Urging our nation's leaders to end hunger
 

Discussing Development, World Hunger, and Advocacy at the University of Kentucky

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University of Kentucky One Campus volunteers Ibitola Asalou (l) and Liz Renzaglia (c) with Lesly Webber-McNitt of the Farm Journal Foundation at the April 2 development and world hunger panel. (Courtesy of Deborah Charalambakis)

By Deborah Charalambakis

How can food-aid reform and agricultural investments help feed people around the world? And what can advocacy to do help make those things possible? On April 2, residents of Lexington, Ky., college students, and faculty gathered at the University of Kentucky for an engaging, thought-provoking discussion that explored these questions, as well as others related to development and world hunger.

Jon Gromek, regional organizer with Bread for the World;  Dr. Jerry Skees, president of  GlobalAgRisk; Abby Sasser,  regional field director at ONE Campaign; and Lesly Weber-McNitt director of government relations and program development at Farm Journal Foundation, were the participating panelists. Amanda Milward, field representative from Rep. Andy Barr’s office (R-Ky.-06), was a special guest.  

Among the topics tackled during the panel discussion were agriculture and food-aid reform. Many people don’t realize the importance of investing in agriculture and smallholder farmers, something all of the panelists touched on. Both Gromek and Dr. Skees spoke about the need for U.S. food-aid reform, and the ways we can improve food security for Africa’s most vulnerable people. Investing in farmers and agriculture not only increases income and food security for those populations, it reduces poverty significantly. This has been documented in both Ghana and Burkino Faso, two of the countries profiled in the ONE Campaign report “Ripe for Change: The Promise of Africa’s Agricultural Transformation.” Ghana has seen a decrease in poverty by 44 percent, and Burkino Faso created 235,000 jobs—all because those countries’ governments invested in their agricultural sectors.

The panelists also talked about advocacy, and how it helps make such success stories possible. When I asked our panelists why advocacy is important, they all dove in to answer. Sasser, Weber-McNitt, and Gromek – who all work in advocacy— stressed that our members of Congress represent us; when groups of hard-working advocates contact their senators and representatives about issues such as protecting foreign assistance programs (which account for less than 1 percent of  our federal budget), those elected officials listen. The more politicians hear from their constituents, the better the chance that they will act on the requests of their constituents. . When we become aware of  issues of agriculture, poverty, and development and we continue to stand on the sidelines, this not only skews our view of justice, but calls into question our concern for humanity all together.  That was something the audience truly understood in our advocacy discussion.

Though the event was a great success, and many people had questions for our panelists, it doesn’t end there. When it comes to issues of agriculture, development, and world hunger, let us be persistent in educating those around us about these issues, and become powerful advocates for the world’s poor.

Deborah_one_crop

 

Deborah Charalambakis is president of the ONE Campus chapter at the University of Kentucky in Lexington, Ky. ONE was created with assistance from Bread for the World. To learn more about what’s happening in ONE in Kentucky, follow the group on Twitter: @ONE_uky

Lenten Devotions: "Table Talk"

This Lenten season, Bread Blog will be running a series of devotions written by Pastor Ron Glusenkamp, senior pastor at Bethany Lutheran Church in Cherry Hills Village, Colo. The reflections are based, in part, on the music of Peter Mayer, accomplished vocalist, guitarist, and songwriter. The theme for this year's series is "Mighty This Love," named for one of Mayer's compositions.

This post is reprinted, with permission, from Glusenkamp's site, h20 devos. Audio podcast versions of the daily devotionals are also available.

Communion
Communion is received in rural Xonca, Guatemala.(Joseph Molieri/Bread for the World)

April 17, 2014
Maundy Thursday

"And you're Still in One Peace
Still in One Peace
We are blessed we are broken
Given one more chance to be
Found in you we are
In One Peace."
Lyrics from "Still in One Peace," by Peter Mayer

I love these next three days. Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, and Easter Vigil constitute one service over three nights. It's as if each service ends with the "cliffhanger message," "to be continued..."

