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By Marlysa D. Gamblin
This February, join Bread for the World as we honor African-American leaders for all they have achieved and for their renewed dedication to moving forward until we see a world without hunger.
Celebrating Black History Month is an opportunity to acknowledge leadership to end hunger, food insecurity, and poverty in the African-American community. On the local, state, national, and international levels, the world continues to witness African-American leaders working with dedication to reduce hunger and poverty among marginalized communities.
Locally, teachers, social workers, health workers, community organizations, and churches in the African American community work day in and day out to find solutions to problems that contribute to hunger in their communities.
One prime example of a local champion to end hunger and poverty in his community is Geoffrey Canada, who started the Harlem Children’s Zone in New York City’s Harlem neighborhood in 1970. It operated on the local level for about 30 years, bringing educators and services to low-income families and children, before it won national attention and acclaim at the beginning of this century. Now, several cities around the United States have drawn inspiration from the Harlem Children’s Zone and adopted their own community initiatives to reduce hunger and poverty.
On the state level, we see black state legislators taking oaths to advocate for adequate funding for essential safety-net programs, such as Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) and the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), formerly known as food stamps. In 2016, the National Black Caucus of State Legislators (NBCSL), a group of black elected state officials, passed a resolution to formally endorse Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 1 — ending hunger and all forms of malnutrition by 2030. The United States and 192 other countries adopted the Sustainable Development Goals in September 2015. Elected leaders and civic organizations at all levels are just beginning to commit to the goals and to taking action to achieve them in the United States, and the NBCSL resolution was among the first such large-scale state-level decisions.
Black clergy (e.g., the African Methodist Episcopal National Women's Quadrennial) and the black press (e.g., the Indianapolis Recorder newspaper) urged the NBCSL to take this prompt action. Because the NBCSL represents more than 50 million people, extending beyond the African-American community to people of all racial backgrounds, its commitment could potentially make tremendous improvements for millions of U.S. households that struggle with hunger and food insecurity.
We recognize the faithful work of national leaders of past decades, including Martin Luther King, Jr., who preached for good jobs and the need to end hunger. Marian Wright Edelman, founder of the National Children’s Defense Fund, has spent the past 40 years advocating to end child hunger and poverty in the United States.
More recently, several members of the Congressional Black Caucus have raised awareness of hunger with efforts such as taking the weeklong “Food Stamp Challenge,” some more than once. During the week of the challenge, participants spent only the average SNAP benefit on food, to help make the point that currently, SNAP simply does not provide enough money for sufficient food. Using their personal experiences and new knowledge, these members of Congress have stepped up their advocacy for Americans who don’t have enough to eat.
Internationally, we see black churches from all denominations doing their part to end hunger and poverty in developing countries, including but not limited to nations in sub-Saharan Africa. American black officials also play critical leadership roles in truly global efforts both to feed people in immediate need and to enable all families to feed themselves and their children in the future. One such distinguished leader is Ertharin Cousin, executive director of the U.N. World Food Program.
Bread for the World applauds black leaders on the local, state, national, and international levels for their commitment to ending hunger and extreme poverty in the United States and around the world. This Black History Month, we are launching our first-ever digital celebration.
It will include blogs, research, memes, and tweets related to black leadership on all levels, from individuals in churches to members of the Congressional Black Caucus, with updates on their work as anti-hunger advocates.
Marlysa D. Gamblin is a domestic advisor on policy and programs for specific populations at Bread for the World Institute.
Krisanne Vaillancourt Murphy, a recent senior associate for national Catholic engagement at Bread for the World, took part in the Catholic Women Preach initiative – an innovate project designed to bring the voices of diverse Catholic women to the forefront.
Following the liturgical year, Catholic women will reflect on how the texts relate to all Catholics today with a special emphasis on the lives of women, their apostolic call, and their roles in the Church and the world.
CWP offers the theologically informed perspectives of Catholic women speaking on scripture and reflecting on how the scripture texts relate to all Catholics today. Short video reflections and transcripts are easily accessible for clergy, catechists, RCIA, parish study groups, campus ministers, retreat leaders, and others in church ministry.
The Catholic Women Preach initiative sees itself as a response to Pope Francis’ call for broader and more active engagement of the baptized in the preaching mission of the Church.
Each Lenten season, Bread for the World develops table tents called Lenten Prayers for Hungry People for use at weekly Lenten activities.
Ash Wednesday starts this year on March 1 — so please take time now to order free copies of this resource to share with family, friends, and members of your parish. To view the prayers and order copies, go to www.bread.org/lent or call 800/822-7323, ext. 1072
Toolkits to help congregations and other faith communities participate in Bread for the World’s 2017 Offering of Letters: Doing Our Part to End Hunger will be available in late February. See ordering information below.
The Offering of Letters is focused on urging members of Congress to make funding decisions that put our country and the world on track toward ending hunger. We want Congress to fund and protect programs such as SNAP, WIC, international poverty focused development assistance, and tax credits for low-income workers.
The 2017 toolkit for coordinators of letter-writing events will contain many 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 content will be on the Bread for the World website. In addition, materials will be available in Spanish.
You can order:
All materials will be available in:
President Donald J. Trump has been busy signing a slew of executive orders since being sworn in as our nation’s 45th president. Some of the orders are in direct contradiction to our values at Bread, such as the administration’s ban on refugees.
Bread is also concerned about the future of undocumented young adults in this country, commonly referred to as “DREAMers.” Bread supports the recently re-introduced bipartisan BRIDGE (Bar Removal of Individuals who Dream and Grow our Economy) Act, which would provide temporary relief from deportation for undocumented young adults.
Read Bread for the World's analysis of the BRIDGE Act. We also have a new immigration fact sheet, “Immigration Is a Hunger Issue,” that lays out Bread’s role and commitment to the issue of immigration in our country.
Also of concern to us is the expected repeal of the Affordable Care Act. Bread is advocating senators and representatives to vote against any legislation that repeals the ACA or the expansion of Medicaid without a responsible alternative in place.
By Hope Watson
Sarah,* a young mother, was faced with an incredible challenge: her nine-month-old daughter couldn’t consume solid foods — or any food, for that matter — and as a result, the child wasn’t growing adequately.
Willing to try anything, Sarah would feed her daughter new foods in the hope that her daughter’s body would finally accept some type of nourishment. Time and time again her hopes were dashed.
Enter WIC on Wheels of Lancaster, Pa., a program sponsored by the Pennsylvania Department of Health. The mobile clinic brings WIC (Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children) directly to communities and offers services such as healthy foods, nutrition education and healthcare referrals.
The mobile clinic has been a godsend for Sarah and her daughter. It was there that Sarah was given a voucher to purchase Elecare, a lifesaving formula for her daughter.
Sarah's daughter has gained strength, and her sensitive stomach has become more agreeable to some foods with the help of the mobile clinic’s nutritionist.
Call 800/826-3688 and tell your senators and representative to co-sponsor the BRIDGE Act (H.R. 496/ S.128). The BRIDGE Act would allow nearly 1 million undocumented young adults to continue to legally work and study in the U.S while Congress debates legislation to fix our broken immigration system.
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.
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