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By Bryana Braxton
This August will see the return of the Summer Olympics. Rio de Janeiro, Brazil will play host.
Behind all of the displays of athleticism at the games are years of intensive training. An important part of the training for world-class athletes is eating well and getting proper nutrition to build strong muscles and stamina.
Nutrition is a pathway to a healthy, active life for anybody, athlete or not. But it’s still fitting that an international conference on nutrition will be a precursor to the Olympics.
Government leaders from around the world have the opportunity to commit to investing in the improvement of nutrition among mothers and children in particular at the Nutrition for Growth Summit in Rio, which will take place before the Olympics on Aug. 4. This year, Bread is focusing on the nutrition of these groups, which are most vulnerable to malnutrition.
“Countries are facing complex overlays of connected malnutrition burdens that need concentrated action at the policy, health-system and community levels,” said the World Health Organization’s Global Nutrition Policy Brief, published in 2014.
Many countries, including the U.S., are not investing enough in nutrition through their foreign assistance budgets. The proposed U.S. nutrition budget significantly decreased to $108 million in the president’s fiscal year 2017 budget request released in February. The Rio summit will provide the opportunity for countries to make new political and financial commitments to nutrition.
World Health Organization (WHO) member countries will specifically discuss ways to reach WHO’s six global nutrition targets by 2025:
These nutrition targets are essentially the agenda of the summit as well as the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), adopted by many of the world’s nations last year. Goal 2 of the SDGs is to end hunger and malnutrition by 2030.
Bread’s 2016 Offering of Letters urges Congress to accelerate global progress against malnutrition. The specific request is for Congress to increase U.S. funding for the nutrition and health of mothers, newborns, and young children to $230 million. This increase would send a strong message of support for the six global nutrition targets.
“We are hoping the U.S. is going to make a robust financial pledge and policy commitment for the future,” said Asma Lateef, director of Bread for the World Institute. “Without new resources, we will never achieve the goals.”
Bread is urging President and Mrs. Obama to represent the U.S. at the nutrition summit (see related article). The U.S. is the largest donor to global programs for the health of mothers and children. The summit provides the U.S. government with a visible and tangible moment to continue leading the world toward ending hunger through improved nutrition.
To track global and country-specific progress in the six nutrition target areas, use WHO’s Global Targets Tracking tool.
Bryana Braxton is a communications intern at Bread for the World and a student at American University.
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.
By Dr. Mark Husbands
All of us yearn for praise and seek recognition from those whose opinion we truly value. Looking back on the topography of our life, we can likely see where words of encouragement and praise made a difference when we faced trials and challenges. So how would you feel if you heard God say, "I praise you!"? Would you be surprised, humbled, or joyful?
At the beginning of chapter 11 of his first letter to the church at Corinth, Paul writes: "I praise you" (NIV). This begs the question What did they do to deserve such honor? At the far reaches of our collective memory is the recognition that in an honor/shame culture, public honor can be acquired through exemplary moral performance. For example, when we praise those who sacrifice on behalf of widows, orphans, children, and sojourners (the "quartet of the vulnerable" — see Zechariah 7:9-10a), we have tapped into a long and important tradition.
