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By Chris Ford
2018 is underway with Congress facing a Jan. 19 deadline to agree on a spending deal that would keep the government running. The Trump administration and Congress have yet to finalize plans on how to deal with Dreamers – undocumented immigrants brought to the United States at a young age by their parents.
But before we take on the challenges of 2018, let’s reflect on what Bread for the World accomplished in 2017. Despite the challenges of a new administration and new Congress, with your help Bread was able to achieve several significant legislative victories in 2017.
Our 2017 Offering of Letters: Doing Our Part to End Hunger was successful in securing a short-term budget through early 2018. As Congress continues to negotiate a budget deal “for the remainder of the fiscal year,” Bread for the World is urging congressional members to include funding for programs and priorities that will end hunger.
That put the total funding for famine relief in 2017 at approximately $5.4 billion, which is a 20 percent increase over what Congress passed in its December 2016 continuing resolution. Although the situation in all four countries remains dire, the additional funds have provided much-needed relief to those in need during a time of extreme crises.
“Vital to our success were Bread's grassroots and online activists visiting, calling, and emailing their members of Congress to create a groundswell of support as Bread staff and others lobbied on the Hill,” said Ryan Quinn, a senior international policy analyst at Bread for the World. “Without their hard work, we would not have gotten the additional funds for famine relief.”
The 2017 budget also kept funding levels the same as the previous year for international maternal and child nutrition programs, including the McGovern-Dole International Food for Education and Child Nutrition Program. The budget also increased funding for global health programs and development assistance.
U.S. foreign assistance comprises less than 1 percent of the U.S. budget, yet it has saved the lives of hundreds of millions of people around the world and enabled countries to become more stable and self-sufficient.
Domestically, the 2017 budget funded anti-hunger programs such as the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) and increased funding for Head Start, the Child Care and Development Block Grant, and nutrition programs for senior citizens. Programs like these are vital to low-income families and have helped keep millions of Americans out of hunger and poverty.
The Trump administration had proposed drastic cuts to both international and domestic anti-hunger and poverty programs in the 2017 budget. Fortunately, Congress rejected these cuts. We are grateful for our congressional champions and advocates who made ending hunger a priority.
Finally, because of your faithful advocacy, we were victorious in our efforts to save the Affordable Care Act (ACA). Legislation proposed by both the House and the Senate would have repealed the ACA, taking away health care coverage from as many as 15 million Americans through drastic cuts to Medicaid. The bill would have also ended the ACA’s Medicaid expansion, and enacted significant structural changes to the program that could have resulted in millions more Americans losing coverage.
While the House passed its health care bill, senators rejected efforts to repeal the law, citing the proposed cuts to Medicaid.
Currently, about 74 million of the most vulnerable Americans, including older Americans, the disabled, and children, receive health care coverage through Medicaid. In fact, more than one-third of all children in the U.S. rely on Medicaid for their health care, and almost half of Medicaid recipients are children.
Bread entered the debate because people without affordable health coverage must often choose between putting food on the table for their families, and paying for medicine and the health care they need. If the cuts to Medicaid had passed, millions of Americans could have fallen into hunger and poverty.
Bread members and supporters made thousands of phone calls and sent thousands of emails, shared stories at town halls, and visited dozens of congressional offices urging members of Congress to protect Medicaid from these drastic cuts. Clearly, your outreach had an impact.
While we were able to achieve significant victories this year, we did suffer a set back with the tax bill. The tax cuts passed by both chambers, which largely benefit high-income individuals and large corporations, will almost certainly lead to deep cuts in Medicaid, SNAP, and other programs that help people experiencing hunger and living in poverty.
“This tax bill is part of a one-two punch,” said David Beckmann, president of Bread for the World. “President Trump and congressional leaders have already announced plans to follow this tax cut, mainly for high-income people, with a big push to cut more than $2 trillion from social programs for low-and middle-income people."
The bill raises taxes on the lowest earners starting in 2021. Tax cuts for all individuals and families expire at the end of 2027, and millions earning less than $75,000 would then see a significant net increase in their taxes. The corporate tax cuts in the bill are permanent.
The tax bill also repeals the individual mandate in the Affordable Care Act. Without the mandate, 5 million of the most vulnerable Americans could lose their Medicaid coverage.
The important victories we were able to achieve would not have been possible without your help. We expect many more challenges in the coming year, as Congress and the Trump administration look to make cuts to SNAP, Medicaid, and other programs that help people living in hunger and poverty. Your faithful advocacy will be needed more than ever.
