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By Robin Stephenson
Oatmeal bubbles on the stove, a hastily poured glass of orange juice drips on the counter, and the smell of cooking eggs fill a Portland, Oregon kitchen. With three children in the mix, breakfast at the Stange house is marked by both chaos and abundance, something for which Michele Stange is grateful.
Working full-time and pursuing a master's degree leaves very little room in the busy mother’s schedule, but her most important job is making sure her kids get the nutrition they need to thrive. “I am grateful for the fact that I have healthy food in the house at all times,” said Michele. “I know that whatever my children chose to prepare for their breakfast, it will be fuel for a morning filled with learning.”
An ocean away, a mother in Kakamega, a town in western Kenya, shares a common cause with Michele —a desire to see her child well fed and thriving. Like Michele, Violet has a busy schedule; she is a farmer, studies fashion design, and is breastfeeding a six-month old.
Tanuja Rastogi, a senior global nutrition advisor with Bread for the World Institute, met Violet in April while doing research on nutrition programs. On the day she visited, a health worker was giving Violet and her husband, Peter, nutrition advice and a fortified food product for their daughter, Blessing.
Kenya, a success story when it comes to beating malnutrition, reduced its stunting rate by one-third within 10 years. Still, there is work to do. According to the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), roughly 26 percent of Kenya’s children under 5 suffer from chronic malnutrition. Programs like the one Tanuja witnessed focus on supporting mothers with nutrition education and resources.
“Support a mother and you support a child,” said Tanuja, something she knows first-hand. She noted that receiving nutrition and breastfeeding support with the birth of her second child was an enormous benefit but something that not every country is has the resources to provide.
Kenya has one of the largest and most diversified economies in East Africa, but it takes more than economic growth to improve nutrition—especially in rural communities. Like many rural farming families, Violet and Peter struggle with access to income, diverse foods, and nutrition knowledge. Health guidance is a key ingredient in Kenya’s progress against malnutrition.
U.S.-led funding and programs are helping to fuel progress against malnutrition—but so much more can be done to scale up those efforts.
A first step to accelerate improved global nutrition is passing the Global Nutrition Resolution. During May, when we celebrate mothers, Bread for the World has launched a petition drive to urge members of Congress to support mothers everywhere with improved access to nutrition.
An ocean and access to abundant resources separate Michele and Violet, but motherhood draws them together. In solidarity, Michele signed the petition because she says that like her, every mom wants what is best for her child. “When you send your children out the door in the morning, you want to know they have everything they need to be safe, healthy, and resilient,” she said. “My heart hurts for moms who do not have nutritious food to start their child’s day.”
Join Michele and other Bread members this Mother’s Day by telling your members of Congress that while progress has been made against malnutrition, they must do more. As a thank you, we encourage you to download a certificate of appreciation for the nutritious start your mother, or the mother figure in your life, gave you. Bread members will deliver the petitions to your members of Congress in June as part of the Advocacy Summit.
Robin Stephenson is the senior manager for digital campaigns at Bread for the World.
David Beckmann has announced that he will retire as president of Bread for the World in June 2020.
“I am deeply grateful for the opportunity to lead Bread for the World and its members. The progress our country and the world have made against hunger in recent decades has been an experience of our loving God’s continuing presence in our world,” Beckmann said. “Bread for the World members have clearly helped to make it happen.”
Beckmann was awarded the World Food Prize in 2010 in recognition that “the policies he has fought for have brought hundreds of millions of people out of poverty.”
Board chair John Carr recognized David’s long and exceptional service. “Bread for the World has been blessed by David Beckmann’s outstanding leadership for more than two decades. His faithfulness, knowledge, skills and commitment have transformed Bread, lifted millions of people who are hungry or poor and enriched the Christian and Washington communities in countless ways. We look forward to David's ongoing leadership as Bread searches for his successor and to his continued engagement in overcoming hunger and poverty.”
