By Bryana Braxton
Building the political will to get the U.S. government to do its part in ending hunger takes the work of many individuals and organizations. That’s why Bread joins with partners, works in coalitions, and helps to build up the advocacy capacity of other organizations.
Bread and other members of the International Coalition for Advocacy on Nutrition (ICAN) met with members of Congress and their staffs in March to garner support to tackle maternal and child malnutrition worldwide.
The coalition requested an increase in funding for the U.S. Agency for International Development nutrition strategy to $230 million, doubling that of fiscal year 2015. This investment will finance nutrition education to improve the diets of mothers, proper nutrition during pregnancy, exclusive breastfeeding, and child-feeding practices. The coalition also encouraged the U.S. government to continue to lead global nutrition efforts by making a financial pledge and sending President Obama to the Nutrition for Growth Summit this August in Brazil (see related article).
Following these requests, Rep. Jim McGovern (D-Mass.-02) wrote a “Dear colleague” letter to his fellow members of the House that voiced supported of $230 million for global nutrition in FY 2017. The letter garnered 55 signatures and was sent to the House Appropriations Committee. Bread is working to leverage this support for both FY 2017 appropriations and this summer’s nutrition summit.
After the last Nutrition for Growth Summit in 2013, international organizations, advocacy organizations, and foundations came together to form ICAN, a group of global advocates with the shared goal to save and improve lives through better nutrition. Members of ICAN include 1,000 Days, World Vision, the Hunger Project, Save the Children, Concern Worldwide, and Action against Hunger.
ICAN serves the purpose of raising awareness about opportunities, showing support for global initiatives, coordinating global advocacy efforts on nutrition, and building champions for a legacy of nutrition activists, according to Asma Lateef, director of Bread for the World Institute.
Bread’s main campaign in 2016, its annual Offering of Letters, is focusing on the nutrition and health of mothers and children around the world.
McGovern’s letter to his fellow legislators matched exactly the amount Bread is asking its members to request of Congress in the Offering of Letters for global nutrition in FY 2017. McGovern has been a close ally of Bread and a longtime champion of hunger issues in Congress.
Mothers and children are the groups that are most vulnerable to malnutrition. Malnutrition leads to half the deaths of children under five, totaling to 2.7 million lives lost per year. The right nutrition can save millions of children and women, ensure healthy body and brain development, lead to stronger immune systems, and contribute to more years of education. Such progress starts with focusing on nutrition even before a child is born.
“The 1,000 days between pregnancy and age two are the most critical time in human development, when good nutrition make an enormous difference in children’s physical and mental development,” said the Bread for the World Institute’s 2016 Hunger Report.
Bryana Braxton is a communications intern at Bread for the World and a student at American University.