Today is Maundy Thursday. Its name comes from the Latin word for commandment, mandatum. On this day Jesus said, "I give you a new commandment, that you love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another" (John 13).

I'm not so sure this is a "new" commandment. However, I am not really in a position to argue with Jesus on this day. But, love and loving one another as we have been loved, are core principles of the Judeo-Christian tradition. Karen Armstrong, in her book Twelve Steps to a Compassionate Life,  also makes the case that love is central to the teachings of all major religions. So, what exactly is Jesus saying to us with this new commandment?

Maybe it comes down to the fact that loving another, or one another, is new each and every time we do it. And as we gather around the table, whether that be at home or in a restaurant or at church, we hear the words, "Do this in remembrance of me."

Peter is so good at describing our saint/sinner dialectic by singing, "We are blessed, we are broken." Within the same line, he says it all. There are parts of me (and I'm sure of you) that are just wonderful and caring, full of love and kindness. And there are also parts of me (and I'm sure of you) that are not wonderful, and are apathetic, spiteful, and mean. We are not one or the other, but as Luther (and now Peter) so eloquently remind us, we are both!

Maybe, then, this new commandment is also like that in that it is an old permission — it's like that airline slogan, "You are now free to roam the country." God has been granting us this freedom to love for as long as Homo sapiens have been taking their breaths on the face of this earth.

We come to the table to eat and drink in remembrance. We come to "taste and see" that the Lord is good. We come just as we are without one plea — and that is enough.

Bon appetit!

Bread and Bread Institute Staff Win Awards for Work in 2013

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Fito Moreno (third from left) and Stephen Padre (fourth from left, back row) accepting Bread for the World's DeRose Hinkhouse Award of Excellence in the category of graphic design, art, and photography, along with other category winners. (Jeff Huett)

Staff of Bread for the World and Bread for the World Institute were honored recently with several awards from the Religion Communicators Council. The 85-year-old organization honors its active members every year with the DeRose-Hinkhouse Memorial Awards for excellence in religious communications and public relations. An awards ceremony took place April 3 during the organization’s annual conference in Nashville, Tenn.

Award winners of Bread for the World and Bread for the World Institute for work completed in 2013:

CLASS A–Periodicals

Newsletter, National

Award of Excellence

Stephen Padre, Sarah Godfrey, and Doug Puller for Bread newsletter

CLASS F–Graphic Design, Art, and Photography

  • Design, Overall Publication

Award of Excellence

Doug Puller, Joseph Molieri, Todd Post, Derek Schwabe, Michelle Learner for the 2014 Hunger Report: Ending Hunger in America

  • Miscellaneous

Award of Excellence

Doug Puller for the 2013 Offering of Letters: A Place at the Table

CLASS H–Public Relations/Advertising Campaign

Certificate of Merit

Sarah Godfrey, Robin Stephenson, Kristen Archer, Arnulfo Moreno, and Stephen Padre for the

media campaign for the launch of the 2014 Hunger Report (Nov. 25, 2013)

CLASS I—Digital Communications

  • Website

Award of Excellence

Hans Friedhoff, Sonora Bostian, Stephen Padre, Todd Post, Derek Schwabe, and Doug Puller for www.hungerreport.org–digital version of the 2014 Hunger Report

  • Website

Award of Excellence

Hans Friedhoff and Sonora Bostian for www.offeringofletters.org, the website of the 2013 Offering of Letters

  • Newsletter series
    Certificate of Merit
    Stephen Padre, Sarah Godfrey, Sonora Bostian, Hans Friedhoff and Doug Puller for the E-Bread newsletter

CLASS J—Social Media

Blog Series

Award of Excellence

Sarah Godfrey and Robin Stephenson for Voices of Hunger/Voices of SNAP/Voices of WIC

See a list of all winners.

