Bread Newsletter: September 2016


9 Ways Your Church Can Participate in the Elections

Congregations are where most of us as Christians nurture our faith, and it’s from organized communities of faith that much of the ministry of the Church is carried out. As such, congregations are an ideal place from which hunger activists can engage in this year’s election. Voting and being involved during an election season, some of the open parts of our democratic process, are part of our stewardship of the gifts God gave us.

Below are 9 ways congregations can be involved to help get the U.S. government on track in 2017 toward the goal of ending hunger by 2030. This is a goal that Bread has been working toward along with many other organizations, both secular and faith-based.

Bread wants all candidates to:

  • make ending hunger and poverty by 2030 a legislative priority
  • make her/his position on these issues public
  • commit to meeting with Bread leaders within 30 days of being elected

1. Sign the “I vote to end hunger” pledge. Get members to commit to joining our voices and urging our political leaders to make hunger, poverty, and opportunity a higher political priority in the 2016 presidential and congressional races. You can direct members to sign the pledge here.

2. Pastors: Preach about the elections and the issue of hunger. Pastors can preach about the importance of ending hunger and how to engage in the elections as Christians. Encourage everyone to ask the hunger question of candidates, what they would do to end hunger and poverty if elected. Surely, this is one concern that is in the heart of God.

Resources to help you:

3. Observe Bread for the World Sunday in October. Every year, we encourage congregations to dedicate at least one Sunday to understanding the issues of hunger and poverty better. This year, Bread for the World Sunday materials highlight the importance of the elections to people who are hungry in our country and around the world.

Resources to help you:

Download Bread for the World Sunday resources.

4. Watch the candidate videos and use the study guide. The Circle of Protection coalition has asked the major party candidates to produce videos about what they would do to provide help and opportunity to people who are hungry and poor in our country and around the world.

Resources to help you:

Watch the videos and download the study guide.

5. Amplify your voice: Use Facebook, Twitter, texting, write letters to the editor of your local newspaper, and blog. Candidates are watching local media for what is important to local residents. Your flock wants to know what is important as well. By using all of your social media tools and writing a letter to the editor of your local newspaper, you can publicly raise the issues and ask the hunger question. You can also write a letter to the editor and post photos after meeting with a candidate. The letter could come from the pastor, the leadership of the church, or a group of local pastors.

Resources to help you:

6. Write letters to the candidates. Just like an Offering of Letters to members of Congress, letters can be written to candidates asking the hunger question: If elected, what will you do to end hunger, alleviate poverty, and create opportunity in the U.S. and abroad? Will you meet with us?

Resources to help you:

  • Bread’s Election Platform provides a snapshot of the domestic and international policies that Bread for the World believes will help put the world on track to end hunger by 2030.
  • Download the Elections Matter booklet.

7. Take a church group to town hall meetings or to visit candidates’ campaign offices. At meetings, you can ask the candidate questions about what he or she will do to end hunger and poverty. You can confirm that you and many voters plan to vote to end hunger and ask for a follow-up meeting after the elections. Leave behind Bread’s Elections Platform and elections survey information. Bread can help you prepare for these meetings. Call 800/822-7323 and ask for the elections coordinator.

Resources to help you:

8. Hold a candidate forum at your church. Invite candidates to a public forum hosted at your church. Be sure to invite all major candidates, ask the hunger question, and get commitments from candidates. Learn more using the Elections Matter booklet.

9. Report your actions. Let Bread and the public know what you do and what your candidates promise to do.

Resources to help you:

  • Share on social media using #IVote2EndHunger, and tag your candidates.
  • Share what you did with Bread’s Elections Coordinator online or by email.

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His Eminence Metropolitan of Zimbabwe and Angola Serafim Kykotis

On Faith: Justice and Peace Inform the Mission Focus of Hunger and Poverty for Orthodox Christians

By His Eminence Archbishop Seraphim Kykkotis, Metropolitan of Zimbabwe and Angola

One of the spiritual roles of our Church is “sharing in our anguish and existential problems, taking upon herself — as the Lord did — our suffering and wounds, which are caused by evil in the world and, like the Good Samaritan, pouring oil and wine upon our wounds through words of patience and comfort (Romans 15:4; Hebrews 13:22), and through love in practice.”

