The outcome depends on you! Participate in our 2014 Offering of Letters: Reforming U.S. Food Aid.
In a hostile budget climate and with continued threats of deep cuts to anti-hunger and anti-poverty programs, our 2013 Offering of Letters targeted both Congress and the White House for the first time. We urged Congress to protect critical programs and petitioned the president to set a goal to end hunger. As a result of our work in 2012, the president’s 2013 State of the Union address called for an end to extreme poverty in the United States and around the world. We continued to message the president and received more than 40,000 signatures on our petition to President Obama, which we hand-delivered to the White House in August. During October’s government shutdown and near default on the debt ceiling, we worked with our faith partners to re-open the government and prevent service disruptions that would have disproportionately affected struggling families. Thanks to the efforts of Bread for the World and our partners over the last few years, some of our work came to fruition in 2013. The U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee unanimously passed the Foreign Aid Transparency and Accountability Act, which calls for increased and improved monitoring of U.S. foreign assistance and its impact. We are optimistic that the full Senate will take up this bill and pass it in 2014. In a small victory, a budget deal at the close of 2013 suspended the sequester for two years, preventing some cuts to programs that help poor and hungry people.
In the face of continued unprecedented budget threats, Bread for the World called on Congress to maintain a circle of protection around funding for programs vital to hungry and poor people. The House passed proposals that would have cut the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, formerly food stamps) by nearly $170 billion over the next decade. Yet, after two years of budget fights and over $2 trillion of enacted deficit reduction, Congress made no major cuts to programs for hungry and poor people. Congress also extended for five years the current Earned Income Tax Credit and Child Tax Credit benefits—assisting millions of low-income working families. In the final days of the 112th Congress, the House unanimously passed the Foreign Aid Transparency and Accountability Act, a bipartisan bill to improve efficiency among U.S. foreign aid programs. Unfortunately, the bill was held up in the Senate because of one senator who opposed it. We are optimistic that a similar bill will pass both the House and the Senate in the 113th Congress.
Because of an unprecedented pressure to cut programs vital to hungry and poor people, Bread had to refocus the 2011 Offering of Letters. While we continued to press forward with reforms to make U.S. foreign assistance more effective in reducing poverty, we also worked to create a circle of protection around programs that are critical to hungry and poor people. We prevented disproportionate cuts to these programs in the fiscal year 2011 budget. We also successfully advocated for important reforms to U.S. foreign assistance. Working with both Republican and Democratic members of Congress, Bread assisted in a House of Representatives bill that would promote better accountability, transparency, and efficiency in U.S. foreign assistance.
December was a historic month for Bread for the World, as Congress passed two bills for which we had been advocating. The Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act—a five-year renewal of child nutrition programs—authorized an increase of $4.5 billion over 10 years, the largest increase of its kind. The Tax Relief, Unemployment Insurance Reauthorization, and Job Creation Act of 2010—a compromise tax package— included key tax credits for low-income working families. The law continued the Earned Income Tax Credit and the Child Tax Credit improvements that were about to expire, which was the goal of this Offering. Congress extended the benefits for another two years, which lifts millions of lowincome working families out of poverty.
Bread for the World members urged Congress and the administration to reform the way we deliver foreign aid to make it more effective in fighting poverty. As a result of our efforts, bipartisan bills were introduced in the House and Senate to begin the process of reforming the Foreign Assistance Act. In addition, President Barack Obama and the State Department ordered reviews to better coordinate how the United States delivers foreign assistance. Congress also increased funding for programs that fight hunger and poverty worldwide.
Bread for the World pushed for more and better international development assistance. Our efforts helped win a supplemental appropriation of $1.8 billion to respond to the global hunger crisis. Our efforts to garner cosponsors for the Global Poverty Act helped build the political will that helped initiate foreign assistance reform efforts in 2009.
This Offering sought to win broad reform in the U.S. farm bill—making commodity programs into a more equitable safety net for our nation’s farmers, and shifting additional resources into nutrition, conservation, and rural development programs. Though commodity payment programs were not substantially reformed, the Food, Conservation, and Energy Act of 2008 did include the largest-ever funding increase for food stamps and food banks—an additional $10 billion over 10 years.
Bread for the World members continued their winning record of significant increases in funding for programs that address the causes of poverty in developing nations. The $1.4 billion increase in 2006 went largely to addressing the HIV/AIDS pandemic. Now that millions more people are receiving life-saving medications, more people in the working years of their lives are again able to produce food, care for their children, and contribute to their communities.
Bread for the World members stopped Congress from cutting nutrition assistance to hundreds of thousands of hard-working people and their children. They also wrote letters on behalf of the Hunger-Free Communities Act, which Congress passed as part of the 2008 farm bill. The act authorizes a grant program developed to support local community anti-hunger efforts.
Bread for the World members won more than $1 billion in additional funding for the Millennium Challenge Account and other programs to fight disease and poverty in poor countries. This funding has helped to lower the infant mortality rates in the developing world.
Bread for the World members helped establish the Millennium Challenge Account, a new U.S. assistance program aimed at reducing poverty and fighting corruption in the world’s poorest nations. Since then, countries as diverse as Madagascar and Mongolia have signed compacts with the United States to implement comprehensive plans to address the root causes of poverty in their countries. We also helped win the largest increase in poverty-focused development assistance in 20 years.
Bread for the World members sought to strengthen and improve Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) to help poor people and working families in the United States move out of poverty. Congress was seeking to change TANF in wtrackingays that would make it more difficult for families struggling to lift themselves out of poverty. Bread members were able to block these harmful changes until 2006, when Congress included some of the changes in a budget bill.