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With the Iowa caucuses now behind us, there’s no doubt that we are in presidential election season.
If you care about people who are hungry, then you should also care about this election. Just as we as people of faith can make a difference through legislative advocacy in Congress, we can also work to end hunger in the way we vet and elect our leaders, both for Congress and the presidency.
Our Christian faith compels us to elect wise leaders who uphold justice and the common good, especially for people who are poor and needy (Psalm 72:12-14). The Bible underscores the need for good governance and for leaders who govern impartially (Leviticus 19:15; James 2:2-4).
With that as our basis, Bread for the World, along with partner organizations, wants ending hunger and poverty to be a high priority for our next president and Congress. The time to make it so is during the election campaign.
One of the best times to raise the issues of hunger and poverty is during election campaigns. During these periods, current and potential office holders are listening the most and are making and establishing promises, priorities, and plans. Elections are times to re-assess how our common resources — our taxpayer dollars — are being used and what the role of our government should be. They are times to discuss and set our priorities as a nation. Read the full story.
Bread for the World’s 2016 Offering of Letters: Survive and Thrive debuts this month.
This annual campaign has an international focus in 2016 with the topic of the nutrition and health of mothers and children. These groups are the most vulnerable to hunger and malnutrition. Malnutrition has devastating long-term consequences on health and can result in death. Focusing on the well-being of these groups through nutrition will help the world make great strides toward ending hunger altogether by 2030. This year’s Offering of Letters urges Congress to affirm and provide additional resources for our federal government to accelerate global progress against malnutrition.
Zambia will feature prominently in stories. The country is a focus of the Feed the Future program — the U.S. government's global food security initiative. The campaign’s toolkit provides real-life stories in print and video of programs in Zambia funded by the U.S. Agency for International Development, a major way our federal government addresses hunger and poverty overseas.
Toolkits to help congregations and other faith communities participate in the 2016 Offering of Letters will be available later in February (English and Spanish versions). See ordering information below. You can also pre-order a print kit now. Congregations that want to access the materials before the print toolkits are available can get them on the Bread website at www.bread.org/ol.
The 2016 toolkit for coordinators of letter-writing events contains many of the same items that past years’ kits have contained — how-to-information on planning an event, a guide to understanding the issue in layperson’s terms, items to help promote your event, videos to show during a presentation, a sample PowerPoint presentation, a sample letter to Congress, and more.
As Congress begins determining next year’s funding priorities, it is important for your members of Congress to hear from you with letters early in the year. So don’t delay. Start planning your Offering of Letters today.
Pre-order a kit now:
All materials are available in:
By Bryana Braxton
A bill to reauthorize child nutrition programs passed out of the Senate Agriculture committee with support from both parties on January 20. The Improving the Child Nutrition Integrity and Access Act will authorize programs that make meals more accessible for children after school and during the summer months.
“Bread for the World applauds the agriculture committee’s passage of this important, bipartisan bill,” said Rev. David Beckmann, Bread’s president. “While this legislation is not perfect, it takes important steps to connect more children at risk of hunger with the meals they need to learn and grow.”
Child feeding and nutrition programs in the U.S. were the topic of the 2015 Offering of Letters campaign. As part of the campaign, people across the country wrote over 220,000 letters and emails and made thousands of phone calls to Congress about passing a child nutrition reauthorization bill. Thanks to their efforts, Congress made child nutrition reauthorization one of its first priorities this year.
The bill’s initiatives include streamlined summer and after-school meal programs to serve children year-round, an expansion of the summer electronic benefit transfer (EBT) program to help families purchase groceries, and alternative methods to reach kids who cannot travel to meal sites.
These policy changes will provide children with the nutritious meals they need without cutting SNAP (formerly known as food stamps) or other anti-poverty programs to pay for charges.
Looking forward, this successful vote gives the Senate Agriculture committee leverage to bring the bill to the floor for a full Senate vote in the near future. Meanwhile, the House is working on its own child nutrition bill. No details of its contents or timeline are known at this time, but movement of the Senate bill may encourage the House to take action.
Please continue advocating for the reauthorization of child nutrition programs as the Senate advances this bill. Call (800/826-3688) or email your senator today. Tell him or her to ensure all children have the nutritious meals they need.
If you want to get regular updates on this legislation and others moving in Congress, you can subscribe to a new weekly newsletter called Fresh Bread. This quick and easy-to-read newsletter gives an update on hunger-related happenings in Congress, a summary of the past week’s legislative movements, and ways for you to take action. Subscribe and receive Fresh Bread every week by email.
Bryana Braxton is a communications intern at Bread for the World and a student at American University.
By Marlysa Thomas
Reaching the goal of ending hunger by 2030 involves looking to leaders – both past and present – who can help get us there. As we celebrate Black History Month in February, we note the African-American champions of ending hunger and poverty who have led us on this road. From poets to activists and everyday community members, many leaders in the African-American community from Reconstruction to today have dedicated their lives to ending hunger and poverty.
