Urging our nation's leaders to end hunger

Hunger in the News: Addis Ababa Summit, School Lunch and Breakfast, Pope Francis, Year-End Budget Fight, and Food Aid Cuts


A regular, non-comprehensive roundup of current news links on hunger and poverty issues from around the Web.

Addis Ababa development finance summit: all you need to know, by Mark Anderson and Clár Ní Chonghaile, The Guardian. “At the UN’s Third Financing for Development conference, in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, between 13-16 July, world leaders will look for ways to pay for the ambitious and costly sustainable development goals (SDGs), which include ending poverty and achieving food security in every corner of the globe by 2030.”

CEP enhances existing school lunch and breakfast programs, by James Weill, The Hill. “Congress did the right thing when it enacted the Community Eligibility Provision (CEP) in 2010 to help alleviate hunger among our nation’s most vulnerable children.”

"Let's Not Be Afraid To Say It – We Need Change, We Want Change": To Poor and Powerful Alike, Pope's Watershed Call for "Justice,” by Rocco Palmo, Whispers in the Loggia.  “Before a summit of social movements representing workers, the poor and marginalized, the Pope delivered one of the longest and strongest speeches of his 28 months as Bishop of Rome – a loaded call for social justice….”

Year-End Budget Fight Is Taking Shape, by Kristina Peterson, The Wall Street Journal. “The budget fight shaping up in Congress looks increasingly likely to simmer until a face-off at the end of the year forces a fiscal reckoning—or a fiscal wreck.”

Mali Refugees' Food Aid Cut: Doctors Warn Refugees At Heightened Risk Of Malnutrition by Michael Kaplan, The International Business Times. “Monthly food rations will be cut for almost 50,000 refugees from the West African nation of Mali because of financial shortfalls, humanitarian groups said this week.”

World Prayers for July 12-18: Costa Rica, El Salvador, Nicaragua, and Panama

A roadside market in the Nicaraguan highlands. Richard Leonardi for Bread for the World.

This is a weekly prayer series that appears each Friday on the Bread Blog.

One aspect of Bread for the World’s new Bread Rising campaign is prayer. The campaign is asking Bread members to pray more, act more, and give more. In this blog series, we will provide a prayer for a different group of countries each week and their efforts to end hunger.

This prayer series will follow the Ecumenical Prayer Cycle, a list compiled by the World Council of Churches that enables Christians around the world to journey in prayer through every region of the world, affirming our solidarity with Christians all over the world, brothers and sisters living in diverse situations, experiencing their challenges and sharing their gifts.

We will especially be lifting up in prayer the challenges related to hunger and poverty that the people of each week’s countries face. In prayer, God’s story and our own story connect—and we and the world are transformed. In a prayer common to all of us—the Lord’s Prayer/the Our Father—we pray, “Give us this day our daily bread.” This line from this prayer can also be a prayer for the end of hunger.

We invite you to join Bread in our prayers for the world’s countries to end hunger. And we encourage you to share with us your prayers for the featured countries of the week or for the end of hunger in general.

For the week of July 12-18: Costa Rica, El Salvador, Nicaragua, and Panama

Our mighty God, we thank you for Central America and specifically for the nations of Costa Rica, El Salvador, Nicaragua, and Panama. They are your inheritance, and we ask for your kingdom to come and your will to be done in these nations.

In particular, we pray for all those who are in poverty, homeless, unemployed, and experience food insecurity daily. You see and care for each of them. We ask that you would provide a sufficient source of income for these people and for changes in the economic systems that would provide opportunities to break out of the cycle of poverty. We also ask for protection for children who live on the streets especially in cities. We pray that you would shield them from harm and provide them with shelter and care from good hands. In addition, we pray that they would be able to receive an education and eventually find jobs in the future.

We also pray for the body of Christ in this region. We pray that you would empower your people by your spirit and grace to be a light and an extension of your hands and feet in their communities. As the Gospel is preached, we pray for the eyes of the people to be opened to know you as their savior and provider for every need. We also ask that more workers would be sent into the ripe harvest fields of these nations.  

