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By Bread staff
With two debates behind us and another one just a couple of days away, Bread for the World and its I Vote to End Hunger campaign continue to look for signs that the candidates consider hunger and poverty high priorities.
Hunger and poverty were not explicitly discussed during the first presidential debate between Hillary Clinton and Donald J. Trump on Sept. 26 as well as during the only vice presidential debate between Mike Pence and Tim Kaine on Oct. 4. Bread had petitioned the debates' moderators, Lester Holt and Elaine Quijano, to raise hunger and poverty at the debates and for the candidates to address the issues in their campaigns (see related article).
“Hunger is a critical issue since more than 42 million Americans — or nearly 1 in 8 households — still struggle to put food on the table. Progress has been made, but there are still more hungry Americans now than before the 2008 recession,” said Rev. David Beckmann, Bread’s president, before the first debate. “It is only recently that the presidential candidates started explicitly talking about hunger and poverty.”
Outside the debates, the campaigns have each recently released statements on what they would do to address hunger and poverty if elected. The statements were provided to Vote to End Hunger (VTEH), a coalition of 166 groups working to make hunger, poverty, and opportunity a higher political priority in 2016. These and other groups have been working for some time to make hunger and poverty election issues. Read the Clinton and Trump statements.
In addition to the statement Clinton submitted to VTEH, on Sept. 21 The New York Times ran an opinion piece by Clinton headlined “My Plan for Helping America’s Poor.”
During the primary campaign, all candidates from the major parties were asked for a video addressing how they will end hunger and poverty if elected president. Clinton sent a video; to date, Trump has not.
About the contents of the first debate, Beckmann added: “No one mentioned the hopeful fact that the world as a whole is making unprecedented progress against hunger, poverty, and disease. In all the talk about security, no one mentioned how economic opportunity for desperately poor people in poor countries contributes to global security.”
In a news release Oct. 6 to announce the statements from the Trump and Clinton campaigns, Beckmann said, “The statements also set the stage for Martha Raddatz and Anderson Cooper, the moderators of this Sunday’s debate, to ask Trump and Clinton to defend their competing plans to reduce hunger and poverty.”
By Bread staff
Bread for the World was part of a group that delivered the names of more than 631,000 voters to the campaign headquarters of Hillary Clinton and Donald J. Trump Sept. 14 in New York City. The voters had signed a petition or pledge calling on the political parties, candidates, and the current Congress to make ending hunger a top priority. The names were delivered under the auspices of Vote to End Hunger, a coalition of 166 anti-hunger and -poverty groups, and its eponymous election campaign.
The Vote to End Hunger coalition also delivered the names to “NBC Nightly News” anchor Lester Holt, who moderated the first presidential debate on Sept. 26. The delivery of the names by the coalition was its way of urging Holt to ask Clinton and Trump the following question at the debate: “If elected, what will you do to end hunger, alleviate poverty, and create opportunity in the U.S. and worldwide?” (He did not. See related article.)
The group making the New York City deliveries had representatives from Bread for the World (staff and activists), Feeding America, and Why Hunger.
In addition to delivering the names, VTEH also held a coordinated social media campaign to urge Holt to ask “the hunger question.”
The presidential candidates have mostly avoided talking about hunger and poverty during the campaign (see related article).
Rev. Gary Cook, Bread’s former director of church relations who is supporting Bread’s election work as part of the Vote to End Hunger coalition, led the group that delivered the petitions to the three sites in New York.
The group first visited the Clinton campaign’s national headquarters in Brooklyn, where they “were greeted by a friendly group of staffers at the Hillary for President headquarters,” according to Cook.
“The campaign received our materials and the thumb drive with 630,000 names,” Cook reported. “They promised to share them and our concerns with the appropriate people in the campaign.”
The group then visited the Trump campaign’s national headquarters at Trump Tower in Manhattan. “We were welcomed upstairs in the campaign offices by the Coalitions Director, Alan Cobb,” reported Cook. “He listened enthusiastically to our presentation — asking real questions and affirming our cause.” Cook also noted that the Bread activists in the group made a passionate and articulate presentation to Cobb on ending hunger by 2030.
The visit to NBC’s studios at Rockefeller Center, just seven blocks south of Trump Tower, was not as fruitful, however. The group was not able to enter the building or greet Holt in person. The group was only able to deliver its materials to the mail room of the TV network with the assurance that they would be brought to Holt.
