Bread Newsletter: August-September 2019

Contents:

More than 300 people attend Bread for the World meeting in Indiana during August Recess. C Todd Creations Photography for Bread for the World

Global Nutrition Focus of August Recess Meetings

Continuing to push for the passage of a global nutrition resolution, Bread members visited lawmakers in their home districts during August recess.

More than 300 people (representing 37 cities and towns) attended a Bread for the World meeting at Noblesville First United Methodist Church in Indiana to hear Sen. Todd Young (R-Ind.) state his support for global and domestic nutrition programs.

“Working on global hunger and food insecurity is both a national security issue and a moral imperative for the United States,” Young said.  “With the support of hundreds of concerned Hoosiers with Bread for the World, I’ve been able to use my position on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee to elevate these humanitarian issues.”

After the meeting, Bread members were able to speak with Young one-on-one and discuss with him the importance of global and domestic nutrition programs, especially for children. 

As part of a year-long effort, Bread has been advocating for a bipartisan global nutrition resolution. 

Both the House and Senate have introduced its own versions of a Global Nutrition Resolution (H.Res.189 and S.Res.260). To date, there are more than 125 total cosponsors for the resolutions.

Bread and the bipartisan group of members of Congress leading these resolutions hope a bipartisan Global Nutrition Resolution will pass given that there are so many Democratic and Republican cosponsors in both the House and Senate.

The resolution’s passage would provide increased funding for programs that boost nutrition for mothers and children in countries struggling with hunger. Climate change and civil conflict have fueled an alarming rise in hunger. Half the population of Yemen faces near-famine conditions.  

In Guatemala, nearly half of all children suffer from chronic malnutrition, which is one of the main drivers of migration.

As urgently as it is needed, increasing funding for global nutrition will require Bread for the World to redouble its efforts this fall.  The president and some members of Congress continue to push for cuts in programs that have proven effective in reducing hunger.  The growing budget deficit puts pressure on those areas of the budget that lack support.

That is why meetings with lawmakers such as Young are so important. At another meeting, this time in Wisconsin, Zach Schmidt, a Bread senior regional organizer, and Pastor Lawrence Kirby II, a member of the board of directors at Bread, met with Rep. Bryan Steil (R-Wisc.-1). 

The meeting was scheduled by the ONE Campaign and Bread was invited to participate. Schmidt and Kirby provided the congressman with a copy of H.Res.189 and asked him to cosponsor the resolution. 

They also provided Steil with a copy of Roger Thurow’s, “The First 1,000 Days,” which included a personal note by the author.  Schmidt said he was hopeful Steil would cosponsor the resolution. 

Matt Gross, Bread for the World’s director of grassroots organizing, summed up the outpouring of advocacy during the August recess by saying: “Our network of people in churches and other local groups really came out to voice their support for accelerating global nutrition.”

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Rev. Teresa Hord Owens is general minister and president of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ). Prior to her election, she was dean of students at the University of Chicago Divinity School.

On Faith: 'There is Enough! More than Enough!'

Editor’s note: This is the biblical reflection for this year’s Bread for the World Sunday. Go here to learn more about how your church can get involved in ending hunger. 

By Rev. Teresa Hord Owens

The feeding of the 5,000 is one of the few accounts of Jesus' teaching that is included in all four of the gospels. In all cases, it is the men who are counted. Including the women and children vastly multiplies the impact of what Jesus does for this crowd of people. Beyond the multiplying of loaves and fishes, however, Jesus teaches an important lesson about the nature of the kingdom of God.

In Luke 9:10-17, the story follows the commissioning of the twelve disciples to go out on their own to do  ministry. The disciples return to share with Jesus what they had done. Jesus and the disciples head to the city of Bethsaida to get away for some private time. The  crowds  find out  where Jesus is, and they follow him. The text tells us that "he welcomed them, and spoke to them about the kingdom of God, and healed those who needed to be cured" (Luke 9:11). Jesus was truly a teacher and pastor.

The arc of Luke's gospel focuses on Jesus as the one who cared for the least among them:  the  poor,  the sick, the women, and others marginalized in this 1st century culture. They needed Jesus' teaching, they needed healing, and Jesus always had enough  for  those who sought what he had to give.

On this particular day, the disciples encourage Jesus to send the crowd away to find food in a nearby village. The ability to provide that much food is, the disciples think, more than they have. But Jesus tells them, "You give them something to eat." The disciples reply that they have only five loaves and two fish.

