Bread Holds Gathering and Lobby Day
Bread’s National Gathering and Lobby Day Held in Washington, D.C.
From the four corners of the country and places in between, anti-hunger activists came to Washington, D.C., June 9 and 10 for Bread for the World's National Gathering and Lobby Day. Participants included longtime Bread members and people attending their first gathering, veteran visitors to Capitol Hill and wide-eyed students going to Congress for their first time.
This year is Bread's 40th anniversary, and a celebratory dinner at the end of the first day marked the official celebration of the occasion with a look back at Bread's accomplishments. Under the theme "Working Together to End Hunger by 2030," the gathering also looked to the future and launched the most ambitious campaign in its history.
Bread board member and Hunger Justice Leader Derick Dailey preached at the gathering's opening worship service. To break the cycle of hunger and poverty, he said, Bread activists must also break the cycle of complacency.
"If Congress and the Church embrace its crippled nature, the world continues in its 21st century wilderness experience, meandering in circles, going nowhere," he said.
Travel expert, TV personality, and Bread activist Rick Steves welcomed participants to the gathering on its first day. John Podesta, a counselor to President Obama who played a key role in the passage of the debt-relief legislation in 1999, delivered the morning's keynote address.
Bringing the federal government's perspective to Bread's goal of helping to end hunger by 2030, Podesta said, "It's a bold vision, and a big commitment…that will require dedication from every corner of the globe that is equal to what Bread for the World has showed over the last four decades. But it's a goal we can achieve." (Download his full speech at www.bread.org/podesta).
Two additional speakers — Dana Hyde, the new CEO of the Millennium Challenge Corporation, and Manuel Pastor, professor of sociology and American studies and ethnicity at the University of Southern California — participated in a panel discussion on what it will take to end hunger in the United States and around the world.
The afternoon session featured two speakers for each of three hunger-related issues: immigration, returning citizens, and sustainable food security. The speakers included Tonya Rawe, senior policy advocate with CARE USA, and Gaby Pacheco, an immigrant-rights leader and director of the Bridge Project.
From telling personal stories to raising additional global issues like climate change, the speakers offered participants a slice of their issues in the style of TED Talks. The speakers led breakout sessions later in which gathering participants had a chance to go into more depth on the individual issues.
Bread's 40th anniversary dinner was the culmination of the day. Gathering participants were joined by staff of Bread's partners, former and current board members and staff, and others who have been part of Bread during the past four decades. Dinner attendees paid tribute to Rev. Art Simon, Bread's founder, and Rev. David Beckmann, its current president, and saw a video about Bread's founding titled "Writing Hunger into History." The video, as well as other 40th anniversary materials, are available online.
Beckmann officially introduced Bread Rising, a holistic, multi-year campaign, at the dinner. Beckmann also delivered the dinner's keynote address in which he presented his case, from both professional and personal experience, that Bread can help end hunger by 2030 by continuing to do its work and doing more of it through the Bread Rising campaign.
"God's presence in our hearts is powerful enough to change history…to end hunger," he said.
In between scheduled events, the 325 gathering participants enjoyed networking with other activists and connecting with longtime friends.
The following day, Lobby Day, participants received a briefing from Bread staff and former Agriculture Secretary Dan Glickman before heading to Capitol Hill to visit their members of Congress, where they advocated on the issues of food-aid reform and immigration reform. In all, about 300 participants made more than 200 visits with their members of Congress or their staffs.
Lobby Day ended with a reception on Capitol Hill at which Bread honored Sen. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa) and Reps. Spencer Bachus (R-Ala.), Eliot Engel (D-N.Y.), Ed Royce (R-Calif.) and Frank Wolf (R-Va.) for their continued leadership on issues impacting hungry and poor people in the United States and around the world.
For those who attended Bread's National Gathering and Lobby Day June 9-10 in Washington, D.C., and even for those who didn't attend and want a taste of the events, the gathering web page at www.bread.org/40 has some items that were seen or heard about at the events, including photos.
Photo: Art Simon speaks at Bread's National Gathering.