In the context of the Ancient Near Eastern culture of biblical times, what happens after Paul’s initial praise is far more significant than we might imagine. When Paul turns from the subject of head-covering to the sacraments, it is painfully clear that these early Christians have, with reason, fallen out of favor. No longer offering them public honor, Paul's rhetoric turns from praise to judgement:
"In the following directives I have no praise for you, for your meetings do more harm than good. In the first place, I hear that when you come together as a church, there are divisions among you, and to some extent I believe it. No doubt there have to be differences among you to show which of you have God’s approval. So then, when you come together, it is not the Lord’s Supper you eat…" (1 Corinthians 11:17-20 TNIV)
What has happened within this community of faith? How has it fallen so quickly from grace? Tragically, as we shall see, they have forgotten what it means to eat and drink with Jesus. Instead of sharing their food as an expression of mutual love worthy of the self-offering of Christ, Paul writes:
"…some of you go ahead with your own private suppers. As a result, one person remains hungry and another gets drunk. Don’t you have homes to eat and drink in? Or do you despise the church of God by humiliating those who have nothing? What shall I say to you? Shall I praise you? Certainly not in this matter!” (1 Corinthians 11: 21b-22 TNIV)
What does it mean to eat and drink with Jesus? In short, it demands that we resist separating spiritual fellowship in Christ from the moral responsibility to care for the concrete needs and dignity of all whom Christ loves. This necessitates a willingness to shift our focus from self-interest toward work that more closely imitates the selfless gift of Christ — the way of the cross.
Christians in Corinth humiliated the poor in their midst by consuming lavish meals while leaving others hungry. In its 2016 Hunger Report, Bread for the World Institute cautions that food insecurity, hunger, and malnutrition threaten the lives of 48 to 50 million people in the U.S. To be precise, when we realize that hunger and malnutrition in early childhood cast a shroud over people's health for the remainder of their lives, we become more acute hearers of Paul's teaching.
Eating and drinking with Jesus is a powerful opportunity to rediscover the critical importance of God's care for bodily existence, community, and flourishing — God's love and commitment to material life and community. May all who seek to properly discern the body (v. 29) find comfort in the knowledge that God "secures justice for the poor and upholds the cause of the needy" (Psalm 140:12), and may we become the means by which God's love for people who are poor is manifest.
Dr. Mark Husbands is the Leonard and Marjorie Mass Chair of Reformed Theology and director of the Emmaus Scholars Program at Hope College in Holland, Mich. He brings a group of students to Washington, D.C., every year to lobby Congress on Bread’s issues.
Plan now to come to Washington, D.C., and meet hundreds of other Bread for the World members from around the country.
After morning worship and an in-depth briefing, you’ll have the opportunity to communicate personally with your members of Congress and their staffs. The day concludes with a reception and closing worship.
Those who take part in Lobby Day say that it’s a life-changing experience. More information and to register.
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We’re baking Fresh Bread and delivering it weekly when Congress is in session. This newsletter is aimed at frequent activists. You can receive this newsletter, sent by email, when you subscribe. This quick and easy-to-read newsletter contains a rundown of the happenings in Congress on the issues Bread is working on. It provides a summary of the past week’s legislative movements as well as a quick look ahead and actions you can take.
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Rev. David Beckmann, Bread’s president, was the keynote speaker at the 2016 faith-based Global Agriculture Summit, held March 3-4 at Dordt College in Sioux Center, Iowa.
The event brought together leaders from around the world who work in agriculture, business, community development, and academia. The summit’s purpose was to examine how Christians, farmers, and non-governmental organizations can work together through agriculture to address hunger and poverty.
Beckmann spoke on the role of the Gospel and God’s embrace of us as a reason for advocacy to end hunger.
Other speakers at the summit included Fred Kirschenmann, fellow at the Leopold Center at Iowa State University; Debi Durham, director of the Iowa Department of Economic Development; Mary Andringa, chair of the board of the Vermeer Corporation; Kevin Murphy, owner of Food-Chain Communications; Haron Wachira, owner of Akili Holdings in Kenya; and Cheryl Broetje, owner of Broetje Orchards in Washington state.
Bread for the World’s annual Offering of Letters campaign engages congregations and other faith communities in writing letters to Congress. There are as many ways to hold an Offering of Letters as there are groups that undertake the activity.
Jon Gromek, a Bread regional organizer, is a lifelong member of the Greek Orthodox Church but calls himself an “honorary Catholic.” After all, his wife is a member of the Catholic Church. Gromek worked with the Archdiocese of Cincinnati to spearhead an advocacy campaign with the Offering of Letters as its vehicle.