Instead of waving a magic wand or raising his hand to say "eat and be filled," Jesus blesses the food, then tells the disciples to distribute it. Surely, more than one of the disciples were skeptical about the outcome. However, they do not withhold what they have. They give it to Jesus and allow it to be used by him. They distributed what he has blessed to the gathered people.

And, as we know, the people were not only all fed until they were full, but there were many baskets of food left over.

Most of us think of this story as a miracle of abundance, Jesus multiplying the five loaves and two fish. But New Testament scholar John Dominic Crossan invites us to look at this story as a parable—a story using familiar scenarios and understandings to teach us about what Jesus proclaimed as the kingdom of God. Jesus invited the people to imagine what it might look like in a society where all gave and all shared in God's abundance.

What could our world be like if we allowed Jesus to not only bless our resources, but also to  bless  and  guide  the means of distribution of the world's resources? What if we were each willing to give of what we had so there might be enough—even abundance—for all? Not wealth  for all, but enough for all: food on the table, clothes in the closet, safe and affordable housing, healthcare, accessible education, safety on our streets and in neighborhoods.

But what keeps us from walking into this vision of the kingdom of God?

Our society has conditioned us to believe that resources are scarce. You are told that, if you don't have enough, it is because you are not working hard enough. In God's creation, however, we see the abundance of all that we need.

The early Christians lived by collecting what everyone had and distributing according to each one's need. As we trust in the abundance of God's love, we allow Jesus to bless and direct how we use the resources God has given. Then there is enough! More than enough!

Rev. Teresa Hord Owens is general minister and president of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ). Prior to her election, she was dean of students at the University of Chicago Divinity School.

Bread for the World Sunday is an opportunity for your church or community of faith to join with others to live out Gods vision of a world without hunger. Photo: Shutterstock

News Briefs

Board of Directors Election

Each year, Bread for the World members vote for candidates to fill open seats on the board of directors. The board of directors sets the direction for how Bread will channel its resources. It is a multidenominational, multicultural, bipartisan group of people from all parts of the United States who have expertise on a variety of issues of importance to ending hunger. 

This year’s candidates were chosen for the gifts they would bring to the board and to Bread for the World’s work together. 

Bread members are invited to cast their votes for new board members through Sept. 17. Results of the election will be announced in late winter. New board members will begin their terms in January 2020. 

Contact jthomas@bread.org with questions or to nominate someone for consideration as a board candidate in a future election.

Bread for the World Sunday

On Oct. 20 or another Sunday this fall, churches across the country will celebrate Bread for the World Sunday. Bread for the World Sunday is an opportunity for your church or community of faith to join with others—in thousands of churches across the country—to live out God's vision of a world without hunger. 

Worship services will offer special prayers for an end to hunger. Sermons, education forums, and other activities will inspire and support efforts that help people move out of poverty and feed their families.

Numerous resources are available for your event: Bread for the World Sunday Resource Guide, Bread for the World Sunday Bulletin Insert, and Hunger and the Gospel of Luke—A Lectionary Resource. A scripture reflection, prayer, and bullet insert in Spanish are available. Several African American church leaders have prepared a range of useful resources too. 

Through our prayers for an end to hunger, letters, and phone calls to our nation's leaders, and financial support to Bread of the World, your church can give bold witness to God's justice and mercy in the world.

New Book from Bread for the World Founder

You now have the opportunity to receive a copy of Art Simon’s new book—and help advance Bread for the World’s campaign to accelerate global nutrition. When you donate $50 or more, you will receive "Silence Can Kill: Speaking Up to End Hunger and Make Our Economy Work for Everyone" by Art Simon, Bread for the World’s founder and president emeritus.

"Silence Can Kill" includes a foreword by Bread for the World member and travel writer Rick Steves. Harvard University’s William Julius Wilson, whom Brookings Institution calls "America's leading voice on the sociology of race and poverty," commends the book for its “illuminating vision of a moral center” that “reveals in sharp relief the limitations of private charity and the important role of public justice in ending hunger and addressing other deeply rooted inequalities.”

The Power of Change

For more than a decade, Bread for the World has been a partner with JustFaith Ministries. More than 50,000 people from 1,500 churches have used JustFaith resources for small group formation that links spirituality with social mission. 

