Bread's Opportunities in 2010
This article originally appeared in the January 2010 Newsletter.
Although the global recession has caused hunger to rise in the United States and around the world, we can take important steps in 2010 to reverse this trend.
We have several unique opportunities to help hungry and poor people at this critical time—both domestically and internationally. Even in these difficult economic conditions, Bread for the World members stand ready to respond as faithful Christians.
Hunger in the United States
This year, we have a chance to make progress on two key components of any successful effort to end U.S. hunger: helping low-income families make ends meet and ensuring that children have access to nutritious food.
Congress will be turning its attention to tax policy because a significant group of tax cuts and tax credits enacted in previous years will expire in 2010. Legislators must decide which ones to renew or change.
Bread’s 2010 Offering of Letters calls on Congress to protect and strengthen key tax credits to help working families who struggle to put food on the table. Our Offering will help ensure that the needs of low-income families do not get lost in the critical congressional debate on taxes.
Two tax credits in particular, the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) and the Child Tax Credit, help bridge the gap between what a family earns through low-wage work and the cost of basic necessities. The EITC alone lifts more than 5 million Americans above the poverty line—including 2.6 million children.
For more information on the goals of the Offering of Letters and stories of families who benefit from these tax credits, see Bridging the Gap for Working Families, the background paper in this issue of Bread.
For many years, Bread members have worked faithfully to protect and strengthen federal nutrition programs that ensure low-income children and families have enough to eat. In the past year, our efforts have been bolstered as President Obama and others began actively working toward the goal of eliminating childhood hunger by 2015. Congress will reauthorize child nutrition programs this year. Bread members can make a difference by urging Congress to improve program access and participation among low-income children, particularly at breakfast and during the summer. By reaching more eligible children, these programs could do much more to reduce childhood hunger.
Hunger around the World
Bread members work consistently to make more resources available for international development—and the past decade has seen consistent increases in poverty-focused development assistance. The FY2010 budget, finalized in December 2009, includes nearly $22 billion for nutrition, health care, basic education, clean water, and other programs that give hungry and poor people in the developing world the opportunities they need to build a better life for themselves and their children. This amount has nearly tripled in the 10 years since $7.5 billion was approved in FY2000.
Poverty-focused development assistance is also an area where we have new opportunities. In April 2009, the president announced a new U.S. initiative to address world hunger by strengthening agriculture and food security in poor countries. He persuaded other donor countries to commit $20 billion over the next three years to agricultural development—a critical area since most of the world’s poor people earn their living as small-scale farmers.
Bread has been involved from the beginning in shaping the administration’s initiative. For example, we brought together hunger organizations and the new Inter-Agency Taskforce on Global Food Security last summer to discuss how the hunger community can support the initiative. This year, Bread will continue to advocate for our top priorities in the global hunger initiative.
We want to ensure that improvements in nutrition, particularly among mothers and young children, are used as a measure of the initiative’s success. In addition to nutrition, the initiative must be comprehensive, addressing short-term emergency food needs and including long-term agricultural development and safety net programs.
Still another opportunity to make progress for hungry and poor people comes with the continuation of our efforts to reform U.S. foreign assistance, the goal of the 2009 Offering of Letters. Bread members have built significant bipartisan support in both the House and the Senate for legislation that begins to make foreign assistance more effective in reducing poverty. Additionally, the president has ordered a comprehensive review of the role of the United States in global development policy.
Finally, the State Department has begun a Quadrennial Development and Diplomacy Review to determine roles for both the State Department and the U.S. Agency for International Development. All of these efforts signal a growing consensus among our nation’s leaders that improving foreign assistance is a priority. Bread will push for continued action to make sure our development dollars stretch as far as possible to address the causes of global hunger and poverty.
Ultimately, reducing hunger is a matter of political will, and political will is built by citizen advocacy—by you. In the past few months, hunger has hit the national news ever more prominently—providing more openings for Bread members and our partners and communities to persuade Congress to act on U.S. and global hunger. Join us in taking advantage of all our opportunities to reduce hunger in God’s world.