Urging our nation's leaders to end hunger
 

501 posts categorized "U.S. Hunger"

Climate Change Will Increase World Hunger

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iStockphoto

By Christopher Ford and Stephen Padre

Today is World Environment Day. Designated by the United Nations, it’s sort of a worldwide Earth Day. What gift from our environment and the Earth is more valuable and sacred than the food they produce? It keeps us alive, fuels our movement and work, and brings us pleasure.

As a Christian organization whose mission is to bring an end to hunger, Bread is concerned about our world’s food supply and, by extension, the environment, the source of food. And so, on World Environment Day, Bread wants to lift up the environment and join in the concern expressed about changes to our environment and how hunger could increase because of these changes.

To that end, Bread for the World Institute has released a Background Paper titled “Hunger and Climate Change: What’s the Connection?

The paper presents the premise that the world will not be able to end hunger and extreme poverty without confronting climate change and its threat to people who are poor and marginalized. Changing climate patterns will result in more droughts, floods, and extreme weather events, making it even harder to grow and secure food.

“It will be impossible to end hunger and extreme poverty without addressing the causes and impacts of climate change,” said Asma Lateef, director of Bread for the World Institute. “Climate change has already had a devastating effect on people’s lives, and the situation will only get worse. We need a global solution now.” 

According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, housed with the United Nations, changing climate patterns are projected to dramatically undermine food security. The poorest people will continue to suffer the most, especially those living in developing countries or who are subsistence farmers. They will need help in adapting to conditions that were difficult before climate change, and are now becoming much worse.

Later this month, Pope Francis will deliver his first major papal encyclical (letter to bishops). It will address climate change. The final draft of the encyclical specifically discusses the effects of climate change on the world’s poorest people and the need for the Roman Catholic Church and the leaders of other religions to come together and help them “prepare for the challenges of unavoidable climate and eco-system changes.”

Women are especially vulnerable to the effects of climate change, but they also possess valuable knowledge. Women grow more than half of all the food in developing countries, and up to 80 percent in parts of Africa—mostly for their family’s consumption. Extra efforts must be made to provide women with resources to adapt to climate change, as they are often overlooked by male agricultural extension agents.

Bread for the World has joined with the World Bank and leaders of 30 faith groups and organizations in calling for an end to hunger and extreme poverty by 2030. Research conducted by Bread for the World shows that ending hunger and extreme poverty is possible in 15 years. However, climate change may quickly undo any progress this is made.

“There is still time to prevent worst-case scenarios, but it will require the global community coming together to confront and mitigate the impacts of climate change,” added Lateef. “We urge our leaders to equip those who are most affected to adapt to this global crisis and implement strong measures that focus on the root causes of climate change.” 

Christopher Ford is the media relations manager at Bread for the World. Stephen Padre is Bread's managing editor.

 

Summer Meals Hard for Rural Children to Access

By Jennifer Gonzalez 

The nation’s rural children are hit hardest when it comes to accessing summer meals. The federal Summer Food Service Program provides summer meals for children at congregate sites, but those sites are often difficult to access for families in rural areas.

Lack of transportation and long distances make it hard for children to get the meals they need to grow into healthy adults.

Christine Melendez Ashley, a senior policy analyst at Bread for the World, was recently interviewed by CBN News (Christian Broadcasting Network) for a story focused on child hunger. "For every seven kids getting a free or reduced lunch, only about one gets a meal during the summer. So that's a huge gap in terms of participation,” Melendez Ashley said in the interview.

Urging Congress to reauthorize the child nutrition bill is the focus of the 2015 Offering of Letters: Feed Our Children. The bill is set to expire this fall. Make sure to join the hundreds who have already written letters to Congress.

In the meantime, we need your help to ensure Congress doesn’t make harmful cuts to programs that help people keep hunger at bay. Currently, members of the appropriations committees are deciding how much to fund each federal program, and sequestration is making their jobs very hard. Automatic sequestration cuts lower the overall spending limits.