JustFaith has recently launched a new eight-week module, “Just Engagement: The Power to Change.” The program provides tools for advocacy and features Bread for the World resources. Also available is the “Hunger for Change,” an eight-week module that explores food insecurity in the U.S. and around the world. Bread for the World’s Offering of Letters continues to be one of the sessions in the JustFaith 24-week reflection-action program. All programs include readings, dialogue, prayer, and an immersion experience. 

Visit justfaith.org to learn more about the range of available curriculum resources. 

Roots of Hunger: The Role of Climate Change

By Karyn Bigelow

Hunger is a common push factor that forces people to leave their homes and come to the United States. Forced migration is especially acute in Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador—also known as the Northern Triangle. 

Every year, more and more people struggle with hunger and lack the opportunity to make livable wages due to climate change. 

Half of the world’s population is dependent on agriculture for their livelihoods. In the Northern Triangle, drought, rising sea levels, and increased heat are causing farmers not to be able to farm. With increased conflict due to little job opportunities and limited ability to farm in rural communities, many families are pushed to have at least one family member migrate outside of their country.

Migration leaves communities vulnerable as there is usually less reasons and people to persevere during challenging times.

Climate change is creating havoc in the Northern Triangle countries and more is expected in the decades to come. In Honduras, floods will increase by 60 percent in some areas of the country. In Guatemala, the arid regions will become larger and cause land to no longer be farmable. El Salvador is projected to lose 10-28 percent of its coastline before 2100 leaving many of its citizens without homes and many more homes exposed to flooding.

These changes to the climate will naturally cause more people to experience hunger and flee from their native countries. 

The world needs to recognize that climate change is a cause of hunger. In order to end hunger by 2030, the impacts of climate change need to be addressed so households can become resilient to changes in the environment and not forced to migrate. 

Karyn Bigelow is a research analyst for climate change and project manager at Bread for the World Institute.

PAYAN members during their pilgrimage. Angelique Walker-Smith/Bread for the World

400 Years Later … And the Spirit of the Ancestors Is Still Speaking

By Rev. Dr. Angelique Walker-Smith

“Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with perseverance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus the pioneer and perfecter of our faith.” —Hebrews 12:1-2a

Recently, I was honored to be a part of the Bread for the World Pan African Young Adult Network (PAYAN) pilgrimage to Fort Monroe, Virginia, to commemorate the 400th anniversary of the arrival of enslaved African peoples in 1619. 

The pilgrimage was also linked to the theme of Bread’s Black August campaign, “From Enslavement to Mass Incarceration.” We participated in the 2019 Commemorative Ceremony and Program at Fort Monroe in Hampton, Virginia, and visited with two Historic African American churches, Carver Memorial Presbyterian Church and St. Cyprian’s Episcopal Church. 

PAYAN Convener Derick Dailey stated our expectation of the pilgrimage: “As forces attempt to replicate centuries old modes of racial and gendered oppression, I pray that those attending might lend their ears to hear what the ancestors are saying to us as we deepen our advocacy to end hunger.”

His words led me to remember my first introduction to our 1619 ancestors. As a child I discovered the book, "Before the Mayflower," in the holy place of our family study. I also grew up with this awareness with my African and African-descended family. But I did not yet understand why this ancestral lesson of 1619 was not taught in my predominantly white school where the injuries of racism and sexism were normative while seeking structural correction with integration. 

The commemorative events brought the voice of lament and hope of the ancestors for the more than 2,000 people in attendance. African and African-descended leaders as well as government, civic, and religious leaders spoke, rendered prayers, and performed music. Rep. Karen Bass, a congressional Black Caucus leader, reflected on her recent participation in the congressional visit to the slave castles in Ghana with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. 

Bass spoke of the meager rationed food provided to our African ancestors and the deliberate starving of them that contributed to a weakened physical state during the enslavement period. She mentioned the land grabbing from African peoples for cash crops that replaced crops of nutritional food owned and grown by African peoples who were forced to labor on such lands in Africa and the United States. She and others also spoke of the strength and resilience of our African ancestors and their descendants. They cautioned us to engage these historic challenges and to honor the ancestors and ourselves through advocacy like they did.

The ancestors also spoke to us through the conversations, prayers, and rituals of remembering the ancestors at the churches, Tucker Cemetery, and the Emancipation Oak Tree at Hampton University. All of these encounters affirmed who we are and whose we are because of the ancestors—and led to our renewed call to advocate to end hunger and poverty.

Rev. Dr. Angelique Walker-Smith is senior associate for Pan-African and Orthodox Church engagement at Bread for the World.