Lastly, we pray for the government leaders. We ask that you would give them wisdom to lead and make good decisions. Specifically, we pray for heaven-breathed strategies in building and re-building infrastructures in these countries. We also pray for policies that would benefit all in the long run. In addition, we pray that you would place people in leadership who would carry out your purposes. Ultimately, however, we know that true change happens inside and leads to outward changes that manifest in our society. So we continue to look to you, Jesus, the author of change and solution for humanity, for the future of these nations. 

We thank you for hearing our prayer and we ask these things in the glorious name of Jesus, Amen.

Percentage of the population of these countries living below the national poverty line (2014 figures):

Costa Rica: 20.7
El Salvador: 34.5
Nicaragua: 42.5
Panama: 27.6

Source: World Bank World Development Indicators as found in the new 2015 Hunger Report.

Prayer is a central part of Bread for the World’s work. To learn more about how you can get involved with prayer at Bread, please go here.




Global Goals? We're Getting There

Bangladesh. Bread for the World.

By Stefanie Casdorph

At the beginning of the new millennium, world leaders gathered at the United Nations to shape a broad vision to fight poverty and its many causes and effects. This vision turned into the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), eight goals that pledged to the world to fight for the principles of human dignity, equality, equity, and to free the world from extreme poverty.

Bread for the World has long supported the MDGs as a way to help the world’s poor move out of a cycle of hunger and poverty.

The MDGs addressed the important issues of poverty, education, women’s empowerment, health, children’s well-being, and the environment.

The first MDG was to eradicate extreme poverty and hunger. This goal had three objectives:

  1. Halve, between 1990 and 2015, the proportion of people whose income is less than $1 a day.
  2. Achieve full and productive employment and decent work for all, including women and young people.
  3. Halve, between 1990 and 2015, the proportion of people who suffer from hunger.

The United Nation’s MDG Report 2015 findings show that the world has made significant strides in fighting poverty and hunger under these goals. Although poverty is far from eradicated, here are some examples of progress that has been made in the last 25 years, according to the report:

  • The number of people living in extreme poverty around the world has fallen by more than half, from 1.9 billion in 1990 to 836 million in 2015.
  • In developing regions, the proportion of people living on less than $1.25 a day fell from 47 percent in 1990 to 22 percent in 2010, five years ahead of schedule.
  • The proportion of undernourished people in developing countries has fallen by almost half, from 23.3 percent in 1990 to 12.9 percent in 2015.
  • The number of undernourished people in developing countries has fallen by 216 million since 1990.
  • The proportion of children under five who are underweight has been cut almost in half between 1990 and 2015. One in four children under five worldwide have stunted growth, but stunting - defined as inadequate height for age - is declining.

These goals have helped the world achieve so much. Millions of people around the world are escaping hunger and poverty. However, even after making such great strides, there are still over 795 million people going hungry.

The world has the tools and the knowledge to eradicate hunger. Using the momentum and progress generated by the MDGs, the U.N. is working with governments, civil society, and other partners on an ambitious task in creating a long-term sustainable agenda – the Sustainable Development Goals.

These new goals will replace the MDGs this September with an end goal of ending extreme poverty by 2030.

Stefanie Casdorph is a summer intern in the communications department at Bread for the World.

College Student Fights Hunger on Multiple Fronts

Maria Rose Belding, seated far left, speaks with U.S. Sen. Joni Ernst (R-Iowa), wearing a blue jacket, during Bread for the World's 2015 Lobby Day. John Jacks for Bread for the World.

July 9, 2015 | By Jennifer Gonzalez

Nothing irks Maria Rose Belding more than hearing legislators say that food pantries can fill in the food gap when SNAP (formerly 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.

Recently, 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, an affiliate of Bread. “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 lobbying 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. 


The Affordable Care Act Helps Reduce Hunger

Rick Reinhard for Bread for the World.

By Christopher Ford

Health care has been a hot topic in the news again since the Supreme Court’s ruling last month to uphold a key part of the Affordable Care Act (ACA). It may not be obvious, but health care and hunger are similar issues. The government plays a huge role in both, and both are big public health issues. And sometimes these issues intersect.

The ACA, or Obamacare, is responsible for the largest expansion of health care coverage in 50 years. Since the law went into effect, the number of people without coverage fell by almost 17 million. Among African-Americans, there was a 9.2 percent drop in uninsured rates. Latinos saw a 12.3 percentage drop.

