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The Global Food Security Act, an important piece of legislation for the U.S. government in addressing hunger overseas, is two big steps closer to becoming law. On April 12, the House of Representatives passed the bill by a vote of 370 to 33. On April 20, the Senate followed suit and passed its own version of the bill by a voice vote.
These were major victories in Bread’s advocacy work, which continued into 2016 from last year. Bread is now urging the two chambers to quickly reconcile the minor differences between the bills and pass the final bill.
Both chambers of Congress passed the bills with broad bipartisan support. Bread activists and staff had worked hard to garner the nearly 130 co-sponsors of the bill in the House. In the Senate, the bill was co-sponsored by 15 senators. Bread and 68 organizations had endorsed it.
The bills would make the U.S. government’s Feed the Future initiative permanent, which is a major reason for Bread’s advocacy on the bill.
“It ensures we are able to build upon the program’s success to fight hunger and malnutrition, and strengthen agricultural production,” said Eric Mitchell, Bread’s director for government relations. Last year, Feed the Future helped nearly 7 million smallholder farmers and reached more than 12 million women and children with vital nutrition programs.
The bills would put in place a strategy for the U.S. government to help hungry nations develop smart, long-term agriculture programs and ensure these nations can independently meet the nutrition needs of their people.
Both bills also leverage resources provided by organizations, private enterprises, and other countries. In addition, they would improve maternal and child nutrition, especially in the key 1,000 days between a woman’s pregnancy and her child’s second birthday. The Senate bill would also allow the U.S. to respond quickly to the food needs of communities affected by disaster.
“U.S. leadership is vital in the fight against hunger, malnutrition, and extreme poverty,” Mitchell said. “These votes show that ending hunger and poverty is not a partisan issue. The bill will help strengthen communities and develop stronger trading partners for our country, creating a more stable and secure world.”
The passage of the bills in Congress is a major victory for Bread’s members and partners who have lobbied for it through Bread’s Offering of Letters campaign this year. They personally lobbied their members of Congress and also communicated with them through thousands of letters, emails, and phone calls.
Don’t forget, Mother’s Day is Sunday!
Mark it with a special message to four members of Congress with the power to decide whether mothers will receive the help they need. Join us in signing a Mother’s Day card to Sens. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), and Reps. Nita Lowey (D-N.Y.), and Kay Granger (R-Tex.).
Bread for the World’s government relations staff will personally deliver a version of the card and explain what we’re asking for: $230 million to fund global nutrition programs for mothers and their children.
The card begins, "Throughout Scripture we find remarkable women raising healthy, strong children. Moses' mother went to great lengths to save his life. Mary, the mother of Jesus, cared deeply for her son. A king praises women who care for their family, providing for all the needs of their children (Proverbs 31:10-31)." Read more.
The 2016 presidential election shows that Americans are concerned about many issues — income inequality, the economy, and gun control, among others. Voters want their candidate to take a strong stand on these and other issues they care about.
Americans are also concerned about hunger. Two in 3 voters believe ending hunger should be one of the top priorities of the federal government. One in 3 voters says they’ll vote only for candidates who promise to make ending hunger one of their top priorities.
These are among the findings of a 2016 elections poll conducted for Bread by the Mellman Group and the Eleison Group.
Will you vote to end hunger? Do you want the federal government to show strong leadership in the efforts to end hunger in the U.S. and around the world by 2030? Will you vote for a candidate who makes ending hunger a priority?
Bread for the World encourages you to do these things. It has a campaign, titled Vote to End Hunger, to engage its members in the election.
Voting is Christian stewardship — a wise use of our gifts and rights of living in a democracy. We have a responsibility to elect leaders who have a heart for justice.
Bread is engaging in the election because the leaders we elect this year — both president and members of Congress — will make decisions that impact people who are poor and hungry here in the U.S. and around the world. We as Christians who are concerned about hunger must seize this opportunity and elect leaders who will put us on track to end hunger by 2030, which is a goal that Bread and other international institutions have set.
The Scriptures underscore the importance of good governance and also show that wise leaders uphold justice and the common good, especially for those who are poor and needy (Psalm 72:12-14).
