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We all know that Donald Trump has a lot to say. Much of it is controversial. But what Bread for the World cares about is what the candidate for the Republican nomination for president, as well as the other Republicans and Democrats in the race, has to say about policy. Specifically, Bread wants to hear what the candidates would do as president to end hunger.
To that end, Bread, as part of the Circle of Protection coalition, has sent each presidential candidate a letter asking him or her to state on video how they propose to provide help and opportunity to hungry and poor people in the U.S. and abroad.
Bread activists: View the videos received so far.
The presidential videos are a major part of Bread’s efforts to make hunger and poverty part of the national conversation during the campaigns for both president and Congress.
“Power needs to be local and limited because the closer government is to the people, the more accountable it is to the people who are being governed,” said former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee (R) in his video. He also stated he would focus on helping every American earn the “maximum wage” instead of fighting over the minimum wage.
Among the Democrats who have submitted videos is Vermont senator Bernie Sanders. “What we need in this country and what this campaign is about is a fundamental change in national priorities,” he stated in his video. Sanders named creating jobs, raising the minimum wage, pay equity, and making college affordable as ways of addressing poverty.
Circle of Protection members, including Bread, will not publicly evaluate the policy positions or endorse any candidate. The coalition hopes to receive a video in response to its request from each candidate, and it will make public all videos it receives.
The Circle of Protection is distributing the videos through its members’ networks. Bread and other coalition members have been pitching the videos to media outlets, and they have received more than 48,000 views on YouTube. Media outlets from the Boston
Globe to Mother Jones have carried articles about the videos.
Organized in 2010, the Circle of Protection is a group of 100 leaders from a diverse array of Christian denominations, agencies, and organizations across the country. Bread has a major leadership role in the coalition.
"We are praying for a president who will make ending hunger and poverty a top priority of his or her administration. Are you that leader?" the letter to candidates asked.
"We will be calling on people of faith to examine presidential candidates to see if they have a heart for poor and hungry people. We want to know how each candidate proposes to fulfill the mandate to those who govern to ’give deliverance to the needy’ (Psalm 72),” the leaders added in the letter.
According to the latest U.S. Census data, 49 million Americans are at risk of hunger, while 45 million live in poverty. One in five children lives in poverty. That is 15 million children, 5 million of them under age 6.
As a major step toward helping to end hunger by 2030, Bread’s goal is to have in place in 2017 a president and Congress who put hunger and poverty among their top priorities. This initiative of gathering videos from presidential candidates is preparation for that. Bread will also be active in several ways in congressional elections starting this fall.
"God wants opportunity for all people, but America hasn't made opportunity for everybody a priority for more than four decades,” said Bread’s president, Rev. David Beckmann. “The world as a whole is making dramatic progress against poverty, and we want to encourage a fresh, bipartisan conversation about how to provide more opportunity for all Americans and for people around the world.”
Share the Videos
Feel free to further share and distribute the videos by the presidential candidates with your congregation, other groups, or as an individual with your friends, such as on your personal Facebook page. They are available at www.circleofprotection.us/candidate-videos or www.bread.org/povertyvideos.
Related to Bread's 2015 Offering of Letters: Feed Our Children
Congress has until Sept. 30 to pass a child nutrition bill, the day the current law expires. At stake is a swath of programs that provide children nationwide with meals that enable them to grow, be healthy, and learn.
Call (800/826-3688) or email your members of Congress and urge them to protect child nutrition programs from cuts and harmful policy changes and improve children’s access to these programs while not cutting other safety-net programs. Urge them to protect SNAP and other anti-poverty programs from harmful budget and funding cuts.
John 6:1-15 tells the story of Jesus multiplying the loaves and fishes to feed thousands of people. After seeing Jesus’ powerful deeds, the crowds followed him across the Sea of Galilee. Looking at the multitude, Jesus asked Philip, “Where are we to buy bread for these people to eat?” The disciple seemed totally dumbfounded. “Six months’ wages would not buy enough bread for each of them to get a little,” Philip replied.
