405 posts categorized "U.S. Hunger"
As part of the 2013 Offering of Letters campaign, Bread for the World is petitioning the President to make ending hunger a priority. (Robin Stephenson).
Ignoring poverty won’t make it go away, but if one were to listen to our nation’s leaders, you might think that is their plan.
Allotting only 26 percent of his presidency addressing poverty—ranking last among all presidents since John F. Kennedy, according to the Washington Times—President Obama has not yet proposed a comprehensive strategy to alleviate growing poverty. We are petitioning the president to show leadership on this issue.
A recent Kids Count report by the Annie E. Casey foundation shows that child poverty is on the rise. In 2011, 23 percent of children lived in poverty—an increase of 3 million since 2005. Poverty, especially child poverty, impedes the future potential that can move our nation forward. As Christians we know that there is enough of everything to go around, from food to shelter, but what there is not enough of is political will. We are called to a vision where all have a place at the table.
We need to remind President Obama of his promise, made during the last election campaign, to earnestly address hunger and poverty. With enough pressure, we can show that there is a large constituency of people who want to take hunger out of the shadows. We can start the conversation.
Students eating school lunch at Yorkshire Elementary School in Manassas, Va., on Friday, Sept. 7, 2012. (USDA photo by Lance Cheung)
Summer break can mean going months without free school meals and snacks for many hungry children. The U.S. Department of Agriculture program provides free summer meals, but with some school buildings closed and limited school bus service, it's hard to get the kids to the food. This weekend, the Washington Post ran a piece about a school bus "bread truck" in Tennessee, a USDA program that brings food to children in communities where the need is great during summer months.
The reporter meets many people while riding the bus, but spends a lot of time with one family in particular, the Laughrens. The mom is struggling to make ends meet—she works 12-hour shifts as a cook at a nursing home, but risks being fired if she brings leftovers home to her kids. She receives SNAP benefits, but they don't stretch as far during the summer months, when her kids aren't receiving two free meals and snacks at school each day.
Hunger and food insecurity has affected each family member in a different way, all of them equally heartbreaking.
"Desperation had become their permanent state, defining each of their lives in different ways," the author writes. Courtney, 13, is "rail thin," while Taylor, 14, has been "stockpiling calories whenever food was available, ingesting enough processed sugar and salt to bring on a doctor’s lecture about obesity and early-onset diabetes." Anthony, 9, has decided to move out of the family's trailer and live with his grandparents. For Hannah, 7, hunger has "meant her report card had been sent home with a handwritten note of the teacher’s concerns, one of which read: 'Easily distracted by other people eating.'"
The comments section of the post is, as comments sections typically are, filled with poor-shaming and judgment, but there is also compassion, smart ideas about reducing hunger and poverty in America, and calls for lawmakers to strengthen, rather than snip, our country's safety net as so many families continue to struggle.
House farm bill negotiations continue, and while a version of the bill that included more than $21 billion in cuts to SNAP failed to pass last month, a current proposal to split the bill would leave vital nutrition assistance programs vulnerable to deep cuts.
Sadly, the Laughrens story isn't unique or even uncommon—50 million Americans are food insecure, one-third of them children. Now is not the time to slash programs that ensure that children don 't go to bed hungry and parents don't have to choose between providing their children with food or shelter. Now is the time to ensure a place at the table for all God’s people by using our voices to oppose cuts to programs that help hungry and poor people.
Bread for the World interns Katy Merckel, Theresa Martin, and Hampton Stall volunteering at D.C. Central Kitchen. Bottom photo: Bread for the World interns assembling salads at D.C. Central Kitchen. (Photos by Bread for the World intern Donald Soffer)
By Theresa Martin
Clad in aprons and hair nets, Bread for the World interns were busy chopping onions and arranging salads on the eve of July 4. While our time at Bread is usually spent working on advocacy in the office rather than direct service, we spent the afternoon volunteering at D.C. Central Kitchen.
