Urging our nation's leaders to end hunger

273 posts categorized "Solutions to U.S. Poverty"

Hunger Justice Leaders Visit the White House to Advocate for Hungry People

Can't Come to Washington, DC for Lobby Day? Participate Virtually!


During our Lobby Day tomorrow, Bread for the World members will personally deliver petitions to Congress that oppose the view that churches are solely responsible for feeding hungry and poor people. More than 30,000 people of faith signed these petitions.

Even if you can’t join us in person, you can participate in our virtual Lobby Day. Here’s how:

  • Call your members of Congress using our special toll-free number: 1-800-826-3688.
  • Tell them you’re a Bread for the World member.
  • Ask them to create a circle of protection around funding for programs vital for hungry and poor people in the United States and around the world.

Here’s what else you can say:

  • Form a circle of protection around the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, formerly food stamps) as you work on the farm bill. (The Senate will vote on the farm bill this week, and the House will soon follow).
  • Protect domestic and international anti-hunger and anti-poverty programs by supporting the Senate’s overall discretionary funding level for fiscal year 2013. Members of Congress agreed to this number last summer, and they must stick to this deal to prevent harmful cuts to these programs.
  • Take a comprehensive approach to deficit reduction, including revenues in addition to spending cuts. Without a comprehensive deficit-reduction package that includes revenues, programs for hungry and poor people will face severe cuts.

The timing of your call and our visits to Congress couldn’t be more critical. The budget decisions before Congress this year will severely impact our efforts to end hunger and poverty. Please call Congress today at 1-800-826-3688!

Photo caption: Bread for the World members will be hand-delivering the petitions that Bread members signed to tell Congress that churches cannot be the only ones responsible for feeding poor and hungry people. There were a total of 34,555 signatures. Photo by Matt Newell-Ching.

Update: Hunger Justice Leaders Training

Live Tweet Up With the White House! #BreadRising


We're just two days away from the Hunger Justice Leaders training here in Washington, and we have some exciting news. This Monday, the Hunger Justice Leaders will head to the White House for what is sure to be a lively and engaging discussion with senior-level officials ... but it doesn't stop there! Immediately following the meeting, we will all have an opportunity to ask any of our burning questions about hunger and poverty during a live Tweet Up with Jon Carson, director of the White House Office of Public Engagement.

As we prepare for this event, we would like to encourage you to follow @Bread4theWorld on Twitter, if you aren't already, and to use the hashtag #BreadRising throughout the weekend and all day Monday. Next, here are some sample tweets you may want to consider sending before and during the Tweet Up: 

  • Excited for @bread4theworld's Hunger Justice Leaders training and our tweetup with the White House's @JonCarson44! #BreadRising
  • Dear @JonCarson44, how does the White House hope to help hungry people in the U.S.? #BreadRising
  • @JonCarson44 What policies can you point to that are efforts from the W.H. to alleviate poverty in the U.S.? #BreadRising
  • @JonCarson44: If @BarackObama is reelected, what will he do in his last term for hungry and poor people in the U.S. and around the world? #BreadRising

It’s never too early to start tweeting using the #BreadRising hashtag! This is the same hashtag we will use during the White House Tweet Up on Monday as well.

We will keep you posted about the Tweet Up on Monday.

Come With Us To Capitol Hill! #BreadRising

Photo by Flickr user  timlewisnm

Normally over the weekend, Bread for the World's Washington, DC, offices are quiet and vacant, but not this weekend.  This weekend the sounds of worship and action will fill our halls as we host the 2012 Hunger Justice Leaders: From the Pulpit to the Public Square.

Starting this Saturday, June 9, 75 young religious leaders will participate in a three-day anti-hunger advocacy training with Bread staff. Workshops will include learning the root causes of hunger, how to do an Offering of Letters in your congregation, exploring the biblical basis for justice, and using social media to influence Congress -- just to name a few.

You can follow along through our social media channels (Find Bread on Facebook and Twitter). Participants and staff will be tweeting using the hashtag #BreadRising.  Join us, ask questions, and encourage these young leaders with notes of support.  If you are not on Twitter, we will be posting a few updates on our Facebook account and of course will be doing roundups of all the action here on the Bread Blog.

Finally, Bread’s annual Lobby Day is on Tuesday, June 12. Participants will be posting pictures of their meetings with Congress as they deliver the petitions that many of you signed telling Congress that churches alone cannot be solely responsible for feeding hunger people.

Even if you are not in DC for Lobby Day, your voice is needed and powerful.  Call your senator and representatives on Tuesday and ask them to create a circle of protection around funding for programs that are vital to hungry and poor people in the U.S. and around the world. Check out our blog Tuesday for the latest updates.

