Incarceration and Hunger

Bread for the World believes that our criminal justice system is broken. The evidence is growing that the system is not fair and impartial. The inequities in the system are stark and alarming. The brokenness of the criminal justice system leads to hunger and poverty. One part of the system — incarceration and its policies and practices — is a major, defined part of the system that Bread is addressing. Bread is committed to doing our part to end hunger and poverty in ways that advance justice. 

People returning from incarceration face daunting re-entry challenges, and the families of prisoners often struggle to make ends meet while their loved ones are not available to provide care and income. Hunger is one bad but avoidable result of a legal and penal system that incarcerates millions, disproportionately people of color.

Bread for the World’s work in organizing communities and individuals to speak up about hunger and poverty gets results! Photo: Laura Pohl / Bread for the World

Reforms through legislation

Bread advocates for legislation in this area to increase justice and reduce recidivism — a return to criminal behavior. Reforming our nation's criminal justice system is critical to ending hunger and poverty in the United States.

Congress must make meaningful reforms to our criminal justice system.

The reforms should be aimed at:

  • reducing the number of people who are incarcerated and eliminating bias that leads to discriminatory incarceration
  • treating incarcerated people humanely and in ways that increase the likelihood of successful reentry and reduced recidivism
  • better supporting re-entry
  • reducing the risk of hunger and poverty among people who have been in prison and their families

More specifically, Bread advocates for providing more opportunities for formerly incarcerated people to find work, making safety-net programs available to them, and encouraging their efforts to be with and support their families. If some of the legal and social barriers are removed for returning citizens, Bread believes hunger and poverty will go down. Also, children of incarcerated people need strong federal food programs to ensure they get good nutrition to sustain and build their futures.

Design by Doug Puller/Bread for the World

Tools
from our Resource Library

For Education

  • The Nourishing Effect

    Hunger and food insecurity add at least $160 billion a year to U.S. healthcare costs.

  • Mass Incarceration: A Major Cause of Hunger

    Mass incarceration has far-reaching effects in the United States. It poses a significant barrier to ending U.S. hunger and poverty by 2030—a goal the United States adopted in 2015. But the connection is not always obvious.

  • Advancing Nutrition through Food Aid Reform

    The United States has long been a global leader in responding to humanitarian emergencies. Food assistance that includes nutritious food for pregnant women and young children is both a life-and-death matter for individuals and an economic imperative for countries.

For Faith

  • 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...

  • In Times Like These … A Pan-African Christian Devotional for Public Policy Engagement

    This devotional guide invites deepened relationship with and among Pan-Af­rican people and elected leaders in the mission to end hunger and poverty.

  • Sermon by David Beckmann at Duke University Chapel

    Remarks delivered October 1, 2017 at Duke University Chapel in Chapel Hill in North Carolina.

    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...

For Advocacy

  • Grassroots Advocacy Toolkit

    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.

    ...

  • Sentencing Reform and Corrections Act of 2017

    Unnecessarily long prison sentences, combined with the lack of rehabilitative programs for people in prison, exacerbate hunger, poverty, and existing inequalities.

    Overly harsh mandatory minimum prison sentences have contributed to the rapid increase of our country’s prison population. The...

  • Health Care Is a Hunger Issue

    Learn more about the principles that Bread for the World supports regarding health reform.