Lenten Devotions: "Happy"

This Lenten season, Bread Blog will be running a series of devotions written by Pastor Ron Glusenkamp, senior pastor at Bethany Lutheran Church in Cherry Hills Village, Colo. The reflections are based, in part, on the music of Peter Mayer, accomplished vocalist, guitarist, and songwriter. The theme for this year's series is "Mighty This Love," named for one of Mayer's compositions.

This post is reprinted, with permission, from Glusenkamp's site, h20 devos. Audio podcast versions of the daily devotionals are also available.

 

'new harmony indiana' photo (c) 2006, christina rutz - license: https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/

"We got our maps our clues, police and policy
Still we cannot trace the spirit's nest
We hunt for miles and all the while it paints the scenery
Scatters and whirls an arabesque
 
Chorus
Hey-ey Hey-ey this mercy moves
God is loose hey-ey God is loose in the world
Hey ey hey ey the universe is singing
Loose hey hey God is loose in the world
We better lock him up the crazy man
He's causing trouble, brewing storms
Traded fashion for compassion
The revolution fought with kindness not a sword"
 
—Lyrics from "Loose in the World," by Peter Mayer

Dr. Walter Brueggemann, in his book "Spirituality of the Psalms," writes about psalms that are of "orientation, dis-orientation and new orientation." Psalm 8 is a psalm of orientation. It's a creation hymn. Psalm 22 (which Jesus quotes on the cross) is a psalm of dis-orientation: "My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?" And Psalm 23 and Psalm 46 are of a new orientation.

I'd like to humbly submit another song of new orientation, and that would be "Happy" by Pharrell Williams. This is a wonderful psalm which moves one out of sadness and pain into joy and comfort. You cannot listen to this without tapping your toes and getting your mojo moving.

I especially like the line,"Clap along if you feel like a room without a roof/Because I'm happy."

In New Harmony, Indiana, there is a chapel without a roof (pictured above).  What this reminds me of is Peter's line, "God is loose in the world." As N.F.S Grundtvig reminds us in "Built on a Rock":

"Surely, in temples made with hands
God the Most High is not dwelling-
high in the heav'ns his temple stands,
all earthly temples excelling.
Yet he who dwells in heav'n above
deigns to abide with us in love,
making our bodies his temple."

Text: Nicolai F. S. Grundtvig, 1783-1872; tr. Carl Doving, 1867-1937, adapt.
Text © 1958 Service Book and Hymnal, admin. Augsburg Fortress.

So today, listen to this wonderful psalm and be happy!

"It might seem crazy what I'm about to say
Sunshine she's here, you can take a break
I'm a hot air balloon that could go to space
With the air, like I don't care baby by the way 

[Chorus:]
Because I'm happy
Clap along if you feel like a room without a roof
Because I'm happy
Clap along if you feel like happiness is the truth
Because I'm happy
Clap along if you know what happiness is to you
Because I'm happy
Clap along if you feel like that's what you wanna do."

A Special Gift for Bread for the World's 40th Anniversary

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Bread-Bakers-Dozen-Logo-700

By Rose Mason

When did you first hear God's call to help hungry people? After more than three decades of working at Bread for the World, I am still overwhelmed by the inspiring stories and outpouring of generosity from our members.

And believe it or not, this year marks 40 years of working together to end hunger. We want to do something special to honor all of these triumphs of pure compassion, but we need your help.

Our goal is to enlist 40 new members to join the Baker's Dozen — Bread's monthly giving program —before the end of the month.

Will you become one of our most faithful supporters by making a monthly donation today?

The Baker's Dozen monthly giving program is the best way to show your dedication to ending hunger at home and abroad all year round. It's an easy way for you to amplify our collective Christian voice and provide ongoing support to a mission you believe in.

Even a small amount — as little as 17 cents each day — will make a huge difference as we urge our leaders to pass legislation that supports people struggling to put food on the table for themselves and their families.

I know that we can end hunger, but only if we each do our part. I hope you’ll join me and show your commitment to assisting people who are hungry and in need by becoming a Baker’s Dozen member. Make your monthly gift today.

