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By Puja Basnet and Jennifer Gonzalez
Several important pieces of legislation are moving through Congress that Bread for the World is keeping a watchful eye on.
Some of these bills are harmful such as the House Farm Bill, which would make it harder for people to access food assistance through the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). But others, such as the House version of the Global Food Security Reauthorization Act, which Bread supports, would continue to combat food insecurity in developing countries.
Our work around immigration and hunger has become more important following the separation of families when they cross the U.S.-Mexico border – even those seeking asylum.
Here is a recap of legislation regarding immigration, and domestic and international hunger and poverty. Although some of these bills have already been approved in both chambers, they still need to be reconciled, so our advocacy work is not done yet.
The farm bill is important in our work toward ending hunger and poverty, as it funds SNAP and U.S. emergency food aid overseas. SNAP is the largest food assistance program serving millions of U.S. low-income individuals and families. It helps people put food on the table and provides children free- or reduced-price school meals.
Both the Senate and the House have passed their versions of the farm bill. Bread doesn’t support the House Farm Bill, which passed by a two-vote margin (213-211). The legislation enforces stricter work requirements – affecting millions of people’s eligibility for SNAP benefits. The bill also denies SNAP benefits to individuals found guilty of certain felony crimes. The bipartisan Senate Farm Bill (S.3042), which Bread supports, passed by a vote of 86-11. Many harmful amendments were submitted but at the end of the day, only one amendment was considered and luckily tabled – an amendment requiring harsh work requirements and a photo ID for SNAP purchases.
“We are grateful to the Senate Agriculture Committee for their continued bipartisan support of U.S. international food assistance programs, both for emergency relief and long-term development,” said Rev. David Beckmann, president of Bread for the World. “We are also thankful the committee rejected broad, sweeping cuts to domestic nutrition assistance that would harm kids, families, the elderly, people with disabilities, and hard-working individuals.”
The bills are expected to go to conference, where Senate and House leadership will try to reconcile their differences. The current farm bill expires on Sept. 30, 2018.
Two years ago, Bread played an integral role in the passage of the Global Food Security Act. With the legislation up for reauthorization this year, Bread is again playing a key role. Late last month, the Senate approved the Global Food Security Reauthorization Act (S.2269) by a unanimous voice vote thanks to Bread’s advocacy.
The House is expected to take up the Senate’s Global Food Security Reauthorization Act after the Fourth of July recess. "Because of the work of Bread activists over the last few weeks, the legislation has gained 18 co-sponsors in the House since Lobby Day, bringing the total cosponsors to nearly 100," said Christine Melendez Ashley, interim co-director of government relations at Bread for the World.
The legislation is crucial to our work to end hunger. It will allow the Feed the Future initiative, launched in 2010 in response to the global food price crisis, to continue working toward ending global malnutrition and hunger. It also helps farmers in developing countries grow crops that can withstand climate change and provide greater nutrition.
The House considered two immigration bills that failed last month. Lawmakers failed to pass the Securing America’s Future Act (H.R. 4760) by a vote of 193-231. Bread opposed this bill because it failed to provide a pathway to citizenship for Dreamers and expanded detention of immigrant families.
The Border Security and Immigration Reform Act (H.R. 6136) failed 301 to 121. The bill included a 20-year pathway to citizenship for a limited amount of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) recipients, but the pathway to citizenship was linked to the appropriations of funds to build a border wall.
Bread opposed this bill because it failed to prevent family separation at the U.S.-Mexico border and didn’t give most Dreamers a reasonable pathway to citizenship. According to the Cato Institute, the bill would exclude roughly 80 percent of all Dreamers from being able to pursue a pathway to citizenship.
“Many Dreamers are from households struggling with hunger and poverty, and are the key financial supporters for their families,” Beckmann said.
Beckmann added: “The $23 billion Speaker Ryan’s bill designates for the border wall would be better spent reducing hunger and violence in Central America. Congress should pass a bipartisan immigration bill that would reduce hunger and poverty in the United States and address the reasons people flee their countries.”
As always, your advocacy is crucial to our work. Read the Activist Corner to get the most up-to-date information and look in your email inbox for actions to take.
Puja Basnet is a summer communication intern at Bread for the World. Jennifer Gonzalez is Bread’s managing editor.
Photo: Bread activists visit the office of Rep. Anthony Brown (D-MD-4) during the 2018 Advocacy Summit and Lobby Day. Lacey Johnson for Bread for the World.