D.C. Central Kitchen is an organization that focuses on providing both food and skills training for those in need. However, as its website reads, it is “not a soup kitchen.” Through programs like the 14-week culinary job training program for the unemployed, D.C. Central Kitchen provides those it serves with tools for ending the cycle of poverty. Rather than just offering food, the organization teaches others how to prepare food and then deliver meals to food pantries and other agencies around the city. Fresh Start Catering, D.C. Central Kitchen’s revenue-generating arm, which employs culinary job training program graduates, catered Bread for the World's 2013 National Gathering.
As volunteers, we had the opportunity to work alongside culinary students and to get to know some of the people we advocate for and with at Bread.
“D.C. Central kitchen gave me a great chance to get to work for a good cause while learning a lot about the people I [volunteered] with!” says Bread intern Hampton Stall.
Intern Sara Doughton said the experience “was a powerful reminder that, although we may seem to be on different paths, or using different tools, we’re traveling together – and with countless others – as we work to end hunger.”
It was encouraging to learn about the work of the DCCK, and above all, it was a reminder to be creative in the pursuit of a just food system. Through their passion for cooking, the founders of D.C. Central Kitchen’s culinary training program have "changed the lives of over 1,000 men and women." Are you passionate about cooking? Writing? Politics? Music? Use what YOU are passionate about in the fight against hunger!
Theresa Martin is an intern in Bread for the World's Church Relations department.
By Theresa Martin
More than 3.5 million unauthorized immigrants in America live below the poverty line. Many of them flee hunger in their home countries only to arrive in the United States and find themselves struggling to feed themselves and their families yet again. In a country where 33 million tons of food is wasted each year, and roughly 75 percent of our farm workers are migrants, how is it that so many immigrants go hungry? “For I was hungry and you gave me food… I was a stranger and you welcomed me”—have we forgotten Jesus’ words?
I recently had the opportunity, along with immigration advocates from across the country, to attend the National Hispanic Prayer Breakfast and Conference, hosted by Esperanza, an organization that works to support Latino communities in the United States. Both Democratic and Republican leaders spoke to the topic of immigration reform, and attendees had the opportunity to lobby members of Congress on Capitol Hill.
Rev. Dr. James Forbes speaking at Bread for the World's 2013 National Gathering (Joseph Molieri/Bread for the World).
When the Rev. Dr. James Forbes was a child, his family’s Raleigh, N.C., dinner table was a place not only where meals were shared, but where accomplishments were celebrated and compassion encouraged. After saying grace, the family members ate and talked about how they could best extend kindness and love to each other and the members of their community. “If we had been faithful in caring and sharing then we had the sense that justice and peace had a chance in the world,” Rev. Forbes, senior minister emeritus of the Riverside Church in New York City and president of the Healing of the Nations Foundation, said in a recent sermon.
During Bread for the World’s 2013 National Gathering, “A Place at the Table,” Rev. Forbes offered words to fortify advocates working to ensure that all families can gather around dinner tables filled with compassion, love, and nutritious food. Now, Rev. Forbes, who is often called "the preacher’s preacher," is traveling the country, conveying God’s message that we can end hunger.
In the coming months, he will be preaching in churches across the nation and leading homiletics workshops for ministers, pastors, and others who also preach to end hunger. Click here to see if Rev. Forbes is coming to a church near you and to obtain registration information.
Migrant workers load cucumbers into a truck in Blackwater, Virginia, on the farm of Ricky Horton and Sherilyn Shepard on Monday, July 25, 2011. Almost three-fourths of all U.S. hired farm workers are immigrants, most of them unauthorized. The U.S. food system—particularly fruit and vegetable production—depends on immigrants more than any other sector of the U.S. economy. (Laura Elizabeth Pohl/Bread for the World)
By Kiara Ortiz
How can someone live and work on a farm and suffer from hunger? It doesn’t make sense. And yet this sad irony is a reality for many immigrant farm workers in the United States.
Nearly three-fourths of U.S. farm workers are immigrants, many working in the U.S. without authorization and filling low-wage jobs that citizens are reluctant to take. Yet immigrant farm workers, who are so vital to the U.S. food system, disproportionately suffer from hunger and poverty.
Immigrants come to America in search of a better life, but are often exploited on farms. Pressure from immigration enforcement, low wages, inconsistent work schedules, and other inequalities can shatter their dreams. These workers are vital to the economy of this nation—a path to citizenship allowing these workers and their families access to federal anti-hunger and anti-poverty programs, such as SNAP and EITC, is an important first step in immigration reform.
