Urging our nation's leaders to end hunger

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

Calling All Activists: Farm Bill Update

Nancy Carrasco (left) and Erika Carranza (right), both of California, listen to a speaker during a breakout session at Bread for the World's Lobby Day in Washington, DC, on Tuesday, June 12, 2012. Photo by Rick Reinhard for Bread for the World.

What’s going on?

On June 21, the Senate passed its version of the farm bill, which included $4.5 billion in cuts to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, formerly the food stamp program). The Agriculture Reform, Food, and Jobs Act of 2012 (S.3240) could impact 500,000 families by reducing their monthly SNAP benefits by $90. It passed with 64 yes votes and 35 no votes.

Food assistance in the U.S. and around the world is at risk of deeper cuts in the House.

Next week on Wednesday, July 11, the House Agriculture Committee will consider their version of the farm bill. The draft bill contains approximately $16 billion in cuts to SNAP, and more than $35 billion in overall cuts to farm bill spending. We are urging members of Congress on the committee to vote against the bill because of the deep cuts to SNAP. We are also asking them to speak up during the markup in support of these critical programs.  All members of the Ag Committee need to hear from constituents that these programs are vital to people who are hungry and poor. 

Just as we urged Senators to oppose and support certain amendments in the Senate process, we also want to see strong opposition to negative amendments that further cut SNAP and food aid, and strong support for positive amendments, whether they pass or not.  The Senate has already voted against even deeper cuts to SNAP. We must urge the House to do the same. 

+Stay tuned to the Bread Blog for more actions as we lead up to the committee vote next week! Your voice can make a difference.

When a Sensible Life Comes Crashing Down

Screenshot from Dateline NBC.

Dateline recently aired a program following three families as they transitioned from the comfort and safety of a middle-class life, to the struggle and anxiety that came with job loss as a result of the recession. The program, America Now: Lost in Suburbia, shows life on safety-net services (watch it below). Besides coping with the debilitating shame that comes with poverty, one thing is clear from the stories: None of the families want to be using government benefits. 

“It’s this dirty little secret … what we don’t talk about is people who struggle,” says Joyce Welch, who hides her poverty from others in her suburban community.  “It takes an emotional toll, it takes a mental toll, it takes a physical toll,” she says. "There is a moment where I went, 'my joy is gone -- my love for life, my ability to continue moving forward is gone.'"

Continue reading "When a Sensible Life Comes Crashing Down" »

Sister Simone Campbell: Fiery Advocate, Sister to All

Sister Simone Campbell, executive director of Network, a national Catholic social justice lobby, speaks at the "Nuns on the Bus" tour stop on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC, on Monday, July 2, 2012. Photo by Laura Elizabeth Pohl/Bread for the World.

From June 17 to July 2, a small group of nuns toured the nation by bus to protest budget cuts that would endanger poor and hungry people in the United States. Known as the "nuns on the bus," this powerful contingent of women religious raised awareness at every stop on their tour about cuts to federal funding for programs such as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, formerly food stamps). The bus tour ended yesterday with a rousing rally in Washington, DC (see our coverage of the event here). Today, we sat down with Sister Simone Campbell, executive director of Network -- a primary organizing group of the bus tour -- to hear her stories from the road and find out what we can expect next from the "nuns on the bus."

Read part 1 of our interview below. (Part 2 will be posted on the Bread Blog later this week.)

Why did you want to go on a bus tour of the nation?

Well, we needed to get the story out into the country about what was going on, on Capitol Hill. People don’t understand what’s happening with the House budget. And we needed to get to places where ordinary people are. Unlike some presidential candidates, you can’t exactly fly from place to place for us. So it seemed to make sense to do a bus. And then we got to joking about nuns and school buses (laughing). But, actually, it was a genius idea.

