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By Bread staff
Through various events and outreach efforts during the visit of Pope Francis last month, Bread for the World rallied the faith community around the goal of ending hunger by 2030. The pontiff has made concern for people who are hungry and living in poverty one of the themes of his papacy as well as a theme during parts of his visit. Bread wanted to take advantage of Francis’ presence in the U.S. to cement the commitment of top leaders of American faith communities and ordinary people of faith to end hunger in our time.
On Sept. 21, the eve of Francis arrival, Bread hosted a summit in Washington, D.C., of about 100 top religious leaders from Christian, Jewish, and Muslim denominations and organizations.
Several of them offered remarks on reaching the 2030 goal. They were:
“At this particular hour, we all join together to salute Pope Francis for speaking out against poverty and hunger, for seeking to protect the rights of indigenous farmers and to pursue justice,” Messinger said in her remarks. “We thank him for reminding us in the recent encyclical to stop and give thanks to God before and after meals because as he says there, ‘It reminds us of our dependence on God for life, strengthens our gratitude for the gifts of creation, acknowledges those who by their labor provide us with these goods, and reaffirms our solidarity with those in greatest need.’”
“Until all can eat, none of us is free. Until all can eat, we are each complicit,” she added.
Over dinner, the leaders conversed with each other and spoke about obstacles but also success stories in addressing hunger and poverty. They also signed a pledge committing themselves to push national leaders to focus on ending hunger and poverty in the United States and around the world (see below).
Before the dinner concluded, Rev. David Beckmann, Bread’s president, called the faith leaders assembled an “extraordinarily influential group of people” extraordinarily committed to their work.
The pope’s visit to the U.S. last month was religion and politics, faith and government intersecting at the highest level. We saw this when the pope addressed Congress and the United Nations. The pontiff’s visit also pushed others to engage in special lobbying to exert their influence.
In August, Bread’s president, Rev. David Beckmann, traveled to Rome to meet with Archbishop Paul Gallagher, the foreign minister of the Vatican. Gallagher had primary responsibility for planning the pope’s visit to the U.S.
Beckmann advised Gallagher on the content and delivery of the pope’s public remarks in the U.S. “I urged that the pope’s visit be fully grounded in his proclamation of the gospel of God’s love for all people in Jesus Christ – and its implications for changes that provide help and opportunity to hungry and poor people,” Beckmann wrote in an email report to Bread staff after his trip.
Beckmann also reported that he suggested to Gallagher that Pope Francis help Americans overcome the pessimism in our country about the possibility of progress against hunger and poverty.
Beckmann shared with Gallagher a draft of the U.S. Religious Leaders’ Pledge to End Hunger, which was signed by many on the eve of Pope’ Francis’ arrival in the U.S.
In a September 18 article ahead of the pope’s arrival in the U.S., The National Journal prominently featured Beckmann speaking about his Vatican visit. The article described a “pre-pope campaign” that Beckmann and other members of faith-based nonprofit organizations in Washington, D.C., had undertaken.
The article reads that “Beckmann told Gallagher…that American faith leaders stand ready to ‘echo and affirm’ any call from the pope to end hunger…”
On the pope’s final day in Washington, D.C., he addressed a joint session of Congress. A post on Bread’s blog summarizes what Francis said to Congress on the issues that Bread works on.
By Margaret Tran
After following the route of Pope Francis during his U.S. visit through three cities in four days, my feet may be worse for wear, but my heart is full of hope. I met so many compassionate Christians along the way who took the pledge to end hunger.
The pope’s U.S. visit helped shine a light on many issues contributing to hunger, such as poverty, climate change, immigration, and apathy. Along with several of my colleagues, we traveled to events in Washington D.C., New York, and Philadelphia to encourage people to pray, act, and give to end hunger.
We were inspired by a tweet from Pope Francis before his U.S. visit: “Now is the time for a change in mindset and to stop pretending that our actions do not affect those who suffer from hunger.” At the end of four days spent in crowds waiting for the pope, over 2,500 people signed the pledge.
Those who signed the pledge made a commitment to act and bring an end to hunger. In the United States, one in five children is at risk of hunger. Globally, 836 million people live on less than $1.25 a day. We can change those statistics when we act as one body.
By Amelia Kegan
Pope Francis’ visit to the U.S. was historic. His words, interactions, attention to individuals so often marginalized or ignored, and his overall presence genuinely inspired all who witnessed him. This is true not only for the throngs of people who went to see him and for those who watched him speak and read his remarks. He also brought humility and a sense of shared purpose to that place in Washington known for distrust, dysfunction, and division: the U.S. Congress.
