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Mention taxes, and most people will say they are a necessary evil. We don’t like giving up our hard-earned money, but we know that the government is funded by them.
But did you know that two tax-related credits are among the federal government’s most effective ways of keeping people out of poverty? The earned-income tax credit (EITC) and child tax credit (CTC) move more people out of poverty than any other program in the U.S., except for Social Security.
Critical provisions of these two tax credits that benefit low-income, working families are scheduled to expire unless Congress acts. If Congress doesn’t act, 16 million people will fall into or deeper into poverty.
Congress is very close to passing a major tax deal that could make the current benefit levels in the EITC and CTC permanent. But many members of Congress are ready to walk away from that deal in favor of a shorter-term extension of only business tax credits.
Key negotiations are taking place in Congress today (Thursday).
Bread is asking activists to call (800/826-3688) or email their U.S. representative and U.S. senators. Urge your members of Congress to make the expiring EITC and CTC provisions permanent before leaving for Christmas.
Bread believes a short-term extension of business tax credits without the EITC or CTC is unacceptable. The EITC and CTC provisions in question expire in 2017, but they could be far more vulnerable then. The political climate in Congress in the future may be more hostile toward these provisions.
Low-income, working families deserve something they can count on for the long-term. Making the current benefits in these provisions permanent will give families this assurance.
For updates on other hunger-related legislation in Congress that Bread is following, visit Bread’s blog. Every week when Congress is in session, we post the Washington Update, which contains short updates on each of the policy areas that hunger-related legislation is moving in.
By Nathan Magrath
Dozens of leaders and anti-hunger advocates gathered in Washington, D.C., on Oct. 22 to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the Alliance to End Hunger. In the past decade, the Alliance has become a major leader in the movement to end hunger in the U.S and around the world. It has also developed into a trusted forum, bringing together an array of institutions to tackle hunger in a variety of ways.
In the early 2000s, a group of individuals active within Bread for the World and other prominent anti-hunger organizations gathered to discuss the creation of a new department. The new entity would serve as a platform to bring both secular and faith organizations together in the fight against hunger. Bread for the World’s network contributed many denominations, churches, and countless individuals, and the Alliance brought in corporations, secular nonprofits, universities, foundations, and organizations representing other faith traditions. The sum was an expanded conversation about hunger.
The idea took off. By 2005, the Alliance had grown into a separate organization with its own set of bylaws, strategic plan, and board of directors. While it is officially separate, its office is still housed in the same space as Bread for the World and Bread for the World Institute in an office building in Washington, D.C., near Capitol Hill. Read the full story.
Bread for the World Institute’s 2016 Hunger Report, The Nourishing Effect: Ending Hunger, Improving Health, Reducing Inequality, was released Nov. 23 and is now available to Bread members and the public. (Read about the launch.)
The report shows how hunger and health are inextricably linked. Being hungry is bad for a person's health. So is having to choose between paying for food or medicine or between buying cheap, unhealthy food and running out of food altogether. Conversely, poor health can also lead to hunger and poverty. Good nutrition is essential at every stage of life.
The report also includes the finding that last year alone, hunger and food insecurity increased health expenditures in the U.S. by $160 billion.
“Nowhere are the hidden costs of hunger and food insecurity greater than in health care,” said Rev. David Beckmann, Bread’s president. “Access to nutritious food is essential to healthy growth and development and can prevent the need for costly medical care. Many chronic diseases — the main causes of poor health as well as the main drivers of healthcare costs — are related to diet.”
Food insecurity is associated with higher rates of depression, cardiovascular disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, and other physical and mental health conditions. Food assistance programs such as SNAP (formerly known as food stamps) and school lunches save money in the long run by improving educational and health outcomes.
Government resources that could go toward programs such as early childhood education or reducing the national debt are instead spent in emergency rooms and hospitals to offset the costs of hunger and food insecurity. The $160 billion is equivalent to more than a third of the U.S. government’s annual deficit.
The study was carried out by John Cook of Boston Medical Center and Children’s HealthWatch, and Ana Paula Poblacion of Universidade Federal de São Paulo in Brazil. Read the full story.
