Bread Newsletter: March 2017

Contents:

2017 is shaping up to be one of the most challenging ever for our work to end hunger and poverty by 2030.

Our Faithful Opposition to Slashing Life-saving Programs

This year is shaping up to be one of the most challenging ever for our work to end hunger and poverty. It is clear by their orders and recent budget proposal, that the Trump administration wants to upend policies and programs that have been in place for years, if not decades.

“Last year, we saw the number of people suffering from hunger and poverty in the U.S. fall,” said Rev. David Beckmann, president of Bread for the World. “Slashing funding for anti-poverty programs will increase hunger and poverty. We cannot let poor and hungry people suffer. We need to call our members of Congress now and tell them to stop this madness.”

The administration wants to increase military spending, reduce taxes, and invest in infrastructure, among other plans. However, they plan to offset these by, among others, drastically slashing funding for national safety net programs and life-saving international development aid.

In fact, the Trump administration’s proposed fiscal year 2018 budget – they a call it a “skinny” budget – will boost military spending by some $54 billion. This boost will come at the expense of non-defense discretionary spending (like lunches for school children), which will be cut by 15 percent across the board. Some programs and federal agencies, including the State Department which funds international development programs, will suffer more significant cuts.

Based on past budgets put forth by Republicans and a 2018 budget proposal by the Heritage Foundation, program cuts could total roughly $5 trillion in the United States and worldwide over the next 10 years.

The proposed FY 2018 budget cuts come at a time when 20 million people – including 1.4 million children – are at risk of starvation in South Sudan and other African counties. “The budget cuts are being made to programs that help poor and hungry people. Every person of faith should be alarmed by these cuts,” said Beckmann.

These days we are hearing the word “resistance” a lot. We’ve seen it in action as constituents crowd town halls to voice their displeasure with the plan of Republicans and the Trump administration to repeal the Affordable Care Act, known to many as Obamacare.

We’ve seen it in action through numerous protests in our cities and through mayors vowing to defy the administration and protect all their citizens regardless of immigration status.

At Bread for the World, we plan to faithfully oppose these proposals, too — through our 2017 Offering of Letters: Doing Our Part to End Hunger. We will mobilize our members, churches, and activists to urge Congress to make funding decisions that put our country and the world on track to end hunger.

In 2017, the new Congress must invest in key programs that have proven track records and improve the lives of hungry men, women, and children.

Vital policies and safety-net programs—including WIC, global nutrition, SNAP (formerly known as food stamps), and refundable tax credits—must be properly funded and protected. Dismantling or cutting funding for such programs by the 115th Congress would take us backward and make the possibility of ending hunger by 2030 unlikely.

Congress must invest in key programs that improve the lives of hungry men, women, and children.

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Bread's 2017 Offering of Letters: Doing Our Part to End Hunger.

2017 Offering of Letters Officially Launches

Bread for the World’s 2017 Offering of Letters: Doing Our Part to End Hunger has officially launched. Materials are now available in both English and Spanish on our website.

This year’s Offering of Letters is focused on urging Congress to make funding decisions that put our country and the world on track to ending hunger by 2030.

We have made great progress reducing hunger and poverty in our country and around the world, but our work remains unfinished. Families, churches and community groups, and businesses all need to do their parts to end hunger. It’s crucial that our government also does its part.

We want Congress to pass legislation that puts us on track to end hunger by 2030. In 2017, Congress must invest in key programs that have a proven track record and improve the lives of hungry men, women, and children. 

Vital policies and safety-net programs — including WIC, global nutrition, SNAP, and refundable tax credits — must be properly funded and protected. Dismantling or cutting funding for such programs by the 115th Congress would take us backward and make the goal of ending hunger by 2030 unlikely.

Here are highlights of the available materials:

  • Learn more about why we are asking Congress to make funding decisions that put our country and the world on track to ending hunger by 2030 by reading the Issue Overview: Hunger and the Federal Budget.
  • Bread for the World grounds its work in God’s love and goodness for all people. Read this year’s Biblical Reflection to better understand what the Bible can teach us about helping feed our neighbors.
  • The decisions Congress makes can have real-life consequences for those in need of help. Mercedita Cubar’s story is a reminder of just how important of a role the U.S. plays in ending hunger abroad, while Dawn Pierce’s story demonstrates the need for robust funding of our country’s safety-net programs.

The Offering of Letters content is available in both English and Spanish on our website.

You can order the kit:

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Rev. April G. Johnson is minister of reconciliation with the Christian Church Disciples of Christ.

On Faith: Girl Interrupted

By Rev. April G. Johnson

“For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does. The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds.  We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.” (2 Corinthians 10: 3-5) 

When I reflect on the messages of my childhood, many were not very life-giving. From adults in my life, I received the clear message that I was “not enough.” As a child, I did not have the internal resources to look beyond the imposing label to see the limitations of those responsible for my care of my physical and emotional well-being.

I was a victim of generational pain. That pain was an outcome of a narrative passed down from generations before me. It imposed limitations on creativity, compassion, and self-expression.

Today, having experienced the liberating power of Jesus’ love, I cannot participate in acts of securing and solidifying the physical and emotional bondage of others. Our national narrative of caring for the poor and indigent members of our society is one that blames the victim for her circumstances. It is a story that gives us an off-ramp toward non-action. It assumes that life’s hardships are a result of flawed character or insufficient personal discipline.

That story ignores the systemic factors impeding a person’s access to jobs, healthy food options, stable and secure housing, and human development. The false narrative that all have equal access to achievement and security distances us from one another.

Yes, hurting people do hurt people. As a person of faith in Christ Jesus, it is imperative that I interrupt the narrative hurt. Jesus’ life and ministry of healing and love offers a different account of our life’s purpose; a hope-full and a grace-rich story.

