292 posts categorized "Solutions to U.S. Poverty"
Photo by Flickr user Franco Bouly
Public dialogue can create public pressure, and raising your voice is critical to avoiding cuts that will take food off the tables of families who most need it. We must encourage members that food assistance is not a political football.
If your member of Congress is on the House Agriculture Committee, tag them in a tweet or message them on Facebook in the next several days leading up to Wednesday’s committee vote on the farm bill. Below are sample tweets and Facebook posts, as well as a chart of links to members' accounts.
Dear @RepX, Cuts to SNAP & Food Aid in the #FarmBill would increase poverty & hunger. Please do the right thing #BreadActs
Dear @RepX Please be a hunger champion & do the right thing. Protect SNAP & food aid funding in #FarmBill #BreadActs
I am counting on your continued leadership for people who are poor and hungry. Please oppose cuts to SNAP and food aid in the upcoming farm bill vote.
As a person of faith, I believe that budgets are moral documents and must not be balanced on the backs of the poor. Please be a leader and oppose cuts to SNAP and Food Aid in the farm bill.
Sister Simone Campbell leads evening worship at Bread for the World's Hunger Justice Leaders Program in Washington, DC, on Sunday, June 10, 2012. Sister Simone leads Network, a Catholic social justice lobby group that launched a Nuns on the Bus tour to bring light to federal budget cuts that hurt poor and hungry people. 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 Monday, July 2, with a rousing rally in Washington, DC (see our coverage of the event here).
On Tuesday, 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 2 of our interview below. (Read part 1 of our interview here.)
Where did you grow up? And were you aware of social injustice growing up?
I grew up in California. I grew up in Long Beach. But my sister and I -- this was the late '50s -- and so my sister and I really cared about civil rights when we were young. Dr. Martin Luther King was our hero, and so that shaped me early on.
Adding a personal touch to one’s anti-hunger advocacy work — be it through a letter, phone calls, or even artwork — is the key to effectively bringing about policies that protect hungry and poor people. And the world of social media provides new and exciting ways to engage one’s elected officials.
During the Wild Goose Festival this past June, Bread for the World staff members ran a photo booth that allowed attendees to personally contact their members of Congress in a creative, easy way through social media outlets. Bread staffers encouraged festival-goers to write a message to their senators or representatives on a whiteboard and then hold up an image of the member of Congress. Bread staffers then took a photo of the participants so that this image could be attached to a tweet, Facebook status, or email. Bread staff encouraged participants to use two specific, strategic hashtags in their tweets, so that people were able to follow the entire series of tweets over the course of the four-day festival.
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.
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.'"
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.
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.
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.”
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.
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