During the last 20 years, I have been involved in mission in Kenya, Tanzania, South Africa, Zimbabwe, Angola, Malawi, Zambia, Botswana, and Mozambique. My personal testimony is that the hunger and poverty in such places is a result of our sins and selfishness. We have failed to use and share the goods of our planet in a fair way as a common gift of God for all of humanity. The number one victims of our sins are the suffering children who die because we have failed to give to them what they need to save their lives.

For the first time in over 1,000 years, many of our Orthodox churches came together at the Holy and Great Council of the Orthodox Church in Crete, Greece recently. Τhe following are excerpts from the final resolutions, adopted by the churches, that emphasize peace and justice in addressing the witness of love and service relative to hunger and poverty.

The centrality of peace and justice informs the Orthodox churches in fulfilling her salvific mission in the world (Ephesians 6:15, Colossians 1:20, Ephesians 2:17, and Ephesians 2:14). Therefore, the Orthodox churches actively care for all people in need, including the hungry, the poor, the sick, the disabled, the elderly, the persecuted, those in captivity and prison, the homeless, the orphans, the victims of destruction and military conflict, those affected by human trafficking and modern forms of slavery. The Orthodox Church’s efforts to confront destitution and social injustice are an expression of her faith and the service to the Lord, who identifies Himself with every person and especially with those in need (Matthew 25:40). 

Competition and enmity in the world introduce injustice and inequitable access among individuals and peoples to the resources of divine creation. They deprive millions of people of fundamental goods and lead to the degradation of the human person; they incite mass migrations of populations, and they engender ethnic, religious, and social conflicts, which threaten the internal cohesion of communities. Therefore, the Church cannot remain indifferent before economic conditions that negatively impact humanity as a whole. A sustainable economy is that which combines efficiency with justice and social solidarity.

It is in light of such tragic circumstances, the Church’s great responsibility is overcoming hunger and all other forms of deprivation in the world. One such phenomenon in our time — whereby nations operate within a globalized economic system — points to the world’s serious identity crisis, for hunger not only threatens the divine gift of life of whole peoples, but also offends the lofty dignity and sacredness of the human person, while simultaneously offending God. Therefore, if concern over our own sustenance is a material issue, then concern over feeding our neighbor is a spiritual issue (James 2:14-18).

His Eminence Archbishop Seraphim Kykkotis, Metropolitan of Zimbabwe and Angola, is with the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Alexandria and All Africa.

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Enrique Morones placing crosses in the sand with participants. Each cross represents a deceased individual who lost their life crossing the border. Johnny Lim for Bread for the World.

El Camino del Inmigrante: Where the feet go, the heart follows

By Bishop José García

“And he appointed twelve, whom he also named apostles, to be with him…” (Mark 3:14)

The interesting thing about this verse is that Jesus appointed the disciples to be with him. As we can see in the New Testament narrative, this “being” with Jesus meant that they walked together throughout the whole region. By some estimates, the group likely walked more than 10,000 miles throughout Jesus’ three years of ministry. During that time, Jesus talked with his disciples, heard from them, ate with them, had fellowship with them, and even shared some humor.

As I walked El Camino del Inmigrante with more than 150 participants over a 11-day period last month, I realized how precious it is to walk alongside others even for just a few miles.

There is a deeper bond that forms when one travels with others by walking rather than by plane, bus, car, or train. I did not personally know the majority of the walkers, yet, on the last day, after finishing the 150-mile trek, we were one. 

As director of church relations at Bread for the World, the connection between hunger and immigration was my clear and strong motivation for participating in the walk. As I heard the stories of my fellow walkers, I could see how my own story connected with theirs. David, whose parents crossed more than one border carrying him on their backs when he was a 9-month-old baby, showed the sacrifice that parents make to flee precarious conditions. This reminded me of the sacrifices made by so many parents escaping hunger and poverty in search of a better life that offers their children choices and opportunity.

Then there was 78-year-old Irene, who was a child when she and her mother fled the devastation of World War II in Europe. Sadly, today in countries such as Syria, Sudan, and the Central African Republic, just to name a few, many mothers are still experiencing the horrors of war and cruelty of hunger that lead them to risk their lives in search of safety and food.

My heart was moved by Dennis, one of our senior adult walkers who, led by God´s mercy, is working hard to sponsor a Muslim Syrian refugee family and “welcoming these strangers” as an act of grace and love toward his neighbors.