Phillip’s response teaches us something important. Clearly, he was not expecting the Master’s request. Often, we don’t expect it as well. Imagining the logistical nightmare, Philip probably thought How is this our responsibility? They were following us. They should provide for themselves—or should have brought provisions for the journey.
That would have described my first reaction to Jesus’ testing question. Yet as the Gospel story continues, another disciple, Andrew, was undaunted by the question. He got busy, seeing what could be gathered from people nearby. That is when the boy with the five barley loaves and two fish became the Lord’s instrument to perform the amazing miracle of the multiplication, teaching us a powerful lesson with it.
In the story of Elisha and the 20 loaves of barley (2 Kings 4:42-44) as well, faith in God was needed to accomplish the apparently impossible. But also as necessary was the generosity of those who offered from what they had, and the guidance of those who, called to ministry, realized they had to bring the offering to God and ask God to multiply it, not for themselves but for the good of others in need.
Barley bread was not a luxury item in biblical times. So we can reasonably assume that many people who followed Jesus to the other shore did not have much. They followed Jesus seeking healing and hope. Yet Jesus didn’t ignore their most basic physical needs, and he challenged his disciples not to ignore them either.
Moreover, when Jesus asked everyone to “sit down” and eat, he didn’t follow class protocols of the time. The poor did not eat with the rich, and certainly servants did not recline at table with the master’s family. Yet the Lord invites everyone to the banquet. He doesn’t ask whether they deserve it or not. Neither does he hesitate to challenge unjust or unhelpful structures that oppress the poor and have no place in the community of believers.
It is also highly improbable that the boy was the only person in the crowd who had packed provisions for the day. In other words, the miracle of the multiplication of the bread and fish wasn’t the only one that happened that day. Most likely, in receiving a filling meal from the Lord, those gathered around were faced with the reality that they too had something to share.
Thus, the Lord challenges us to both take personal and social responsibility for eliminating hunger and to learn something from people who are poor at the same time.
Mar Muñoz-Visoso is executive director of the Secretariat of Cultural Diversity in the Church at the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops in Washington, D.C.
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 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.
Order Bread for the World Christmas Cards
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 (main one is pictured above). Visit www.bread.org/store, or call 800/822-7323, ext. 1072 to order your cards today.
New Briefing Paper on Strengthening Local Capacity
The latest Bread for the World Institute Briefing Paper, on the topic of local capacity in developing countries, is now available. The 12-page analysis argues that country ownership is critical to achieving development outcomes such as reducing hunger and extreme poverty and that well-functioning state and non-state institutions are necessary elements of an enabling environment for development. Download it.
2016 Hunger Report Coming
Save the date for the launch of Bread for the World Institute’s 2016 Hunger Report: Nov. 23—the week of Thanksgiving, the biggest eating holiday of our country. The annual report is titled The Nourishing Effect: Ending Hunger, Improving Health, Reducing Inequality. Its focus is hunger as a health issue. Watch this newsletter, Bread’s blog, and social media channels for more news of the launch.
Hoosiers Gather to Discuss Hunger and Poverty
Faith leaders in Indiana convened a “Leadership Forum and Conversation” on hunger and poverty in the local community July 18 in the State House Chamber. Bread was part of the event through the representation of Rev. David Beckmann, Bread’s president, and Rev. Dr. Angelique Walker-Smith, Bread’s associate for national African-American church engagement, who moderated the forum.
Besides faith leaders, the event included state elected officials, Indianapolis mayoral candidates, and other community leaders – about 100 participants in all.
The event attracted the attention of the local media.
“This forum was important because it is an urgent matter in our community. Hunger and poverty are the issues right in front of us and we need to deal with them. This isn’t an issue that just needs to be discussed. Something needs to be done,” said Walker-Smith, as quoted in the Indianapolis Recorder.
“The bigger federal programs like Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, the Women, Infant and Children program, free school lunch and summer feeding are remarkable. We’re making progress in providing for all of the hungry people. We know from other countries that this is a fixable problem. We can make changes if we lean as a nation in the right direction,” said Beckmann, as the newspaper quoted him.
