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The Next 1,000 Days

Bread for the World’s 2013 National Gathering Will Mark Progress in Maternal and Child Nutrition

May 2013

By her second birthday, a healthy toddler is talking, walking, and steadily moving toward a life of opportunity. Parents around the world marvel at the phenomenal progress that their child makes from the moment that the mother discovers that she is pregnant to that special birthday one thousand days later.

Nearly one thousand days ago a global initiative to improve maternal and child nutrition was conceived. As Bread for the World prepares for our 2013 National Gathering—a biennial convergence of grassroots anti-hunger advocates—Bread for the World Institute is celebrating, taking stock of, and looking at next steps for the 1,000 Days Partnership and the Scaling Up Nutrition Movement. During the 2010 United Nations General Assembly, then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton joined then-Irish Foreign Minister Michael Martin in launching “1,000 Days: Change a Life, Change the Future” to draw attention to the dire effects of poor maternal and child nutrition. Each year more than 165 million children around the world live with the physical and cognitive effects of malnutrition. Three million children die from it.

“Let today be the first of our own one thousand days,” said Clinton, “one thousand days of focused, concerted efforts to translate our common knowledge and vision into concrete action and then build momentum.” Clinton’s announcement coincided with the launch of the Scaling Up Nutrition (SUN) Movement, a global effort to mobilize collective action on nutrition.

“The focus on mothers is significant,” said Asma Lateef, director of Bread for the World Institute. “In many parts of the world, women and girls are the last to eat—so when they become pregnant their nutrition is already compromised. More are likely to die in childbirth. More are likely to give birth to underweight babies. It perpetuates the cycle of malnutrition.”

“One thing we all know is that providing nutrition to a malnourished baby is sacred work,” said Beckmann, president of Bread for the World. “And we have a chance together to provide nutrition to tens of millions of malnourished babies.”

Nine months after the launch, Bread for the World Institute and Concern Worldwide joined forces to host an international meeting, “1,000 Days to Scale up Nutrition for Mothers and Children.” The meeting—held during Bread’s June 2011 National Gathering—laid a foundation for civil societies to play an influential role in meeting the nutrition challenge.

Through the 1,000 Days Partnership and the SUN Movement, maternal and child nutrition has taken a more prominent place in international development. In 2012, the World Health Organization passed a resolution that included six nutrition targets, including on stunting and wasting. The 2012 G8 summit and the Child Survival Call to Action included nutrition as a key component of new food security and maternal and child health commitments.

In the lead up to the 2012 G8 summit, President Barack Obama delivered a major speech on global hunger and food security in which he said that the United States would continue to focus on maternal and child nutrition.

“What hasn’t happened,” said Lateef, “is a commensurate increase in resources. “It’s not expensive, and it’s such a tremendous investment—why would we not do it?”

The next thousand-day period—ending with the December 2015 deadline of the Millennium Development Goals— offers an opportunity to sustain and build on progress.

Bread for the World and Concern Worldwide are joining with partner organizations to host another international meeting, “Sustaining Political Commitment to Scaling Up Nutrition,” on June 10, 2013. The perspectives of the SUN countries will be particularly important in looking ahead to the next thousand days. Rajiv Shah, the administrator of the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) will deliver a keynote address on U.S. leadership on maternal and child nutrition.

This meeting immediately follows the nutrition pledging conference hosted by the U.K. government two days earlier. Bread’s Gathering will provide an ideal platform for the
United States to rededicate itself to the 1,000 Days Partnership as officials report back from London.

Lateef hopes that the U.S. government will make a bold financial pledge and share that pledge at the international meeting. Bread activists from across the country will carry what they learn about 1,000 Days and SUN to Capitol Hill on Lobby Day, Tuesday, June 11—and to their churches and communities thereafter.

To learn more about the international meeting on 1,000 Days or to register for Bread for the World’s 2013 National Gathering: “A Place at the Table,” visit www.bread.org/gathering.

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