You can even go one step further and help us make sure that as the budget is negotiated, issues that affect people who are poor and hungry are part of the national dialogue.  Most members of Congress have a presence on Facebook and Twitter.  Let them know you care about these issues. For example if you are from Oregon you might tweet:

Dear @SenJeffMerkley please create a #circleofprotection around funding for programs that are vital to hungry and poor people #BreadRising

As one united body with many hands, #BreadRising will be heard throughout our nation’s capital.

Robin-stephensonRobin Stephenson is regional organizer at Bread for the World.



Look Up Food Insecurity in Your State

Screenshot from Feeding America

What does hunger look like in your state? How many people live below the SNAP threshold? What is the average cost of a meal? What percentage of the people in your state is food insecure?

In an ambitious new online project, Feeding America answers all of these questions and more for each state in their "Map the Meal Gap" interactive feature. See it here

Most striking about this data visualization is being able to see dark patches where overall food insecurity and child food insecurity are at 30 percent of the population and above. Mississippi and Georgia top the list of states with the highest percentage of overall food insecurity. 

Take some time to examine the map. Look up your own state and learn how you can take action to reduce those percentages day by day.

Hunger QOTD: Rep. Rosa DeLauro

Alex Morris, from Bend, OR, depends on SNAP, WIC and other programs to care for André, who suffers from a serious medical condition that affects his hormonal system. Photo by Brad Horn

“Food stamps help families make ends meet, and as the economy improves and families get back on their feet, the costs of food stamps will decrease again. This is the entire essence of a social safety net.”

-Rep. Rosa DeLauro 


What's the Most Expensive Federal Government Social Program? (It's Not What You Think)

120601-submergedstatePop quiz: What is the most expensive federal government social program? (Hint: It is not what you think).

If you think about this question within the context of the recently proposed cuts in Congress, the answer would appear to be fairly obvious right?  Like me, some of you may have guessed the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, formerly food stamps), or maybe you went with the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC), or the Section 8 choice voucher program (low-income housing), or unemployment benefits, or TANF. As you have probably inferred from my “hint,” however, if you guessed these or any other programs that benefit poor, hungry, and out of work people, you would be absolutely wrong. Not even close actually. 

So what IS the most expensive federal government social program? It's the retirement benefits exemption. Surprised? So was I, but maybe we shouldn’t be.

In her interesting book “The Submerged State: How Invisible Government Policies Undermine American Democracy,” Cornell Professor Suzanne Mettler highlights our government's three most expensive social tax expenditures: the retirement benefits exemption, the health insurance exemption, and the home mortgage interest deduction program. She states, “Neither the costs of food stamps, the most utilized program for low-income people, nor of unemployment insurance, which provides economic security for Americans of all income levels, amounts to as much as half the value of even the least expensive of these programs (i.e. home mortgage interest deduction).”

So, when it comes time to balance budgets and cut the deficit, how come we never hear Congress clamoring to make cuts to programs like these? To answer that question, perhaps we need to add one more question to our pop quiz: Who benefits the most from social tax expenditures such as the retirement benefit exemption and the home mortgage deduction? You probably figured it out by now: the more affluent.

According to Mettler, the retirement benefit exemption and the home mortgage deduction program are the most skewed with, over 55 percent and 69 percent, respectively, going to Americans with household incomes over $100,000.00. In general, these kinds of social tax expenditures exacerbate inequality, with the notable exception of the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC).

Attempting to balance the budget and cut our deficit on the backs of poor and hungry folks by targeting programs such as SNAP is not only the wrong thing to do morally, but it simply won’t work.  It is up to us to make sure it doesn’t happen.

Matt-grossMatt Gross is regional organizer at Bread for the World.



Using Food Trucks to Get Meals to Hungry Kids

Photo by Flickr user ricardodiaz11

Yesterday, an NPR story highlighted a new initiative by school food services in New Haven, Connecticut, to combat hunger among children through the use of food trucks. An increasingly popular form of food service for hip, urban foodies, the food truck is now being used to provide hungry kids in New Haven with food during the summer months when school meals are unavailable. Many people don't know that children growing up in low-income households depend on school meals for their daily food.

According to the story:

This year, Cipriano plans to serve 40,000 meals during July and August. The truck's now got a generator and electric refrigerators. He's serving basic bagged lunches for now — usually a sandwich, a piece of fruit, a carton of milk. But soon he hopes to add more trucks to serve hot meals, or even offer a walk-in truck with a salad bar like the ones that are popular with students at New Haven school cafeterias.

Cipriano’s idea is catching on. The story reports that Fayette County in Indiana is also planning to use a food truck in an effort to decentralize feeding sites so families with transportation problems can still have access to food in the summer.

