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By Jamie Thomas
About 250 guests joined Kelvin Beachum Jr., offensive tackle for the New York Jets, last month in New York, in a chant: “One Team!,” Beachum said. “One Fight!” the audience responded. They said it again, louder: "ONE TEAM! ONE FIGHT!" And again: "ONE TEAM! ONE FIGHT!"
The energizing call came at the close of the 14th Annual Gala to End Hunger, co-hosted by Bread for the World and the Alliance to End Hunger. Funds raised at this dinner support the organizations’ ongoing work to end hunger in the United States and around the world.
Dr. James Forbes, emeritus senior minister at Riverside Church opened the event with prayer. Kate Pringle, a member of Bread for the World’s board, served as master of ceremonies.
Ambassador Tony P. Hall, executive director emeritus of the Alliance to End Hunger, introduced keynote speaker David Beasley, former governor of South Carolina and now executive director of the World Food Program. The World Food Program is the world’s largest humanitarian agency. It delivers food assistance in emergencies and works with communities to improve nutrition and build resilience.
Beasley told attendees about the unprecedented humanitarian crisis in Yemen. The country is facing its worst drought in almost 70 years. Lasting conflict has contributed to the situation, and conflict is now preventing relief. “They are using food as a weapon of war,” Beasley said, “and we’re trying to use it as a weapon of peace.” Yemen, and other countries facing famine, face mass deaths caused by starvation unless humanitarian aid can be provided. Beasley encouraged attendees to talk to their members of Congress to urge them to respond to these crises.
The event also honored Ashok and Meera Vasudevan, co-founders of Preferred Brands International (Tasty Bite) and the Meera and Ashok Vasudevan Foundation. The food company supports education in India, funds scholarships, and ships food to people affected by natural disasters. The Vasudevans received the Alliance to End Hunger’s Partnership Award for their work to move people out of hunger in a sustainable, self-reliant, and healthy manner.
The awardees talked about how hungry people in America are often invisible and encouraged people to speak together to end hunger. “Let us end this national silence, denial, and indifference… Alone, we cannot. Together, we can,” Ashok Vasudevan said.
Bread for the World president David Beckmann gave the audience reason for hope. “When I look at this graph,” Beckmann said, pointing to a graph charting progress against poverty, “I see God. Multitudes have escaped from material misery, a great exodus from hunger.”
Beckmann spoke about Esther in the Hebrew scriptures – the Jewish girl in the harem of the Persian emperor. Esther’s uncle, Mordecai, urged Esther to go to the emperor as an advocate. She hesitated to get involved. Mordecai told her, “Maybe it was for such a time as this that God put you where you are.”
When Beachum took the stage at the end of the night, he said his parents struggled to put food on the table every day. He went to bed hungry. Now a successful professional football player, he doesn’t worry about his children not having enough to eat. Beachum told the audience about his 6-day-old baby and asked, “If I was in Somalia right now, what would my son be going through tonight?”
Bread for the World and the Alliance to End Hunger are grateful for the leadership of John Driscoll and Terry Meehan, who co-chaired the event, along with host committee members Lauren Driscoll, Montie Meehan, Adele and Robert Cahill, Angela and Stephen Groth, Felicia and John Hendrix, Mary and Joseph Martingale, Kate Pringle and John McCormick, Billie Mullen, Maureen O’Leary, Chang Park, Elizabeth Donnelly and Phillip Pulaski, and Rose DiMartino and Karen Smith.
Jamie Thomas is assistant to the president of Bread for the World and the Alliance to End Hunger
This is the one of whom the prophet Isaiah spoke when he said,
‘The voice of one crying out in the wilderness:
“Prepare the way of the Lord,
make his paths straight.”’
– Matthew 3:3
By Rev. Denise Anderson
Advent offers us the chance to reflect on our lives and consider how we prepare a way for the Lord. What are the blessings we know from God and what brings us hope?
As co-moderator of the Presbyterian Church (USA), I’ve traveled across the country and around the world. I’ve seen first-hand the ways people are choosing to be each other's neighbor. I have heard stories from indigenous pastors in northern Thailand who work alongside their largely undocumented congregations to get them documented. I’ve spoken with Tutsi and Hutu people in Rwanda who now work together to heal their country more than 20 years after a genocide that took 800,000 lives.
I’ve witnessed tall steeple churches raising millions of dollars for mission. Smaller churches are engaging their communities and remaining solvent even as they give so much away. I often get to see the best of the church. I can’t help but be hopeful as a result.