A series of high-stakes, thorny, and must-pass decisions will greet lawmakers when they return from their August recess. Bread will be calling on our members to contact Congress a lot in the coming months.
Child Nutrition Programs
Congress must act on child nutrition programs before Sept. 30. On Sept. 17, the Senate Agriculture Committee will consider a comprehensive bill. Thousands of messages to Congress, combined with in-district meetings by Bread members, are building strong support for improving summer meals in a final child nutrition bill. If Congress cannot complete a bill by Sept. 30, we expect to see an extension of the current law, providing Congress additional time to work on a bill this year.
Budget and Sequestration
Lawmakers will need to pass a short-term continuing resolution to prevent a government shutdown by Sept. 30, the last day of the fiscal year. Before the end of 2015, Congress and the administration will be working to pass a broader budget deal that funds the government, replaces sequestration cuts, and raises the debt ceiling.
The White House has repeatedly threatened to veto any bill that locks in sequestration cuts fiscal year 2016. A number of prominent Republican and Democratic members of Congress have been very vocal in their opposition to sequestration, calling for a budget deal to lift the sequestration caps. However, it remains unclear whether there is enough political will in Congress to reach a budget deal. Whatever Congress negotiates this year will likely continue for two years. Election season will be underway next spring, making it very difficult for Congress to pass major legislation.
Continuing sequestration for the remainder of FY 2016 and FY 2017 would force additional cuts and make it impossible to restore past cuts or make new investments in critical anti-hunger and anti-poverty programs. Thus, pushing for a budget deal that replaces sequestration cuts with a balanced approach that protects funding for anti-hunger programs continues to be an important message to send to Congress.
Global Food Security Act
Bread is working very hard to get this act passed this year, which would make the U.S.’s successful global food-security program, Feed the Future, permanent. In the House, the number of cosponsors grew from under 50 to 70 just over the summer, in large part because of Bread members’ advocacy efforts.
Strong efforts are still being made around food aid reform. The Senate Foreign Relations Committee looks set to mark up the Food for Peace Reform Act of 2015 (S. 525). This legislation would modernize U.S. food aid in order to increase its flexibility, prevent inefficiencies, and expand the reach of the program to millions more people.
Before Dec. 31, Congress will need to extend a number of expired tax benefits, primarily for businesses. Many in Congress want to make some of those tax breaks permanent. Bread wants to ensure that any bill that expands or makes permanent any business tax breaks also makes permanent the 2009 improvements to the earned income and child tax credits. These are the only tax credits specifically directed to low-income working families, and they prevent more people from falling into poverty than any other program in the country except Social Security.
Criminal Justice Reform
Senate Judiciary Committee members continue to negotiate a criminal justice reform bill. In the House, the SAFE Justice Act (H.R. 2944), sponsored by Reps. Jim Sensenbrenner (R-Wisc.) and Bobby Scott (D-Va.), has gotten a great deal of attention. Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) appeared to come out in support of the bill, which would, among other things, lower mandatory minimum sentences for non-violent drug offenses. Bread continues to push to lift the lifetime ban on SNAP and TANF (Temporary Assistance for Needy Families) for individuals with felony drug convictions, urging members of Congress to include that provision in any criminal justice reform legislation.
“Antonio brought fresh energy and new perspectives to our work,” said Rev. Nancy Neal, the department’s deputy director. “We always benefit immensely from the knowledge and assistance that interns provide. We are delighted, too, that Bread for the World interns almost always leave with a determination to use what they’ve learned to help expand our work together to end hunger in God’s world.”
As Orona prepares to return home to Riverside, Calif., he reflected on his experience at Bread and his plans for the future.
My summer internship at Bread for the World is the result of a very direct connection. I met Bishop José García, Bread’s director of church relations, at a leadership conference. He happens to be a leader in my church, the Church of God of Prophesy. Hearing him speak set a spark. When I graduated from college, I looked right away into serving as an intern at Bread for the World.