The provision of the law upheld by the Supreme Court provides tax subsidies to help poor and middle-class people buy health insurance. The court’s 6-to-3 ruling means that millions of Americans will continue to have access to affordable health care.

In the United States, one out of three people with chronic medical conditions must choose between treating these conditions or feeding themselves and their families. Many families receiving ACA subsidies live just above the poverty line and are not eligible for Medicaid. They struggle to pay their bills and are vulnerable to hunger.

The ACA subsidies enable these families to purchase the health insurance. This means they can treat their medical conditions and put food on the table. The ACA is becoming a vital link in the effort to end hunger in the United States. Families no longer have to forego dinner if a child needs to go to the doctor.

If the court had ruled the other way, millions of people would have lost their health coverage. And food insecurity would certainly have increased.

The Bread for the World Institute is currently working on the 2016 Hunger Report, which will be released in November. The report frames hunger as a serious health condition. Research shows that the lack of access to nutritious food, especially at a young age, can lead to chronic health problems. And bad health can be exacerbated by hunger.

Christopher Ford is the media relations manager at Bread for the World.

Longtime Bread Staff Member Larry Hollar Retires

By Stephen Padre

A longtime and beloved Bread for the World staff member, Larry Hollar, is beginning his retirement this week. Larry’s career at Bread spanned an impressive 30 years, one of the longest tenures among staff. Most recently, he has been a senior regional organizer in the grassroots organizing department, covering nearby states from his home base in Dayton, Ohio. His work in grassroots organizing has involved reaching out and being the local face of Bread for many congregations and residents of Midwestern and eastern states. Many people across the country who worked with him found a helpful, resourceful, and friendly Bread representative in Larry. Lobby_Day_2015_0045

Current and former Bread staff feted Larry last month during several days of meetings when all staff from around the country were gathered in Washington, D.C. They honored Larry for his contributions to Bread as an employee, but also for his contributions as a person and the gifts he brought to the work as a lover of sports; a singer; a husband, father, and grandfather; someone trained in law and theology; and a devoted Christian.

As a churchman, Larry has a deep love for liturgical music. So one of the tributes he received from this writer was alternative words to the hymn tune for "Now Thank We All Our God." Here are a couple of the verses from the tribute:

Now thank we all our God
That Larry’s quite exacting.
Misspell, misuse a word,
He’ll tell you it’s distracting.
He likes consistency;
He’ll gently criticize.
He’s always there to help
Cross T’s and dot the I’s.

Now thank we all our God
That Larry has a strong voice.
It’s used for lobbying,
But also joyful singing.
He sings deep baritone.
He sings in the church choir.
He’ll end his career, but
The voice shall not retire.

Besides his grassroots field work, Larry also had a stint as the head of Bread’s government affairs department (the department had a different name then). He also edited a three-volume set, based on the three-year lectionary cycle, of Scripture reflections by 46 pastors, lay persons, and biblical scholars who are Bread members and activists. The set is titled Hunger for the Word (still available for purchase from the Bread Store). Larry said he views this work in print as his legacy at Bread. “Assembling more than 40 wise grassroots voices into a chorus of faithful witness was the hardest and maybe the best thing I did in your midst,” he wrote in an email to staff.

While Larry may leave behind words he edited in a book, he also leaves a legacy of decades of fruitful work in advocacy and organizing, of living out a faith that we share, of wisdom, insight, and – yes – perfectionism, as well as inspiration. Thank you for your service to Bread for the World, Larry. Well done, good and faithful servant!

Stephen Padre is the managing editor at Bread for the World.

Photo inset: Larry Hollar during Lobby Day 2015. Zach Blum for Bread for the World.

Quote of the Day: Rev. Laurinda Hafner

Rev. Laurinda Hafner, senior minister at Coral Gables Congregational United Church of Christ in Coral Gables, Fla., writes to her member of Congress. Lena Isely for Bread for the World.

“As a person of faith, I think there is nothing so contrary to God’s will, for this world, than to have people - and especially children - be hungry. More than anything else, Jesus talked about feeding the hungry, so as members of a Christian congregation it is our faithful and moral imperative to do everything we can to fill the bellies of those who are without food.” 