Christians are also working in their communities to be agents of justice. I’ve been impressed by what Baltimoreans United in Leadership Development (BUILD) is doing. In just three years, BUILD’s Turnaround Tuesdays have connected hundreds of people to jobs by creating partnerships and entering into agreements with some of Baltimore’s largest employers. More than half of the people they’ve connected to jobs have been returning citizens. Advocating for hungry people, pressing for criminal justice reform, and being present in the community give me hope.
Presbyterians have long-partnered with Bread for the World in advocating for hungry people. But I hope we will be more adaptive. I can’t help but notice how markedly different these times are than any other time I can remember. It seems civility is at an all-time low and willful deception is at an all-time high. I’m not sure appeals to morality, sharing of stories, or any other methods we’ve relied on in the past have the same impact. We’ll have to be more creative than ever in our advocacy, and our advocacy will have to be coupled with organizing to build power among constituencies.
As we prepare to again welcome Jesus in our lives, let us reflect on the questions he asks: Who is your neighbor? What is an acceptable fast for the Lord? When did we see the naked, hungry or imprisoned? And let us be in prayer for our nation’s decision-makers. Like the prophet Ezekiel, oracle to a hard-hearted Israel, we pray that God will give all in power hearts of flesh. We pray that intractable stubbornness will be traded for listening ears and a thirst for righteousness. In Jesus’ holy name, Amen.
Rev. Denise Anderson is co-moderator of the General Assembly of Presbyterian Church USA, the highest elected office in the denomination. She is also pastor of Unity Presbyterian Church in Temple Hills, Md.
"Prepare the way of the Lord"
The Eleanor Crook Foundation (ECF) recently announced that it will invest $100 million by 2030 to fund research, capacity building, and advocacy for global nutrition.
The foundation’s investment unlocked a $50 million match from the United Kingdom’s Department for International Development (DFID). ECF, DFID, and the United States Agency for International Development announced that they will collaborate to align their nutrition strategy and programing.
“Let this chapter, this next 15-years … between 2015-2030, be the end of the story of hunger. How many wrong-turns and crossroads before every mother is able to feed and nourish her children?,” said William Moore, ECF executive director. Moore sits on Bread’s board of directors.
Eleanor Crook, after whom the foundation is named, is one of Bread for the World’s leading supporters.
“Eleanor prefers to be quiet about her philanthropy, but the far-reaching impact of this commitment compels me to thank her publicly for all that she and her family have done – and continue to do – to improve the lives of millions of hungry and poor people,” said Rev. David Beckmann.
The commitment was first announced on Nov. 4, at the Milan Global Nutrition Summit in Italy, and then later at the Washington, D.C. launch of the U.S. Global Nutrition Report 2017 on Nov. 29.
Starting in 2018, the full toolkit for Bread for the World’s Offering of Letters will now be primarily accessible through the web, with a condensed print version mailed to regular users. This transition, from primarily print to primarily digital, started in 2009 when Bread began making the full toolkit also available online.
All the Offering of Letters materials you come to expect from Bread — such as the how-to-information on planning an event, an explanation of the issue, items to help promote your event — will be available online in both English and Spanish.
A condensed version, containing sections deemed essential by various user surveys, will be printed in English and Spanish. It will be mailed out in early 2018, along with posters and worship bulletins. However, the printed version will not include all the elements in the online version of the 2018 Offering of Letters.
For the 2018 Offering of Letters, Bread will focus again on the budget. Please keep reading our e-newsletter to find out more information about the 2018 Offering of Letters.
When you send Bread for the World Christmas cards to your family and friends, you will help create hope and opportunity for people who are hungry. Proceeds from the sale of these cards support efforts to urge our nation’s decision makers to change the policies and conditions that allow hunger to persist in our own country and abroad.
The 2017 card features an original illustration called “Nurture” by Doug Puller, Bread for the World’s senior design and art manager.
Ten cards and envelopes are only $15 (includes shipping). Additional card designs, including one without a religious greeting, are available. View the cards and place your order today, or call 800-822-7323, ext. 1072.
The tax advantages of gifts to Bread for the World Institute may be especially significant this year. Many stocks are at record highs and would be subject to capital gains taxes if sold. When you contribute gifts of stock to Bread for the World Institute, you may deduct the market value of the stock as a charitable contribution – and avoid capital gains taxes.
You may also wish to use appreciated stock to establish a charitable gift annuity, which provides fixed income for life for you or a person you name. You may also receive some tax savings in the first and subsequent years of the annuity.