Together, our collective Christian voice can move mountains. Thanks be to God who guided us, and will continue to guide us, in these efforts.
Chris Ford is senior manager of media relations at Bread for the World.
Editor’s note: This is an excerpt from “In Times Like These … A Pan-African Christian Devotional for Public Policy Engagement.”
By Lisa Sharon Harper
“Now after John was arrested, Jesus came to Galilee, proclaiming the good news of God, and saying, ‘The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God has come near; repent, and believe in the good news.’” (Mark 1:14-15)
I imagine how my great-great-great grandmother, Leah Ballard, must have felt. In South Carolina—the first state to secede from the Union during the Civil War—I imagine Leah standing over the pit next to the kitchen house on the day she learned she was free. She was free after nearly 15 generations of the whip, sale of family members, and sexual violence. When the old folks sang, “Roll, Jordan, Roll,” did any dare to dream of the day when freedom would come for all? I imagine Leah preparing the children’s daily ration of corn when she hears it, “We, free!”
Leah keeps stirring.
“Ma’am, we free,” the stranger on the road cries!
How did it feel for the women and men of Galilee—the area where 2,000 men and boys were crucified in one day and 500 more per day after that in retaliation for attempted insurrection? Blood soaked the roads of Galilee. The message was clear: Attempt insurrection; be crushed.
The text tells us that John the Baptist was arrested for challenging Herod’s complicity with Roman rule. Was freedom from Caesar even possible to dream?
In Mark 1:15, Jesus says the words: “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God has come near; repent, and believe in the good news.”
In other words: You are free! The kingdom of God has come to confront the kingdoms of humankind, which crush the image of God on earth! Turn and bow to the truth. The kingdom is near and freedom has come!
Where is our unity in this week of Christian unity and freedom? We are all made in the image of God. We are part of God’s kitchen table—hungry and in need of food for our bodies and souls—hungry yet created with the capacity to help steward the world. May we dare to dream of the day where hunger dies and everyone flourishes.
Lisa Sharon Harper is the founder and principal of Freedom Road, LLC and author of several books, including “The Very Good Gospel: How Everything Wrong Can Be Made Right.”
During 2018, Bread’s e-newsletter will highlight each month’s theme of our new devotional guide: “In Times Like These … A Pan-African Christian Devotional Guide for Public Policy Engagement.” The year-long devotional guide was written on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of the martyrdom of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and the Poor People’s Campaign.
January’s theme explores the spirit of unity among Pan-African peoples, congressional leaders, and advocates who fought against the evils of hunger, poverty, and inhumanity. This battle continues today.
During summer and fall, thousands of Bread members voted in the annual election of the organization’s board of directors. The following individuals will begin their three-year terms starting with the March 2018 board of directors meeting:
Rev. Janet M. Corpus. Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. She is an ELCA pastor, senior advisor to the president at Gravestar, Inc., and long-time Bread for the World member.
Heather Hardinger. Springfield, Missouri. She is a programs and communications director at Taney County Partnership and a former Bread for the World Hunger Justice Leader.
John Hendrix. New York, New York. He is a managing director in the Investment Banking Group at Sandler O’Neill and Partners, LP.
Jo Anne Lyon. Indianapolis, Indiana. She is ambassador of the Wesleyan Church, where she formerly served as general superintendent.
Carol Myers. Holland, Michigan. She is the creator of StNicholasCenter.org to help celebrate the person of faith behind Santa Claus and a Bread for the World member since 1975.
Rev. Amy Reumann. Silver Spring, Maryland. Director of Advocacy for the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America and member of the Steering Committee of the Circle of Protection.
Rev. Fernando Tamara. Corona, California. He is pastor of Hispanic Ministries at Orange County First Assembly Church and professor at the Latin American Theological Seminary and Latin American Bible Institute.
Rev. Dr. Bob Terry. Birmingham, Alabama. He is president and editor of The Alabama Baptist, and chair of the communication committee of the Baptist World Alliance.
Seven current board members were re-elected, including Mike Goorhouse, Michael Martin, U.S. Sen. Jerry Moran, Shirley Mullen, Richard Pates, Katherine Pringle, and Lawrence Reddick.
At its November 2017 meeting, the board elected new officers. John Carr will serve as chair, Iva Carruthers as vice chair, Dr. Michael Martin as treasurer, and Carlos Malavé as secretary.