Our country was founded on the idea that “we the people” are responsible for selecting our own leaders. Evaluating candidates and then voting is essential to our democracy and faith.
Over the next several months, Bread will provide resources that will help you elect just leaders. We will also let you know about opportunities to engage candidates.
Some resources are available now and will help you lay the foundation for your involvement:
By Rev. Traci D. Blackmon
“There is a boy here who has five barley loaves and two fish. But what are they among so many people?” — John 6:9
Hunger is an uncomfortable subject for well-fed people.
In the U.S., where hunger is most often a description of the painful sensation caused by needing food that is available yet not accessible, we alleviated some of that discomfort by shifting our language in 2006 to rename references to hunger as "food insecurity."
As people of faith, we must note the shift.
With the stroke of the pen, we shifted the narrative from our shoulders to the shoulders of the illusive, yet ever-present "other."
Hunger holds us accountable for the nourishment of the 795 million people among us who live, daily, with that painful sensation caused by the need for food. Hunger implies a lack of compassion. Food scarcity implies a lack of resources.
No matter how you name it, the reality remains the same. We live in a world of abundance, a world that produces enough food to feed everyone, and yet we live among multitudes of hungry people, most of whom are children.
Our faithful response is to feed them. But how?
As individuals, our resources seem as meager as those of the young boy who shared his lunch with Jesus on the side of a mountain one day. The disciples made the same observation as us. There just isn't enough. Two fish and five loaves of bread could not possibly feed 5,000 men and their families.
How did Jesus do it?
How did Jesus feed so many with so little?
Often we locate this miracle in Jesus blessing the bread. But what if the miracle is not about how Jesus blessed bread but rather about how the generosity of one little boy broke open hearts?
It is comfortable to wait on God to feed the hungry.
Jesus blessing the bread allows us to wait. Jesus feeding the hungry lets us off the hook. But what if the real miracle that day happened in the selfish hearts of 5,000 men?
What if when those 5,000 men saw the example of the little boy giving Jesus his five loaves of bread and two fish, those men were inspired to look inside their coats and share the food that they brought with them, food they had been hiding and hoarding because of their own fears of not having enough?
Perhaps the real transformation was not of the loaves, but of the 5,000 selfish hearts.
Most of us would prefer to focus on the loaves.
The magic of multiplying loaves is more comfortable than the miracle of changing of hearts.
Perhaps this story is recorded in all four Gospels for precisely this reason. To remind us that the eradication of hunger does not begin with breaking bread. It begins with breaking open hearts.
If our hearts were changed, as a nation, we could feed the whole world.
Are you willing to be broken?
Rev. Traci D. Blackmon is acting executive minister of the United Church of Christ’s Justice and Witness Ministries.
There is a boy here who has five barley loaves and two fish. But what are they among so many people?
The stories we believe and tell shape our world.
Register for the Wild Goose Festival, July 7 to 10 in Hot Springs, N.C. This year’s theme is Stories. As a sponsor of the festival again this year, Bread will be listening and sharing stories of hope for ending hunger.
Wild Goose is a gathering and community of musicians, artists, story tellers, and conversation partners. Musicians who will appear at the festival this year include the Indigo Girls, Matt Maher, Ken Medema, and Phil Madeira. Speakers and storytellers include Emilie Townes, Shane Claiborne, Jim Wallis, Nicole Martin, Mirabai Starr, Doug Pagitt, and Matthew Fox.
Registration and more information.
This year, The Justice Conference will address major issues in the public square of 2016 in the U.S., including race, poverty, violence, refugees, systemic injustice, and shalom. If you’re in the Chicago area or need a reason to visit the Windy City, join us for the conference June 3 to 4. Use the code BREADPre and get a$10 discount off each registration.
Bread staff will help lead the pre-conference advocacy track titled Poverty in America, so be sure to join us! Register early to get one of the early bird discount tickets.