We need your help. Call (800/826-3688) or email your U.S. representative and U.S. senators today. Urge Congress to oppose cuts to the child nutrition bill and other programs like the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) and poverty-focused development assistance.

Tell Congress to address the additional sequestration cuts in a more balanced and responsible way. Congress should be investing in our children, not undermining their food security. 

Jennifer Gonzalez is the associate online editor at Bread for the World.

Tell Congress to Protect Child Nutrition Programs

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Federal nutrition programs for children are a critical part of the fight against hunger. Joseph Molieri/Bread for the World.

By Eric Mitchell

In March, we asked you to tell Congress to protect SNAP and other anti-hunger programs from cuts in the budget. You delivered. Now, we're hitting the next stage in these budget battles, and we need your voice again.

Will you take two minutes to call (800/826-3688) or email your U.S. representative and your U.S. senators and tell Congress to fully fund programs that help children at risk of hunger in the U.S. and around the world?

Last month, Congress passed a budget blueprint that, if fully enacted, would increase hunger and poverty in the U.S. and around the world. Now, Congress is trying to figure out how to implement it. 

At this very moment, members of the appropriations committees are deciding how much to fund each federal program, and sequestration is making their jobs very hard. Automatic sequestration cuts lower the overall spending limits. This means there is less money to fund things like education and scientific research, let alone programs that effectively help people struggling to move out of poverty, such as foreign assistance and nutrition assistance for infants and low-income mothers. 

Our federal budget is an outline of the priorities of this country. Our children's health and nutrition must be a priority.

Call (800/826-3688) or email your U.S. representative and your U.S. senators today. Urge Congress to oppose cuts to programs like WIC and international poverty-focused development assistance. Tell Congress to address the additional sequestration cuts with a more balanced and responsible plan. Congress should be investing in our children, not undermining their food security. 

Eric Mitchell is the director of government relations at Bread for the World.

Virginia Church Welcomes All to 'The Table'

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Shoppers at The Table food pantry at St. George's Episcopal Church in Fredericksburg, Va., looking at produce. Joseph Molieri/Bread for the World.

By Jennifer Gonzalez

Recently, I, along with Bread for the World's multimedia manager, Joseph Molieri, spent the day at a unique food pantry run by St. George’s Episcopal Church in Fredericksburg, Va.

We went to visit the food pantry as a way to see how the issue of hunger is addressed on the ground. Many of the churches Bread works with do a lot of work around feeding the hungry and poor. 

At most food pantries, the food is canned, boxed, or jarred, and clients are normally given a pre-assembled bag or box of food to take home. 

Not at St. George’s.

At The Table (the food pantry’s name) there are no clients, only “shoppers.” The food pantry is set up in a way that allows shoppers to choose their groceries like they would at a supermarket or an open-air food market. The food pantry is open every day, and shoppers can visit either in the morning or afternoon.

Unlike a more traditional food pantry, The Table offers shoppers fresh produce, such as potatoes, apples, oranges, squash, broccoli, pears, and onions. Fresh bread, such as rye and wheat, is also available. _X1A2041

The food comes from local farms, donations, and the local food bank. St. Gregory’s also gleans from other places, such as convenience stores, for food they can provide, such as sandwiches.

Started in 2012, The Table is the brainchild of Rev. Deacon Carey Chirico, director of outreach ministries at St. George’s. She wanted to create a space where struggling people could shop for food with dignity and respect.

“It’s very much our belief that when we come forward to receive the Eucharist as Episcopalians, we are setting down all our own assurances,” Chirico said. “We are setting down any privilege we have. That there is nothing that makes us unique in receiving this beautiful, beautiful gift. So we try to do the same thing at The Table – approach each other on a person-to-person basis.”

“We’ve tried to really let go of ‘we have, you don’t; we give, you take,’” she said. “And we encounter each person as we are treated at the Eucharistic table.”

The uniqueness of St. George’s food pantry was not lost on me. When I left St. George’s that day, I wondered if there were other food pantries doing the same thing. I got my answer last week when I came across a New York Times article that focused on this idea of the “customer choice pantry” and how some food pantries across the country were converting to this new standard.