Last week, in a follow-up to the pope's visit, Christian faith leaders in the Circle of Protection coalition met with congressional leaders to share a list of "must-do" tasks for Congress for the remainder of 2015:
Francis’ words resonated with many members of Congress. He emphasized their responsibility to lift up and address the problems faced by people stuck in poverty. And many heard his call. Partisanship and gridlock are not things they want defining America's legislative body any more than the constituents do.
Add to this environment the stunning announcement by Speaker John Boehner of his retirement at the end of October. This leaves just a few short weeks before the House of Representatives sees new leadership. It's hard to know what the change in House leadership will mean for these must-do items on Congress’ agenda. But the recent news that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Boehner want to negotiate a budget deal that would address sequestration for a year or two, providing some certainty and alleviating the threats of a government shutdown, as the Ryan-Murray budget agreement did in 2013, is encouraging.
The question now is how to keep the goodwill that Francis planted in bloom. Congress wasn’t the only one to hear his words. He was also speaking to the American people when he addressed Congress. Therefore, it is also our responsibility, the constituents of Congress, to take to heart and act on what he said.
We need to be the continued encouragement and force that drives a change among elected leaders. We can start by asking candidates running for office in 2016 what they will do if elected to address poverty, as the Circle of Protection has done of the presidential candidates. We can also start by advocating for Congress to come together to accomplish those five things on the Circle of Protection's must-do list.
Amelia Kegan is the deputy director of government relations at Bread for the World.
By Michele Learner
Cut hunger in half by 2015 is a phrase that will sound familiar to many readers of this newsletter. It’s Bread’s catchphrase for U.N. Millennium Development Goal (MDG) 1, “the hunger goal.”
Of course, the ultimate goal of both Bread and the global community, which adopted the hunger goal along with the rest of the MDGs in 2000, is not to cut hunger in half. The goal is to end it. Cutting both extreme poverty and hunger in half by 2015 was identified as two ambitious but achievable milestones along the way.
Now we are nearly at the end of 2015. How did we do on poverty and hunger? The percentage of people in extreme poverty was cut in half by 2010, and progress has continued since then. The percentage of people undernourished has fallen by almost half, from 23.3 percent to 12.9 percent. The world came very close to achieving the hunger goal. However, the rate of progress we did reach was unprecedented in human history.
The task now is to finish the job. At the annual U.N. General Assembly meeting in late September, the nations of the world adopted a set of successor goals, the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Like the MDGs, the SDG era will last 15 years.
From now until 2030, Bread will work to meet SDG 2, “End hunger, achieve food security and improved nutrition, and promote sustainable agriculture.” Ending hunger speaks for itself. Food security is, in the words of the World Food Summit, “when all people, at all times, have physical and economic access to sufficient safe and nutritious food … for an active and healthy life.”
Improving nutrition includes ending the tragedy of early childhood malnutrition — irreversible damage to a child’s body, mind, and health before age 2. Sustainable agriculture means not only nourishing today’s population on today’s farms, but nourishing the additional 2 billion people projected by 2050, even under conditions made more difficult by climate change.
Does ending hunger mean that no one anywhere will ever be hungry? No. Natural disasters and conflict may destroy crops or cut off a community’s access to food. But the hunger that would result would be temporary, because there are both effective means to help people in those situations and the resources to carry out those means. But being hungry will not be the shared experience of 795 million people around the world, nor will it be anyone’s “lot in life.”
For many years, Bread for the World has emphasized that ending hunger is a matter of choice. The adoption of the SDGs is a victory for “building political will.” The world, recognizing that it is feasible to end chronic hunger by 2030, has found the political will and has actually decided to do it. But remember: We’re at the beginning of a very challenging job, going the “last mile” to provide hungry people with the tools, resources, and opportunity they need to free themselves from hunger.
The end of chronic hunger will prevent an immense amount of human suffering. People who are healthier, more energetic, and free from the unrelenting toll of hunger can also contribute to building a better world for everyone.
Michele Learner is the associate editor for Bread for the World Institute.
Bread has won a 2015 Thoth Award, which are given annually by the National Capital Chapter of the Public Relations Society of America. Bread, along with News Generation, a public relations services company, was recognized for its work on Bread’s campaign to influence the exiting 113th Congress and to set the stage for the incoming 114th Congress on the issue of eradicating hunger. The campaign was carried out through five radio media tours that featured Bread staff. The award was given in the Media Relations: Radio Campaign category.