By Jennifer Gonzalez and Puja Basnet
Sitting in a conference room in Sen. Johnny Isakson’s (R-GA) office in Washington, D.C., long-time Bread activist Elaine Davies pulled out a photo of a mother in a wheelchair with her 13-year-old daughter getting food out of boxes provided by a nonprofit organization in Macon, Georgia. She showed the photo to the senator’s foreign policy advisor and informed her that the family was living on $900 a month.
“As a person of faith, I think we can do better,” Davies said.
Justino Moreno, a Bread activist from Florida, told two staffers in Sen. Marco Rubio’s (R-FL) office that his family benefited from food assistance during hard times. And at the same meeting, Tiffany Kelly talked about being impacted by her family’s generational poverty and how having access to food assistance gave her the opportunity to pursue higher education and eventually land a well-paying job.
“If I did not have that program, I would’ve spent a chunk of my time trying to find food to eat instead,” she said.
These were some of the voices, more than 300 strong, that descended on Capitol Hill last month as part of Bread for the World’s 2018 Advocacy Summit and Lobby Day. The two-day event kicked-off with Latino and Pan-African Bread members convening the day before Lobby Day. On the eve of Lobby Day, Bread members were treated to a dinner and legislative briefing.
The annual Lobby Day event is an opportunity for Bread members to put their faith into action and urge their members of Congress to support legislation that will end hunger by 2030.
This year, Bread activists asked lawmakers to pass a bipartisan farm bill that protects the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and improves international food aid, and to co-sponsor the Global Food Security Reauthorization Act (H.R.5129/S.2269).
But before activists headed to the halls of Congress, they spent time in morning worship at St. Mark’s Episcopal Church in Washington, D.C., where Rev. Lori Tapia said: “We have been called to transcend in a time such as this. When the moral compass of our nation is broken, and in some cases lost altogether, we cannot sit by and let people hunger.”
After worship, Bread members spent time caucusing with others from their state to strategize how they would speak to their members of Congress.
Sometimes the job was pretty easy. For instance, Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-MD), who met personally with a group of Maryland constituents in his office later in the day, said he would co-sponsor the GFSA and do what he could to push the legislation forward.
Other times it was a bit harder. Nevertheless, everyone persevered.
Some Bread activists came from across the country. A group from California had its meeting in the hallway outside the office of Rep. Mimi Walters (R-CA). A pastor in the group said he felt compelled to make the trip in the hope that the representative would support a bipartisan farm bill.
A group of young adults from the Center for FaithJustice in Lawrence Township, New Jersey came to experience advocacy first-hand. One of their first stops was to visit with staffers from the office of Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ).
The nonprofit organization, rooted in Catholic teachings, guides young adults to become leaders.
“We brought them to Lobby Day to really understand advocacy work and hopefully to make some type of impact or difference,” said Maggie Smith, manager of special projects and WorX programs at the Center. “I like to think our program puts a name and a face, to demonstrate that there are actually people that have stories and it’s about coming to know them and building relationships.”
She added: “Bread for the World is great because you guys kept reiterating to share your story and share how faith influences you.”
During her meeting with Rep. David E. Price (D-NC), Dr. Kathleen Shapley-Quinn, of North Carolina, thanked the lawmaker for co-sponsoring the GFSA. She also relayed a story on the impact of the GFSA.
“My daughter served in the Peace Corps, working with an organization that was treating people for HIV,” said Shapley-Quinn, a family physician. “When we went to visit her, we met a woman who would collect wood and sugarcane and walk many miles to the market to sell them. She would make two trips a day just to get enough money to buy food for the next day. Seeing the sparseness of life from that level makes GFSA have so much potential.”
After the Hill visits, Bread activists made their way to the Rayburn House Office Building for a reception and worship celebration. During the reception, U.S. Reps. Alma Adams (D-NC) and Will Hurd (R-Texas) were honored with awards for being champions against hunger. Sen. Todd Young, (R-IN), received his award earlier in the day when he met with constituents in his office.
Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-OR) was not able to attend the reception and will receive his award at a later date.
The evening ended with several people giving witness to their Lobby Day experience. Daniel Erdman stood up and said he left a meaningful photo with his representative. It was an old photo of him and his friends in Mexico sitting near powdered milk from USAID’s Food for Peace program.
He shared how he has been working on food aid for a long time. “I’m not going to quit,” he said.
Jennifer Gonzalez is the managing editor at Bread for the World. Puja Basnet is a summer communication intern at Bread.
