‘A Time to Change History’: Bread’s Three-Year Plan
This article originally appeared in the February - March 2010 Newsletter.
The number of low-income and poor families in the United States has risen as the cost of basic goods and services has increased, wages have stagnated, and unemployment has grown. Globally, rising grain prices, the economic recession, and the effects of climate change have caused a surge in the number of hungry and poor people.
Bread staff and board members met throughout 2009 to brainstorm new and more effective strategies to meet these challenges during the next few years, as well as to increase the strength and scope of our work. This resulted in a plan for the next three years, 2010-2012, which is focused on the theme, “A Time to Change History for Hungry People.”
The plan contains two sets of goals. One set centers on pursuing policy changes in Congress that impact hunger and poverty, which Bread believes are achievable with the advocacy of Bread members. The other set includes goals Bread will pursue to improve as an organization, so that by the end of 2012, Bread will be younger, more diverse, more technologically savvy, better known, and more vibrant at the grassroots level.
Strengthening Policies for Hungry People
Bread’s first broad policy goal is to continue to push U.S. government leaders to reduce hunger and strengthen food security in poor countries. Bread has been involved in the planning of major initiatives proposed last year by President Barack Obama, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, USAID Administrator Raj Shah, and others that call for reducing world hunger, primarily by investing in agriculture in poor countries. Bread also will push for administrative reforms that clarify the goals of U.S. foreign assistance, and that make assistance responsive to what’s happening on the ground in specific countries.
A second policy goal is to end child hunger in America. In President Obama’s proposed FY 2011 budget, he included $1 billion per year for nutrition programs aimed at ending childhood hunger, reducing obesity, and improving children’s diets. Bread and its members will urge Congress to fully fund these programs. But as necessary as these programs are, they won’t be enough to end child hunger; families simply need additional ways to increase their income so they can provide for their children.
To that end, Bread’s 2010 Offering of Letters—which launched February 1—focuses on the Earned Income Tax Credit and Child Tax Credit, tax credits that put extra cash into the pockets of low-income working families. At a time when so many families are suffering, these tax credits are more important than ever. (See www.bread.org/OL2010 for more information about how you can take action.)
A third policy goal is more and better development assistance—a continuation of Bread’s 2009 Offering of Letters campaign to make U.S. foreign assistance more effective. Among our goals is a revitalized U.S. Agency for International Development, and the consolidation of aid programs that are currently scattered across the government. Bread also will work with its coalition partners to push for a doubling of U.S. poverty-focused development assistance. Since 2000, such aid has tripled to $28 billion in FY 2010.
Bread and Bread for the World Institute also will continue its work on a wider range of issues, including farm and trade policy, climate change, and immigration. Bread will educate people about the connections between Jesus and his call for justice, the issues important to hungry people, and how to be effective advocates. We’ll continue to keep you informed about these and other issues in our publications, background papers, emails, Web site, and newsletters.
Strengthening Bread for the World
So how will Bread meet these ambitious goals by 2012? By strengthening the organization in three areas.
First: Increase Bread’s grassroots organizing. Innovations include more training for Bread activists, more grassroots groups, clearer strategies for involving congregations, and better processes for feedback from grassroots organizers and activists.
Second: Better and diverse communication channels. The number and variety of ways people communicate today means that Bread will expand its use of e-communication, social networking sites, and other new media to reach more audiences. We’ll also expand our marketing and media work, including to ethnic media, and target Washington influentials and churchgoers who are interested in social justice.
Third: Expand our diversity. Bread plans to reach out to audiences that are more diverse in age and ethnicity, including developing and training a cadre of young, racially diverse volunteer activists. We’ll continue our outreach to African-Americans and Latinos, doubling the number of African-American and Latino congregations involved in Bread’s work. Bread also will provide diversity training for our staff and board, and strengthen our recruitment of minority candidates for senior positions within the organization.
For all these goals, we have established benchmarks to measure our progress and to hold ourselves accountable for achieving these plans.
These changes will help millions of people who have been driven into hunger, and they will help put the nation and world on track toward dramatically reducing hunger over the coming decades. We offer our efforts to God and trust that God will bless them beyond what we can plan or imagine.