By Esteban Garcia
Members of Bread for the World, Bread for the World Institute, and the Alliance to End Hunger gathered the evening of Nov. 17 at the Metropolitan Club in New York City for the annual Gala to End Hunger. The event – in its 12th year – gives these organizations an opportunity to thank donors and also allows them to renew their ties to our mission.
This year, Bread was honored to welcome Ertharin Cousin, the executive director of the World Food Programme (WFP) and the former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations Agencies for Food and Agriculture under President Obama. Rather than giving a speech, Cousin and Rev. David Beckmann, Bread’s president, engaged in a conversation that touched on the challenges in the current global fight to end hunger as well as the triumphs that should be celebrated.
Cousin said she was confident in the collective ability to end hunger by 2030, a goal set forth by the United Nations and shared by Bread for the World. “Definitely,” was her simple but firm response to Beckmann’s question about ending hunger in the next 15 years.
Speaking before the roughly 170 attendees at the gala, Beckmann earlier in the evening highlighted the WFP’s essential role in alleviating the suffering of many of the world’s most vulnerable people, including the thousands of refugees fleeing from the violence in Syria. Likewise, Cousin made reference to the important work that Bread does. “Bread for the World keeps our mission in front of the U.S. government,” she said.
The WFP is a key force in the fight to end hunger. In addition to feeding the refugees from Syria who make their way to Europe, Cousin said that her organization is also working to prepare for the effects of El Niño next year.
El Niño, a warming of ocean waters, can wreak havoc on weather patterns worldwide, negatively affecting food production because of the natural disasters it brings with it like floods.
In his closing remarks, Beckmann put the spotlight on people who work in communities across the U.S. and around the world to end hunger, saying that “the power really is with the grassroots people.” He also made reference to the role that religious leaders have played in the fight to end hunger, recognizing the identity of Bread as a faith-based organization.
“Pope Francis always boosts what we try to do,” Beckmann said. Cousin had also made reference to the worldwide leader of the Catholic Church, highlighting the fact that 3,000 letters were recently sent to Pope Francis. Beckmann closed the evening by expressing his appreciation for what the World Food Programme does to help the most vulnerable in the world.
Esteban Garcia is the media relations specialist at Bread for the World.
On the eve of Pope Francis’ visit to the U.S. in September, Bread for the World gathered about 100 top religious leaders from Christian, Jewish, and Muslim denominations and organizations across the country in Washington, D.C., for a summit about ending hunger. Many of them committed themselves to ending hunger by 2030 by signing the Interfaith Religious Leaders’ Pledge to End Hunger.
Among the faith leaders at the summit was David Jeffrey, National Commander of The Salvation Army in the United States. Excerpts from an interview he had with Marco Grimaldo, Bread’s senior national associate for Latino engagement, follow.
“…to preach the Gospel of Jesus Christ and to meet human needs in His name without discrimination.”
Q. How does your faith inform how or why we seek an end to hunger?
David Jeffrey: I think one of the most poignant passages for me is Matthew chapter 25. When Jesus is talking about the end of time, and he's talking about when the king of glory gathers all the nations together, that he's going to separate the sheep and the goats as a shepherd would. He's going to say to those on his right, “Come and receive the inheritance I've prepared for you from the beginning of the world.”
The reason they were to receive it, he says, is, "Because when I was hungry you gave me something to eat. When I was naked you clothed me. When I was sick you visited me. When I was in prison you came to see me."
Jesus said, "When you did it unto the least of these, my brothers and sisters, you did it unto me."
Jesus came and was basically homeless after his early years of living in Nazareth. He became an itinerant preacher, traveling throughout Galilee and Jerusalem. He had a real love and concern for the poor. I think if he were with us today he would be among the homeless. He would be reaching out and touching them. He would be among those in our society that would be considered outcasts because he had a real concern for the poor, because when he himself came, he left the glories of heaven and he became like one of us.
