Bread staff take part in 12-hour prayer vigil

Speakers during the prayer vigil. Lacey Johnson for Bread for the World.

By Stephanie Buggs

Faith leaders gathered last month at a 12-hour prayer vigil on Capitol Hill to advocate for passage of various provisions of the Biden administration’s Build Back Better bill.

The bill is aimed at improving people’s lives in the areas of childcare, nutrition, health care, climate change, and the economy.

“We are here to watch—to pray for Congress as they work towards this important bill,” said Nancy Neal, director of Faith Engagement at Bread for the World. “Just keep in mind the profound impact that this legislation could have on the one in six children who live in a household where they’re not sure how they’re going to meet their food needs.”

Bread supports specific provisions in the bill that will help families in the United States struggling with hunger and poverty.

The provisions Bread supports include expanding free school meals to more children; creating a nationwide paid family and medical leave program, providing families with access to affordable, high-quality childcare; extending the expanded Child Tax Credit; and keeping all the provisions of the Black Maternal Health Momnibus Act of 2021 in the legislation.

Ensuring that children have food to eat is central to Bread’s advocacy around the bill. That is why Bread is urging lawmakers to extend the expanded CTC and also extend access to summer meals nationwide.

“Imagine how the summer EBT program will give parents access to good food for their children in the summer months when they don’t have access to food at school,” Neal said. “We know that Congress has the power to make these things happen.”

Other partner organizations that took part in the prayer vigil included Faith in Public Life, Friends Committee on National Legislation, and NETWORK Lobby for Catholic Social Justice. Members of Congress, policy experts, and impacted families also spoke in support of the bill.

Eric Mitchell, executive director of the Alliance to End Hunger, a sister organization of Bread, also spoke at the prayer vigil.

“We are urging Congress to include essential anti-hunger anti-poverty and nutrition provisions as part of the Build Back Better budget reconciliation that is currently under negotiations,” Mitchell said. “These provisions will reduce food insecurity and improve the nutrition for our nation’s children at a critical time, while advancing the country’s recovery from COVID-19.”

The bill passed a procedural vote in the House last week – awaiting a full vote on the House floor. Urge your lawmakers to advance progress against hunger and poverty by passing key provisions in the Build Back Better bill.

Stephanie Buggs is digital communications and marketing specialist, Black millennial engagement at Bread for the World.

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