I also walked with Nate and Germán, whose ministry leads them to rescue children living on the streets in Guatemala. Germán shared with me how even when they talk to young people about the dangers and perils of trying to cross the border, many still choose to risk everything in their desperation to escape hunger, poverty, gang violence, and addiction.

Then I heard from Carmen, who made it to the United States only to experience the abuse and dishonesty of employers who rob house workers of their earned salaries by not paying over time, underpaying, and forcing them to work off the clock, among other unfair practices. This represents more than $26.2 million swindled from these workers every week in Los Angeles alone. Despite being hard-working men and women, they struggle with hunger and poverty because of these abuses.

I also heard how many undocumented immigrants are falling prey to human traffickers. The stories are too many to recount, but you can read them on the El Camino del Inmigrante blog.

Walking with these men and women, young and old, and hearing their stories gave me a greater resolve to amplify our advocacy efforts at Bread for immigration reform.

It is my prayer that we can garner the collective will of our government officials, the private sector, civil society, and academic institutions to address the root causes of hunger and poverty in our nation and around the world.

We cannot and should not place the blame on those struggling with hunger and poverty for their plight when there are institutionally broken systems that stack the odds against them. God reminded his people that they should recall their roots as aliens and, thus, identify with their plight. “You shall not oppress a resident alien; you know the heart of an alien, for you were aliens in the land of Egypt” (Exodus 23:9).

Bishop Jose Garcia is the director of church relations at Bread for the World.

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2016 Bread for the World Sunday bulletin insert

News Briefs

Sign up to Receive Bread for the World Text Alerts

You may keep in touch with Bread over email. Are you looking for an even faster way to speak out against hunger and poverty? Well, look no further.

We are happy to announce our new mobile phone alerts. By texting HUNGER to 738674, you’ll be immediately signed up to receive advocacy alerts and updates on other Bread happenings. Want the latest information on our I Vote to End Hunger campaign? Or maybe an opportunity to organize your church or community to help us fight hunger? You’ll hear about it first – and instantly.

Sign up today by texting HUNGER to 738674, or through our online form. We look forward to getting in touch!

Vote for Members of Bread’s Board of Directors

Every year we ask Bread members to vote in the election of our board of directors.

Bread for the World’s bylaws state that all Bread members are eligible to vote in the election of the board of directors, who govern and guide our work together.

The board of directors sets the direction for how Bread can best channel its resources to help end hunger. The board is a multidenominational, multicultural, bipartisan group of people from all parts of the U.S. who have expertise in multiple and varied issues of importance to making change for and with hungry people.

Each year, one-third of the board of directors is elected to serve three-year terms. All Bread members are invited to vote for the next class of board members.

Read the brief biographies for this year’s 15 board candidates. The candidates were chosen for the gifts they would bring to the leadership of Bread. Then cast your vote for 8 of the 15 candidates. Your vote will be kept confidential.

We will tally all votes received by Sept. 16. The candidates who are elected will join the board on Jan. 1, 2017.

Vote in the board election

Involve Your Church in Bread for the World Sunday

Thousands of churches are preparing to celebrate Bread for the World Sunday. On October 16 — or another Sunday in the fall — people in these churches will lift up prayers for those who struggle with hunger and will rededicate themselves to efforts that help end hunger.

Rev. Beth Bostrom, a United Methodist pastor in Florida and a member of Bread’s board of directors, has written an inspiring reflection on Luke 18:1-8. Rev. Dr. Chris Repp, pastor of Grace Lutheran Church in Champaign, Ill., has prepared a new litany and other prayers for the day. Dr. Hosffman Ospino, who teaches theology at Boston College, has written a Spanish-language study of Luke 18:1-8 as well as a litany in Spanish.

These resources, as well as a large poster, worship bulletin inserts, and offering envelopes may all be ordered free of charge to help congregations celebrate Bread for the World Sunday. A Spanish poster and bulletin inserts are available. View, download, and order resources.

Christmas Cards Help End Hunger

When you send Bread for the World Christmas cards to your family and friends, you will help create hope and opportunity for people who are hungry. Proceeds from the sale of these cards support efforts to urge our nation’s decision makers to change the policies and conditions that allow hunger to persist in our own country and abroad.