Celebrate a special event — such as a birthday, wedding, or graduation — or recognize someone special while supporting Bread for the World’s work to end hunger. A card with a striking photo will be sent to the person you are honoring or to a friend or family member who has lost a loved one. When you make a gift in honor or in memory of an individual, you provide the name and address of the recipient, and we send the card on your behalf. View the cards and make your gift in honor or in memory today. You may also call 800/822-7323, ext. 1140.
Changes in tax laws made by Congress in 2015 — along with a volatile stock market — have raised questions for many persons. Three new publications — available free of charge and without obligation — may help you answer some of those questions.
To request these free booklets, contact Kierra Stuvland at firstname.lastname@example.org or 800/822-7323, ext. 1150.
Beginning this month, Spanish content will be available on Bread Blog.
A partir de mayo, habrá contenido disponible en español en el Blog de Pan para el Mundo.
Today’s 50 million Latinos in the U.S. will be more than 100 million by 2050. Latino and immigrant churches are growing, both as a consequence of immigration, and because these populations are younger and having more children.
Hoy en día son 50 millones los latinos que viven en Estados Unidos, cifra que aumentará a más de 100 millones para el año 2050. Las iglesias de los inmigrantes latinos están creciendo, tanto como consecuencia de la inmigración, y porque suele ser una población más joven, y con más hijos.
The church is changing too, and Latinos represent the part of the U.S. Christian landscape that continues to grow while others are in decline. Bread for the World has made it a priority to better engage Latinos in the work of advocacy to end hunger. Bread is committed to increasing the number of Latinos and Latino churches, and in many cases, Spanish-language resources are preferred.
La iglesia también está cambiando, y los latinos representan el sector del cristianismo estadounidense que aún está creciendo, mientras que otros disminuyen. Pan para el Mundo ha priorizado un aumento en la participación de los latinos en la propugnación por el fin del hambre. Pan se compromete a aumentar la cantidad de latinos y de iglesias latinas, y en muchos casos son preferibles los recursos en español.
On May 10, the blog will run a special post celebrating Mother’s Day. Dia de la Madre in Latin America is celebrated on different days.
Se publicará un blog especial el 10 de mayo, siendo éste el Día de las Madres en varios países. El mismo se celebra en los distintos países latinoamericanos en distintas fechas.
In mid-April, the House and Senate each passed its own version of the Global Food Security Act, an important piece of legislation for the U.S. government in addressing hunger overseas (see related article). These were major victories in Bread’s advocacy work. Bread is now waiting for the two chambers to address the minor differences between the bills and take action.
The bill would make the U.S. government’s Feed the Future initiative permanent, which is a reason for Bread’s advocacy on the bill.
To help Bread activists understand what this bill would do — how a permanent Feed the Future program would continue to build on its successes — Bread staff talked to Kelly Wilson, a senior at Wheaton College in Wheaton, Ill. The environmental science and Spanish major had been part of a webinar for Bread activists in March where she spoke about her work last year with small-scale farmers in Nicaragua as part of Wheaton’s Human Needs and Global Resources program.
The following are excerpts from a Q&A of Wilson by Zach Schmidt, one of Bread’s regional organizers in the Midwest. Schmidt asked her questions about her experience, faith, and her thoughts on the legislation.
Drought has been a major challenge facing the region and the farmers with whom you worked. How do you reflect on both the struggle and the hope you witnessed in Nicaragua in light of your Christian faith?
El Niño has greatly reduced precipitation and increased temperatures in much of Central America for the past three years. This has resulted in lost seed, food scarcity, reduced access to water, and separation as family members leave to find work and provide daily bread. With the families who welcomed me into their homes and communities, I waited and waited for the rain that seemed like it would never come, as they placed their faith and hope in God and worked to adapt. Through this challenge, I was sustained by the community of believers: my Christian supervisors and co-workers at Fundación San Lucas, my host family, and the faithful farmers who looked to God for their strength and placed their trust in Him.
In late September, when the drought was at its worst, Francisco Moraga, the director of Fundación San Lucas, sought to encourage community members in El Manantial in his weekly devotional message. After reading Psalm 23, Francisco posed the question How can we trust in the promise of God that says, “Jehovah is my shepherd, I will lack nothing” in the middle of drought? We lack seed. We lack food. We lack water. We lack rain. Yet even in the midst of these struggles, Francisco consistently emphasized the importance of hope and trust in God.