Q. What would it mean if we could see an end to hunger in our lifetime?
DJ: It would mean a great deal…Even though we've made great progress in the past 20 to 25 years by cutting the poverty level in the world by half, we still have a long way to go. There's still over a billion people around the world who are living in abject poverty, and there are 47 million people in the United States who live in poverty… today in America we'll [The Salvation Army] feed 161,000 meals. Tonight we'll sleep 29,000 people in our shelters, and with basic social services, we'll serve about 18 million people this year. It's about one person every two seconds, but we want to do more than just maybe meet people one time and just meet their need on that one particular day. But how can we break this cycle of intergenerational poverty?
Q. How can we be stronger advocates for hungry people?
DJ: First of all, people have to be aware that there is a need. I think people need to educate themselves and read about what can be done. I think folks can volunteer to help those that are needy, and I think that we can all be involved in advocating for the poor by writing our congressman or speaking out on behalf of the poor…
We can have our relationship to God, but I think it was John Wesley that said, "All holiness is social holiness.” It's how we treat each other. It's how we respect each other that really makes the difference. I think one of the basic tenets of all faiths is that we have to be concerned for other people.
The Salvation Army’s annual red kettle campaign began at Thanksgiving and will continue through Advent and conclude on Christmas Eve. Seeing the ubiquitous red kettle for the collection of change at grocery stores and other shopping places is a reminder of the many organizations across the country and around the world that are helping to address hunger and poverty along with Bread for the World.
Editor’s note: Bread’s church relations department maintains the organization’s relationship with The Salvation Army, one of its national religious partners.
Get your 2015 Christmas cards today! When you send Bread for the World cards, your family and friends learn about our vital work to end hunger. A pack of 10 cards and envelopes is just $15, shipping included. Multiple designs are available. Order online, or call 800/822-7323, ext. 1072 to order your cards today.
You can give a gift of hope and opportunity to hungry people with your year-end contribution to Bread for the World. Make your gift today by visiting www.bread.org/give. Tax-deductible gifts to Bread for the World Institute support research and analysis that shapes policies and legislation that will help end hunger.
More and more Bread for the World members are making charitable gifts by transferring appreciated stocks to Bread for the World Institute. If you wish to arrange a stock transfer, please contact Kierra Stuvland at 800/822-7323, ext. 1150 or email: email@example.com.
Bread for the World’s 2016 Offering of Letters will focus on ending preventable maternal and child deaths through nutrition and health. Zambia will feature prominently in stories as an illustration of the campaign’s theme. The country is a focus of the Feed the Future program - the U.S. government's global food security initiative.
The 2016 toolkit for coordinators of letter-writing events will contain all of the same items that past years’ kits have contained — how-to-information on planning an event, an explanation of the issue, items to help promote your event, videos to show during a presentation, a sample PowerPoint presentation, and more.
The Offering of Letters kit will also be here on Bread’s website. In addition, print and online materials will be available in Spanish.
Here are three blog posts worth reading that recently appeared in Bread Blog. The blog posts include the start of our Advent series written by staff, alumni, and friends of the San Francisco Theological Seminary, the launch of the 2016 Hunger Report, The Nourishing Effect, and an executive order that advances criminal justice reform.
“The Iona Community includes in its regular rhythm of worship a Service of Prayers for Healing. Every Tuesday evening in the abbey church on Iona, an island just off the western coast of Scotland — and elsewhere around the world at other times — the community gathers to pray for ‘the healing of broken bodies, hurt minds, and wounded hearts; of divided communities and nations, and of the earth itself; and of the hurts and divisions within ourselves.’"
“This morning, with Thanksgiving on the horizon, Bread for the World Institute launched its 2016 Hunger Report, The Nourishing Effect: Ending Hunger, Improving Health, Reducing Inequality. Speakers at the launch, held at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C., highlighted the impacts of hunger and food insecurity on both Americans’ health and U.S. healthcare costs.”
“As a nation, we are slowly inching closer to criminal justice reform. The latest evidence is President Obama’s executive order that federal agencies stop asking prospective government employees about their criminal histories at the beginning of the application process. Rather, that inquiry would take place later.”
Noah Spengler, 17, of Juneau, Alaska, recently started a small clothing company and is sharing a portion of the profits with Bread for the World. Noah’s company, NSL (Noah Spengler Limited), sells T-shirts and sweatshirts that he has designed and printed. Noah created the company from the ground up, making his own press, screens, and website.