By Rev. Terence Mayo
Fifty years ago, the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and a myriad of multicultural faith and community leaders launched the Poor People’s Campaign to tackle the pervasive systematic issues of poverty, racism, and militarism in the United States.
By many measures, these inter-connected sins are worse today than they were during the campaign’s original inception.
Our communities face issues that seek to steal our joy, love, and hope. These issues intersect and overlap into systematic sins that strike at the very core of who our country perceives itself to be and have many of us wondering will we ever break free from our country’s original sins of racism and hate.
According to the Poor People’s Campaign: A National Call for Moral Revival’s website, over the past two years, the campaign has reached out to communities in more than 30 states across this nation. There have been meetings with tens of thousands of people, witnessing the strength of their moral courage in trying times. The campaign has gathered testimonies from hundreds of poor people and chronicled their demands for a better society.
Today, the Poor People’s Campaign seeks to shake the shackles free from our hearts, minds, and souls. The campaign demands a revival of our morals that will touch every political office, public school, homeless shelter, jail cell, and tribal land. It is time for a revival that is ignited in the fires of Luke 4:18-19, “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because God has anointed me to bring good news to the poor. God has sent me to proclaim release to the captive and recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”
Now is the time to stand strongly with over 40 million people in our country who are poor. Now is the time to speak up with the 13.8 million people who find water bills to be unaffordable. Now is the time for a revival within our country that reminds us all that everyone has a right to live!
Rev. Terence Mayo is the co-chair of the DC Poor People’s Campaign, member of the Pan-African Young Adult Network at Bread of the World, and associate minister at Metropolitan AME Church.
This fall, thousands of churches across the country will include special prayers for those who struggle with hunger and for our leaders who can make decisions that will lead to an end to hunger. This outpouring of prayers for an end to hunger is the primary focus of Bread for the World Sunday, which will be celebrated on Oct. 21 this year.
Many churches arrange additional activities—including sermons devoted to hunger, bread baking for the Eucharist, and taking time to write letters to Congress. In some cases, special offerings will be gathered to support Bread for the World, denominational hunger programs, and local feeding programs.
Rev. Amy Reumann, director of advocacy for the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) has written a scripture study on Mark 10:35-45, the Gospel appointed for Oct. 21. Rev. Dr. John Crossin, OSFS, director of spiritual formation for the St. Luke Center and formerly the executive director of the Secretariat for Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs for the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, has prepared a new litany or responsive prayer for the day.
More than 1,500 Bread members have already responded to Rick Steves’ matching gift challenge. The early response to Steves’ challenge was so great that he generously agreed to increase his match from $50,000 to $100,000 to Bread for the World.
The contributions from Bread members, combined with more than 1,000 donations from Rick Steves’ network and his match, resulted in $270,000 raised for Bread for the World. In addition, more than 1,700 people requested the new edition of Steves’ book, "Travel as a Political Act," as a thank you gift.
While we met the match, there’s still time to give and receive a copy of Rick Steves’ book. Make a gift of $50 or more by July 15, and we’ll send you a copy of his book, "Travel as a Political Act," as a thank you.
During 2018, Bread’s e-newsletter will highlight each month’s theme of our new devotional guide: "In Times Like These … A Pan-African Christian Devotional Guide for Public Policy Engagement." The year-long devotional guide was written on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of the martyrdom of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and the Poor People’s Campaign.
In June, the devotional guide is focused on honoring the Poor People’s Campaign of 50 years ago and its revival in 2018. And the Sustainable Development Goals are highlighted in July’s devotionals through the words of various writers.
Bread understands that to end hunger in the United States, we have to address racial inequality. To that end, Bread has created a tool to help you engage in a productive conversation about racial equity.
Bread for the World Institute’s new Racial Wealth Gap Learning Simulation is an innovative and engaging tool that helps participants learn about how public policy has widened racial inequality on a structural level.
Through the simulation, participants understand the connections between racial equity, hunger, poverty, and wealth. It is a good first step for people unaware of structural inequality and a support tool for those who want a deeper understanding of structural inequality.
Summer is an ideal time to join the growing number of members in our Baker’s Dozen monthly giving program. The program allows you to use the convenience and security of having monthly gifts sent directly from your checking account or credit card.
As more and more individuals turn to monthly giving, Bread for the World can count on a predictable level of financial support, which enables the organization to plan ahead and operate efficiently.
It’s easy to sign up for monthly giving. You can change the amount of your monthly gift—or stop your gift—at any time. You may direct your gifts to either Bread for the World or Bread for the World Institute (tax-deductible). A monthly gift as small as $7 or $10 a month adds up to significant annual support for our shared mission of ending hunger. Join online or call 800-822-7323, ext. 1140.