The archdiocese invited all of its parishes, schools, and institutions to pen letters urging Congress to renew funding for U.S. child nutrition programs. Letters were then collected at the archdiocese to be blessed.
In September, more than 12,000 letters arrived on Capitol Hill. “We had delegations visiting every member of Congress, personally delivering the letters,” Gromek said. The archdiocese saw this collective effort as an especially powerful way to mark Pope Francis’s address to the U.S. Congress. Read the full story.
By Fungma Fudong and Pallavi Dhakal
Married at 17, Meena Gurung from Lamjung district, a remote mid-hill region of Nepal, suffered the loss of her firstborn child without her husband by her side. He, like an estimated 2.1 million Nepali men, had gone abroad to work. Gurung relies on subsistence farming for her livelihood and has little or no access to a variety of diverse and nutritious goods, such as green leafy vegetables and protein, to ensure proper nutrition. As a result, she and her child were malnourished.
A byproduct of poverty, poor nutrition is a major public health concern across Nepal’s rural areas, where about 80 percent of the population lives, and death is all too common.
One out of 19 children dies before his or her fifth birthday due to treatable causes, such as pneumonia, diarrhea, and malnutrition. Over 40 percent of children under age 5 suffer from stunting, a severe form of chronic malnutrition in which a child suffers permanent physical and cognitive damage, resulting in serious health, social, and economic consequences.
“Such nutritional deficiencies mean a whole generation of workers in Nepal with reduced economic potential,” says Shanda L. Steimer, director of USAID/Nepal’s Office of Health and Planning. “For a resource-limited country like Nepal, this has devastating consequences for the country’s socio-economic development and anti-poverty efforts.” Read the full story.
More than 100 people gathered in Washington, D.C., March 7 to celebrate the successful completion of Bread Rising, a three-year campaign that raised more than $75 million for Bread for the World’s current and future efforts.
Gayle Smith, administrator of the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), was the keynote speaker for the celebration.
In her keynote address, Smith described USAID’s scope with a budget of $20 billion and 10,000 employees. “I’ve known Bread for the World for 32 years. You are a partner in everything that I do,” she said. “I offer my congratulations. You’ve raised resources to continue your mission. You should be proud.”
“Bread for the World is always there,” she continued. “There is no more humble organization in this city.” Read the full story.
Several resources produced by Bread for the World and Bread for the World Institute were recognized for their high quality by the Religion Communicators Council. The 87-year-old professional association honors its active members every year with the DeRose-Hinkhouse Memorial Awards for excellence in religious communications and public relations. The awards were presented March 31 at the organization's annual conference in New York City.
These resources, produced in 2015, won awards in various categories:
Staff honored for their work in producing these resources: Adlai Amor, Esteban Garcia, Joseph Molieri, Doug Puller, Todd Post, Hans Friedhoff, Derek Schwabe, Chris Ford, and Sonora Bostian-Posner (only Religion Communicators Council members were eligible for these peer awards).
Afghanistan would be considered likely to have high rates of hunger because at least two of the major causes of global hunger affect it—armed conflict and fragile governmental institutions.
Malnutrition is responsible for nearly half of all preventable deaths among children under 5. Every year, the world loses hundreds of thousands of young children and babies to hunger-related causes.
Bread for the World is calling on the Biden-Harris administration and Congress to build a better 1,000-Days infrastructure in the United States.
“As you therefore have received Christ Jesus the Lord, continue to live your lives in him, rooted and built up in him and established in faith.” These words from Colossians 2:6 remind us of the faith that is active in love for our neighbors.
The Bible on...
The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) is designed to respond to changes in need, making it well suited to respond to crises such as the COVID-19 pandemic.
Bread for the World and its partners are asking Congress to provide $200 million for global nutrition.
In 2017, 11.8 percent of households in the U.S.—40 million people—were food-insecure, meaning that they were unsure at some point during the year about how they would provide for their next meal.