Rose Mason is the Baker's Dozen program coordinator at Bread for the World.

Tax Day: Three Reasons April 15 is Actually Pretty Great

'IRS 1040 Forms Post Office April 14, 20112' photo (c) 2011, Steven Depolo - license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/

Today is April 15, also known as tax day in the United States. People around the country are scrambling to meet the midnight deadline for filing, many of them groaning as they prepare to make sizable payments to the Internal Revenue Service. Tax day in America has become a national day of grousing for the most part, but it doesn't have to be—NETWORK Lobby is promoting a #taxpayerpride campaign on social media, and asking people to take selfies with some of the great things taxes pay for and post them to social media.

"Many of our faith traditions call us to pool our financial resources for the common good,"Sr. Simone Campbell of NETWORK wrote in the launch of the #taxpayerpride campaign. "What makes our country great is our commitment to everyone having enough and no one getting left behind."

We agree! So, to that point, here are three functions of the federal government that are funded by our taxpayer dollars and that support the biblical vision of community and nation as lifting up those who are vulnerable.

1) Earned Income Tax Credit

The earned income tax credit, or EITC, is a refundable federal tax credit (people apply while completing their income tax returns) that supplements the wages of low-income workers. Although there has been some debate on Capitol Hill about expanding the program to include childless workers--an expansion Bread for the World supports—EITC has historically had bi-partisan support, a rare hand-up that most members of Congress can get behind.

The working poor often shoulder a greater share of the tax burden relative to their income, contrary to the conventional wisdom in some circles. A 2012 Citizens for Tax Justice study found that the poorest fifth of Americans, a group with an average cash income of $13,000 per year, saw 17.4 percent of their incomes go to taxes—including payroll tax, sales tax, and excise tax—in 2011.

The EITC helps offset this a bit by allowing low-income workers to keep more of what they earn.    In 2010, this credit lifted 5.4 million people out of poverty—including 3 million children.

2) Food-Aid Reform

Even people who don't complain about paying taxes may express concern about our government's stewardship of tax dollars. One example of our tax dollars being used wisely is food-aid reform, the movement to update our government's outdated practices related to food aid, the assistance our nation provides to hungry people across the globe.

Food aid already helps feed people overseas at very little cost—less than .05 percent of the federal budget each year. And smart, simple changes to  food-aid programs (as outlined in Bread for the World's 2014 Offering of Letters) would allow food aid to benefit millions more people each year — at no additional cost to U.S. taxpayers. Better utilization of existing tax revenue in a way that helps more people is something tax payers can feel good about.

3) Safety Net Programs

When people are asked to cite some of the great things their tax dollars fund, they often mention national parks, public museums and libraries, or bridges and roads. While Americans are fortunate to live in a country where our government values and invests in things like cultural enrichment and infrastructure,we're even more privileged to live in a nation that has a social safety net in place to catch people before they fall into poverty.

According to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities (CBPP), about 12 percent of the federal budget in 2013, or $398 billion, supported programs that provide aid  to individuals and families facing hardship (other than health insurance or Social Security benefits). Included in that figure are SNAP (food stamps), school meals, low-income housing assistance, and many other important programs.

A CBPP analysis shows that government safety net programs kept some 41 million people out of poverty in 2012.  Although not nearly enough of our tax dollars go toward helping people in need, the good news is that the money we do spend on social safety net is vital and does much good, something that should make taxpayers feel very proud.

Lenten Devotions: "Eden

This Lenten season, Bread Blog will be running a series of devotions written by Pastor Ron Glusenkamp, senior pastor at Bethany Lutheran Church in Cherry Hills Village, Colo. The reflections are based, in part, on the music of Peter Mayer, accomplished vocalist, guitarist, and songwriter. The theme for this year's series is "Mighty This Love," named for one of Mayer's compositions.