Each year, the Washington, D.C.-area chapter of the PR association recognizes outstanding public relations campaigns in the area with the Thoth Awards (named after an Egyptian god of wisdom who was a mediator and scribe and credited as the inventor of communications and writing). The awards recognize the most outstanding, strategic public relations programs and products developed and produced in the area in 35 categories.
The award was presented at a gala at the National Press Club on Sept. 16 and accepted by Adlai Amor, Bread’s director of communications and marketing.
Hundreds of churches have already ordered materials to mark Bread for the World Sunday on Oct. 18 – or another weekend in the fall. Bread for the World Sunday is an opportunity for churches to join others in praying, acting, and giving to end hunger. Bulletin inserts (pictured) are available in both English and Spanish. A large, 17 x 25-inch poster is also available – with one side in English and the reverse side in Spanish. Among the resources available is an insightful study by Dr. Brian Bantum of Mark 10:35-45, the Gospel appointed for Oct. 18. All resources can be viewed, downloaded, and ordered free at www.bread.org/sunday. Orders can also be placed by phone at 800/822-7323, ext. 1072.
Get your 2015 Christmas cards today! When you send Bread for the World cards, your family and friends learn about our vital work to end hunger. A pack of 10 cards and envelopes is just $15, shipping included. Multiple designs are available. Order online, or call 800/822-7323, ext. 1072 to order your cards today.
Bread for the World Institute’s 2016 Hunger Report will officially be launched Nov. 23 — the week of Thanksgiving, the biggest eating holiday of our country. The annual report for next year is titled The Nourishing Effect: Ending Hunger, Improving Health, Reducing Inequality.
Being hungry is hazardous to your health. So is having to choose between paying for food or medicine, or having to choose between buying cheap but unhealthy food and running out of food all together. So is the chronic stress of living in these situations.
All of this might sound obvious, but until recently, hunger and health problems in the United States were largely seen as two separate issues—with two separate lists of solutions. Fortunately, this is beginning to change.
The 2016 Hunger Report: The Nourishing Effect shows how hunger and health are inextricably linked. In fact, medical care is not the most important influence on a person’s health. “Social determinants” such as housing, education, employment opportunities, and access to healthy food have a larger impact on health outcomes. Many chronic diseases — the main causes of poor health as well as the main drivers of healthcare costs — are related to diet.
Good nutrition is essential at every stage of life, and it’s preventive medicine. Ending hunger and food insecurity will enable millions of people to do better in school, be more productive at work, and live healthier lives.
The Nourishing Effect offers recommendations for healthcare providers, anti-hunger advocates, and policymakers to help make a healthier, hunger-free United States a reality.
The report will be available to order from the Bread store starting the day of the launch (Nov. 23). A related website for the report will also be available that day. You can also watch this newsletter, Bread’s blog, and social media channels for more news of the launch.
October is traditionally “food month.” It’s the month for World Food Day (Oct. 16 this year), and it’s the time of the annual Iowa Hunger Summit and the award ceremony for the World Food Prize. (And don’t forget Bread for the World Sunday on Oct. 18.) Bread is involved in many of these events, and you are invited to observe or participate in them as well. Bread will be reporting on these events on our blog and social media channels.
Iowa Hunger Summit
October 13 in Des Moines, Iowa
Lead-in to the Borlaug Dialogue (see below)
The Iowa Hunger Summit is held each year during the World Food Prize's week of events in October. It gathers several hundred leaders from across Iowa representing community organizations, business and industry, state and local government, social agencies, churches and religious communities, schools and universities, and other individuals and groups that lead or participate in projects to confront hunger.
The annual event was established by the World Food Prize Foundation as a means to celebrate Iowa's great successes in fighting hunger and poverty and to unite in further action against both.
The World Food Prize Award Ceremony
October 15 at the Iowa State Capitol building in Des Moines, Iowa
The World Food Prize will be conferred upon Sir Fazle Hasan Abed of Bangladesh in a ceremony that is the centerpiece of the Borlaug Dialogue (see below). Abed is the internationally renowned founder and chairperson of BRAC, which has produced agricultural and development innovations that have improved food security for millions and contributed to a significant decline in poverty levels through direct impacts to farmers and small communities around the world. Abed was chosen as the 2015 World Food Prize Laureate for his unparalleled achievement in building a unique, integrated development organization that many have hailed as the most effective anti-poverty organization in the world.
