Urging our nation's leaders to end hunger
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Bread Activists Generate 13,000 Memos to Congress

District offices hear from constituents

September 2011

“As an independent voter, I am watching to see that our basic needs are being supported, including food for all.”

“Cutting this program makes no political, moral, or economic sense. Please remember hungry children.”

“I’m counting on you to do unto others as you would have them do unto you!”

These personal messages were part of more than 13,000 memos Bread for the World activists hand-delivered to the district offices of members of Congress during the critical budget negotiations this summer. Copies of the memos were also delivered by Bread staff to lawmakers’ offices in Capitol Hill.

The memos were intended to remind senators and representatives that they are accountable to their constituents who care about hungry people, as well as to the nearly one in four children in the United States who are at risk of hunger.

Many of these messages were deeply personal and powerful, as activists spoke of knowing people struggling to feed their families. Some even wrote of their own experiences with hunger.

The memos asked members of Congress to ask themselves two questions as they debated how to balance the budget: “Did I vote to protect vital programs needed by the most vulnerable people here and abroad in these difficult times? If I did not, what do I tell the men, women, and children hit hardest?”

When delivering the memos to district offices, some activists also delivered their messages verbally. At meetings with the staff of Sens. Dick Durbin (D-IL) and Mark Kirk (R-IL), Bread activist Sister Louise Nolta mentioned that their group was joined by “millions of hungry people around the world,” bringing those voices into the meetings as these advocates represented them.

This campaign, which generated literally stacks of memos to Congress on behalf of hungry people, was part of Bread’s ongoing Circle of Protection efforts around protecting vital anti-hunger and poverty-fighting programs. Also this summer, religious leaders at a press conference in California called on the state’s members of Congress to uphold the Circle of Protection in budget negotiations.

Los Angeles Auxiliary Bishop Alexander Salazar joined with Rev. Carissa Baldwin of All Saints Episcopal Church, Rev. William Epps of Second Baptist Church, Rev. Elizabeth Gibbs Zehnder of Immanuel Presbyterian Church, and Rev. Walter Contreras, coordinator for Hispanic ministries, Evangelical Covenant Church.

“The moral measure of this federal budget is not which party wins or which powerful interests prevail, but rather how those who are jobless, hungry, homeless, or poor are treated,” said Bishop Salazar. “Their voices are too often missing in these debates, but they have the most compelling moral claim on our consciousness and our common resources. The Lord hears the cry of the poor.”

The press event generated more than 5 million media impressions from multiple national and local news outlets, including Reuters and Univision.

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