Some members of the group had been at NBC earlier that morning, appearing outside the street-level set of the “Today Show” in bright-orange Bread T-shirts and holding signs about hunger. Savannah Guthrie, one of the morning show’s hosts, stopped by to talk to the group.
Bread has planned a similar strategy for petitioning the moderators of the subsequent debates. The next presidential debates are on Oct. 9 and 19.
By Bread staff
The number of food-insecure households in the U.S. in 2015 dropped more than 1 percent from the previous year. This is the good news reported in new data released by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) in September.
The figure stands at 12.7 percent as of 2015. Bread for the World believes that this is an encouraging sign, but there is much more work that needs to be done to reduce hunger below the pre-2008 recession levels.
“The drop in the number of food-insecure households is encouraging, but far too many families are still struggling,” said Rev. David Beckmann, Bread’s president. “These new data show that it is possible to end hunger in the United States by 2030. But in order to reach this goal our country must make it a priority.”
USDA releases food-security data for the country in September each year, but the data is always for the previous year. USDA’s annual report, Household Food Security in the United States in 2015, shows that 42.2 million Americans, including 13.1 million children, lived in a food-insecure household in 2015.
Communities of color experienced higher rates of food insecurity than the general population. More than 21 percent of African-American households and 19 percent of Latino households experienced food insecurity — almost twice the national rate.
According to USDA, food insecurity is “when consistent access to adequate food is limited by a lack of money and other resources at times during the year.”
The number of food-insecure households increased by more than 30 percent in 2008, and while the 2015 figures represent a significant drop, rates have yet to return to pre-recession levels. Vital safety-net programs such as SNAP (formerly known as food stamps) help to keep hunger at bay for millions of Americans. Food insecurity will remain high unless the root causes of hunger are addressed.
“Congress must make ending hunger a priority,” said Beckmann. “Lawmakers can start now by passing a strong child nutrition bill that connects hungry children with nutritious meals, working to create good-paying jobs, and strengthening the safety net so that families who hit a rough patch are not permanently left behind.”
Bread has presented the new data in a fact sheet that can be printed and reproduced to share with candidates for office or to hand out to voters at campaign events.
By Galen Carey
Many political commentators are perplexed, and many American citizens are troubled by the current election season. The major party presidential candidates have reached historic highs in unfavorability ratings. While disagreements on the issues are expected, and indeed helpful in stimulating debate, policy differences have not been the center of attention in this year’s campaigns. Rather, the campaigns have highlighted the character flaws of the opposing candidates. In turn, some candidates’ appeals to fear, anger, and prejudice have tested the character of the voters.
How should faithful Christian citizens respond? Should we throw in the towel? Wring our hands? Engage in self-righteous abstention? There is a better way.
As my co-author Leith Anderson and I write in “Faith in the Voting Booth: Practical Wisdom for Voting Well,” there are many reasons for taking our electoral franchise seriously.
“The Christian’s vote matters not because it decides an election, but because it is an act of faithful stewardship of our citizenship. Voting is an act of Christian witness. Voter participation increases the legitimacy of elections, and thus the mandate of those elected. Voting puts politicians on notice that we care enough to participate. Even if our vote does not decide the outcome of a particular election, it is still needed. If we think others should vote, then we should vote too.” (p. 45)
We need to broaden our concept of voting to include more than simply pulling a lever or tapping a box on a touch screen. Voting begins when we start to notice the issues and challenges facing our community, state, nation, and world. It continues as we tune in to the political discourse and consider the various solutions that are offered. We may even propose solutions of our own.
Voting includes our efforts to engage with candidates, to let them know what issues concern us, and what policies we support. It extends as well to discussions with family, friends, and neighbors, listening to the ideas of others and offering our own. In so doing we help to create a constituency that calls forth from our candidates a more thoughtful platform and, when they are elected, a mandate for action.
Our voting continues as we follow up with our elected leaders, their staff, and appointees, reminding them of their promises and offering them our support for bold and well-conceived plans. Even if our leaders did not receive our support, they still represent us and need to hear from us.
Perhaps most important, we vote when we obey the biblical command to pray for our leaders. They often face what we might call, in Walt Kelly’s memorable phrase, insurmountable opportunities. The work of just governance is hard even in good times, and nearly impossible in times of crisis. We should pray for wisdom, courage, and sensitivity to the needs of those who are living with hunger and poverty. We can pray for our leaders when we are at home, in church, and when we meet with them.
