Looking Back, Moving Forward
Resilience and innovation. These two words perhaps best describe the work of Bread for the World over the past three years. December 2012 marked the completion of Bread's most recent three-year plan, our fifth such plan since we started the practice in 1998. The completion of the plan presents an opportunity to look back on what we have accomplished and gird ourselves for the challenges ahead.
"The last three years have certainly been very productive, despite the economic and political challenges facing our nation," said Asma Lateef, director of Bread for the World Institute. "Against all odds, Bread has achieved many of its internal and legislative goals."
From 2010-2012, Bread for the World met or surpassed most of its benchmarks, as evidenced by its annual organization-wide evaluation. The assessment, which is handled by the Institute, was developed in 2007 with the help of the Center for Nonprofit Strategies. It is based on how Bread for the World and its affiliates impact the lives of hungry and poor people at home and abroad.
Making Progress Against International Hunger
For its international legislative agenda, Bread's work has helped to build support for more and better development assistance. This has been important in preventing an increase in hunger during the global food price crisis and economic downturn in 2008. In response to the crisis, Bread advocated for increased funding for agricultural development in poor countries, which had been neglected in the last decade.
Bread for the World also worked with partner organizations to ensure that maternal and child nutrition become key components of U.S. global health, development, and food aid programs. Bread has supported the work of the Scaling Up Nutrition (SUN) Movement and Lateef now sits on the SUN Civil Society Steering Committee. Bread has also convened hundreds of women of faith to advocate for adequate nutrition for children and their mothers during the first 1,000 days, from conception to age 2.
U.S. leadership since 2009 helped convince other countries to increase their investments in food security, nutrition, and agriculture. The U.S. government’s Feed the Future initiative, focused on 19 of the world’s poorest countries, has been part of the effective global response. Recent data suggests that hunger did not rise as anticipated—although progress has stalled at over 870 million worldwide, of which 852 million live in developing countries.
Given the dramatic decline in hunger from 23.2 percent in 1990 to 14.9 percent now, continued investments in poverty-focused development assistance will help put the world on track to end hunger within a generation.
In 2011, Bread members advocated for a stronger U.S. government focus on reducing poverty, clearer accountability for how U.S. aid dollars are spent, a transformed U.S. development agency, and U.S. aid that meets the needs and wants of local people. Working with our partners in the Modernizing Foreign Aid Network (MFAN), Bread advocated for a revamp of the nation's foreign assistance efforts. Three key bills were introduced last year: the Global Partnerships Act of 2012, a major rewrite of the 1961 Foreign Assistance Act; the Foreign Aid Transparency and Accountability Act of 2012; and the Donald M. Payne International Food Assistance Improvement Act of 2012.
The Payne bill was passed by the House Foreign Affairs Committee and awaits final action. As of press time, the Foreign Aid Transparency and Accountability Act has been passed by the Senate and is scheduled for a vote in the House.
In addition, President Barack Obama issued the historic Presidential Policy Directive on Global Development in 2010. Under the new policy, the U.S. government elevates development as a priority and strengthens the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID).
Maintaining a Circle of Protection in the United States
Over the past three years, we scored many legislative victories in our domestic agenda. In 2010, Congress passed the Tax Relief, Unemployment Insurance Reauthorization, and Job Creation Act, which extended key tax credits for the working poor: the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) and the Child Tax Credit (CTC). We also advocated for the reauthorization of the federal child nutrition programs, which Congress passed as the Healthy Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010.
Bread also succeeded in preventing deep cuts to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, formerly food stamps). In 2012, the Senate rejected $133.5 billion in cuts to SNAP proposed by the House of Representatives. SNAP cuts considered during debate on the Agriculture Appropriations Bill and the Senate Farm Bill were also rejected.
However, these — and all previous successes — have been threatened by unprecedented attacks in Congress as the government has struggled to cut federal spending and reduce the deficit.
As of press time, no deal has been reached with regards to reducing our national deficit, but we have been credited for curbing any major cuts to such programs as SNAP; the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC); and tax credits for the working poor.
During the 2012 presidential campaign, we also succeeded in securing video statements from both candidates on how they would offer hope and opportunity to hungry and poor people. These videos became the linchpin in our work to make sure that hunger and poverty were not invisible issues during the election. We continue to use the video of President Obama as a key tool, urging him to work with Congress to end hunger. This will be an important component of our 2013 Offering of Letters: "A Place at the Table."
As an institution, Bread continues to grow, despite the challenges of the past three years. Like many organizations, Bread has had to do more with less. Yet, we have reached — if not exceeded — all of our institutional benchmarks.
Membership continues to grow at a steady pace, especially among young people and people of color. We continue to train more of our leader activists, with more than 500 added to the rolls over the past three years.
The reach of Bread for the World on the Internet and through social media is expanding our advocacy base. In 2012 alone, Bread for the World exceeded 1.2 billion media impressions. The Religious Communicators Council presented 13 awards to Bread in 2012 in recognition of our effective advocacy work.
For 2013, we are further refining our innovations and preparing for the next three years. Already, we have a long-term vision which will guide the next series of three-year plans.
"As an organization, we are well-poised to face a challenging future," said David Beckmann, president of Bread for the World. "We have our long-term vision in place and have proven our resilience and innovativeness for the long-term. We owe our continuing success to God and the unstinting support of our members, activists, and partners."