October 14-16 in Des Moines, Iowa
Known as the "premier conference in the world on global agriculture," the annual Borlaug Dialogue features the expertise and perspectives of governmental leaders; policymakers; farmers; CEOs and executives from agribusiness and nonprofit organizations; and scientific, academic and development experts from around the world.
The theme for this year’s event is “Borlaug 101: Fundamentals of Global Food Security.” It was chosen to celebrate the 101st anniversary of the birth of the founder of the World Food Prize, Dr. Norman E. Borlaug, and in view of the unprecedented challenge the world will face to sustainably and nutritiously feed the 9 billion people who will inhabit the planet by 2050. It is being billed as a “three-day ‘course’ on the fundamentals of global food security.”
Twitter Town Hall
October 14, 10:30 to 11:15 Central Time
From the Borlaug Dialogue in Iowa but open to everybody in the Twittersphere
The theme of the town hall is “Good News on the Path to #ZeroHunger,” focusing on the second of the new Sustainable Development Goals (end hunger) and the good news about what the world has done to reduce hunger.
Rev. David Beckmann, Bread’s president and one of the 2010 World Food Prize Laureates, will be one of the speakers.
Participate at www.twitter.com/#ZeroHunger.
Launch of the Vote to End Hunger campaign
Part of the Iowa Hunger Summit (see above)
Bread Activist to Receive Award
Rev. Russell “Russ” Melby, the coordinator of the Bread for the World team in Ames, Iowa, will receive the 2015 Robert D. Ray Iowa SHARES Humanitarian Award on Oct. 13 at the Iowa Hunger Summit. Melby has been a longtime Bread member and served on its board of directors from 1999-2001.
A retired pastor in the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA), Melby is also a longtime Iowa organizer of Church World Service CROP Hunger Walks.
The World Food Prize Foundation established the Robert D. Ray Iowa SHARES Humanitarian Award in 2013 in recognition of the exceptional leadership that former Governor Ray demonstrated in dealing with multiple situations affecting refugees in Indochina, and to honor him on his 85th birthday. The award was named after the Iowa SHARES campaign, which the governor created in 1979 in order to send desperately needed food and medicine to suffering and dying refugees from Cambodia. Iowa SHARES stands for Iowa Sends Help to Aid Refugees and End Starvation.
From 1984 until his retirement in 2014, Melby involved almost 500,000 Iowans in CROP Hunger Walks, who together raised over $12 million to alleviate hunger. The walks are community events that bring people from many different faith traditions together to fight hunger. They occur in over 80 communities across Iowa.
“Rev. Melby and CROP Hunger Walks are tremendous proof of the belief, shared by Dr. Borlaug and Governor Ray, that the struggle to end hunger should bring together people of all perspectives and walks of life,” said Ambassador Kenneth M. Quinn, president of The World Food Prize.
The Iowa SHARES Award has special meaning for Melby, who, in 1985, was invited by the Des Moines Register to represent the Protestant faith community at discussions of a possible fundraiser to alleviate famine in Ethiopia. “I was asked if Church World Service wanted to be involved,” Melby recalled, “and though I was a rookie at the time, I said ‘Yes, we’d love to be’. Then I called our headquarters – we had never done something like this before - and said ‘I hope this is okay!’” This initiative grew into the Iowa CARES program, which, inspired by the Iowa SHARES program, raised over $800,000 in under a year to feed starving refugees in Ethiopia.
Melby was introduced to the challenges of hunger in 1980 when his bishop encouraged him to attend a Bread for the World meeting of faith leaders in Lincoln, Neb. Learning about the realities of families struggling for survival was a “conversion experience.” Previously a concerned bystander, hunger ministry became a second vocation after serving as pastor to congregations. Melby was inspired to persevere by his “belief that food is the right of everyone, and not merely a privilege, by the personal example of Dr. Norman Borlaug and Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., and the writings of St. Paul, Isaiah, Amos and Micah.” His advice to fellow hunger-fighters: “Learn the meaning of accompaniment, advocate for the rights of hungry people through cultivating relationships with members of Congress, and practice an urgent persistence.”
The country is already well into presidential election season, with a couple of debates behind us and news of the candidates dominating the airwaves. Bread views the 2016 presidential election as a critical milestone on the path toward ending hunger by 2030 as it seeks to get leaders in place who are aligned with that goal.
Bread has already gotten into the fray with a project of gathering videos from all of the presidential candidates to bring awareness of their plans on addressing hunger and poverty.
This month Bread will introduce its second initiative in the 2016 presidential race. Bread will be part of the Vote to End Hunger coalition as part of its array of activities in both the presidential and congressional elections. The coalition’s campaign of the same name will be launched Oct. 13 during the Iowa Hunger Summit in Des Moines (see related article about the summit and week’s events).