The idea is rooted not just in providing dignity to the shopper, but also offering more nutritious food, such as fresh fruits and vegetables. A lot of the packaged food given out at food pantries is not healthy.

This is important given the fact that many families who utilize food pantries are already facing health issues. In fact, 58 percent of households who use food pantries nationwide have a family member with hypertension, and more than 30 percent include someone with diabetes, according to Feeding America.

Historically, St. George’s food pantry began as an emergency food pantry – giving grocery bags filled with food to families in crisis. But Chirico said that set-up really wasn’t working. “We realized that we were not meeting a lot of people’s needs. We were not giving them food that was culturally appropriate or nutritionally sound.”

And so The Table was born after the church found out that people really enjoyed picking vegetables from a garden the church had started. Today, a shopper leaves the food pantry with an average of 25 lbs. of groceries – 60 percent of which Chirico hopes is fresh produce.

“Our goal is to improve the quality of the food people are getting, the quality of the experience they are getting, and invite them to come back every week,” Chirico said.

Jennifer Gonzalez is the associate online editor at Bread for the World.

Photo inset: Fresh produce is a staple at The Table food pantry at St. George's Episcopal Church in Fredericksburg, Va. Joseph Molieri/Bread for the World.

 

 

Hunger Doesn't Take a Vacation

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By Christine Melendez Ashley

Across the country, children are counting down the days until summer. Most children look forward to a summer filled with vacations and fun. Yet for some children, summer vacation means long months without nutritious school meals. 

Call or email your U.S. representative today. Tell your U.S. representative that child hunger doesn't take a vacation. Urge your U.S. representative to support legislation that gives hungry children access to meals during the summer months, like the Summer Meals Act (H.R. 1728).

Here in Washington, D.C., Congress is busy examining and considering child nutrition programs. This week, the House committee responsible for writing a new child nutrition bill will meet. Its hearing is blatantly titled "Addressing Waste, Fraud, and Abuse in Federal Child Nutrition Programs." In other words, they will consider ways to cut and gut these programs at a time when our children need these services most. Do they care more about waste, fraud, and abuse or getting children the meals they need?

Your representative needs to hear from you. Children are more likely to be at risk of hunger during the summer months. Six out of every 7 low-income children lack access to regular, nutritious meals during the summer. We can't allow Congress to take even more away from children who already lack so much.

Call your U.S. representative today. Urge your U.S. representative to support legislation that will feed our children — in the upcoming summer months and all year long. 

Bread for the World’s annual Lobby Day is June 9. Join us to make some real changes in Washington, D.C., when it comes to feeding our children. You don’t need to be a policy expert to participate. You just need to care. 

Registration is free but space is limited. Register today to reserve your spot!

Christine Melendez Ashley is a senior policy analyst at Bread for the World.

Child Hunger: 'It is just sinful'

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Coral Gables Congregational United Church of Christ congregants write letters to their elected officials. Lena Isely for Bread for the World.

By Jennifer Gonzalez

“It is just sinful,” said Raul Hernandez, shaking his head, about the fact that some children in the United States go to bed hungry.

As he made his remark, he addressed an envelope to Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla). The envelope would later be stuffed with a letter written by one of the many congregants of the Coral Gables Congregational United Church of Christ in Coral Gables, Fla., taking part in an Offering of Letters on Mother’s Day.

Tables were set up inside the church’s Fellowship Hall, as well outside the church, as a bright sun beat down on congregants writing letters. The idea was to have congregants write letters to their elected officials on behalf of the many mothers who struggle every day to feed their families.

“As a person of faith, I think there is nothing so contrary to God’s will for this world than to have people and especially children be hungry, said Rev. Dr. Laurinda Hafner, the church’s senior minister. “More than anything else, Jesus talked about feeding the hungry, so as members of a Christian congregation it is our faithful and moral imperative to do everything we can to fill the bellies of those who are without food.” LIP_0343

Bread for the World’s 2015 Offering of Letters: Feed Our Children is focused on ensuring Congress reauthorizes the child nutrition bill. The legislation is set to expire in the fall. It is vital that Congress hears from their constituents, especially since over 16 million children in the U.S. don’t always know where their next meal is coming from.