The Harlem Children’s Zone (HCZ) was started in 1970 and later expanded by Geoffrey Canada in 1990. Canada grew up in Harlem and experienced poverty as a young boy. He promised to return to his childhood neighborhood to fight hunger and poverty among low-income children, families, and communities.
For the past 16 years, HCZ has connected service programs in the community to K-12 schools. In 2015, 93 percent of students in the organization’s programs were accepted to college. Last year, the organization provided over 26,000 adults and youth with services ranging from tax preparation, maternal and child nutrition assistance, early childhood education, and food services.
All of these supports contribute to financial stability in the future, which reduces the likelihood of community members experiencing hunger and poverty. In 2009, President Obama lifted this program up as an effective way to reduce hunger and poverty in African-American communities. It has since been replicated in 58 cities across the country.
In 1999, Angela Blackwell, a strong African-American leader who has a vision of lifting up effective strategies, programs, and research findings on the ground to inform local, state, and national policy, founded PolicyLink. This national nonprofit finds innovative solutions that connect low-income African- American and Latino communities most affected by hunger and poverty with services, resources, and access to employment, paid benefits, health supports, quality education, and opportunities to build a strong financial future.
PolicyLink has also supported hundreds of nonprofits throughout the nation to eliminate food deserts and empower people returning home from incarceration as well as boys and men of color. These are all things that Bread knows are essential to ending hunger within the African-American and Latino communities. Canada and Blackwell are just two of the many leaders fighting for the same vision of living in a country where no one is vulnerable to hunger or poverty. As we celebrate Black History Month, let us celebrate them and others in the African-American community who are leading the community and all of us toward a world without hunger.
Marlysa Thomas is the domestic adviser for policy and programs, specific populations in Bread for the World Institute.
By Rev. Aundreia Alexander
Members of the Massai tribe of East Africa greet each another with the question How are the children? The greeting is for all, whether the one being addressed is a parent or not.
The question is grounded in the belief that a society’s strength is tied to the wellbeing of its children. If the most fragile among us is well, then society is well. The question also indicates an intentional connection with and communal obligation to care for children.
Conversely, in the United States we often greet one another with the question How are you? The focus on individuality and self-determination is wrapped in the insulated premise of the question. Recent events have led me to reflect on the two greetings and what they both say about what we value as a society.
A few weeks ago, I testified before a panel representing the United Nations Working Group of Experts on People of African Descent. Several nongovernmental organizations made presentations on the status of African-Americans in various spheres (e.g. education, criminal justice). The focus of my testimony was the juvenile penal system and solitary confinement. I used the story of Kalief Browder to highlight all the ways the penal system fails our children and particularly African-Americans:
When Browder, who was African-American, was 16, he was racially profiled and arrested. He could not afford an attorney or bail. He was sent to an adolescent detention center. Browder was abused by guards and other boys at the facility. He was offered several opportunities to accept a plea bargain, which he refused because he was innocent. His case was constantly postposed by the prosecutor. He was sent to solitary confinement for minor infractions.
Browder was in jail for three years before his case was ultimately dismissed. He was never officially charged with a crime and never had a trial. He spent over 800 days in solitary confinement. He attempted suicide several times both while in jail and after he was released. He succeeded in taking his own life on June 6, 2015.
All of the presentations before the U.N. working group highlighted the impact of generations of marginalization and oppression grounded in institutionalized racism and classism. The testimonies revealed that the group most detrimentally impacted are children.
According the Children’s Defense Fund’s “Each Day in America” report for 2014, every day:
In 2012, the National Council of Churches issued a policy statement titled “The Church and Children: Vision and Goals for the 21st Century.” In referring to the biblical reference to Jesus as a child, the statement notes:
When we read, “The child grew and became strong, filled with wisdom, and the favor of God was upon him” (Luke 1:40), it captures not only Jesus’ story but what we hope would be the story of every child today and in all the days to come.
How better might we be as a nation if we measured our strength on the wellbeing of our children? How better might we be if every time we greeted one another we were reminded to consider the wellbeing of our children?
Rev. Aundreia Alexander, Esq. is the associate general secretary for action and advocacy for justice and peace for the National Council of Churches.
Bread for the Word believes ongoing prayer is essential for creating and sustaining the political will needed to achieve the end of hunger by 2030.
To encourage this outpouring of prayers, Lenten Prayers for Hungry People was mailed to all Bread for the World members in early January. This six-panel table tent includes the Scripture lessons appointed for the five Sundays in Lent as well as the Sunday of the Passion.
Ash Wednesday is especially early this year: Feb. 10. You are welcome to order additional copies of Lenten Prayers to share with family, friends, and members of your parish. To view the prayers and order free copies, visit www.bread.org/lent or call 800/822-7323, ext. 1072.