If you are 70 ½ years of age or older and have an IRA account, you may be able to take advantage of rolling over up to $100,000 directly to a charitable entity, such as Bread for the World Institute. A rollover cannot be counted as a charitable gift for income tax purposes, but it does fulfill your obligation to withdraw funds from your IRA. If you don’t itemize your tax return, you are still eligible to support Bread for the World Institute in this way. A charitable IRA rollover may also be helpful to your heirs since IRA accounts can be subject to taxation.
For more information about making gifts of stock, charitable gift annuities, or the charitable IRA rollover, please contact Vince Mezzera at firstname.lastname@example.org or 800-882-7323, ext. 1128.
“In Times Like These … A Pan-African Christian Devotional Guide for Public Policy Engagement” is a year-long devotional guide written on the occasion of the 50th anniversaries of the martyrdom of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and the Poor People’s Campaign. The devotional guide, written by well-known Pan-African Christian leaders from the United States and abroad, provides inspiration and reflection for advocacy work to end hunger and poverty.
The devotional guide can be used weekly or monthly for Bible study, prayer, and community organizing. It can also be used as an educational tool to learn more about Pan-African history, and also to build partnerships with Pan-African communities. It may also be a source of inspiration during important Bread for the World events such as lobby day and Bread for the World Sunday, and also an accompaniment to the 2018 Offering of Letters.
Photo: Bread team members in Florida prepare and distribute food kits for migrant and local farm workers in Collier County.
By Robin Stephenson
When Bread leaders face an injustice, they often respond with a simple question: What can I do to help?
That is precisely how Bread for the World member Linda Leonard-Woods and the Central Florida Bread Team reacted when they learned Immokalee farm workers — the very people who grow and harvest the food they eat — were going hungry.
This is the second year that Leonard-Woods, a labor justice advocate for Florida Abolitionist, and other Bread team members have prepared and distributed food kits for migrant and local farm workers in Collier County.
The trip, facilitated in part by the Farmworker Association of Florida, allowed the team to roll up their sleeves and help alleviate hunger in the community. By volunteering, they also heard stories from farm workers and were able to ask them questions. In this way, the team strengthened their ability to advocate with the community as they continue to urge their members of Congress to make policy changes that can break cycles of hunger.
Leonard-Woods, who is also chair of the Labor Justice Subcommittee of the Great Orlando Human Trafficking Task Force, pointed out the irony of hungry farm workers: “Unfortunately, the people who plant, grow, and harvest our food often struggle to feed their own families due to low wages, inadequate health care and working conditions, and inflated costs for deplorable, overcrowded rental properties.”
It’s hard enough for low-wage workers to make ends meet when there is a paycheck, but in the off-season agricultural work becomes scarce. Off-season months are made harder for undocumented workers, since they do not have access to a safety net and often face the added burden of exploitation.
According to the U.S. Department of Labor, at least half of all farm workers in the United States are undocumented. Bread for the World approaches immigration as a hunger issue. Research shows that many undocumented immigrants are leaving their home countries to escape hunger and poverty only to face hunger once they arrive in the United States.
Solidarity and treating others with love and respect is just the first step for the Florida Bread team. Ending the hunger season will take continued advocacy at the federal level.
“The Bible tells us that it is out of our bounty that we are to provide for those in less fortunate situations,” Leonard-Wood said..
Faithful provision begins with a simple question: What can I do to help?
Robin Stephenson is the senior manager for social media at Bread for the World.
Several members of Bread for the World’s board of directors will leave at the end of this year. Bread for the World is very grateful for the dedication and commitment of these servant leaders.
Bread for the World is especially grateful to outgoing board member Sandra Joireman, who has served as chair of the board of directors for the last five years.
The new chair and several new board members, elected by the membership and board of Bread for the World this fall, will be announced in January.
Board members are typically elected to three-year terms and are eligible to serve two consecutive terms. Nominations for future board membership are accepted on a rolling basis. Contact email@example.com for more information.
The following board members’ terms end December 31, 2017. Bread for the World is deeply appreciative of their dedicated service.
These fact sheets provide a snapshot of hunger and poverty in the United States and in each state plus Washington, D.C.
While hunger declined from 2017 for the general U.S. population, African Americans experienced a one percent increase, an increase of 153,000 African American households.
Mass incarceration has far-reaching effects in the United States. It poses a significant barrier to ending U.S. hunger and poverty by 2030—a goal the United States adopted in 2015. But the connection is not always obvious.
Dear Members of Congress,
As the president and Congress are preparing their plans for this year, almost 100 church leaders—from all the families of U.S. Christianity—are...
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.
These fact sheets provide a snapshot of hunger and poverty in the United States and in each state plus Washington, D.C.
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...