The 2016 card features a photo of Afghan girl and her sibling. Inside is a Scripture passage – Isaiah 35:10 – and the greeting “May the Prince of Peace, who is born among us this Christmas, give you peace and joy in the new year.”

Ten cards and envelopes are only $15 (includes shipping). Additional card deigns, including one without a religious greeting, are available. View the cards and place your order today, or call 800-822-7323, ext. 1072. The deadline for ordering cards is Dec. 9.

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Feed the Future - Cambodia. Feed the Future photo.

Field Focus: Cambodian Mothers Commit to Improve Child Health

Editor’s note: Congress gave final passage to the Global Food Security Act on July 6. Bread had been pushing for this major world hunger legislation for more than a year. This act makes permanent the Feed the Future initiative, a successful program of the U.S. government that was started early in the Obama administration. What has this program accomplished? Here is one example.

Sao Loeum is a young farmer married to a construction worker. The couple has a 9-month-old son, Chan Rayuth. The family lives in a rural part of Cambodia’s Siem Reap province — a major tourist destination, best known as the gateway to the breathtaking Angkor ruins. Despite the province’s flourishing tourism industry, some of its villages are among the poorest in Cambodia with a poverty rate hovering above 30 percent.

For poor, rural families such as the Loeums, food insecurity, illness, and limited economic opportunities are both causes and effects of the poverty that grips them. They struggle to afford nutritious food and have limited access to clean water and basic health services. The consequences for children are devastating: One in three children is stunted, and the prevalence of stunting is higher among low-income and rural children. Undernutrition also increases health expenditures and opportunity costs and reduces lifetime earnings, particularly for women, who are the primary caregivers of young children.

These consequences may be daunting, but with the right interventions, stunting is preventable during the 1,000 days spanning pregnancy to the child’s second birthday. That’s where Feed the Future’s NOURISH project comes in. The project is designed to accelerate stunting reduction in three provinces through activities in water, hygiene, sanitation (WASH) and agriculture focusing on the 1,000 days, the first of its kind in Cambodia.

One of the project’s activities is the conditional cash transfer (CCT) program, which was introduced in June 2015 in two Siem Reap communes. It offers conditional cash payments to food-insecure families with pregnant women and children under two to encourage the use of key health and nutrition services and practices. It also provides a social safety net during the critical 1,000 days. Conditions for payments include prenatal care visits, childbirth at a health care facility, postnatal care, monthly growth monitoring and promotion visits, and routine use of a handwashing station.

Loeum is one of the first 800 mothers enrolled in the CCT program. As a CCT beneficiary, she committed to bring her son to the health center for growth monitoring and promotion and to set up a dedicated handwashing station in her home.

The project has also identified a local microfinance institution that helps CCT participants open bank accounts. Just like many others, Loeum has opened her very first savings account where she will receive the money if she meets her commitment to use the health and nutrition services. During the enrollment process, she and her husband also benefited from village fairs, where they learned about home gardens with nutrient-rich vegetables, cooking for growth, and handwashing with soap.

“I have taken my son to get weighed at the health center every month to monitor his growth. I have already received 80,000 riels [US$20] in my bank account, and I have used some of the money to buy fish, vegetables, and soap. I also kept some for my son’s health care so that he will grow up strong and smart,” she said. Loeum will continue to benefit from the CCT initiative until her son turns two, improving his chance to grow and develop to his full potential.

The CCT program just started, but health workers in Siem Reap are already seeing promising trends as more women are coming in for prenatal care and bringing in their children for growth monitoring. Health workers also use these visits as an opportunity to increase vaccination coverage to protect children from infectious diseases.

Republished from the April 2016 Feed the Future newsletter.

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From the Depths of the Slums to the Heights of Sainthood

By Krisanne Vaillancourt Murphy

Roman Catholics around the world have been marking a Jubilee Year of Mercy, declared by Pope Francis last December. Perhaps nobody embodied mercy better than Mother Teresa. So it’s fitting that she was canonized by Pope Francis on Sept. 4.

Easily recognized by her blue and white sari and known for her humility and fierce defense of world’s most marginalized, Mother Teresa carried out most of her ministry with people who are outcast, suffering, and dying on the streets of India. Her ministry began in educating girls as a means to escape poverty. She later sensed “a call within a call” for her life and founded the Missionaries of Charity in 1950. Today, the Missionaries of Charity is a global organization of more than 4,000 sisters, serving the poorest and sickest people in the world with its hospices, orphanages, schools, and homes for victims of HIV/AIDS and leprosy.

