State of the Union BINGO

President Obama addressing Congress in 2012. Wikimedia Commons.

By Robin Stephenson

Tonight is President Obama’s final State of the Union address before leaving office.

The address starts at 9 p.m. EST. The annual speech informs both Congress and citizens about the administration’s legislative priorities for the next year. Our ears will be tuned for words that help end hunger and poverty, and we want you to join us.

We created BINGO cards to see how many issues anti-hunger advocates care about make it into tonight’s speech.  Put an X through each word or phrase said by President Obama during the State of the Union address that is on the card. Our hope is that, by the end of the night, your card is full of marks!

Bread for the World has already set our 2016 priorities, and our list begins with unfinished business. Passing a child nutrition bill that closes the hunger gap and urging Congress to act on smarter sentencing are both on our must-do list. With renewed energy, we will advocate for the Food for Peace Reform Act and passage of the Global Food Security Act. In a year when drought is causing widespread food-insecurity in Ethiopia and food resources are stretched thin due to an unprecedented number of hunger hot spots, there is an increased urgency for Congress to act.

The world has made progress against hunger and poverty since 1990 by adhering to a set of global goals to end hunger. However, as we celebrate progress, wide-scale but preventable malnutrition takes too many lives. Malnutrition is the underlying cause of 45 percent of deaths among children under age 5, and it is one of the main factors driving the death of women in childbirth.

In February, Bread’s members will start writing Congress about the importance of nutrition for mothers and children as part of the 2016 Offering of Letters: Survive and Thrive. As the global community embarks on a new set of goals – the Sustainable Development Goals – the United States must be ready to play our part.

Tonight’s address can help power a national dialogue about hunger – both the president’s speech and the Republican response by South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley. It can remind us that hunger is very real but is often hidden in the shadows. To end hunger, we must expose it. Roughly 15 percent of Americans live in poverty and more than 15 million children – 1 in 5 – live at risk of hunger.

By this time next year, we want to see the new president and Congress make ending hunger and poverty a top priority. By 2030, we want the president of the United States to report that the state of the union is essentially hunger-free.

Robin Stephenson is the national lead for social media and a senior regional organizer at Bread for the World.

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