This post is reprinted, with permission, from Glusenkamp's site, h20 devos. Audio podcast versions of the daily devotionals are also available.

Baptismal_font"Ride the crazy wheel of the 21st century
Well, a million miles have come and gone
And there's nothing left to bleed
Bear the cross of freedom
It burns me like a brand
That's the price of miracles
The price of human demand
And the things I love they seem to allude me now
My time is raindrops falling on a rusty plow."
 
—Lyrics from "Last Train To Eden," by Peter Mayer, Roger Guth, Jim Mayer

This week, we find ourselves East of Eden. Due to our own choices and brokenness, we find ourselves outside of Paradise. The cheering that took place on Sunday is quickly turning to worry and fear.

The baptismal font pictured is from St. James Church, Piccadilly in London. It's the font where William Blake was baptized. I like it because you can see Adam and Eve next to the tree.

We are making our journey to another tree—the cross. Much has been written about how this "tree" is present or absent in many theologies, and even church buildings, today. Jesus knew loneliness. He knew abandonment. He felt betrayal, shame, and pain. This wondrous love we celebrate came at a cost.

Today, I'm meditating on the cost of discipleship. I'm grateful for what Jesus did for the world.

Photo: Baptismal font at St. James Church, Piccadilly, in London. (Courtesy of Pastor Ron Glusenkamp)

Immigration Reform: "Government Can Solve This"

Marvin Garcia Salas and his son, Jesus-500px
Marvin Garcia Salas eats breakfast with his son Jesus, 4, in Chiapas, Mexico. Marvin was once an undocumented immigrant in the United States, where he had moved without his family to better support them. Hunger, and a lack of economic opportunity are at the root of much of the undocumented immigration from Mexico. (Laura Elizabeth Pohl/Bread for the World)

"Twelve million people living and working in our country… and there’s no sane path toward citizenship for these 12 million undocumented workers… It’s impossible to deport 12 million people. No one wants to rip families apart, and that’s what would happen with a massive deportation…
 
I have determined, adding more compassion isn’t going to solve it, doing more justice [in the sense of hiring attorneys] isn’t going to solve it, only the government can solve this at this point. So for the first time in my ministry, I’ve been writing op-ed pieces in major newspapers, I’ve gone to Washington to visit the offices of Republicans and Democrats. I’ve stood on the Capitol lawn with dozens of others leaders, doing press conferences, asking for our elected officials to come up with Comprehensive Immigration Reform—because it’s their job, it’s why we elected them, it’s their problem to resolve..."
 
—Willow Creek Community Church Senior Pastor Bill Hybels, in a Celebration of Hope message on Sunday, April 13, 2014
 
In Matthew 25, Jesus says, "I was a stranger and you welcomed me ... ." Immigration is an issue related to hunger and is part of the biblical call. As Bill Hybels notes, advocating for immigration reform is a way to answer that call today.
 
Join Bread for the World tomorrow, Tuesday, April 15, for a special webinar/conference call: A Faithful Approach to Reforming a Broken System, Conversations on Immigration with Rev. Gabriel Salguero and Ivone Guillen.
 
Rev. Gabriel Salguero — president of the National Latino Evangelical Coalition and a former Bread board member — is a leading voice within the immigration reform movement. Ivone Guillen is the Immigration Associate at Sojourners and former immigration policy fellow at Bread for the World.
 
They will be discussing these questions: What are the prospects for immigration reform this year? How can you make a difference? Why are Bread members so critical in pushing immigration reform as a hunger issue?
 
They will also address the biblical support for immigration reform and discuss how you can pressure legislators to act. We will present new fact sheets that will help you in your advocacy efforts. Bread for the World firmly believes that immigration reform will reduce poverty and hunger.
 
Submit your questions ahead of time to organizing coordinator Marion Jasin at mjasin@bread.org. Check out our comprehensive how-to guide on the webinar conference call and register today.