Tiffany Kelley, center, with Bread activists from Florida during the 2018 Advocacy Summit and Lobby Day. Howard Wilson for Bread for the World.
By Puja Basnet
Tiffany Kelly understands the struggle of hunger and poverty. When she was young, there were times she looked in her refrigerator wondering what she would eat.
"The food in there wasn't filling, nutritious or balanced," she said.
Today, she keeps her refrigerator well-stocked but not for herself. Rather, her freezer is filled with extra food for others. "I can't sleep at night knowing there are hungry people around me," said Kelly, who lives in Orlando, Florida. "I have that extra food in case I see that family that needs something or have fallen on hard times."
Kelly was one of more than 300 Bread activists who came to Washington, D.C., last month as part of Bread for the World's 2018 Advocacy Summit and Lobby Day. She came to add her voice to the many who are working tirelessly to ensure an end to hunger.
"I came to lobby day because I was struck by the efforts of Bread for the World and how focused they are on the one issue we should not have in our country," she said.
Kelly learned about Bread for the World at an End Hunger conference where she spoke as a panelist and was asked to attend the event.
Aside from ending hunger, Kelly is also passionate about eliminating poverty. She works with Circles USA in Orange County, Florida as a Circles Coach at St. Luke's United Methodist Church. Circles is a community-based initiative that helps end poverty by increasing household income, reducing debt, and building social capital.
Kelly knows first-hand the impact of generational poverty. She comes from what she described as "a family of unskilled workers such as farm workers and agricultural workers." When she met with staffers from Sen. Marco Rubio's office, she explained the impact of generational poverty and its connection to hunger and even one's emotional well-being.
"Sometimes they struggle with basic needs, which affects everything, 'what you can focus on, how you take care of yourself, how you take care of your children and more,'" she said. "One thing we don't focus on is the trauma of trying to fulfill basic needs. Having to consistently look for food contributes to mental health issues."
Kelly said she left Lobby Day feeling more inspired to continue the work she does in her community. She was particularly impressed with Bread's diverse group of activists.
"I came back from lobby day believing that if we are consistent and united, then we can make anything happen in this country," she said. "It takes the oppressed and allies to change our world."
She added: "It was really encouraging to see everybody represented. Men, women, Latinos, Pan-Africans, and many others. That's how we end hunger."
Puja Basnet is a summer communication intern at Bread for the World.
Photo: A mother in Nepal receives food and soap to improve the well-being of her children. Kesi Marcano-Collier/Bread for the World.
By Jordan Teague
For many years, Bread for the World Institute has emphasized that strengthening local capacity for development is critical to the success of development efforts. Government and civil society structures that function well, in addition to country ownership of development efforts, are necessary elements of an enabling environment. An enabling environment is a set of conditions that make it possible to achieve development goals, including ending hunger and malnutrition.
One important support for countries working to improve maternal and child nutrition is the Scaling Up Nutrition Movement. Nepal joined early on, in 2011, and is now one of 60-member countries. SUN helps its members expand and replicate nutrition strategies that have been proven effective, leading to more progress.
Nepal is implementing phase two of its Multi-Sector Nutrition Plan (MSNP). The MSNP directs nutrition-related work in seven areas: education; health; agriculture; livestock; drinking water and sanitation; women, children, and social welfare; and local governance.
The development and launch of the MSNP is a great accomplishment. Putting a national nutrition plan in place demonstrates the political will needed to find and implement solutions to malnutrition. Next, it will take effort and attention to accomplish the plan’s goals.
Nepal is in the midst of transitioning to a federalist government. Under this system, much of the decision-making power will be held by local governments rather than the national government. While many see this as a positive move, it will be important to ensure that local governments are aware of the MSNP, understand its provisions, have the expertise to implement it, and can mobilize political will to establish the policies and budgets that will improve maternal and child nutrition.
This spring, I visited Nepal with two Bread colleagues to learn more about USAID nutrition-related programs. Suaahara II is USAID’s flagship nutrition and health investment in Nepal. A U.S. nonprofit, Helen Keller International, leads its implementation. Suaahara II equips Nepal’s government to do “nutrition governance”—for example, by supporting government officials as they lead the drafting and implementation of the MSNP, organizing orientations to introduce the plan to newly-elected officials, and participating with local leaders to advocate for maternal and child nutrition services budget allocations.