“Bread for the World will thrive under fresh leadership,” said Beckmann, “and I’m announcing my retirement early so that Bread has plenty of time to plan.”
Catholic News Service recently published an article about Beckmann’s career and retirement which can be read here.
A leadership committee of the board of Bread for the World has carefully prepared for this transition. The board has selected Korn Ferry, a leading executive search firm, to assist us in choosing a new president who can build on Bread’s many strengths and has the vision, experience, and leadership to help Bread achieve its mission of ending hunger.
By Bishop Doug Beacham
During Lent and Holy Week, Christians around the globe reflect on the words and actions of Jesus in the closing weeks of His ministry. One of those events is recorded in Matthew 26:6-13, Mark 14:3-9, and John 12:1-8.
In those accounts Jesus remarked, “For the poor you have with you always, but Me you do not have always” (John 12:8, all references are from the New King James Version). The immediate context was the extravagant pouring of “very costly oil of spikenard” upon Jesus’ feet by Mary (John 12:3). The response to Mary was that it was waste that could have been sold to feed the poor (John 12:4-6). This direct response, attributed to Judas, revealed the duplicity of the person who had control of the finances and used the poor as an excuse for his own greed (John 12:6).
The larger context of Jesus’ statement about the poor is found in Deuteronomy 15:11, “For the poor will never cease from the land; therefore, I command you, saying, ‘You shall open your hand wide to your brother, to your poor and your needy, in your land.’”
The conclusion of Deuteronomy 14 and the beginning of Deuteronomy 15 describe compassionate actions for those dependent on others for assistance. Deuteronomy 14 describes an action that was to occur on a three-year cycle of tithes brought to a place where assistance could be easily provided. Deuteronomy 15 begins with a seven-year cycle intended to break the bondage of debt. It is so transformative it is named “the Lord’s release” (15:2). It held open the possibility that economic justice could be so pervasive that debts could be reduced, and poverty potentially eliminated (15:4).
Yet, facing reality, Deuteronomy 15:7 returns to the poor with the admonition that those who are blessed “shall not harden your heart nor shut your hand from your poor brother” (15:7, 8). Not only is the action required but the intent of the heart is addressed when “the year of release is at hand” (15:9). The phrase Jesus quoted, “For the poor will never cease from the land,” is found in this Jewish law context quoted in Deuteronomy 15:11. In Mark 14:7 Jesus added to the Deuteronomy citation, “whenever you wish you may do them (the poor) good.”
In Matthew 25:35-40 and 2 Corinthians 8:9 Jesus connected care for the poor with how we care for Him as Lord. The Matthew passage shows that in the incarnation God became one with “the least.” The Apostle Paul expressed the same incarnational reality that “for your sakes He (Jesus) became poor.” This poverty expressed the reality of the human condition separated from God.
Thus, when Jesus rejected Judas’ protest regarding the costly ointment, Jesus was not only affirming that Mary was anointing Him for His burial (as Matthew, Mark, and John agree), but was also pouring out her love upon one who was Himself one of the poor.
For Christians, Lent, Holy Week, Good Friday, Easter Sunday, and the Ascension provide a time-frame for reflecting on the corporate dimensions of what it means to be a “new creation” (2 Corinthians 5:17; Romans 8:19-22). These days between Easter, Ascension, and Pentecost, are opportunities to bring together action and renewed spirit for the good of all.
Bishop Doug Beacham is general superintendent of the International Pentecostal Holiness Church.
This year's Advocacy Summit is on June 10 and 11, 2019 in Washington, D.C. The theme, "Better Nutrition, Better Tomorrow,” is the same as the 2019 Offering of Letters, which is focused on urging Congress to pass legislation that accelerates progress on global nutrition.