The church’s Offering of Letters was a well-coordinated effort, from the pulpit announcement to the near-precision assembly line of letter writing and envelope stuffing. Hernandez, who lives in Miami, was part of that assembly line – addressing envelopes to speed up the process.

Over 100 letters were written to Sen. Rubio and President Obama on Sunday. For Karen Newpauer of Key Biscayne, sitting down to write a letter to the senator was personal. “We are food-insecure right now,” said Newpauer, a divorced, single mom raising three daughters, including daughter Michelle Murcia, 11, who was also writing a letter to the senator.

“I try to shield the kids from what is going on,” she says. Newpauer said children should not be going to school with growling stomachs.

Sometimes you have to write a letter to correct a wrong. That’s the way Virgin Vanderblugt felt about the letter she wrote. She said too often elected officials get into office and begin to think about themselves and not their constituents.

She hopes the letters from her church will make elected officials think harder about the plight of others. “There are a lot of people who are struggling,” she said.

When Victor Tejera of Miami sat down to write his letter, he thought about the children he encounters every day as a school social worker – many who are hungry. Tejera said he connects students and their families with government services if they qualify. If they don’t, he “gets creative.”

He said he taps into his faith and nonprofit communities contacts to connect struggling families with services such as a local food pantry. He said he knows that his letter alone won’t have much of an impact, but he hopes that the sheer volume of letters elected officials receive will make enough of an impression to ensure that hungry kids get the food they need.

Bread for the World’s annual Lobby Day is June 9. Join us to make some real changes in Washington, D.C., when it comes to feeding our children. You don’t need to be a policy expert to participate. You just need to care. 

Registration is free but space is limited. Register today to reserve your spot!

Photo inset: Michelle Murcia, 11, writing a letter to Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.). Lena Isely for Bread for the World.

Lobby Day: Use Your Voice to End Child Hunger

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Bread activists on Capitol Hill during Lobby Day. Jim Stipe for Bread for the World.

By Amelia Kegan

Do you wonder whether your letters, calls, and emails to Congress break through the gridlock and partisanship on Capitol Hill? Could you use a reminder that your voice really does make a difference in Washington?

Looking at the news reports, it’s hard not to become cynical. I sometimes feel that way. But then Lobby Day comes around, giving me new energy and new inspiration. And each year, Lobby Day brings real results in the movement to end hunger.

Join us for Bread for the World’s annual Lobby Day on Tuesday, June 9, to personally and powerfully urge your senators and representative to support child nutrition in the U.S. and around the world. Registration is free and easy.

There is no better boost than Bread’s annual Lobby Day. Renew your faith in the power of your voice. Connect with other faithful advocates doing this work around the country. Get inspired.

I invite you to join us in Washington on Tuesday, June 9 for Bread’s 2015 Lobby Day. You don’t need to be a policy expert. You just need to care.

Nothing reminds me of the power of individual advocacy to end hunger like Bread’s Lobby Day. And it will be even better if you’re there with us.

Don’t delay. Register today. Registration is free but space is limited. Register today to reserve your spot!

Amelia Kegan is deputy director of government relations at Bread for the World.

Advocates Spring Into Action to End Hunger

By Margaret Tran

About a hundred people from nonprofit organizations and churches in New York put pen to paper last month and wrote letters to their member of Congress, urging them to reauthorize the child nutrition bill.

Bread for the World and Catholic Charities of New York organized an Offering of Letters at St. Peter’s Church and New York Catholic Youth Day, both in Yonkers, and at St. Cecilia’s Church in East Harlem. Catholic Charities Community Services of Rockland County in Haverstraw plans to host one in the future. GuadalupeandJoyceMerino

It is vital that Congress hears from their constituents, especially since over 16 million children in the U.S. don’t always know where their next meal is coming from.