We saw an example of such a partnership in Dang District in Nepal’s mid-western region. A form of acute malnutrition known as wasting—weighing too little for one’s height—affects an estimated 8.8 percent of the region’s children. One local municipality partnered with Suaahara II to provide nutritious foods and soap to households where children had been identified as moderately malnourished. The local government provided the funds to purchase the supplies, while Suaahara II coordinated community meetings, nutrition education, and distribution.
This is but one example of how countries are investing in their population’s nutrition and implementing their own programs. Donors, including the U.S. government, will remain important stakeholders and investors, but local governments and civil society groups are in a far better position to ensure that programs are working as envisioned and that no one is being left behind. U.S. investments should help strengthen the capacity of national and local governments to reach the development goals that are most important to their citizens’ well-being.
Jordan Teague is an international policy analyst with Bread for the World Institute.
Photo: Derick Dailey, second from right, with other Bread activists during the 2018 Advocacy Summit and Lobby Day. Photo courtesy of Derick Dailey.
By Robin Stephenson
Derick Dailey remembers vividly the moment he realized his voice could have an impact on legislation.
He was still in college and had trained as a Bread for the World Hunger Justice Leader, but advocacy was still just an idea. It wasn’t until he participated in an in-district meeting with his then U.S. Sen. Kit Bond, a Republican from Missouri who is now retired, that he realized the power of his voice. During that meeting, the senator agreed to cosponsor the Global Food Security Act.
"For me, that was a moment of inspiration—a sort of a breakthrough moment," he said.
Although he grew up in the AME Church with its roots in the civil rights movement, Dailey said he didn’t always think that legislative advocacy worked. A senator responding so quickly to a constituent’s request helped change his mind.
Fast-forward a decade later and he is now a practicing attorney, a former member of Bread’s Board of Directors, and a leader in Bread’s Pan-African Young Adult Network. Since that turning point in Bond’s office, he has never stopped using his voice to impact legislation.
Dailey was on Capitol Hill for Bread’s annual Lobby Day in June to advocate again for the Global Food Security Act. The legislation originally passed in 2016 and is up for reauthorization this year.
"It comes full circle," said Dailey, with a smile.
Faith and experience drive him to speak up on important issues at every opportunity. During Lobby Day, he and a group of Missouri Bread members saw Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-MO) on the Capitol steps meeting with students. Without hesitation, the group seized the opportunity to ask her to cosponsor the Global Food Security Reauthorization Act. They even got her to pose for a picture.
It was not lost on Dailey that a one-on-one conversation with a member of Congress is a privilege and a testament to democracy. Not every country allows its citizens access to powerful decision makers.
That is something that should never be taken for granted, he said.
When asked what a citizen lobbyist should take with them into a legislator’s office, Dailey’s responded with two words: courage and conviction. "It’s so important for activists to understand that their story has a worth to it—that their perspective is worthy of being heard, especially in this political climate," he said.
Courage is only one part of the equation though. Leaning on God is the other part, he said.
Dailey summed up what legislative advocacy means to him during a dinner on the eve of Lobby Day. "It’s a message to a risen Savior that we are committed to love and serve him. Doing justice and what is right by poor and hungry people is more than just a biblical commandment," Dailey said.
"It is an opportunity to show God how serious we are about our faith," he added.
Robin Stephenson is senior manager for social media at Bread for the World.
"Not every country allows its citizens access to powerful decision makers"
These fact sheets provide a snapshot of hunger and poverty in the United States and in each state plus Washington, D.C.
Indigenous communities have some of the highest hunger rates in the United States. As a group, one in four Native Americans and Alaskan Natives are food insecure, defined as not having regular, reliable access to the foods needed for good health.
While hunger declined from 2017 for the general U.S. population, African Americans experienced a one percent increase, an increase of 153,000 African American households. This fact sheet explores the issue in depth.
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...
This devotional guide invites deepened relationship with and among Pan-African people and elected leaders in the mission to end hunger and poverty.
Thank you for inviting me to preach here at Duke University Chapel. And I especially want to thank the Bread for the World members who have come this morning.
Bruce Puckett urged...
A set of how-to sheets for carrying out advocacy and fact sheets on the current issues Bread for the World is working on.
For new and current Bread grassroots hunger activists.
Ideal as a starter toolkit for new Bread activists or as a set of updates for current activists.
These fact sheets provide a snapshot of hunger and poverty in the United States and in each state plus Washington, D.C.
In 2017, 11.8 percent of households in the U.S.—40 million people—were food-insecure, meaning that they were unsure at some point during the year about how they would provide for their next meal.