Continue reading "Sister Simone Campbell: Fiery Advocate, Sister to All" »

United Church of Jesus Christ (Apostolic) Pastors Bless More Than 500 Letters to Congress

United Church of Jesus Christ (Apostolic) pastors bless more than 500 letters urging Congress to protect programs that are vital to hungry and poor people. The letters were collected as part of Bread for the World’s annual Offering of Letters campaign. From L to R: Lewis Payne, Bishop, Shrewsbury, PA; Robert Williams, Bishop, Richmond Heights, OH; Izett Scott, Bishop, Ft. Lauderdale, FL; Cleven Jones, Bishop, Detroit, MI; Monroe Saunders, Presiding Bishop, Baltimore, MD; Colie L. Lorick, Bishop, Columbia, SC; Don Williams, Bishop, Martinsville, VA; Louis Stokes, Bishop; Hampton, VA; John M. Lewis, Bishop, Waldorf, MD; Robert Johnson, Bishop, Baltimore, MD.

Bread for the World participated in the 46th Annual International Holy Convocation held June 20 to 23, 2012.  Nearly 70 United Church of Jesus Christ (Apostolic) pastors -- including Bishop Don Williams, racial/ethnic outreach associate at Bread -- gathered from around the country in Baltimore, MD, for the annual event. Pastors delivered 509 hand-written and typed letters from churches all across the country for Bread’s Offering of Letters campaign.

During the closing worship service on June 23, the letters were blessed by Monroe Saunders, Presiding Bishop for the United Church of Jesus Christ (Apostolic.) Churches came together and over 2500 people attended the conference on the last day. The event demonstrated an important show of support for poor people by the bishop and churches.

Courtney-ryanCourtney Ryan is media relations intern at Bread for the World and a student at Eastern Mennonite University.



'We're Here to Support Our Sisters': Attending the Nuns on the Bus Rally

Sister Simone Campbell (waving) and other sisters from the "Nuns on the Bus" tour wave to a crowd of about 120 people waiting for them on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC, on Monday, July 2, 2012. Photo by Laura Elizabeth Pohl/Bread for the World.

Crowds of reporters and enthusiastic supporters gathered in front of the United Methodist Building to welcome the "Nuns on the Bus" back to Washington, DC. The song "Eye of the Tiger" played as the nuns got off the bus, much as if they were rock stars entering a sold-out concert.

Dozens of hand-made signs with messages such as, “You speak truth and power,” colored the rally.

The sisters hope to influence Congress to create “reasonable revenue for responsible programs,” the five-word mantra for their alternative budget . Driving for “faith, family and fairness,” their journey, says the sisters was “spirit-driven.” 

Continue reading "'We're Here to Support Our Sisters': Attending the Nuns on the Bus Rally" »

The Nuns on the Bus Arrive in Washington, DC

Make Mine Inter-Dependence Day

Photo by Flickr user  TMAB2003

Next week, we again celebrate our nation’s independence. We have a lot to be proud of in our country’s long struggle for freedom and liberty. But nowadays too many people in our country have taken this admirable national quality and transformed it into a personal privilege to turn our collective backs on those who are different from us; those who annoy or frustrate us; those who aren’t quite making it;  those who are vulnerable and need help in these troubled times. When our personal  “independence” alone takes center stage, what’s lost is the countervailing reality of “interdependence” — how our modern world makes us radically connected to others, whether we actually like it or not.

Interdependence means something like this:

When Congress slashes funding for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, formerly food stamps) or school meals programs, it means that kids don’t get enough to eat, don’t learn well, and won’t thrive economically in the future. This will, in turn, make our country’s fabric weaker in the long run.

Cutting international food aid or development assistance means families abroad don’t prosper, developing nations lag socially and economically, trading partners become weaker, and our own nation’s economic and national security bases erode. These are the ties that bind all of us closer each day.

Sure, we can try to hide our heads in the sand and say that independence matters most, enabling us to ignore our brothers and sisters, and their children and grandparents, who need some help to make ends meet. Sure, we can try to simply go our own way, paring back programs in the name of deficit reduction no matter what the consequences. But if we really love what our country has stood for through 236 long, thrilling, and arduous years, I say we celebrate this July 4 in a different way.  

This year let’s call it National Interdependence Day. Let’s carry that same generous spirit of justice and connectedness through the crucial weeks that follow when Congress considers and votes on key hunger legislation.