Still working on your new year’s resolutions? February is still close enough to the beginning of the year that you can add one: Taking a small step that will add up to a big difference throughout the year.
Join the Baker’s Dozen giving program by making a gift of just $10 a month. Using your credit card or electronic funds transfer saves gift-processing costs, so your giving in this way creates the equivalent of a 13th gift – a baker’s dozen. Your Bread for the World membership is automatically renewed and you receive less mail in the course of the year.
Starting this new habit is easy. Visit our Baker’s Dozen page or call 800/822-7323, ext. 1140. You may change the amount of your monthly gift or discontinue giving at any time.
Bread will hold its annual Lobby Day on Tuesday, June 7, 2016. Mark your calendar now and save the date. The location, as always, is Washington, D.C. Some details have not been determined yet but will be shared in this newsletter as the date gets closer. The morning gathering and orientation will happen, as usual, at a church on Capitol Hill, and the day will end with a reception, worship, participants sharing about the day, and awards given to legislators.
Bread will not be holding a national gathering this year, but Lobby Day will happen as it does every year.
Lobby Day is a chance for Bread members and activists to come together and visit Capitol Hill en masse. It’s a favorite annual event for veteran activists who like to maintain their relationships with their representatives and their staffs in Washington. It’s also a good event for people new to hunger-related lobbying because it provides exposure to the halls of power in D.C. often in the comfort of a group. Bread staff assist Lobby Day participants in setting up meetings with the offices of members of Congress, and newbies or people who come to D.C. alone can often visit offices with other people from their state.
Participants are required to pay for their own travel to and from Washington, D.C., as well as for accommodation, meals, local transportation, and other expenses. But Bread will provide orientation to lobbying and background on the day’s issues as well as access and scheduling to congressional offices.
By Bryana Braxton
Following the global climate change agreement forged late last year, Bread is urging the U.S. government to take action on climate change as a hunger issue. Nearly 200 countries agreed to collectively lower greenhouse emissions at the United Nations Framework Convention for Climate Change in Paris in December.
“This historic agreement will put us on a path to reducing greenhouse emissions and helping the most vulnerable communities adapt to the effects of climate change,” said Asma Lateef, director of Bread for the World Institute.
This treaty marked a milestone in the battle against climate change. The countries acknowledged the present threats of climate change and set a goal to keep the global temperature average from increasing 2 degrees Celsius, preferably 1.5 degrees.
Bread for the World Institute’s background paper, “Hunger and Climate Change: What’s the Connection?” explains some of the effects on the United States: increased hurricanes, flooding, and droughts.
For food producers in developing countries, namely smallholder farmers, the effects of climate change are arguably more severe. These extreme weather events decrease crop production and food supplies, contributing to hunger and poverty. Bread for the World is wanting to help end world hunger and extreme poverty by 2030, but to do so, the world must first confront climate change.
In implementing the agreement, our federal government needs to deliver transparency and accountability and target the populations most vulnerable to poverty and hunger.
“We also need reporting on the progress of countries and how that is addressing the needs of hungry and poor people,” said Faustine Wabwire, senior foreign assistance policy analyst at Bread for the World Institute. In addition, she suggests a focus on data so that government and committees can create early warning systems.
“We appreciate the leadership the United States, and President Obama in particular, have shown in making this agreement a reality,” said Lateef. “It has taken a lot to get to this point, but now that we are here, it is time to move forward and deal with this urgent problem.”
Bryana Braxton is a communications intern at Bread for the World and a student at American University.
Photo: The rise in the global temperature, due to climate change, decreases crop production and contributes to world hunger. Bread for the World photo
We have created two new email newsletters for Bread members and activists.
We’re baking Fresh Bread and delivering it weekly when Congress is in session. This newsletter is aimed at frequent activists. You can receive this newsletter, sent by email, when you subscribe. This quick and easy-to-read newsletter contains a rundown of the happenings in Congress on the issues Bread is working on. It provides a summary of the past week’s legislative movements as well as a quick look ahead and actions you can take.
Longtime Bread members may remember the Fresh Bread newsletter, which ran for several years before it was discontinued in 2011.
For regular reports on Bread for the World Institute’s research and analysis, subscribe to the new Institute Insights. This newsletter provides more on the global movement to end hunger by 2030:
Institute Insights will be produced monthly starting in February and will be sent by email only.
Hunger and food insecurity add at least $160 billion a year to U.S. healthcare costs.
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.
The United States has long been a global leader in responding to humanitarian emergencies. Food assistance that includes nutritious food for pregnant women and young children is both a life-and-death matter for individuals and an economic imperative for countries.
Dear Members of Congress,
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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.
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Ideal as a starter toolkit for new Bread activists or as a set of updates for current activists.
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Learn more about the principles that Bread for the World supports regarding health reform.