Additional biographical information about these board members and all those who serve on Bread for the World’s board of directors can be found at bread.org/board.
Bread for the World’s 2018 Offering of Letters: For Such a Time as This will be available online at the end of January. A condensed printed version of the Offering of Letters will be mailed in February.
The full toolkit will be available only online. It will include materials you come to expect from Bread, such as the how-to-information on planning an event, an explanation of the issue, and items to help promote your event.
This transition, from primarily print to primarily digital, started in 2009 when Bread began making the full toolkit also available online.
The condensed printed version will contain sections deemed essential by various users, such as an explanation of the issue, posters, and worship bulletins. However, the printed version will not include all the elements in the online version.
The 2018 Offering of Letters: For Such a Time as This will focus again on the budget. Please keep reading our e-newsletter to find out how you can get involved with the Offering of Letters.
A record number of individuals took advantage of the generous offer made by Rick Steves to match the first $250,000 in giving to Bread for the World. Those who contributed $100 or more could elect to receive Rick Steves’ European Christmas collection or his complete DVD collection box set as a thank you gift.
More than 2,450 people responded to Rick’s challenge, contributing more than $324,000. Funds raised through this year’s effort surpassed last year’s total by more than $7,000. Rick matched that giving with his own gift of $250,000 to Bread for the World.
In presenting his gift, Rick said, “Thanks for sharing our concerns in the halls of government and giving a voice to the voiceless. This initiative is my favorite Christmas gift each year.”
Photo: Malnutrition is a contributing factor to preventable maternal and infant mortality rates. Joseph Molieri/Bread for the World.
By Jordan Teague
2017 proved to be an eventful year for global maternal and child nutrition. It was the second year of the Decade of Action for Nutrition, and the global community began to think seriously and broadly about what it will really take to end malnutrition in all its forms. The road to 2030 won’t be easy.
Both climate change-induced drought and conflicts across the globe pose serious threats to food security and nutrition. Near-famine conditions persist in multiple countries, especially in South Sudan and Yemen. Millions of children are at risk of death or lifelong disability from malnutrition. At the same time, the world is facing an ever-increasing burden of overweight, obesity, and diet-related diseases. The world is off track to reach most global nutrition targets, and according to the 2017 Global Nutrition Report, malnutrition rates are in fact increasing.
At the same time, continuing work on malnutrition has led to a growing understanding of the importance of food systems. A “food system” is simply a combination of everything related to food—ranging from agricultural production of foods, to food marketing and sales, to affordability of food for vulnerable populations, to how consumers choose what to eat, how they prepare it, and how they consume it.
As the recent report launched at the Committee on World Food Security noted, all of these elements can be influenced by non-food factors such as the environment, technology, infrastructure, the economy, policy, demographics, and culture.
Looking at food systems helps explain how undernutrition, overweight, and obesity are connected. Clearly, many parts of the food system influence people’s diets. In an ideal world, they would all lead to proper nutrition, but they often lead instead to undernutrition or overweight.
For example, one prime opportunity to influence people’s diets is at the very beginning of the food system, where food is being produced. If farmers produce only staple crops such as maize or rice, this filters down to consumers, who can become undernourished through their lack of dietary diversity.
It may turn out that other phases of the food system, affordability and choosing what to eat, are more important than whether diverse foods are produced and available. The poorest families, who purchase the least expensive foods out of necessity, are at risk of nutritional deficiencies or overweight since these foods are typically less nutritious and more calorie-dense.
A second emerging issue is the increasing realization that we absolutely cannot improve nutrition without action from multiple sectors, such as agriculture, water and sanitation, and health. Nutrition workers frequently work with colleagues in other sectors in the field, of course, but the community now knows that multi-sectoral work is not just a nice extra, but critical to success. The 2017 Global Nutrition Report encourages the global community to do nutrition differently and break out of our development “silos” to work together and create lasting change. This different way of working will require changes from donors, governments, the communities most affected by malnutrition, and a range of other stakeholders.
Finally, with the multiple ongoing humanitarian crises around the world, it has become increasingly clear that nutrition is critically important during both emergencies and during efforts to build resilience in the wake of a conflict or natural disaster. As Bread for the World Institute has said previously, while nutritious emergency food is clearly needed to save lives during hunger crises, it is not enough. To keep the cycle from repeating, it is also important to lay the foundation for people’s ongoing health and well-being once the acute crisis has passed.