For that joyous July 4 Interdependence Day party, I’ll offer to  buy some really cool fireworks and cheer lustily, indeed. Join me!

ACT NOW:  Take a moment now and let your members of Congress know that you practice interdependence, and ask for a circle of protection around programs that help those who are poor and hungry both at home and abroad.  

  Larry-hollarLarry Hollar is senior regional organizer at Bread for the World.



The Starbucks Barista and the Senator: In God's Mission, the Last Shall Be First

Photo by Flickr user  Berto Garcia

I am new to the Wild West, but I do have the cow-girl boots to prove I am not averse to a little rough-and-tumble cowboy culture.  Last fall, when I moved to my newest hometown of Casper, WY, I was transitioning out of seminary and into pastoral ministry.  I chose to work at our local Starbucks as a way to get to know my new community. People and coffee are two of my life’s great passions, so what better intersection to participate in God’s reconciliation mission than a coffee shop? 

I did not know until a few months into working at the shop that Sen. John Barrasso and his wife, Bobbi, were regular customers.  I came to know them by their preferred coffee drinks as every good barista identifies their customers. 

When I graduated from high school in Kenya and left our family home in Malawi to attend university in Idaho, my parents gifted me with a necklace from which hangs a pendant of the African continent.  It has been a great conversation starter, including with Sen. Barrasso, who inquired from the other side of the espresso machine about my connections to the vast continent.  I explained that South Africa was my birthplace, and we chatted about his visits to the country. 

Little did I know when I was chosen as a Hunger Justice Leader for 2012 that serving coffee to one of Wyoming’s senators would become a powerful point of connection when I found myself lobbying on Capitol Hill on behalf of hungry people across the globe, in America, and in my new home-state. 

Continue reading "The Starbucks Barista and the Senator: In God's Mission, the Last Shall Be First" »

Our Thanks to YOU for Action on the Farm Bill

Bread for the World activists from Texas listen to a staffer in Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison's office talk during Bread's Lobby Day in Washington, DC, on Tuesday, June 12, 2012. Photo by Laura Elizabeth Pohl for Bread for the World.

As you’ve hopefully heard, the Senate finished their work on the Farm Bill yesterday afternoon. The bill passed by a vote of 64-35. While the final bill included $4.5 billion in cuts to SNAP over the next ten years, our work and voices did make a difference.

Harmful amendments to further cut, and even dismantle, SNAP were defeated on a strong bi-partisan basis. This will certainly help us in sending a strong message to the House of Representatives that deeper cuts to SNAP are unacceptable.

Additionally, the final bill included some common sense reforms to international food aid and to crop insurance. An amendment by Sens. Coburn and Durbin to limit crop insurance premium subsidies to wealthy farmers also passed on a strong bi-partisan basis.

The process now turns to the House where the Agriculture Committee will be marking up their own bill on July 11. Stay tuned for details and possible actions around the markup. We expect much deeper cuts to SNAP likely in the range of $14 billion over ten years.

We want to thank all of our activists for your work advocating for SNAP and international food aid as the bill made its way through the Senate. There is still much to be done, but we are glad to see the Farm Bill process moving forward.

Christine Meléndez Ashley is policy analyst at Bread for the World.

The 'Nuns on the Bus' Make a Case for Food Stamps

Screenshot from video by Moyers & Company

Sister Simone Campbell, executive director of Network Lobby, is travelling throughout the United States on a two-week tour called, "Nuns on the Bus." The group of nuns are travelling to highlight their opposition to the House budget put forth by Rep. Paul Ryan that cuts funding to programs that help poor and hungry people.

In this short video produced by Moyers & Company, Sister Simone Campbell outlines the importance of protecting funding for food stamps in particular, and mentions Bread for the World's $50,000 campaign. She says:

"Bread for the World tells it that just on the food stamps alone Congressman Ryan is wrong that the churches can take care of this issue, because the cuts that are proposed and have been passed by the House is going to require every church, every synagogue, every mosque, every house of worship in the United States each year for 10 years to each raise $50,000. It’s impossible!"

Watch the video below:

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