Americans are blessed to live in a democracy where our leaders are accountable to the citizens. While our system is far from perfect, its flaws give us no license to withdraw. Rather, they call us to work toward “a more perfect Union” in which the voices and needs of all — and particularly the most vulnerable among us — are considered.
Galen Carey is vice president for government relations at the National Association of Evangelicals, and co-author of “Faith in the Voting Booth: Practical Wisdom for Voting Well.” He has been a member of Bread for the World since 1980.
This article originally ran on Bread Blog as part of a series of posts exploring faith and elections through the lens of different faith perspectives and running ahead of the presidential November election.
By Jordan Teague
This year, Bread for the World members all over the United States have called, emailed, and visited their members of Congress about the 2016 Offering of Letters: Survive and Thrive. These countless conversations have made sure that global maternal and child nutrition is on the radar of congressional offices and shows members of Congress that their constituents care about the nutrition of mothers and children around the world.
While Bread’s initial request of $230 million for maternal and child nutrition in global health programs was not met, this does not mean that we should give up or that the fight for global maternal and child nutrition is over. Congress still has not drafted and passed a final spending bill for fiscal year 2017. Even though reaching $230 million for global nutrition is unlikely at this point in the budget and appropriations process, there is still an opportunity to advocate for increased funding during the negotiation process for that final spending bill.
More funding for global maternal and child nutrition is still needed. Significant progress has been made in reducing childhood stunting over the last several years, but new estimates show that 156 million children still suffer the consequences of chronic malnutrition, or are both physically and mentally stunted. In order to make a significant impact on malnutrition, donors and governments alike, along with businesses and non-profit organizations, need to scale up financing for nutrition as part of foreign assistance and domestic spending. There is an annual financing gap of $7 billion from what is currently funded to what is needed.
Congress can take a first step toward helping bridge this gap by increasing the funding going to nutrition in global health programs in fiscal year 2017. Since the final spending bill has not been drafted or passed, negotiations will likely be ongoing through December of this year. This will be a chance for legislators to increase global nutrition funding should there be an opportunity during negotiations. To this end, Bread for the World led a community sign-on letter to appropriators requesting that they take the opportunity to increase global nutrition funding, should one arise. Thirty-one organizations signed on to the letter, showing broad support from civil society for an increase in funding for global nutrition from Congress.
Do not be discouraged that Congress has thus far recommended only $125 million for global nutrition in fiscal year 2017. While there is no guarantee, there is still a chance to increase this funding and Bread for the World will continue to advocate for this until the end of the budget and appropriations process — we encourage you to do the same!
Jordan Teague is the international policy analyst for food security and nutrition at Bread for the World.
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When you send Bread for the World Christmas cards to your family and friends, you will help create hope and opportunity for hungry people. Proceeds from the sale of these cards support efforts to urge our nation’s decision makers to change the policies and conditions that allow hunger to persist in our own country and abroad.
The 2016 card features a photo of Afghanistan girl and her sibling. Inside is a Scripture passage — Isaiah 35:10 — and the greeting, “May the Prince of Peace, who is born among us this Christmas, give you peace and joy in the new year.”
Ten cards and envelopes are only $15 (includes shipping). Additional card deigns, including one without a religious greeting, are available. View the cards and place your order today or call 800/822-7323, ext. 1072. The deadline for ordering cards is December 9.
You may keep in touch with Bread over email. Are you looking for an even faster way to speak out against hunger and poverty? Well, look no further.
We are happy to announce our new mobile phone alerts. By texting HUNGER to 738674, you’ll be immediately signed up to receive advocacy alerts and updates on other Bread happenings. Want the latest information on our I Vote to End Hunger campaign? Or maybe an opportunity to organize your church or community to help us fight hunger? You’ll hear about it first – and instantly.
Sign up today by texting HUNGER to 738674, or through our online form. We look forward to getting in touch!
By Michele Learner
A year ago, the nations of the world set several of the most wide-reaching and ambitious goals in its history, including ending hunger and all forms of malnutrition within 15 years — by 2030. Bread for the World Institute’s 2017 Hunger Report, to be released Nov. 21 (the Monday before Thanksgiving), takes a closer look at what it will take to end hunger once and for all.