Lenten Devotions: "Longer Than Shadows"

 This Lenten season, Bread Blog will be running a series of devotions written by Pastor Ron Glusenkamp, senior pastor at Bethany Lutheran Church in Cherry Hills Village, Colo. The reflections are based, in part, on the music of Peter Mayer, accomplished vocalist, guitarist, and songwriter. The theme for this year's series is "Mighty This Love," named for one of Mayer's compositions (Listen to a special welcome message from Mayer).

This post is reprinted, with permission, from Glusenkamp's site, h20 devos. Audio podcast versions of the daily devotionals are also available.

Palm shadows
(Brenda Greenwald)

April 14, 2014

Holy Monday

"Longer than shadows
Closer than emptiness
Oh.... Mighty this love
Oh.... Mighty this love
It led me to peace at the river
It woke me in the rage of the wind
Called me up to the mountain
back through the valley again."

"Mighty This Love," by Peter Mayer

On Sunday we had a donkey, a rapper, and lots of Hosannas at church. Our donkey was named Tinkerbell. 

Donkey palms

The rapper was Agape.

Agape and kids

Our "hosannas" came from our hearts, our souls, and our minds.

The picture at the top of the page captures the shadows. We walk this walk in the valley of the shadow of death. We have shadows from our pasts that compel us to worry and fret. Like Peter, we hide in the shadows of the present, so as not to be identified as a follower of Jesus. We will gather beneath the shadow of Jesus' cross.

Peter sings, "Longer than shadows"-- He's referring, of course, to this mighty love that takes us on this roller coaster of a ride this week. Up and down, around and around, screaming, hanging on for dear life, turning our bodies and stomachs upside down!

This mighty love is also "closer than emptiness." This love fills whatever we are looking for--more so than food, sex, alcohol, possessions, religion and status.

We will have ultimate "peace at the river," but until then we will experience:

"It woke me in the rage of the wind
 Called me up to the mountain
 back through the valley again."

(Photos of Bethany Lutheran Church service courtesy of Pastor Ron Glusenkamp.)

Lenten Devotions: "Hosanna"

This Lenten season, Bread Blog will be running a series of devotions written by Pastor Ron Glusenkamp, senior pastor at Bethany Lutheran Church in Cherry Hills Village, Colo. The reflections are based, in part, on the music of Peter Mayer, accomplished vocalist, guitarist, and songwriter. The theme for this year's series is "Mighty This Love," named for one of Mayer's compositions (Listen to a special welcome message from Mayer).

This post is reprinted, with permission, from Glusenkamp's site, h20 devos. Audio podcast versions of the daily devotionals are also available.

'Palm blades against California sky' photo (c) 2013, Gerry Brush - license: https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/

April 13, 2014

"In the Word, the walls will crumble down
And all are welcome to enter in
In the blood of Christ the great sacrifice
The withered branches bloom again
The withered branches bloom again."
 
Lyrics from "Pass It On," by Peter Mayer

Today, our congregation is going to read through the Passion narrative from the Gospel of Matthew, Chapters 26:14-27:66. We will have a parade with palms. We've also rented a donkey to come inside with us (not sure if the facilities team or the altar guild is going to dig that.) At 9 a.m., our guest musician for family worship is AGAPE!  

We will say and sing the word "Hosanna" numerous times. Literally, it means, "Save us now!" I can't think of a more appropriate and timely prayer request than this.

Peter's words proclaim what is happening: "In the Word, the walls will crumble down."

Those eight words take us from the conquest of the city of Jericho right up to today. The walls that separate us are coming down. It is as St. Paul wrote in his text message to the Ephesians (2:14): "For he is our peace; in his flesh he has made both groups into one and has broken down the dividing wall, that is, the hostility between us."

This holiest of all weeks is a time to be in the demolition business, of taking down those stones, bricks, and barriers that we have created out of our wounds, our aggressiveness, our frustration, and pains.

Peter reminds us that God is doing a new thing. Even "withered branches will bloom again."

Thank God for that!

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