In the same spirit, I asked myself How does this Psalm of provision, abundance, and care make sense when the rural poor lack so much? Where are the green pastures and the quiet waters? And in what ways is the Lord’s goodness and love following these farmers and their families in these days of scarcity?
While in Nicaragua I asked these questions over and over again. I looked for hope and found it by learning and listening to my wise Nicaraguan brothers and sisters. Through their witness, I found it possible to trust that God spoke the final word of life even in the time of drought and death.
Based on your experience, what is one message you most want to communicate?
Faith and spiritual needs must not be divorced from other human needs — material, emotional, systemic, and relational. Faith rightly impacted farmers' response to drought, which was evident in their daily decisions made in hope and characterized by resilience. When the material and the spiritual are integrally tied both in theory and in practice, there is potential for empowering transformation: simultaneously trusting in the hope of the kingdom of life — God’s love and provision — while taking active steps to realize the kingdom in the everyday.
After speaking on a recent Bread webinar and learning more about the Global Food Security Act, you decided to write to your own congressman in support of the bill. What led you to do this?
I love and am for small-scale farmers. The work of cultivating the land for life is beautiful. After my time in Nicaragua, especially during a season of drought, I learned how vulnerable people become when creation fails to provide for them due to environmental degradation and climate change and the challenges to food security, water access, and family stability that result. Investing in small-scale agriculture and adaptation measures sustainably improves people’s lives and leads them more fully into the reality of the kingdom of God, which was already inaugurated in Jesus. This equips people to “plant vineyards and eat their fruit” (Isaiah 65:21). Vocally supporting the Global Food Security Act is a small way of exhorting our government to use resources in a way that reflects the reality of the kingdom.
The countdown to the Summer Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil began April 21 with the lighting of the Olympic torch. The torch will be carried from Olympia, Greece, through various countries, and will be used to open the games on Aug. 5.
Along with the traveling torch, a partner of Bread is igniting a different kind of movement. The 1,000 Days organization is the structure behind the movement to provide good nutrition to women and children in the 1,000 days between a woman’s pregnancy and her child’s second birthday. 1,000 Days is teaming up with athletes and partners — including Athletes for Hope, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and many others — to shine a light on the issue of malnutrition around the world.
This campaign complements Bread’s own campaign this year, its 2016 Offering of Letters: Survive and Thrive, on nutrition and health among mothers and children.
More than 100 Olympic athletes — past, present, and hopefuls — are joining 1,000 Days and demanding that this Olympics, world leaders give kids everywhere a #FAIRSTART in life by starting the race to end malnutrition.
Why is nutrition the issue that these Olympic athletes are choosing to highlight at such a critical time? They know better than anyone that in life — as in sports — how you finish is largely determined by how you start. They are at the culmination of a lifetime of preparation and training that started with access to basic nutrition in their first 1,000 days of life. And this has played a role in getting them to where they are today.
The health and development benefits a child receives in the critical 1,000-day window can never be lost, nor can they be regained if the window is missed.
Too many children throughout the world start out life at a big disadvantage due to malnutrition. Almost 50 percent of all childhood deaths are a result of malnutrition. And 25 percent of all children are robbed of the chance to reach their full potential.
Athletes and supporters around the world are using the Olympic stage to highlight this opportunity to ensure that children everywhere are given a #FAIRSTART to reach their own full potential in life. Whether that takes them to the Olympics or just to other incredible heights, they all deserve the opportunity to be put on the right track.
1,000 Days is asking fans, parents, and supporters everywhere to sign its petition urging world leaders to start the race to end malnutrition this Olympics. Together we can give kids everywhere the #FAIRSTART they deserve!
By Bryana Braxton
Author, journalist, and hunger activist Roger Thurow strives to raise awareness about child malnutrition and stunting around the world. His latest book, scheduled for release this week, continues that quest as it details the importance of proper nutrition and health care during the crucial 1,000 days window from the beginning of a woman’s pregnancy to her child’s second birthday.