The world has come a long way already. From 2000 to 2015, Bread for the World and our members, along with innumerable other groups and individuals, were strong advocates for the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). The MDG period was the first-ever worldwide effort to improve human lives and further human development. Bread newsletter readers of the time may recall a phrase frequently used to summarize our main focus: “cutting hunger in half by 2015.”
The good news is that, thanks to an unprecedented effort from a wide variety of public and private groups all over the world, the goal was very nearly met by the deadline. It’s an incredible accomplishment when you think of what a complex problem hunger really is — never mind the complications that ensue when any mission, no matter how important or worthwhile, bumps up against all kinds of other priorities, interests, and viewpoints.
The world — and Bread — is not resting on its laurels. The goal of ending hunger and all forms of malnutrition is part of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), adopted last year by the United States and 192 other countries.
It was clear from the beginning of the SDG period that, for all its successes in cutting hunger in half, this earlier goal had avoided some of the most difficult problems. Not surprisingly, the half of hunger that was successfully ended was the “easier” half. There were numerous reasons that hungry people fit into the “easier” category. Some were already well on their way to being able to grow enough food for their families. Some lived in accessible places, with roads that enabled them to run small-market businesses. Some had learned a trade or had another livelihood skill. Whatever the reasons, there were millions of people for whom it was challenging, but ultimately possible, to work their way out of hunger with relatively straightforward support such as training, tools, and supportive government policies.
Now we’re embarking on the harder half of the job. “Leave no one behind” could almost be called a mantra for the SDGs. A lot of the remaining hungry people are still hungry because of conflict. War kills people and destroys infrastructure, communities, businesses, and more. Another group of people — some but not all of whom live in countries affected by conflict — are hungry because climate change, and the extreme weather events that are part of it, is destroying their ability to earn a living or even to survive. Still others are overlooked, whether intentionally or not, by their own governments, which may be too weak or too corrupt to support an economy that offers people opportunities, provide a safety net for those who cannot work, and/or treat people equally under the law.
These situations, the proverbial last mile in ending hunger, are sometimes brought together under the terms fragile state and fragility. The 2017 Hunger Report, titled Fragile Environments, Resilient Communities, will explain what these concepts mean and their implications for ending hunger. It will provide recommendations to help overcome some of the remaining obstacles to reaching the end of hunger — a goal that is obviously challenging, but also very much achievable.
Michele Learner is the associate editor of Bread for the World Institute.
Carrying whatever possessions they can, women arrive in a steady trickle at a camp for internally displaced people established next to a base of the African Union Mission for Somalia (AMISOM) near Jowhar. Heavy rains in Somalia, coupled with recent clashes between clans, has resulted in over 4,000 IDPs seeking shelter at the camp. (November 2013) Photo by Tobin Jones/UN
On October 16 or another Sunday this fall, thousands of churches across the country will lift up God’s vision of a world without hunger. Here’s how one leader in a congregation connects the day with its larger ministry of responding to those in need:
Rick Lorenz, a long-time member of Faith United Church of Christ in Richmond Heights, Ohio, recalls, “Pat Bacon introduced me to Bread for the World, and I fell in love.” Now Lorenz leads Offering of Letters activities each spring and helps the congregation mark Bread for the World Sunday in October. The congregation provides hungry people with meals through its Loaves and Fishes Ministry. But Bread for the World’s citizen advocacy model provides a “multiplier effect.” This inspired Lorenz to participate in two of Bread for the World’s annual Lobby Days in Washington, D.C., and return home to inspire others at Faith to get involved.
“On Bread for the World Sunday, it’s a powerful thing that people all over the world are thinking and praying for this one thing — an end to hunger — at once,” Lorenz says.
You can still order bulletin inserts — along with a large poster, a new responsive prayer, and Scripture studies — to help your church to celebrate Bread for the World Sunday.
Rev. Beth Bostrom, a United Methodist pastor in Florida and a member of Bread’s board of directors, has written an inspiring reflection on Luke 18:1-8. Rev. Dr. Chris Repp, pastor of Grace Lutheran Church in Champaign, Ill., has prepared a new litany and other prayers for the day. Dr. Hosffman Ospino, who teaches theology at Boston College, has written a Spanish-language study of Luke 18:1-8 as well as a litany in Spanish.
These resources, as well as a large poster, worship bulletin inserts, and offering envelopes may all be ordered free of charge to help congregations celebrate Bread for the World Sunday. A Spanish poster and bulletin inserts are available.
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