Urging our nation's leaders to end hunger
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Work a little bit while Congress rests

By Marv Knox on August 7, 2009
© Baptist Standard

While our emissaries to Washington take a vacation, you and I can do a little work that could improve the lives of millions of people all over the world.

Please join me in writing members of the Senate and House of Representatives, urging them to support companion bipartisan bills that will strengthen U.S. assistance to foreign countries.

The House bill is the Initiating Foreign Assistance Reform Act of 2009 (H.R. 2139), and its counterpart in the Senate is the Foreign Assistance Revitalization and Accountability Act of 2009 (S. 1524).

The House bill calls on President Obama to implement a comprehensive U.S. strategy to advance global development, which translates into the tools to help feed hungry people, support healthcare and lift them from poverty.

The bill’s four main sections: Require President Obama to develop a comprehensive national strategy for global development. Direct the president to monitor and evaluate the effectiveness and efficiency of U.S. foreign aid. Mandate that both taxpayers and recipients have full access to information about U.S. foreign assistance. Repeal outdated provisions of current policy.

The Senate bill articulates U.S. policy that promotes global development, good governance, and reduction of poverty and hunger. Like the House bill, it specifies U.S. foreign assistance should be transparent. And it restores planning, policy and evaluation capacities for the U.S. Agency for International Development.

Before their August recess, 100 House members signed on as co-sponsors of H.R. 2139. Only four—Charles A. Gonzalez, Sheila Jackson-Lee, Eddie Bernice Johnson and Mac Thornberry—are Texans. S. 1524 was introduced right before the break. It has five sponsors, none of them Texans.

Christians and other people of faith and goodwill need to contact their senators and representative and call on them to co-sponsor the bills immediately and then support them when they come up for votes.

This effort “is crucial to the overall reform of U.S. foreign assistance,” noted David Beckmann, president of Bread for the World, the highly regarded Christian organization that works for solutions to hunger, both in the United States and around the globe. Bread for the World has made H.R. 2139 and S. 1524 the focus of its 2009 “Offering of Letters,” an intense effort to rally Christians to shape policies that can end hunger and reduce global poverty.

“If the Obama Administration and Congress improve the effectiveness of U.S. foreign assistance, our dollars will do more good for decades to come,” Beckmann said. He is correct. And we can strengthen his voice by adding ours to his—if you will take a few moments to write three letters, urging your senators and representative to support these bills.

The need is vital. The U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization recently reported that, for the first time in history, more than 1 billion people on Earth are hungry. That means one out of every six people go to bed hungry each night.

Now, every time I address hunger and poverty, I hear from Christians who say we should not be involved in government solutions to hunger and poverty. They say it’s the church’s job. They’re only half right. Yes, the church should work to end hunger and poverty. But this is too big of a task to do ourselves. And besides, one way we can work on behalf of the hungry and the poor is to advocate for all means—including U.S. foreign aid—to assist them.

To determine your representative and locate contact information for your senators and representative, go to: www.capitol.state.tx.us. Fill in the “Who Represents Me?” box.

For more information about H.R. 2139 and S. 1524 and other hunger issues, visit the Bread for the World website, www.bread.org.

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