“The First 1,000 Days: a Crucial Time for Mothers and Children ― and the World” follows groups of women and their children in India, Guatemala, Uganda, and the United States. Their stories reveal how the cost of stunted children reverberates from the individual to the community.
Stunting, the failure to grow both physically and cognitively, occurs when a child does not eat the right foods to receive essential nutrients. Thurow defines stunting as “a life sentence of under-performance and under-achievement.”
“A stunted child in Africa, India, Guatemala or the Southside of Chicago is a stunted child for everywhere,” said Thurow, during an interview at Bread for the World’s office in Washington, D.C., in late March.
The condition decreases cognitive development, making it difficult for children to learn in school. Poor or incomplete education, in turn, affects future job opportunities and can lead to a decreased income and poverty.
As the number of stunted children grows in a country, malnutrition has a national impact. Poverty levels increase, while the productivity and numbers in the labor force decreases. As multiple countries struggle economically from the effects of malnutrition, global trade and economic activity declines.
Malnutrition is not an issue just for developing countries; this issue affects all nations. Thurow points to the 1,000-day window to find a solution to this global problem. “If we truly want to make a difference and change the future, it’s the 1,000 days that we have the chance to do that,” he said.
Proper nutrition during this period builds the foundation for brain development, healthy growth, and a strong immune system. This time sets a child up for lifelong health, including their predisposition to obesity and certain chronic diseases.
Bread recognizes the opportunity that the 1,000-day movement presents to end child malnutrition and stunting. This year’s Offering of Letters: Survive and Thrive advocates for maternal and child nutrition worldwide. We are urging Congress to accelerate global progress against malnutrition by increasing U.S. government funding for the nutrition and health of mothers, newborns, and young children to $230 million.
Thurow is encouraging Bread members to “raise the clamor” and bring child malnutrition to Congress’ attention through the Offering of Letters and Lobby Day. In fact, Thurow is scheduled to speak at Bread’s Lobby Day on June 7.
Bryana Braxton was a communications intern at Bread for the World during the spring semester. She is a student at American University.
By Bryana Braxton
More than a dozen representatives of the World Council of Churches (WCC) embarked on a “pilgrimage of justice and peace” last month during a visit to four U.S. cities that have recently confronted racial injustice. As a part of WCC’s Racial Justice Accompaniment Visits, the team came to listen to and support community members in these cities in order to understand their experiences with racial discrimination, oppression, and violence.
Before the visit officially began, the delegation met at Bread for the World’s offices in Washington, D.C.
The WCC and Bread for the World have a longtime connection. Rev. Dr. Eugene Carson Blake, following his retirement as the second general secretary of the WCC, became the first chair of Bread’s board of directors at its founding in 1974. Also, many U.S. Protestant and Orthodox denominations that are partners of Bread are among the 345 member churches of the WCC.
“You will be going to some of the most volatile communities in the world. People feel burned up. Really try to understand their hearts. Work to understand their experience,” Rev. Dr. Angelique Walker-Smith told the delegates in the half-day meeting at Bread. Walker-Smith is senior associate for Pan-African and Orthodox Church Engagement in Bread’s church relations department and hosted the meeting. She is also a member of WCC’s Central Committee (board of directors).
Bread staff, including its president, Rev. David Beckmann, spoke with the delegation on its work of ending hunger and how it relates to people of African descent.
While still in Washington, the delegation met with Jim Wallis, the founder and head of Sojourners, Wade Henderson, the president of the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, and the U.S. State Department office on religion and global affairs. The delegation proceeded on the official visits April 19 to 25 in Charleston, S.C.; Saint Louis and Ferguson, Mo.; and Chicago.
“We have been following developments in this nation. The WCC recognizes the many positive actions of churches here, but they do not seem to be enough. Church life must provide the means of grace to strengthen us for action,” said Dr. Agnes Abuom, moderator of WCC’s Central Committee and leader of the delegation. The delegation also included Rev. Dr Olav Fykse Tveit, WCC’s general secretary, who is a member of the (Lutheran) Church of Norway.