This fall, the legislation that funds child nutrition programs will expire. The bill funds five major programs: National School Lunch Program, School Breakfast Program, Summer Food Service Program, Child and Adult Care Food Program, and the WIC Program. These programs serve roughly 40 million adults and children nationwide.

New York high school students were busy during New York Catholic Youth Day. They were simultaneously involved in a Feeding Our Neighbors food drive and an Offering of Letters. The students and their youth group leaders donated hundreds of pounds of food to local pantries and wrote letters to members of Congress, urging them to support the child nutrition programs.

Youth groups were eager to write letters since they personally know students who struggle with hunger and depend on school meals every day as their only source of nutrition. Leaders were eager to have their entire parish act to end hunger, planning to take what they learned that day back home to encourage a parish-wide Offering of Letters.

At St. Peter’s, our message of advocacy was translated into Spanish. Parishioners learned about child hunger during our presentation at Plaza, a social gathering area after Spanish mass where parishioners sell home-cooked lunches. While their children played nearby, the parents were inspired to write letters after hearing that 1 in 5 children in the U.S. struggle with hunger.  Father Jose Felix Ortega, priest at St. Peter’s, blessed all the letters during mass the following Sunday before they were sent to Congress.

The senior leaders of the various ministry groups at St. Cecilia’s also participated in an Offering of Letters. After huddling to pray over the letters with Father Peter Mushi, the leaders were empowered to lead an Offering of Letters for their respective ministry groups in the coming weeks. Flor Abad, case manager for Catholic Charities Community Services at St. Cecilia’s, said she was pleased that all the leaders were enthusiastic about advocacy since so many in the community are struggling.

“At St. Cecilia’s food pantry, I see families in need. I hear people who have 5, 6, 7 children in the house and don’t have food,” Abad said.

Catholic Charities Community Services of Rockland County (CCCSR) will host a future Offering of Letters that will engage youth from county parishes to write letters to Congress. The goal will be ambitious – 1,000 letters ahead of CCCSR’s annual September hunger awareness action event.

“Policies and community efforts to increase access and provide education and resources is needed. Our goal is to build a greater sense of community awareness and build an advocacy group to end hunger,” said Martha Robles, executive director of CCCSR.

Margaret Tran is a regional organizer at Bread for the World.

Photo inset: Guadalupe Merino, a St. Cecilia parishioner, writes a letter to Congress, while her daughter, Joyce Merino, takes a nap in her arms. Margaret Tran/Bread for the World.

The Power of the Phone Call

PhoneBy Jon Gromek

Making a call to Congress can be powerful. It is how you can make your voice heard on important issues like ensuring Congress reauthorizes the child nutrition bill.

We need you to speak up on Tuesday, May 5 and urge Congress to protect the nutrition programs that give hungry children access to the meals they need to thrive. Call (800) 826-3688 and ask for the office or your senators and representative and tell them to protect child nutrition programs by reauthorizing the child nutrition bill.

If you think making a call to Congress can’t make a difference, think again. About a year ago, I got an email late in the evening from my Bread for the World government relations’ colleagues. As is often the case in Congress, an important vote was scheduled last minute in the Senate Appropriations Committee that would provide $35 million for food aid and help feed an additional 200,000 people in need. 

The problem? The vote was set for 10 a.m. the following morning and would most likely fail. We needed our Bread members to make calls to their senators and representative no later than 9 a.m.!

Knowing it was a long shot, especially so late in the day, I nevertheless reached out to some of our most ardent members and activists in Indiana and asked them to contact Sen. Dan Coats (R- Ind.) who happened to be a critical vote. Good news slowly started trickling into my inbox the next morning. Several members committed to make calls before they went to work and followed up with emails. They learned that the senator was actually going to be absent from the vote but with some gentle encouragement and some timely back and forth between Senate staff over email, and phone, they convinced him to cast a yea vote by proxy. 