Nutrition can help bridge this space between humanitarian response and development assistance. As the global community focuses on building resilience and rebuilding communities after an emergency, nutrition will be a key piece of the puzzle.
Clearly, the global nutrition community has a lot to think about, and a lot of work ahead of us. But moving forward is an exciting opportunity to do nutrition differently and move the world closer to ending malnutrition by 2030—a goal worth our time and effort.
Jordan Teague is international policy analyst with Bread for the world Institute.
Smart strategies that layered targeted advocacy efforts throughout the year helped beat back several dangerous proposals that would have drastically cut or transformed anti-hunger and anti-poverty programs. Hard work even helped increase funding in key programs. Below are just a few highlights as we look back at a year of advocacy.
Bread teams follow-up on 2016 election work. Activists from Orlando to Seattle meet with freshman legislators — a tactic that helps build strong relationships with local offices and pays throughout the year.
We launch the 2017 Offering of Letters: Doing Our Part to End Hunger. In New Mexico, Bread leader Carlos Navarro and his team plan an Offering of Letters workshop and their June in-district strategy.
In response to proposals in Congress that would decimate vital anti-hunger programs, Bread activists mobilize to stop Medicaid cuts, and faith leaders across the U.S. sign on to letters to protect lifesaving foreign. Lloyd Schmeidler and the North Carolina team hold their 5th annual convention, “Raising our Voices to End Hunger.”
Bread leaders take advantage of lawmakers returning home to advocate for anti-hunger programs. Deb Martin in Wisconsin makes her views known at a local town hall. A group of Illinois religious leaders meet with Rep. Brad Schnieder (D-Ill.-10) on foreign assistance. Churches across the U.S. hold letter-writing events.
Minnesotan Janet Humphrey calls her member of Congress about the urgent need for additional famine funding and is delighted to learn it works. The 2017 spending bill passes with most domestic and international funding intact, but also includes an additional $1 billion in famine relief.
Over 400 activists flock to Washington, D.C., for Bread’s annual Lobby Day. Kayla Jacobs and Sue Swedler carry 5,400 letters from the Roman Catholic Diocese of Joliet in Illinois to Washington, D.C. Ohio’s Emily Huestis delivers birthday cards to her Rep. Bob Gibbs (R-Ohio-07) in a creative tactic that pays off with an in-district meeting in August.
After months of mobilizing to save Medicaid, Bread members celebrate as the Senate votes down a bill that would cut health care for millions of low-income people. In-district advocacy continues; Frances Moore stops by a town hall to thank her member of Congress, Rep. Jeff Fortenberry (R-Neb.-01), for supporting international affairs funding.
Bread members use the month-long recess to publish numerous letters in local newspapers and meet with over 35 members of Congress and their staff about anti-hunger issues. Eileen Sleva and the Oregon team facilitate a pantry visit to demonstrate growing need and to make it clear that their churches are already doing all they can to combat hunger. In South Carolina, Bread member Susan Stall talks about foreign aid over lunch with Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham.
For the second time, Bread members celebrate the failure of a bill that would have cut Medicaid by $1 trillion dollars. In-district work continues; New York members deliver over 700 letters in person to Rep. John Faso (R-N.Y.-19) on the budget. In Ohio, Emily Huestis leads a group to Rep. Bob Gibbs’ office to ask him to cosponsor the Dream Act of 2017.
Indiana leader Dave Miner begins a 16-day fast and garners considerable local press coverage. Not only does the tactic bring attention to proposed SNAP cuts, it also helps introduce new members to the Indiana Bread team. Iowa leaders Russ Melby and Steve Panther facilitate a “House Meeting” in an effort to find additional Iowa Bread leaders.
Linda Leonard-Woods and Bread’s Florida team pitch in to help deliver food to migrant workers in Florida in the aftermath of Hurricane Irma. Relationships forged in January bear fruit. Indiana members thank Republican Sen. Todd Young for his role in bringing attention to the humanitarian crisis in Yemen.
On the heels of the disappointing passage of a harmful tax bill, Bread member Dawn Pierce tells mic.com about her journey through the recession and the safety-net programs that helped her keep hunger at bay. The tax bill now sets the stage for deep cuts to anti-hunger programs in 2018 and will pose a challenge in the year ahead—a challenge Bread members are well-equipped to face.
Call (800-826-3688) or email your member of Congress. Tell them to protect Dreamers by passing the Dream Act (S.1615/H.R.3440) now!
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,
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.
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.