During Bread for the World’s 2013 National Gathering, I had the privilege of sitting in on the Immigration as a Hunger and Poverty Issue workshop. I was lucky enough to hear Lucas Benitez tell his story. Benitez is originally from Mexico but lives in a small town in Florida called Immokalee, an area where many Mexican, Guatemalan, and Haitian immigrants live. As an activist in Florida, and the co-founder of the Coalition of Immokalee Workers, he shared his experiences and struggles as an immigrant working in the fields of Immokalee.
“We live—no, we survive—off the work we do in the fields,” he said. “We work hard to put food on everyone’s table but our own. Why does it have to be that way?”
Why should immigrant farm workers be paid less money just because they are “desperate” for the wages? Wages should be based on work ethic and competency—immigrants, regardless of their status, should receive equal and fair pay for their hard work to provide food for our tables.
Our country stands against cruel and unusual punishment—it’s a value outlined in our Constitution. So, how can we stand by as immigrants endure strenuous labor conditions, day in and day out, producing food, but not earning enough to feed themselves?
When advocates unite, we can change things. We live in a country built on the ideals of freedom and equality, yet we continue to allow immigrant farm workers to be dehumanized and mistreated. It’s time to stop being complacent about this. The current system that perpetuates hunger both here and abroad can, and must, change. We need to fight for fair and equal pay, better working conditions, a legal means of being in the United States for those who require it, and respect for all farm workers.
Kiara Ortiz is a sophomore at Spelman College in Atlanta, GA. She is a media relations intern at Bread for the World.
Act Now! The Senate is expected to vote on a bipartisan immigration reform bill this week! Tell your U.S. senators to 1) support any amendment that addresses the root causes of undocumented immigration, such as extreme poverty in countries of origin; and 2) oppose any amendments that would make it more difficult for undocumented immigrants to earn a path to citizenship or would prohibit authorized immigrants and their citizen family members from receiving needed assistance such as WIC, SNAP, and EITC benefits. Call toll-free at 800-826-3688, or send an email today.
Santiago Cruz, in the Mexico countryside, December 12, 2010. (Laura Elizabeth Pohl/Bread for the World)
In the short documentary Stay, Santiago Cruz and his wife, Victoria, talk about being pushed into a difficult decision: continue to languish in deep poverty or migrate.
Deciding to escape hunger and poverty is not difficult, but the price is often painful. Santiago left Victoria
and his children behind in Oaxaca, Mexico, and faced the uncertainty and peril of migration—their only hope for a better life. Most undocumented immigrants live precarious and vulnerable
Bread for the World's 2013 Offering of Letters aims for the political will to ensure a place at the table for all God's children. This mandate provides important guidance about immigration. As the Senate debates, and perhaps votes, on comprehensive immigration reform this week (S 744), we see an opportunity to alleviate hunger, both in this country and abroad.
Simply put, immigration is a hunger issue. And hunger is an immigration issue.
Half of all laborers harvesting U.S. crops are undocumented; they are often exploited and face some of the highest rates of poverty in the United States—as much as 35 percent, far above the national rate. It is important to remember that these are working individuals who contribute to the economy of this nation. Immigration reform should provide a path to citizenship for these individuals, and it should allow their families to access programs like SNAP and EITC.
The current system, which perpetuates hunger here and abroad can, and must, change.
A holistic approach to immigration would also alleviate the poverty abroad that pushes families like Santiago’s to choose migration. The Senate debate and bill have thus far failed to consider why people leave their homelands. Fewer people will feel compelled to migrate if poverty were reduced in their home countries.
Santiago was eventually able to return and stay in Oaxaca after he and Victoria were given a hand up by a Mexican nonprofit partnered with Catholic Relief Services. CEDICAM helped them with sustainable farming techniques, which provided enough food and money for them to stay together.
Bread for the World Institute has extensively researched the
relationship between poverty and immigration, and we will urge Congress to craft
legislation that reforms our immigration system in ways that help end
Watch the award winning documentary Stay on YouTube and share it with your friends.