The vote passed by 16-14, with the senator casting a critical swing vote. A handful of calls one sleepy morning made the difference in the life of 200,000 people in need. Later that day, I got an email from one of the brave few who took a few precious minutes of his early morning to make those calls.  “When I got your note last night I thought ‘I don't have time for this,’ he admitted.  “God is very good. To get this result is great.”

In the coming weeks, members of Congress will begin the serious work of reauthorizing our federal child nutrition programs, including a hearing in the Senate scheduled for Thursday, May 7, at 10 a.m. EDT. Lawmakers will hold in their hands the lives and future well-being of children across the country who depend on the nutritious food they get from services like school meal programs and the Women, Infants, and Children Program (WIC) program. One in five children in the U.S. lives in households that struggle to put food on the table. In a country such as ours that is unacceptable.

We need you to speak up on Tuesday, May 5 and urge Congress to protect the nutrition programs that give hungry children access to the meals they need to thrive. Call (800) 826-3688 and ask for the office or your senators and representative and tell them to protect child nutrition programs by reauthorizing the child nutrition bill.

Jon Gromek is a regional organizer at Bread for the World.

Tackling Hunger Head On

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Kelvin Beachum, Jr., an offensive lineman with the Pittsburgh Steelers, is working with Bread for the World to ensure an end hunger by 2030. Joseph Molieri/Bread for the World.

By Jennifer Gonzalez

Faith has always played a strong role in the life of Kelvin Beachum Jr., an offensive lineman with the Pittsburgh Steelers.

It has guided many of his personal and professional decisions. And now that strong faith has led him straight to Bread for the World.

Beachum is partnering with Bread to ensure an end to hunger in the United States and around the world. The partnership was announced over the weekend during Beachum’s annual football camp for children in his hometown of Mexia, Texas.

Texas is the third hungriest state in the country, where one in four children lives in poverty. Nationally, over 16 million American children or 1 in 5 don’t always know where their next meal is coming from.

Beachum understands the issue of hunger firsthand. “As a child, my family and I bounced around from WIC, free and reduced lunches, and some food stamp assistance when we qualified. There were times when we had enough, but there were also times that we needed help.”

He said he finds it unacceptable that in the United States, one of the world’s most blessed countries, there are children who go hungry every night.

The grandson of a pastor, and a son of a minister, Beachum believes that God has given him many talents, on and off the field. He likens his current work around child nutrition for the NFL and the work he plans to do with Bread as ministry.

He’s doing God’s work in various ways: through his children’s sports camp, visits to schools, and now lobbying Congress with Bread.

“There is a pastor in Pittsburgh that says something I really love: ‘Taking care of family is one block, one family at a time.’ At the end of the day, that is what I’d like to do from a hunger standpoint – take care of one community, one family, one state, and one nation at a time. That is what it boils down to.”

Beachum recently visited Bread’s offices in Washington, D.C., to learn more about the issue of hunger and how we accomplish our work. He also got an opportunity to visit Capitol Hill and speak with a handful of members of Congress about the importance of child nutrition.

This year’s Offering of Letters is focused on ensuring that Congress reauthorizes the legislation that funds child nutrition programs. The legislation is set to expire this fall.

“We are delighted to welcome Kelvin into our campaign to write hunger into history. His passion for promoting anti-hunger programs rooted in his deep faith is a great example of what constitutes a hunger champion,” said Rev. David Beckmann, president of Bread for the World. 

The expectation is that Beachum, an NFL player with many Twitter followers, will offer a different voice at Bread - one that especially entices a younger demographic to join our cause.

At Bread, our work intersects with poverty, mass incarceration, immigration, climate change, and among other issues. Beachum acknowledged that he doesn’t know everything about hunger and is excited about the possibility of learning more and helping Bread end hunger in the United States and abroad.

“God is stretching me to do things I have never done before, like advocate for hungry children,” Beachum said. “It truly takes a team to make that dream work. It takes a team from all different walks of life, all different upbringings, backgrounds, circumstance, to all to come together and help end hunger.”

Jennifer Gonzalez is the associate online editor at Bread for the World.

 

 

 

 

 

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