The Advocacy Summit is an opportunity for Bread members and activists to communicate one-on-one with their members of Congress and their staffs. On June 10, there will be breakout sessions, a book launch reception for Bread founder Rev. Art Simon, and a dinner program. On June 11, a morning worship will provide inspiration ahead of Capitol Hill visits with members of Congress. The day will end with an evening reception, including awards given out to legislators, and a worship service where participants can share with others about their day. Hors d’oeuvres and refreshments will be served at the reception.
Registration closes on May 31. So, you are encouraged to register today!
A powerful cyclone smashed into Mozambique on the evening of April 25, less than a month after Cyclone Idai killed hundreds and devastated large areas. This is an unprecedented set of disasters for Mozambique. The latest cyclone, Kenneth, has destroyed homes, cut off power and left communities in ruins.
Bread for the World has been closely monitoring the situation and talking to congressional staff. Our focus has been on educating members of Congress about the extent of the damage and the humanitarian response efforts. Bread is also reaching out to implementing NGOs to get an update on where things are at on the ground and if it makes sense to ask for additional disaster funds from Congress.
To date, the United States has provided more than $70 million in humanitarian assistance to help people in Mozambique, Zimbabwe, and Malawi who have been affected by the cyclones.
The United Nations has allocated $30 million from the U.N. Central Emergency Response Fund – a pooled humanitarian fund established and managed by the U.N. to support sudden-onset and underfunded emergencies, and is appealing for additions funds.
By Marlysa D. Gamblin
The United States must address root causes to be equipped to end hunger by 2030. Mass incarceration is a significant root cause to hunger. One in three people in the U.S. have some type of criminal record. In addition, at least 95 percent of currently incarcerated people will return home at some point. So, it is a question of what they will return to—support or further marginalization.
Unfortunately, even after many have paid their dues, past records or convictions impact their ability to gain equitable employment, housing, and educational opportunities, as well as other supports, to avoid falling into hunger. Consequently, 91 percent of people returning from jail and prison, also known as returning citizens, experience food insecurity. This is eight times the rate of the general U.S. household that experiences food insecurity at 11.8 percent.
April was Second Chance Month and highlighted the need to provide targeted support for people returning from jail and prison. While reentry is just one component to address mass incarceration, it is an important one. Receiving a full second chance is vital to avoiding food insecurity post-release. Unfortunately, because many have not received this support, 44 percent of returning citizens become incarcerated again within a year of release (primarily due to parole violations related to the lack of support).
Last year, in an effort to provide this second chance, Congress passed the First Step Act which included a reauthorization of the Second Chance grant program. Second Chance grants go to government agencies and nonprofits to provide employment assistance, substance abuse treatment, housing, family programming, mentoring, victim support and other services to individuals returning to the community from prison or jail. The goal of this initiative is to increase reentry programming and improve outcomes for returning citizens, as well as their families and communities.
There is a lot of research showcasing the significant impacts that these grants have had on providing second chances to returning citizens, and therefore, reducing recidivism. With over 47,000 legal restrictions on returning citizens—70 percent of which is employment related—receiving additional support to become financially stable is vital to ending hunger.
Unfortunately, however, Congress has not allocated Second Chance grants the funding necessary to reach its full potential, and help our country reduce food insecurity among returning citizens. As long as important efforts like these remain underfunded, mass incarceration will continue to be a root cause of hunger. Consequently, returning citizens will continue to have the highest food insecurity rate out of any other group in the U.S.; therefore, making it that much harder for our country to end hunger by 2030.
Marlysa D. Gamblin is the domestic advisor for policy and programs, specific populations, at Bread for the World Institute.
By Zach Schmidt
One year ago, I was getting ready for a trip that would change my life. In May 2018, Bread for the World sent a team to Nepal to see how this small, landlocked country had made such dramatic progress in reducing hunger and malnutrition over the past decade. We met with mothers and fathers, business owners and community leaders. We saw farms and health clinics, cooking classes and village celebrations. We went with the prayers and support of Bread members, and we have returned to share the impact of your advocacy.
