Keeping Hunger on the Front Burner
Update: After our print edition hit the presses, we got great news from Capitol Hill on child nutrition and the 2010 Offering of Letters.
Dear Members and Friends,
2010 has been an eventful year in our efforts to end hunger in God’s world. Now, we have one of the best opportunities to win changes that will enable millions of people to free their families from hunger and poverty.
In fact, there has never been a more important time to urge our government to make a bigger effort to end hunger. Both human needs and political momentum are at a high point. We need to seize this moment to change the politics of hunger.
More than 40 million people in the United States participate in SNAP (formerly the Food Stamp Program)—the highest number ever. The poverty rate for both African-Americans and Hispanics in our country tops 25 percent.
As I write, Congress has not acted on the expiration of the 2001 and 2003 tax cuts. However, we remain optimistic that Congress will extend the current EITC and Child Tax Credit benefit levels along with the rest of the middle-class tax cuts before the end of the year, even if only temporarily. The EITC and Child Tax Credit improvements expire December 31. If Congress fails to extend the current EITC and Child Tax Credit benefit levels, an estimated 1.5 million people, including 858,000 children, will fall into poverty.
Through our Offering of Letters, Bread for the World members sent more than 122,000 letters to Congress and held well over 100 meetings with their senators and representatives, strengthening support in Congress for these tax credits. Congressional leaders and the White House have said they are committed to continuing these tax credits.
We also persuaded the Senate to pass legislation that will put more nutritious food into school meals for children whose families struggle to put food on the table. As I write this letter, we are hopeful that Congress will soon finalize a reauthorization bill to ensure that more children have access to the food they need.
And after years of persistent advocacy by Bread for the World members like you, the administration is making changes that will make U.S. foreign assistance more effective in reducing hunger and poverty.
For the first time ever, the United States has an overall plan that provides clear guidance to all U.S. government agencies carrying out development programs in low-income countries. This Presidential Directive, released in October, promotes many of the reforms Bread members have been advocating. These include elevating development as a key component of U.S. foreign policy and reflecting the priorities of local communities when planning development programs.
Bread for the World’s work was recognized just a few weeks ago through the World Food Prize. This Nobel Prize equivalent for food and agriculture was awarded to me, but it belongs equally to all of Bread for the World’s members, including you. Your generous support and active involvement in Bread for the World have paved the way for more progress. Thank you!
We are also honored that Bread for the World Institute has received Charity Navigator’s four-star rating for the third year in a row. The rating goes to charities with especially strong accountability, transparency, and quantifiable results.
This year, we have been blessed by a growing network. More than 5,000 congregations now take part in our efforts—representing about a million church members. We have a rising number of online hunger activists. We have recently redesigned our website and begun using new online tools to sharpen our advocacy.
Both the connections made by an expanded network and publicity from the World Food Prize will help more people realize that hunger can be ended. We need more political will.With your support, Bread for the World will continue to work together with churches, campuses, and other groups to enlist even more people of faith in our collective Christian voice to end hunger.
I am spending much of my time in the field this fall, raising awareness of hunger and of Bread’s work through speaking engagements and media interviews. Managing director Jim McDonald and department directors capably run Bread when I am traveling.
You and I have many reasons to rejoice in this season of thanksgiving and celebration. Not the least of these reasons is that our loving God is moving in our time to overcome hunger and poverty. Just when people of faith and conscience need to make a bigger push, more people are stepping forward. My new book, Exodus from Hunger: We Are Called to Change the Politics of Hunger, explores how we can use advocacy to spur great progress toward ending hunger.
It is God’s grace in Jesus Christ—who comes again into our lives as the Child of Bethlehem—that moves us to redouble our efforts to change the policies and conditions that allow hunger to persist.
May this faith and hope sustain you as we work together to end hunger.
In grace and peace,
David Beckmann, President