We are deeply saddened by the passing of five-term New Jersey Senator Frank Lautenberg. Our prayers and condolences go out to his family, staff, and our Bread for the World members in his home state.
Sen. Lautenberg passed away this morning at the age of 89.
During his service in Congress, Lautenberg served on critical committees with jurisdiction over policies that affect poor and hungry people. In 2007, he authored a bipartisan amendment with Sen. Richard Lugar that would have reformed the farm bill and increased investment in nutrition programs. More recently, we are grateful for the senator’s commitment to protect the most vulnerable, as displayed during his floor vote in support of the Gillibrand amendment to the 2012 farm bill—an amendment that would have restored a $4.1 billion cut in SNAP funding included in the Senate bill.
The late senator also served on the Senate Appropriations Committee, where he was a member of the State Foreign Operations Subcommittee.
Photo: Sen. Lautenberg’s official senate portrait.
Children enjoying their school lunches. (USDA photo)
School lunches have been in the headlines recently, from a West Virginia delegate's proposal to make children work at their schools in order to receive meals to news surrounding the House Committee on Agriculture's farm bill, which would end school lunches for nearly 210,000 children.
Still, the biggest threat to feeding schoolchildren at the moment isn't legislation or program cuts, but summer vacation.
Summer is upon us, which means that many schools will soon be shutting down until September—and many school lunch and breakfast programs will be on break, as well. When schools are closed during the summer months, many children lose the free school meals they depend on, but the Summer Food Service Program (SFSP) was established to ensure that children in low-income households continue to receive meals when school is not in session. Free meals that meet federal nutrition guidelines are provided to all children 18 and under at approved SFSP sites around the country.
While summer meal programs aren't as plentiful as school lunch programs, they do exist. Call 1-866-3-HUNGRY or 1-877-8-HAMBRE (español) and a live operator will tell you where the closest sites serving free, nutritious summer meals are located. Or visit www.whyhunger.org/findfood to locate sites using an online map.
If you're not personally in need of summer meals for yourself or children in your household, the site offers resources—fliers, door hangers, brochures, and more—that individuals, churches, and community groups can use to spread the word about summer meals. Also, be sure to contact your members of Congress and tell than that the farm bill must not increase hunger by cutting programs that feed children and families.
Photo: A screening of A Place at the Table. (Amanda Lucidon for Bread for the World)
By Anneke Essenburg
On April 5, I woke up at 5 a.m., and by 6 a.m., I was on the road with four other Calvin College students and two leaders of the Christian Reformed Church’s Social Justice Office, headed to Washington, D.C. Twelve hours, two stops, and many Twizzlers later, we arrived!
We went south for the weekend to attend the annual Ecumenical Advocacy Days conference. This year, the focus was on food justice, a topic that our student organization, the Social Justice Coalition, is really passionate about. On Friday, Saturday, and Sunday we learned about all aspects of food justice and the farm bill, and then on Monday we lobbied on Capitol Hill.
At the conference we learned about the movie A Place at the Table, and one of the women featured in the film, Barbie Izquierdo, was there to share her story. Midway through our journey home, we began discussing how we could share what we learned with the Calvin community, in order to widen the advocacy base.
So, on Thursday, May 2, we held a screening of A Place at the Table, followed by a panel discussion. Our panelists were Marge Palmerlee from Degage Ministries, Emma Rosauer from Access of West Michigan, and Chuck Clemence, coordinator of the Grand Rapids Bread for the World team.
The first step in educating others and involving them in ending hunger is just deciding to take action. There are logistical details to work out—contacting panelists, purchasing showing rights, advertising—but it isn’t about having a perfect event, it’s about reaching out and offering knowledge.
Sure, I spent time stressing over whether or not anyone would come. But you know what? They did. Our job is not to force people to come, or to force people to care. Only God can do that. Our job is to be faithful, to act, to do something. Because if we do nothing, then nothing will change.
There are 50 million people in America who don’t know where their next meal is coming from. This is not right. We need to do something. I need to do something. You need to do something.
Anneke Essenburg is a student at Calvin College in Grand Rapids, Mich., and a leader in the student organization Social Justice Coalition (SJC).