“In order to end hunger by 2030, the next president is going to have to make this one of his/her top priorities,” said Eric Mitchell, Bread’s director of government relations. “That is why this upcoming election is crucial.”
The Vote to End Hunger campaign will mobilize grassroots supporters to make sure the 2016 presidential candidates focus on ending hunger, alleviating poverty, and creating opportunity in the United States and across the world.
Four people will be speaking at the launch:
The launch will be followed by a lunch, which the governor of Iowa will attend, and a national press conference to announce the launch of the campaign to the media. Bread will be tweeting live from the launch (at 11 a.m. CT) and press conference (12:30-1:00 p.m. CT).
A website for the Vote to End Hunger campaign is being created and will be announced soon.
Bread is committed to raising poverty and hunger as election issues in the months leading up to the votes for Congress and president in November 2016. Our aim is to make sure the new president puts hunger and poverty in his/her top five domestic and top 20 international priorities. We also want the new members of Congress taking office in 2017 to work in tandem with the president on these goals. Together, they can enact legislation that sets our nation – and the world – on a course toward ending hunger by 2030.
Because Bread is a bipartisan organization, we will promote only the issues and will not endorse any candidates.
Besides the Vote to End Hunger campaign, the other elections work Bread will engage with in a coalition is the Circle of Protection’s election work. The Circle of Protection is a broad coalition of over 100 national faith leaders representing a diverse array of Christian denominations, churches, colleges, and agencies across the country. It has, to date, received videos from nine presidential candidates speaking about hunger and poverty. The members of the Circle of Protection, including Bread, are distributing the videos through their networks.
By Bishop José García
As a Christian organization, Bread puts prayer at the heart of our work to end hunger. We have a new partner in our prayer work, which means we will be inviting more people to pray for the end of hunger.
This new partnership with Guideposts is part of the momentum around prayer that we’ve been building since we announced our renewed commitment to prayer in March. At the encouragement of Bread’s beloved founder, Rev. Art Simon, we kicked up the volume on our prayer work earlier this year. Convinced that prayer makes a difference, Simon and Bread’s board of directors urged us to set a goal to mobilize 100,000 people praying regularly for the end of hunger.
Bread is joining with the OurPrayer Ministry of Guideposts for a week of prayer to end hunger. Guideposts is a nonprofit organization that touches millions of lives every day through products and services that inspire, encourage, and uplift. Through magazines, books, a prayer network, and outreach programs, Guideposts helps people connect their faith values to their daily lives.
Guideposts’ campaign with Bread will take place the week of World Food Day — October 12 to 18. This week culminates on Bread for the World Sunday.
We’re thankful for the thousands of Bread members and supporters who have already committed to praying regularly for an end to hunger. Many have found Bread’s bimonthly prayer suggestions helpful in their spiritual disciplines. During Bread’s campaign with Guideposts later this month, perhaps you will be inspired or have your faith deepened in knowing that other Christians will be joining you to pray for an end to hunger.
If you haven’t joined Bread in these prayers yet, commit to regular prayer for an end to hunger and learn more about these prayers at bread.org/pray.
Over the past several months, Bread staff, board members, advocates, and church partners have each taken on hunger prayers in their own way. Some large denominations like the Episcopal Church and the Church of God of Prophecy have called their members to prayer. We’ve seen thousands praying at once during conferences, and those of you who came to Bread’s National Gathering in June prayed as you visited your members of Congress.
Prayer is not just a way to communicate with God. It also empowers us to do what God requires. Jesus experienced that empowerment when the Spirit came upon him as he read from the scroll of Isaiah. (Luke 4:14-18). Perhaps most importantly, Jesus’ prayerful example demonstrates that prayer keeps us dependent on the one who will put everything right, reminding us that if we put our trust in God, hunger can be eradicated in this world. That’s why we keep moving forward in advocacy — because we know God’s vision for humanity does not include hunger.
Representing diverse traditions, Bread members have a variety of understandings about how prayer works. We believe that prayer changes us. We believe that God answers our prayers. We believe we should pray in private. We believe that communal prayers are powerful. But we all believe prayer works.
A traditional Franciscan benediction reads: “May God bless us with anger at injustice, oppression, and exploitation of people, so that we may work for justice, freedom, and peace…And may God bless us with enough foolishness to believe that we can make a difference in this world.”
Bishop José García is the director of the Church Relations Department at Bread for the World.
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