Bread for the World’s 2015 Offering of Letters: Feed Our Children is focused on ensuring Congress reauthorizes the child nutrition bill. The legislation is set to expire in the fall. It is vital that Congress hears from their constituents, especially since over 16 million children in the U.S. don’t always know where their next meal is coming from.

Call or email your members of Congress today and tell them to support legislation that will feed our children — in the upcoming summer months and all year long. 


Bread Member Spotlight: Frances Kellogg

By Patricia Bidar

When a couple pulls up stakes as they prepare for retirement, the common move might be to a bucolic setting. Not Frances Kellogg and her husband, Howard. After raising their five children in Bryn Mawr, Pa., the couple relocated to downtown Philadelphia.

"Our neighbors thought we were crazy," Frances remembers, laughing. "But I could run errands on my bike or on foot. It was easy to attend a concert using public transportation. In fact, some of our new neighbors were in the orchestra. We could hear from them what it was like to perform." For the Kelloggs, the move seemed a practical one. Kelloggfamily

When asked why she is a member of Bread for the World, Frances' answer is equally practical. "Hunger is basic. More basic than shelter. Bread for the World works with Congress to end hunger problems. I subscribe to Charity Watch, and Bread receives a high rating."

Frances was raised in Bryn Mawr, but during World War II she traveled the country as part of the Women's Army Corps. First, she was stationed in Philadelphia. Transfers to Tampa, Michigan, and Fresno, Calif., followed. "I have always loved mountains," she says. "From Fresno, a GI friend and I would hitchhike in uniform to Yosemite. This Tennessee GI could never get over the idea of a woman who could hike all day!"

After the war, Frances returned to Bryn Mawr. Because money had never been a problem for the family, she accepted her mother's advice to do volunteer work. Then 28 years old, Frances landed a secretarial job with the American Friends, otherwise known as the Quakers. In May that year, she was invited to dinner at the home of a distant cousin and was told that Howard Kellogg would pick her up. The two found a common love: mountains and hiking. In October, the couple wed. They spent many happy years hiking in New Hampshire. When Howard retired from his work as an attorney, he hiked the entire Appalachian Trail.

Frances says her charitable giving is motivated by faith and having been blessed with financial means. Back in Bryn Mawr, when the Kelloggs were raising their children, they attended a wealthy church. "It bothered me," Frances says. Suzanne Hyatt, another parishioner who was a trained social worker, felt the same way. "She radicalized me," Frances says. "A group of us met in each other's homes to worship." The Church Without Walls stayed together for 30 years before disbanding.

Frances and Howard now reside in a retirement community in Gwynedd, Pa. Their children and nine grandchildren are scattered across several states. The family owns a place in New Hampshire and sometimes meets there. One grandchild has taken up hiking, even taking on the Appalachian Trail, as his grandfather did years ago.

Today, Frances attends St. Michael's Episcopal Church in Philadelphia. In fact, at 96 years old, she drives herself to church each Sunday. She participates in the church's food pantry by bringing food as part of her offering.

Frances has good friends and belongs to a reading club and a meditation group. She has taken on her husband's old job of maintaining the records of her charitable gifts on 3 x 5 cards. "Bread for the World appeals to me more than other organizations doing good work," she says. "I can't imagine being a mother unable to feed my children."

Patricia Bidar is a freelance writer.

Photo inset: Frances and Howard Kellogg and their five children. Photo courtesy of Frances Kellogg.

Colorado Pastors Changing Immigration Dialogue

By Michelle Warren

Fear. Courage. Restoration.

For the past several years, pastors and ministry leaders in Colorado have been working to change the dialogue about immigrants in our state. Those of us who live and worship alongside immigrants realized that it wasn't enough for us to know about the pain inflicted by the broken immigration system. We needed to actually do something with what we knew. Doing something was not a choice but rather an opportunity to lead. IMG_1181

Public-policy issues share some basic similarities: a problem that needs fixing with an appropriate solution and leaders willing to implement the solution. Immigration reform is a political hot button. Fixing a broken immigration system needs leaders who are willing to lead, regardless of constituents' criticism.