The pilgrimage was a method of accompaniment by the WCC to its member churches in the U.S. that are confronting racial injustice. The U.S. visit will result in a report and presentation to the WCC’s next Central Committee meeting in Trondheim, Norway in June.
The WCC is the world’s largest ecumenical body and is based in Geneva, Switzerland. It brings together churches, denominations, and church fellowships from more than 110 countries, representing 500 million Christians. The group seeks visible Christian unity, promotes common witness, engages in Christian service, and seeks justice and peace.
Bread will partner again with WCC in an event next month – the Pan-African Women of Faith consultation. It will take place June 9 to 11 at Howard University in Washington, D.C., which is the third sponsor of the event. It will bring together scores of women leaders from both Africa and the U.S. for conversations about advocacy and ending hunger.
Bryana Braxton was a communications intern at Bread for the World during the spring semester. She is a student at American University.
Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders say they are bringing new voters into the political process, but can they claim they are getting young children involved? Bread for the World can.
The story begins with the birthday party of Toren Rhyne, who lives in North Carolina. When asked what he wanted to do for his upcoming 6th birthday, he replied, unprompted, that he "wanted to visit the Bread for the World office, pack food for hungry people, and have ice cream." Just three simple wishes from a child.
Toren’s grandmother, Ginny Hiltquist, a member of First Lutheran Church in Greensboro, N.C., reports, “I can only assume that by working by our side at some events and packing food for the elderly that we did every month before he started school that his sensitive little heart was opened.”
Toren’s family decided for his birthday party to buy and bring special treats for the children at a local homeless shelter. The children attending the party assembled the bags of treats at three tables. Toren wore his Bread for the World T-shirt to the party, and a Bread banner was hung.
We can only assume that everybody also enjoyed ice cream at the party (what is a party without it?). And so Toren got two of his three birthday wishes fulfilled.
As for his third wish? Well, his family had to explain that Bread’s office was too far to visit right away, but his grandparents will not disappoint him. They will be bringing Toren with them when they come for Bread’s annual Lobby Day in June. “It is all he talks about,” says Hiltquist. “We are thrilled to do this and think it will be a powerful witness.”
And so Toren will get to see Bread’s office and will be visiting his members of Congress to speak about ending hunger.
Bread’s president, Rev. David Beckmann, was recently honored by InterAction with its Julia Vadala Taft Outstanding Leadership Award. The award honors outstanding and distinguished leaders in the community of U.S.-based international nongovernmental organizations. The award was presented at a gala banquet during InterAction’s annual convention April 18 to 20 in Washington, D.C.
“I am honored to be especially recognized for the leadership of Bread for the Work in the movement to end hunger and poverty,” said Beckmann. “The work we do is about more than our individual organizations. We are building a movement to end hunger and poverty across the world.”
Beckmann was cited “for outstanding leadership and commitment to the voice of the U.S. NGO community, the alleviation of human suffering, the promotion of human rights, and the cause of peace.” The Julia V. Taft Award celebrates the leadership of an individual within this community whose career and vision has transcended his or her own organization by raising the influence and profile of the U.S. nongovernmental organization (NGO) sector as a whole.
The award is named for distinguished American humanitarian Julia Vadala Taft. Taft served in a series of senior positions both in and out of government, including twice as president of InterAction. InterAction is the association of international development and aid organizations, and Bread for the World is a member.
“I am excited about the progress we have made so far. We are at a point in which we could see the virtual end to hunger and poverty within our lifetimes,” Beckmann said. “But our movement would benefit tremendously from the leadership of those most affected. They shouldn’t just be sitting at the table with us – they should be leading the discussion.”
Also among the honorees at the event was Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), who received Interaction’s 2016 Congressional Leadership Award.
Beckmann has been president of Bread since 1991. During his tenure, he has received many awards from various U.S. and international institutions, including the World Food Prize in 2010.
We are at a point in which we could see the end to hunger within our lifetimes.
These fact sheets provide a snapshot of hunger and poverty in the United States and in each state plus Washington, D.C.
Good nutrition is a critical part of ensuring that all human beings can use their bodies and minds to live an active life and reach their full potential.
Dear Members of Congress,
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