Two Decades of Advocacy to End Hunger
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The Power of the Individual
When asked how he found Bread for the World, Peter England laughs. "I didn't find Bread for the World—they found me!" An event at England's home congregation, St. Louis Catholic Church in Miami, FL, launched a partnership that’s still going strong two decades later.
At the time (around 1991), Bread had flagged England's church as important politically because it was in a key congressional district, Florida's District 3. It was represented by the late Rep. Dante Fascell (D-FL), then chair of the House Foreign Affairs Committee.
"From the very beginning, Bread gave me a sense of the power of the individual," England remembers. "I have seen it personally." In 1992, Bread asked St. Louis Church to help persuade Fascell, as Foreign Affairs Committee chair, to pass a stand-alone bill supporting food security in the Horn of Africa, then in the midst of a devastating famine.
Assistance and food security for the region were mentioned in a pending appropriations bill. But a stand-alone bill would make the situation much more visible—and prevent the section about the Horn of Africa from getting bogged down in any political concerns surrounding other parts of the bill.
England contacted the Miami Herald and asked the newspaper to run an editorial urging that the Horn of Africa section of the appropriations bill become the separate Horn of Africa Recovery and Food Security Act of 1992. The newspaper made the issue its lead editorial on St. Patrick's Day.
When Fascell saw the editorial, he asked his staff to submit the separate bill—and by 9 a.m., the Horn of Africa Recovery and Food Security Act was ready to go. "Within two weeks, it had passed both houses and been signed into law by President Bush," England recalls with pride.
England says that his pastor was very supportive when the church began its involvement with Bread. When a new pastor, Father Paul Vurturo, arrived last fall, England and fellow activist Pablo Sanchez, co-chair of the church's Bread group, briefed him thoroughly on Bread's ministry, the history of the partnership, and what it means to be a Covenant Church. St. Louis's recent Holy Thursday offering is the congregation's covenant gift to Bread.
England is now retired from his longtime work with Camillus House, a nonprofit serving poor and homeless people in Miami. He continues to co-chair St. Louis Church's Bread ministry with Pablo Sanchez, both of whom recently completed terms on Bread's board of directors. He is also a volunteer media liaison for Bread and is currently in contact with Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL) on the need for foreign assistance reform.
Bread President David Beckmann says, "Peter England is as passionate, persuasive, and persistent an advocate for hungry people as you will find. His years of leadership at the grassroots and national levels exemplify Bread's mission and commitment to hungry and poor people."
Why is working with Bread important to England? "They devote the resources of the organization—and the incredible grassroots network—to one thing: pressing for an end to hunger," he says. "Human needs must be met, and that takes government support."