The season of Lent offers an opportunity for us to remember our creativity and compassion toward a ministry of activism and action on behalf of others who are bound in cycles of oppression such as hunger, imprisonment, and poverty. When we draw near to God, as Christ demonstrates in his 40-day sojourn in the wilderness, we interrupt the narrative that we are “not enough.” The power of prayer and fasting to which we are invited during this season enlivens our story and strengthens our witness to a loving God.

Begin the Lenten season assuming that you are enough—that you, as a member of the body of Christ, have full agency. Fight the fear that you may not be enough for the moment, the task, the ministry, the book you will write, the business you will start, or the lives you will bless. This Lenten season, enter God’s invitation to break the cycle of fear and to take captive every false story that comes against the knowledge and truth of Christ Jesus living in and thought the magnificence that is YOU!

May it be so….

Rev. April G. Johnson is minister of reconciliation with the Christian Church Disciples of Christ.

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News Briefs

CELEBRATING THE LENTEN SEASON

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.

Also starting March 1, Bread Blog will begin a series of Lent devotions in partnership with the San Francisco Theological Seminary. The devotions will be written by faculty, staff, students, and friends of the seminary.

BREAD FOR THE WORLD INSTITUTE RECEIVES 4-STAR RATING

Bread for the World Institute has received a 4-star rating from Charity Navigator, America’s largest independent charity evaluator. “It’s important our donors trust that we’re using their donations wisely to accomplish Bread’s mission,” said Rev. David Beckmann, president of Bread for the World Institute. “Our 4-star Charity Navigator rating demonstrates to our supporters our good governance and financial accountability.”

Since 2002, Charity Navigator has awarded only the most fiscally responsible organizations a 4-star rating. Bread for the World Institute has consistently received Charity Navigator’s top awards in the last seven years.

“Bread for the World Institute’s exceptional 4-star rating sets it apart from its peers and demonstrates its trustworthiness to the public,” said Michael Thatcher, president & CEO of Charity Navigator. “Based on its 4-star rating, people can trust that their donations are going to a financially responsible and ethical charity when they decide to support Bread for the World Institute.”

Charity Navigator regularly evaluates over 8,000 non-profit organizations based in the U.S.

BREAD FOR THE WORLD ELECTS NEW MEMBERS TO ITS BOARD OF DIRECTORS

Thousands of Bread members voted in our annual election of board members – choosing an exceptionally committed group of activists, faith, and community leaders to help set the direction for the organization’s initiatives.

The new board members began their term(s) on Jan. 1, 2017 and include Arturo Chavez, Mike Goorhouse, Tom Hart, Hee-Soo Jung, Melena Nelson, Dawn Pierce, Frances Simpson-Allen, Susan Stall, and Kate Weaver. Read their full bios on Bread Blog.

We also celebrate the re-election of the following board members to second terms: Victor Adamo, Iva Carruthers, David Miner, Jim McGovern, Shirley Reed, Jonathan Reyes, and Angela Rupchock-Schafer.

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Photo courtesy of Dawn Pierce

Grateful for Assistance, but Worried About the Future

Dawn Pierce, a vocal advocate against hunger and poverty, spends her workdays as a licensed practical nurse taking care of senior citizens at several small assisted living facilities in Boise, Idaho.

She cares for roughly 70 residents across seven homes, providing wound care, creating care plans, documenting charts, drawing blood, and giving injections. She takes great pride in her job.

Pierce is the mother of three adult children and has recently remarried. She is also a newly elected member of the board of directors of Bread for the World and Bread for the World Institute.

Life is good now, but that wasn’t always the case.

In 2010, Pierce lost her job as a paralegal. She began to collect unemployment benefits as she searched for a job. However, the checks were not enough to support her family, and her job search was yielding nothing.

So she made the choice to apply for SNAP benefits, known more commonly as food stamps. The decision was difficult for Pierce.

“I sat in the car for an hour before going in [to the assistance office],” says Pierce. “This wasn’t me. I was supposed to be better than this. Hunger was never part of my thinking. I couldn’t believe this was happening to me.”

But it did happen and our nation’s food assistance program helped Pierce, who was a single mother raising a teenage son at the time. The SNAP benefits allowed her to buy groceries and feed herself and her son while she continued to look for permanent work. Read the full story.

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One year after ACA is repealed, 18 million would be uninsured. Graphic by Doug Puller / Bread for the World

Call (800/826-3688) and tell your senators and representative to protect the Medicaid expansion in any replacement of the Affordable Care Act. Tell them not to block grant Medicaid.

Tools
from our Resource Library

For Education

For Faith

  • The Bible on Health as a Hunger Issue

    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.

  • Bread Newsletter January 2016

    In this issue: Another Great Year for Bread; Catholics Begin Observance of Holy Year of Mercy; Serving on ‘God’s Wave Length’ for 39 Years; and more.
     

  • Interfaith Religious Leaders’ Pledge to End Hunger

    A wide array of the nation’s faith leaders have come together on the eve of Pope Francis’ arrival in the United States to commit ourselves to encourage our communities to work for the end of hunger by 2030 and, toward that end, for a shift in U.S. national priorities.

    We are deeply pleased...

For Advocacy

  • Grassroots Advocacy Toolkit

    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.

    ...

  • The State of Black Poverty: A Pan-African Millennial Perspective on Ending Hunger by 2030

    Over the past year and a half, about two-dozen young adults from the United States and countries in Africa and the Caribbean, have gathered virtually and in person to reflect on the effects of hunger and poverty in black communities. The working group has been considering socio-political and...

  • Fact Sheet: The Hunger-Medicaid Connection

    Congress is considering proposals that would jeopardize healthcare coverage for millions of poor and near-poor adults and children. 

    The bill under consideration, the American Health Care Act, would gut...