Urging our nation's leaders to end hunger
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Circle of Protection

By Nichelle Mitchem on July 25, 2011
© Gather

Today, Bread for the World sent out an Action Alert discussing the “Circle of Protection: A Statement on Why We Need to Protect Programs for the Poor” and encouraging supporters to take action to support funding for programs that serve the most vulnerable members of society.

In the Action Alert, Rev. David Beckmann, president of Bread for the World, states that, “Everything we have achieved for poor and hungry people in the last 35 years is under severe threat of budget cuts—nutrition programs such as the Supplemental Nutrition for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) and SNAP (formerly food stamps), as well as poverty-focused development assistance.”

It has been reported that more than forty-nine (49) million Americans lack reliable access to the food. Childhood hunger is a growing reality in America. In one of the wealthiest nations in the world, the prevalence of childhood hunger is a national travesty and for many a well-kept secret. Approximately, one in four children in America is food insecure. This is not the time to cut funding for very necessary programs for the most vulnerable members of our society.

Statistics on Childhood Hunger in the United States:

According to the USDA, over seventeen (17) million children lived in food insecure (low food security and very low food security) households in 2009. ii 

Twenty (20) percent or more of the child population in sixteen (16) states and D.C. are living in food insecure households. The states of Arkansas twenty-four point four(24.4) percent and Texas twenty-four point three (24.3) percent have the highest rates of children living in households without consistent access to food. (Cook, John, Child Food Insecurity in the United States: 2006-2008. iii.

In 2009, households that had higher rates of food insecurity than the national average included households with children (21.3 percent), especially households with children headed by single women (36.6 percent) or single men (27.8 percent), Black non-Hispanic households (24.9 percent) and Hispanic households (26.9 percent).v

These heartbreaking facts about the prevalence and the face of hunger in America and the proposed cuts to very necessary social service programs has drawn the attention of thousands of Christians, people of other faiths, heads of denominations, corporations, and nonprofit organizations and compelled them to take action on behalf of the poor. These groups have formed what has been termed a Circle of Protection around funding for programs that are vital to hungry and poor people both in the United States and abroad. It has been reported that in excess of thirteen thousand (13,000) Americans have signed a memorandum to their members of Congress, supporting the need to reduce deficits but not at the expense of hungry and poor people. The “Circle of Protection” statement reads as follows:

In the face of historic deficits, the nation faces unavoidable choices about how to balance needs and resources and allocate burdens and sacrifices. These choices are economic, political—and moral. 

As Christians, we believe the moral measure of the debate is how the most poor and
vulnerable people fare. We look at every budget proposal from the bottom up—how it treats those Jesus called “the least of these” (Matthew 25:45). They do not have powerful lobbies, but they have the most compelling claim on our consciences and common resources. The Christian community has an obligation to help them be heard, to join with others to insist that programs that serve the most vulnerable in our nation and around the world are protected. We know from our experience serving hungry and homeless people that these programs meet basic human needs and protect the lives and dignity of the most vulnerable. We believe that God is calling us to pray, fast, give alms and to speak out for justice.
 

As Christian leaders, we are committed to fiscal responsibility and shared sacrifice. We are also committed to resist budget cuts that undermine the lives, dignity, and rights of poor and vulnerable people. Therefore, we join with others to form a Circle of Protection around programs that meet the essential needs of hungry and poor people at home and abroad.

 1. The nation needs to substantially reduce future deficits, but not at the expense of hungry and poor people.

2. Funding focused on reducing poverty should not be cut. It should be made as effective as possible, but not cut.

3. We urge our leaders to protect and improve poverty-focused development and humanitarian assistance to promote a better, safer world.

4. National leaders must review and consider tax revenues, military spending, and entitlements in the search for ways to share sacrifice and cut deficits.

5. A fundamental task is to create jobs and spur economic growth. Decent jobs at decent wages are the best path out of poverty, and restoring growth is a powerful way to
reduce deficits.

6. The budget debate has a central moral dimension. Christians are asking how we protect “the least of these.” “What would Jesus cut?” “How do we share sacrifice?”

7. As believers, we turn to God with prayer and fasting, to ask for guidance as our nation makes decisions about our priorities as a people.

8. God continues to shower our nation and the world with blessings. As Christians, we are rooted in the love of God in Jesus Christ. Our task is to share these blessings with love
and justice and with a special priority for those who are poor.

Budgets are moral documents, and how we reduce future deficits are historic and defining moral choices. As Christian leaders, we urge Congress and the administration to give moral priority to pograms that protect the life and dignity of poor and vulnerable people in these difficult times, our broken economy, and our wounded world. It is the vocation and obligation of the church to speak and act on behalf of those Jesus called “the least of these.” This is our calling, and we will strive to be faithful in carrying out this mission.”—Circle of Protection 

This summer, Bread for the World supporters and others are encouraged to visit or call their senators and representatives at their local offices to urge them to protect funding for programs for hungry people. For further information about shared sacrifice or the “Circle of Protection” visit www.circleofprotection.us.

Source(s): www.bread.org/go/circle. www.circleofprotection.us. www.huffingtonpost.com/…/circle-of-protection-budget-cuts. www.christiannewswire.com/news/5693716844.html. www.uscatholic.org/…/christian-leaders-call-circle-protection. Sources: U.S. Dept. of Agriculture; U.S. Census Bureau; Feeding America (online); Rhoda Cohen, J. Mabli, F., Potter,Z., Zhoa. Hunger in America 2010. Feeding America. February 2010; Nord, Mark, M. Andrews, S. Carlson. United States Department of Agriculture/Economic Research Service, Household Food Security in the United States, 2008 and 2009; Cook, John. Feeding America. Child Food Insecurity in the United States: 2006-2008; www.share.org; www.feedamerica.org; www.nokidhungry.org; and Food Research and Action Center.

Photo credit: Microsoft Clip Art

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iBread for the World Action Alert.

iiRhoda Cohen, J. Mabli, F., Potter,Z., Zhoa. Hunger in America 2010. Feeding America.
February 2010.

iiiNord, Mark, M. Andrews, S. Carlson. United States Department of

Agriculture/Economic Research Service, Household Food Security in the United States, 2008.

iv Cook, John. Feeding America. Child Food Insecurity in the United States:2006-2008.

vNord, Mark, M. Andrews, S. Carlson. United States Department of Agriculture/Economic Research Service, Household Food Security in the
United States
, 2009.

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