summit—the report card grades our nation in eight areas with regards to senior hunger:

  • overall performance,
  • economics
  • geography
  • women’s studies
  • multicultural studies
  • home economics
  • health and physical education
  • and ethics.

Surprisingly, the nation failed to score higher than a C-minus in any of the categories. 

Continue reading "Striving for Better Grades" »

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