Bread’s identity as a faith organization definitely caught my interest. I have witnessed homelessness–my home church is next door to an agency that serves homeless people. My passion for helping those without a voice led me to study fire [fighting] science and public policy in college. I had come to believe that not enough people see hunger and poverty as important issues. I wanted to help change that.
When I arrived here at Bread for the World, I found the staff to be filled with joyful spirit. I worked among welcoming, friendly people who helped me understand the work step by step. My main tasks have been to help with Spanish-language publications and resources. I had the opportunity to help choose and create materials, letters, and photos. I also helped update Bread’s records on Latino leaders.
Eventually, I want to work with young adults. I want to share my awareness of hunger issues. I can see myself living in D.C. at some point, but I have missed my friends and family a lot. I started in June, and this is the longest I’ve ever been away from home.
My father is a bishop at the Church of God of Prophesy in Riverside, Calif., and I start my graduate studies at California Baptist University in Riverside in the fall. I hope to inspire others at church and school to make a difference.
I will find opportunities to help right in Riverside where I grew up. I want to serve my community through what I have learned. Bread for the World has given me new skills and knowledge for this work. I thank God for this opportunity!
Interning at Bread for the World
Bread hosts interns throughout the year–during both the summer months and during the academic year. Bread’s interns not only learn new skills and become familiar with faith-based advocacy, but they also get to visit Congress. To apply for an internship, visit www.bread.org/careers.
Photo: Some of the summer 2014 interns in front of the Capitol. Photo by Joseph Molieri/Bread for the World
Nothing irks Maria Rose Belding more than hearing legislators say that food pantries can fill in the food gap when SNAP (formerly known as food stamps) benefits are cut.
“No, no, no. That is not how the math works,” she says, fervently.
Collectively, food banks and private charities account for only 6 percent of food aid. The rest is provided by the federal government through programs like SNAP, Belding says.
In June, she took her knowledge about hunger to Capitol Hill as part of Bread for the World’s Lobby Day. She, along with Bread for the World members from Iowa, met with U.S. Sen. Joni Ernst (R-Iowa). Belding grew up in Iowa but lives as a college student in Washington, D.C.
Belding, 19, believes in the power of lobbying. One vote from a legislator has more influence than all the staffs of a food pantry put together, she says. “Their influence on hungry people is significant. I want them to know that and understand that.”
During her visit with Ernst, Belding spoke about the need for Congress to pass the Summer Meals Act. The bill would strengthen and expand access to summer meal programs for children. Accessing meals during summertime can be hard for children, especially for those living in rural areas. Lack of transportation and long distances make it difficult for them to get the meals they need to grow into healthy adults.
Belding knows Bread well. She interned last year with the Alliance to End Hunger, a Bread affiliate. “Bread is such a cool Christian community,” she says. “It embraces the Gospel of hungry people. It’s nice to be in an environment that embraces the Gospel and acts on it.”
But advocating on behalf of hungry people is not the only way she is helping to ensure people have access to food. Earlier this year, she launched the nonprofit MEANS Database, an online system that enables food pantries to communicate with each other and their donors to prevent waste.
The nonprofit has approximately 1,500 partners and agencies in 12 states. MEANS stands for Matching Excess And Need for Stability.
Belding got the idea for the nonprofit after a disheartening experience while volunteering at a church food pantry that ended up throwing out boxes of macaroni and cheese when they expired. She says another food pantry could have used the boxes before they expired if there had been an efficient way to communicate with them.
Belding, who is pursuing an undergraduate degree in public health at American University, hopes to continue to grow the nonprofit. As a food advocate, she is passionate about ensuring that everyone has access to food.
The nonprofit is her way of ensuring that food pantries run efficiently as possible and are able to provide food for the hungry.
Jennifer Gonzalez is the associate online editor at Bread for the World.
Photo: Maria Rose Belding, left, speaks with U.S. Sen. Joni Ernst (R-Iowa), wearing a blue-green jacket, during Bread for the World's 2015 Lobby Day. John Jacks for Bread for the World.
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