Photo by Todd Post / Bread for the World

Nutrition in Kenya Gets a Boost from … ‘Governance’

By Jordan Teague

Kenya has made rapid progress on two severe forms of child malnutrition—stunting and wasting. Not only that, but in 2015, the Global Nutrition Report named Kenya the only country worldwide that was on track to achieve all five of the World Health Assembly targets on maternal and child nutrition. Kenya is still on track to achieve all targets but one—reducing  anemia among women of childbearing age by 50 percent.

In April 2019, a team from Bread for the World Institute traveled to Kenya to explore the question of how the context in Kenya, particularly governance, can inform other efforts to speed up progress on nutrition.

The Institute on Governance defines governance as “determining who has power, who makes decisions, how other players make their voice heard, and how account is rendered.” Another definition is “the exercise of power or authority by political leaders for the well-being of their country’s citizens or subjects.” Bread for the World Institute defined governance in the 2017 Hunger Report as “the norms by which a government operates, measured in terms such as transparency, accountability, rule of law, and strength of institutions.” The report emphasized a key ingredient in good governance: the need for government to be able and willing to provide services and fulfill the other expectations that people have of their government. 

What, then, does good governance for nutrition look like? As just mentioned, it is essential for the government to show commitment to improving nutrition. This can be accomplished through putting in place national nutrition policies—plans that bring together multiple sectors to respond in a coordinated way to the causes of malnutrition. Other ways of showing commitment include enacting legislation that creates and supports an enabling environment for nutrition; approving sufficient funding for nutrition services, especially for the most vulnerable people; and allowing space for other stakeholders to advocate and carry out programs—particularly local civil society. 

Kenya has an established set of policies on nutrition at the national level. The National Food and Nutrition Security Policy (FNSP), launched in 2011, committed the government of Kenya to reducing hunger and malnutrition. In 2017, the government released the National Food and Nutrition Security Policy Implementation Framework, which provided details on strategies that would achieve the FNSP. The FNSP also led to the creation of the National Nutrition Action Plan (NNAP), now entering its second phase, and the Kenya Health Strategic Plan. The NNAP provides practical guidance on implementing Kenya’s commitment to nutrition and includes cost estimates for achieving various objectives.

Nutrition has been included in other national policies and plans. Kenya’s constitution, which went into effect in 2010, has the most progressive bill of rights of any country in Africa. It includes the right to be free from hunger, the right to have adequate food of acceptable quality, and other provisions that are important to good nutrition. In 2018, Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta announced that his second term would have the Big 4 goals of manufacturing, affordable housing, affordable healthcare, and food security.

While Kenya’s policy environment is sound, policies mean very little if there is no funding provided to implement them. The Ministry of Health has a nutrition budget line item of 250 million Kenyan shillings. Nearly all (245 million shillings) is allocated to treating acute malnutrition, which clearly saves children’s lives. It is encouraging that the Ministry of Health tracks nutrition spending and is thus in a position to make informed decisions about priorities as funding is available.

Parliament has also been active on nutrition. In 2012, the Kenyan Parliament passed the Breast Milk Substitutes Regulation and Control Bill, which committed the country to adopting the World Health Organization’s recommendations for appropriate rules to govern the marketing of breast milk substitutes. Also in 2012, Parliament passed legislation that required micronutrient fortification of wheat flour, maize flour, and vegetable fats and oils. In 2017, Parliament required employers to adopt breastfeeding-friendly workplace policies through the passage of the Breastfeeding Mothers Bill

The National Nutrition Action Plan also included the creation of a national nutrition technical forum. This forum, established in 2012, is a multi-stakeholder platform that allows various stakeholders to coordinate nutrition plans, monitor the NNAP’s progress, and share best practices for nutrition in Kenya. In recent years, Kenya’s “devolution” process has transferred a great deal of government power and responsibility to state and local levels of government.  This led to the establishment of county-level nutrition working groups, which can energize local advocates by supporting efforts to launch programs that communities themselves view as most important. To date, almost half the counties have nutrition action plans that are being implemented by county nutrition working groups. Other counties are working to establish line items in their budgets to invest in nutrition.

Kenya’s efforts to establish the government policies, structures, and budgets to support nutrition are part of the reason for the country’s success in accelerating progress in this critical aspect of human life and development.

Jordan Teague is senior international policy advisor with Bread for the World Institute.

Act Now

Call (800-826-3688) or email your member of Congress and tell them to pass the Global Nutrition Resolution (H.Res.189/S.Res.260).  

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