We are thrilled to introduce “Accelerating Global Nutrition: Lessons from Nepal,” a short video from Bread for the World about what we saw and learned. The video lays out the crisis of malnutrition, which still impacts far too many of our neighbors around the world, often with lifelong, detrimental effects on individuals, families, and communities. Yet, as the video makes clear, there is hope. Due in part to U.S. leadership and fueled by Bread for the World’s advocacy, our world has made substantial progress in reducing malnutrition in recent years. Nepal is a prime example of what happens when countries and communities prioritize the nutrition of their citizens, and when the United States comes alongside as a partner.
It is our hope that this video will inspire and encourage you in knowing that your support and advocacy with Bread for the World has made a difference in the lives of men, women and children. We hope it will serve as a resource in small groups, in churches, and in large events, to grow our movement to end hunger in God’s world. Thank you for partnering with us.
Zach Schmidt is a senior regional organizer at Bread for the World
Each year, Bread for the World sets forth a campaign and develops resources that enable people of faith to win impressive legislative victories in reducing hunger and poverty. Churches and other faith groups around the country use these resources to organize letter-writing events. The letters are often brought forward and blessed as part of the offering.
The 2019 Offering of Letters: Better Nutrition, Better Tomorrow, is urging Congress to accelerate progress on global nutrition. That progress will help end childhood stunting, from which 1 in 4 children worldwide suffers.
In Seattle, Washington, two churches have worked together for decades. Sharon D’Amico leads the effort at University Congregational United Church of Christ, a large and vibrant congregation in the heart of Seattle. When Sharon and her husband relocated to Seattle 30 years ago, she brought Bread for the World with her to her new church.
Craig Fjarlie, another longtime Bread for the World member, organizes Bread for the World activities at his church at Bethel of Shoreline Lutheran Church in a nearby Seattle suburb. Both Sharon and Craig are planning their churches’ Offering of Letters activities for 2019.
Craig explains how he prepares for the letter-writing event: “About two weeks prior, I make an announcement about the activity. I also put a notice in the Sunday bulletin.” The day of the activity, the church’s coffee and social area features an informative display. Craig provides supplies, stamps, and “talking points” for letter writers. He also makes himself available to answer questions.
During a visit to U.S. Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-WA), Craig remembers Rep. Jayapal saying she has her staff pull aside a batch of personal letters each week for her to read. Personalized letters and emails stand out, she told the group. “She also told us she’s sometimes able to use the letters on the House floor,” Craig says.
Sharon reports that University Church conducts two or three campaigns for hunger throughout the year. For the Offering of Letters, Sharon writes up a summary of the relevant issues for the church newsletter. “Bread provides great printed information,” she says. “We make that available ahead of time, for people to read at home.”
The church’s Love and Justice Team maintains a bulletin board where they let parishioners know about simple actions they can take to improve the lives of others. Parishioners supplement their letters with telephone calls and visits to their elected members of Congress. The church has a special interest in increasing U.S. assistance abroad. They support a project in Kenya, the Mwanzo Proud Farmers program. “The contact person for the program at our church is the daughter of a chief from that village,” she says. “So, if it is foreign aid, our members can tie it in to that program, with which they are familiar.”
Craig is proud that even though his congregation is small, they help advance important progress on ending hunger. “I can do something to focus the attention of the government to use its resources to help,” he says. “Every year, I see progress that I know I have contributed to. That is true for every single person who writes a letter, calls their elected officials, or makes a visit.”
Clark Hansen, the Bread for the World regional staff person in Seattle, echoes the impact of the letter-writing events at these two churches. "Their longtime commitment to letter-writing and activism is well known to the offices of members of Congress from western Washington: whenever I speak with a Seattle area congressional office, they are always quick to mention the letters they receive from these churches and how well they are written."
Act Now. Call (800-826-3688) and tell your representative to vote YES on H.R. 2157, which provides $600 million for much needed nutrition assistance for Puerto Rico.
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