Noah is pledging ten percent of his profits to Bread for the World.
His father, Tim, dropped Bread an email about Noah’s venture. “While it’s not likely to be a significant amount of money, we are very proud of him for trying to help others through NSL,” Tim wrote. “His simple reasoning is that he has been fortunate in his life and he'd like to do something for those less fortunate.”
Tim also noted that the family is a long-time Bread for the World supporter. “Thank you for the essential work you do,” he added.
We at Bread thank you, Spengler family, for your longtime support of the work and Noah for including Bread in your business venture. We wish you well!
The following is “A Blessing for Refreshment” that was delivered orally at the close of the 12th Annual Gala to End Hunger in New York City on Nov. 17, a gathering of Bread for the World, Bread for the World Institute, and Alliance to End Hunger members.
This blessing was written and delivered by Kierra Stuvland, the major gifts coordinator/development officer in the development department at Bread for the World.
This blessing is being shared here to serve, in a way, as a prayerful closure to 2015 in this final issue of the newsletter for the year.
While this blessing reflects what was spoken at that particular moment in time for those who were present, it applies to all of us who are part of Bread for the World as we strive toward a world without hunger. May it be a fitting way to close the year and inspire you for another year of work in ending hunger ahead.
Along with this blessing, we at Bread for the World and Bread for the World Institute wish you Christ-filled Advent and Christmas seasons. May the hope of Immanuel, God-with-us, be with you as we celebrate Jesus' coming and as we begin a new year.
To the Powers above us, behind us, before us and beyond us:
Bless our efforts here in this place — to learn, to serve, to use our talents wisely and well.
To make decisions that promote the Common Good — the heart of the body that is all humankind.
And if Common Good is the heart, our hands are Spirit.
We raise them up to the sun in celebration.
We hold a grandchild; a baby — soft, fuzzy head cupped in our hand.
We write … a love song, a grocery list, our name, a check.
A crossword puzzle.
14 Down; six letters. Hint: A feeling of discomfort or weakness caused by lack of food, coupled with the desire to eat.
A woman, displaced, fleeing, looks at her hands. Reaches to the trees and pulls off a bunch of leaves.
Hands them to her son. “Eat,” she says, then turns back to the tree for her portion.
Tonight we are raising funds; and we are raising up people —
up out of the debilitating grips of hunger; a problem so archaic it should have been buried with the dinosaurs in the Cretaceous Period.
Let this be the day that our minds are renewed.
Let this be the day when the vision of a world without hunger becomes our passion.
To the Powers above us, behind us, before us and beyond us:
Bless our efforts here in this place — to learn, to serve, to use our talents wisely and well.
Amen, ase, and peace be with you all. Goodnight.
Blessing by Kierra Stuvland, Bread for the World
Hunger and food insecurity add at least $160 billion a year to U.S. healthcare costs.
Immigration is a hunger issue on both sides of the border. We call on Congress to take a comprehensive approach to immigration reform.
Fragile Environments, Resilient Communities explains how state fragility stands in the way of ending hunger and extreme poverty.
A brief examination of the biblical approach to health as a hunger issue.
Includes an introduction to the issue, a Scriptural reflection, practical actions you can take, and a prayer.
This devotional guide invites deepened relationship with and among Pan-African people and elected leaders in the mission to end hunger and poverty.
Thank you for inviting me to preach here at Duke University Chapel. And I especially want to thank the Bread for the World members who have come this morning.
Bruce Puckett urged...
A set of how-to sheets for carrying out advocacy and fact sheets on the current issues Bread for the World is working on.
For new and current Bread grassroots hunger activists.
Ideal as a starter toolkit for new Bread activists or as a set of updates for current activists.
Unnecessarily long prison sentences, combined with the lack of rehabilitative programs for people in prison, exacerbate hunger, poverty, and existing inequalities.
Overly harsh mandatory minimum prison sentences have contributed to the rapid increase of our country’s prison population. The...
Learn more about the principles that Bread for the World supports regarding health reform.