As a seasoned organizer, I regularly call both elected officials and pastors to act on their moral courage and lead on difficult — even polarizing — issues. I meet with political leaders who tell me behind closed doors that they are "with me" on issues but who subsequently fail to act because they are afraid of backlash from their constituents. I meet with pastors who understand what the Bible has to say about injustice but avoid initiating conversations with their congregations for fear of being viewed as too political. Both are leaders in their communities; both wrestle with fears of backlash from those they serve. 

Fear is a trap, keeping us in a broken place. When leaders allow fear to keep them from leading, they not only miss an opportunity to help release people from broken systems, but they also miss an opportunity to be a part of the restoration process.

Last summer, I had the privilege to work alongside a group of pastors who decided to do a city-wide sermon series on God's heart for the immigrant. They all recognized that their congregations needed to look at the issue of immigration through a biblical lens, and as leaders, that it was their responsibility to share this message. 

Right before the sermon series started, election politics were gearing up. Colorado, where the pastors served, was one of the most-watched states for an election upset. The media was brutal. As the primaries across the country ended — with unanticipated and highly reactive results — a story broke about thousands of unaccompanied minors coming across our borders.  National headlines around immigration were politically toxic, not just for politicians but anyone brave enough to engage in the dialogue.

This group of pastors leaned in and led.

As anyone in leadership knows, criticism makes leading more about decisive courage and less about how you personally feel. All of these pastors were put to the test, but their willingness to lead despite fear gave voice to timeless truth and the urgency for change. Dr. John Perkins, founder of the Christian Community Development Association, has said, "Courage is not the absence of fear. It is living one's conviction in the face of fear."

In my work, whether with politicians or Christian leaders, fear can be a driving force. Often we are tempted to back out. However, when leaders decide to take courage in the face of fear, our communities are stronger for it.

These pastors are examples of acting with courage and leading their communities toward restoration.

Michelle Warren is the director of advocacy and policy engagement for the Chicago-based Christian Community Development Association.

Photo inset courtesy of Michelle Warren.

Hunger in the News: World Food Prize, Summer Meals, Global Warming, and Syrian Refugees


A regular, non-comprehensive roundup of current news links on hunger and poverty issues from around the Web.

World Food Prize goes to founder of anti-poverty group,” by Christopher Doering, USA TODAY. “Sir Fazle Hasan Abed had a prestigious career working for Shell Oil in 1970 when a cyclone devastated his native Bangladesh, prompting him to abandon his corporate job and dedicate his life to working with women and other poor people in his home country who are struggling to lift themselves out of poverty.”

My summer vacation ... from nutrition,” by Marian Guinn, Lexington Herald-Leader. “Around the country, children are excited for the fun and freedom of summer vacation. Summer should be a time for kids to play outside, read for pleasure and spend time with family.”

Alliances needed to fight global warming, poverty, say Vatican speakers,” by Carol Glatz, Catholic News Service. “Democracy must return to politics and unusual alliances must form in order to get the world to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and tackle poverty, said a panel of speakers attending a Vatican conference.”

Syrian Refugees Face Hunger Amidst Humanitarian Funding Crisis,” by By Zhai Yun Tan, Inter Press Service. “The United Nations’ food aid organisation, the World Food Programme (WFP), said on Jul. 1 that up to 440,000 refugees from war-torn Syria might have to go hungry if no additional funds are received by August.”

Bridging the Gap Between Summer & Hunger,” by Linda Novick O'Keefe, The Huffington Post. “When we think about summer, many of us think about baseball games, BBQs and family vacations. For some families, summer can also be a time of uncertainty and hunger. Feeding and taking care of the people that need help in our own country, in our own communities, has always been important to me.”

US Prison Population Has Increased Dramatically, But Mass Incarceration Doesn't Reduce Crime, Congressional Report Finds,” by Aaron Morrison, International Business Times. “A new report on prisons and the criminal justice system in the U.S. found that mass incarceration is no longer as effective in reducing crime and rehabilitating inmates as supporters of tough-on-crime policies had hoped. The Congressional Research Service, a nonpartisan legislative agency of the U.S. Congress, said mass incarceration has ‘reached the point of diminishing returns.’”


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