Keeping children across the country nourished during the summer is a yearly struggle. Back in 2009, Bread for the World reported that “there are far fewer summer food sites than schools providing meals … the result is that about nine out of 10 children who receive free or reduced-price lunch do not receive meals from the Summer Food Program.”

Certainly, churches and congregations can help to ensure that children have access to nutritious meals when school is out by signing up to be a Summer Food Service Program (SFSP) sponsor or meal site. But many churches are already feeling the weight of feeding hungry people in their communities. (Read this testimonial from a local pastor.) So we also advocate asking Congress to continue to support programs such as SNAP and WIC, which would help families gain the ability to serve meals at home that their children would normally receive at school.

+Ask your member of Congress to support programs for poor and hungry people! 

JCHOI_SMWKNDJeannie Choi is associate editor at Bread for the World. Follow her on Twitter @jeanniechoi.



Offering of Letters Skit: How Many Grocery Bags Does it Take to Feed the Country?

Photo by Flickr user  S.³

The following is the script for an excellent skit about the Offering of Letters campaign presented on May 13 at Calvary Lutheran Church in Edina, MN. It was written by Martin Fergus, to go along with a grocery bag demonstration created by Cathy Brechtelsbauer and Tammy Walhof. This demonstration has been used throughout the Upper Midwest and Plains. Consider using a similar skit at your own church to promote Bread for the World's 2012 Offering of Letters campaign

SCENE:  Two long, church tables are on stage a few feet apart, one toward stage-right with 20 empty grocery bags on it; the other toward stage-left is empty.  Rebekah stands at one end of the stage-right table, filling a bag with groceries to be delivered to the local food pantry Volunteers Enlisted to Assist People (VEAP). Dan enters from stage-left, in front of the tables while Rebekah (Bek) continues to fill a grocery bag.

DAN:  Hi Bek.  What you doin’?

BEK:  Packing up groceries from the congregation to take over to VEAP.

DAN:  How much do you think you’ve got?

BEK:  I’m not sure. Last March, during the Minnesota FoodShare drive, we collected more than 100 pounds.

DAN:  How well did VEAP do with that drive?

BEK:  Great.  They met their target – 100,000 pounds of food and $100,000.

DAN:  Wow, that’s a lot!

BEK:  Yeah, and statewide, Minnesota FoodShare took in more than 4.4 million pounds of food and almost $8.5 million as well!

DAN:  That’s impressive!  Too bad that some of this might be undone by what’s happening in Washington, DC.

BEK:  What do you mean?  What’s happening in Washington, DC?

DAN:  Well, the House of Representatives is proposing to make deep cuts in food stamps and other nutrition programs. That could really make things tough for the people served by food pantries like VEAP?

BEK:  Why?  How would that affect VEAP?

DAN:  Well, cuts would mean more people needing help from VEAP – and fewer resources to do so, since part of VEAP’s food comes from federal programs.

BEK:  But if there are cutbacks, couldn’t VEAP just have another food drive?  And couldn’t we up the amount of food we collect here at Calvary?

DAN:  Well, look at it this way.  How many bags do you have on that table?

BEK:  I’ve got 20 of them.

DAN:  OK.  Now assume that these 20 bags represent all the food provided to those in need by both private giving and federal programs.  How much do you think is provided by each?

BEK:  Oh, I don’t know.  VEAP and Minnesota FoodShare sure get a lot of support – look what they did in just in one month – and there are groups like that all over the country.  Maybe half the food comes from private contributions and the other half from the federal government?

DAN:  You mean sort of like this?  (Dan places 10 of the bags on the empty table.)

BEK (looking at the bags on the tables):  Yeah, that looks about right?

DAN:  Want me to show you the actual numbers?

BEK:  Well, OK.  If you’d like to.

(Dan moves nine more bags from Bek’s table to the other table and looks at Bek.)

DAN:  Just 5 percent of the food for those in need comes from private donations; the rest is from federal nutrition programs.

BEK:  Wow!  I never imagined.  What will people do if the federal nutrition programs are cut?

DAN:  Yeah, what will they do?  But we don’t have to let it happen.

BEK:  What do you mean?  What can we do about it?

DAN:  There are groups, like Bread for the World, that are organizing letter writing campaigns – to ask Congress to put a “circle of protection” around federal nutrition programs.  Would you like to learn how you can get involved?

BEK:  Well, I’d like to know more about it first.

DAN:  That’s fine.  There’ll be an information table at coffee hour today – why don’t you stop by?

BEK:  OK, I will!  I’ll see you there!

DAN (turning to the congregation):  If you’d like to learn more, why don’t you stop by too?

+To learn more about our campaign to preserve funding for programs that help poor and hungry people, or to participate in your own Offering of Letters campaign, click here.

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