In 1979, Mother Teresa was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for assisting the poor people in Kolkata (formerly called Calcutta). She is considered one of the greatest humanitarians of the 20th century and died in 1997 at the age of 87. Pope John Paul II beatified her in 2003, and in 2015, Pope Francis recognized the second miracle attributed to her, clearing the path to her canonization this week.

Her life, however, was not without controversy or personal suffering. Her critics argue that she failed to address the systems or root causes of the people she served. Mother Teresa herself admitted to experiencing a darkness – feeling abandoned by God. Yet her lasting legacy is that she never turned away from people who suffered but embraced them. A model for Catholics and non-Catholics alike, Mother Teresa remained faithful in her devotion to God and to people who are poor despite her spiritual doubts. 

She was a saint among us whose life offered a profound alignment with the dignity of every person, especially the most vulnerable and often forgotten people on the planet. We at Bread for the World, as an organization rooted in the biblical principle of mercy, give thanks to God for her life, ministry, and acts of mercy as her church elevates her to sainthood.

Krisanne Vaillancourt Murphy is senior national associate for national Catholic engagement at Bread for the World.

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Andrea James has fought for justice within the criminal justice system for more than 25 years, including many years as a criminal defense attorney. Photo Joe Molieri / Bread for the World

Bread Partner Starts New Organization for Incarcerated Women

By Stephen H. Padre

In 2015, Bread for the World and Bread for the World Institute began including mass incarceration and the criminal justice system in the issues they work on under the belief that they are both causes and effects of hunger. Momentum around these issues built during that year, which culminated in the founding of a unique organization to continue to build momentum and direct some energy to groups that are particularly affected in these areas.

In December 2015, the first-ever national organization created and led by incarcerated and formerly incarcerated women and girls held its first organizing meeting in New York City. The force behind the new National Council for Incarcerated and Formerly Incarcerated Women and Girls is Andrea James.

James’ story was included in the Institute’s 2015 Hunger Report: When Women Flourish...We Can End Hunger. In 2014, James, as founder of Families for Justice as Healing, was one of the speakers at Bread’s National Gathering on the issue of mass incarceration. In these ways, Bread was among the organizations that gave her a national outlet to spread her message of concern for women in prison.

Now her newest organization is in its first stages of growth. Since the council’s first meeting, it has convened other organizing meetings in Atlantic City, Philadelphia, Los Angeles, Washington, D.C., New Orleans, and Nashville. Thousands of formerly incarcerated women and girls have participated in the meetings. The council is also engaging currently incarcerated women and girls in federal and state prisons, county and state jails, and immigrant detention centers.

The council supports incarcerated and formerly incarcerated women and girls who are working to change the criminal justice system individually or within organizations. The council gives its members a place to share knowledge and experiences. Its members know firsthand the impact of the current criminal justice policies as well as the realities of incarceration, the many hurdles women face after returning home, and what changes are necessary to shift the system to one based on human dignity and social justice.

The council aims to bring together policy makers, academics, researchers, and the public in dialogue with its members. Members want to ensure that when policies, laws, practices, organizing, and services about women and girls who are or were incarcerated are decided upon, their voices and ideas are included.

More information on the council

Stephen H. Padre is Bread's managing editor and editor of this newsletter.

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O God...Open our ears to those in need and transform our hearts.

From the prayer for the 2016 Bread for the World Sunday

from our Resource Library

For Education

For Faith

  • Finding Hope, Ending Hunger on Both Sides of the Border: A Bilingual Latino Devotional

    Devotional writers challenge us to feel the Spirit of God within us and to hear God’s urgent call to demand justice so all can put food on the table.
  • The Bible on Health as a Hunger Issue

    “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...

  • Unity Declaration on Racism and Poverty

    A diverse body of Christian leaders calls on the churches and Congress to focus on the integral connection.

    Dear Members of Congress,

    As the president and Congress are preparing their plans for this year, almost 100 church leaders—from all the families of U.S. Christianity—are...

For Advocacy


African at Heart

November 22, 2019


From the Blog