Urging our nation's leaders to end hunger
 

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

Meet Your Lobby Day Participants: Ellen and Al Fisher

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Ellen and Al Fisher from Cedar Rapids, IA, are attending Bread for the World's 2012 Lobby Day.

Q: What brought you to Lobby Day?

Al Fisher (AF): This is our fourth Lobby Day. We came to Lobby Day in 2007, 2009, 2011, and now 2012.

Q: Why do you commit your time and resources to come to Lobby Day?

Ellen Fisher (EF): We both feel strongly that this is a vital part of our faith. I hope to persuade the government to adopt programs to end hunger, and we hope to influence the political process and encourage greater generosity towards the poor.

Q: Are you seeing signs of poverty of hunger in your community in Cedar Rapids?

EF: Our church provides free Sunday night meals and we meet people who come back for four or five servings, and they look to me as people who live on the fringes. 

AF: The unemployment rate is lower than the national average, but there is still a lot of hunger and poverty there. 

Q: What do you hope to tell your members of Congress when you meet with them today?

AF: That they shouldn't cut federal nutrition programs and cut the budget on the backs of the poor. We met with a staffer last year who said that times are tough and everybody's gotta have skin in the game, but it seems unfair that 60 percent of the cuts are coming from programs for the poor.

EF: Right, saying you have to have skin in the game is one thing, but 60 percent of the cuts isn't having skin in the game, it's getting amputated!

Q: Why is hunger an important issue for you?

AF: When we adopted our two kids from South Korea, our son came into the care of the adoption agency and a very nice caring foster family the day after he was born, and then we adopted him. But our daughter had a difficult first 14 months before we adopted her, during which she was very sick and hungry. When we adopted her, at meals, she would eat with food in one hand and food in another hand. She had known hunger, so this is a personal issue for us.

Photo caption: Al Fisher and Ellen Fisher at Bread for the World's Lobby Day on June 12, 2012.

From the Pulpit to the White House! Hunger Justice Leaders Tweet with the Office of Public Engagement

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Hunger Justice Leaders gathered in front of the Eisenhower Executive Office Building on June 11, 2012 after meeting with senior White House officials. Photo by Laura Elizabeth Pohl/Bread for the World.

After two days of anti-hunger advocacy training, Bread for the World’s Hunger Justice Leaders had an opportunity to engage in a lively discussion this morning with senior-level White House officials during a briefing at the Eisenhower Executive Office Building on the White House grounds.

Participants spoke with Joshua Dubois of the Office of Faith Based Initiatives, Martha Coven from the Office of Management and Budget, and Paul Monteiro and Jon Carson from the White House Office of Public Engagement — just to name a few. The Hunger Justice Leaders heard from the administration about President Oabama's approach to ending hunger, and had the chance to test some of their new advocacy skills on high-ranking officials.

After the meeting, several lucky Hunger Justice Leaders continued the discussion as they joined Jon Carson in his office for a live tweet-up from the West Wing!

See the blog post below for some of the tweets from today’s chat, and thanks to the White House, the Hunger Justice Leaders, and all of you who participated to make this day a great success.

Kristen-youngbloodKristen Youngblood Archer is media relations specialist at Bread for the World.


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

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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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.

 

 

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