Write to Congress

Bread for the World urges elected leaders in Washington, D.C., to enable people in our nation and our world to feed their families and move out of poverty.

Personalized emails stand out and tell your senators and representative that you, as a constituent, really care about an issue. Members of Congress want to hear from constituents about the issues on which they will vote in the Senate and House of Representatives.

These are issues that are moving in Congress or the administration. They have become issues for different reasons, but all are occasions to change policies, programs, and conditions that allow hunger and poverty to persist and to provide more help and opportunity.

Mother and Child in Zambia. Photo by Joe Molieri / Bread for the World

Mothers and Children

Hunger and malnutrition affect mothers and children more than any other group. Bolstering the nutrition of these groups will help us make great strides toward ending hunger altogether by 2030.

Nearly half of the world’s smallholder farmers are women, with higher rates in developing countries. That means in the rural areas of Asia, Africa, and Latin America, the majority of people engaging in subsistence farming to feed themselves and their families are women.

Being a smallholder farmer often means living on the edge. Changes in the climate, a natural disaster, or even just the limits of what can be grown on a small plot of land can limit both the quantity and quality of the food a family eats. And this can be devastating to a woman and her family.

Bread for the World wants Congress to increase funding for the nutrition and health of mothers, newborns, and young children. In 2015, funding for nutrition in the global health account was $125 million — a slight increase from previous years. Bread and its partners believe a funding level of $230 million for nutrition programs is needed for 2016. Increasing U.S. investment in global maternal and child nutrition is central to successful development and helps improve the potential of millions of people.

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Federal nutrition programs for children are a critical part of the fight against hunger.  Photo: Joe Molieri / Bread for the World

Child Nutrition

Congress must re-authorize the law that sets funding and policy for our country’s child nutrition programs, including school meals, summer feeding, and the WIC nutrition program for pregnant and new mothers along with their small children. All of these programs have helped millions of children over the decades.

In 2010, we were able to expand and improve these programs. However, more needs to be done. For example: Currently, for every six children who receive lunch assistance, only one also receives a summer meal. Bread for the World’s 2015 Offering of Letters campaign urged Congress to pass a child nutrition bill that closes this hunger gap and gives more hungry children access to the meals they need to thrive.

The Senate Agriculture Committee passed the Improving Child Nutrition Integrity and Access Act of 2016 in January. This legislation increases access to child nutrition programs in the summer, a time when kids are most at-risk of hunger.

In May, the Improving Child Nutrition and Education Act of 2016 was passed out of committee in the House. As written, the bill would make it harder for children to access free school meals and includes a proposal to fund school meals through block grants to the states. This would effectively cap and cut funding for school breakfast and lunch programs. It also fails to address the summer hunger gap.

The House and Senate must work together to pass strong, bipartisan child nutrition legislation. Congress still needs to make sure that children’s health and nutrition is a top priority.

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Advocacy is hard work, and sometimes the victories do not come right away. But Bread has been doing advocacy for decades and has the expertise, experience, and track record for bringing hope and opportunity. Photo: Joe Molieri / Bread for the World

Food-Aid Reform

The U.S. has long been a global leader in responding to humanitarian emergencies and is the largest provider of lifesaving food aid in the world. Since Food for Peace — the largest U.S. food-aid program — began in 1954, approximately 3 billion people in 150 countries have benefited from American generosity and compassion. However, as this crucial program has been scrutinized in recent years, clear inefficiencies in how it is operated have emerged. With recent constraints on federal spending, we must seize this opportunity to reform and modernize this valuable program so that appropriated funds are used as effectively as possible to reach the maximum number of hungry people overseas, especially malnourished women and children, and as quickly as possible.

Congress can help with this goal by enacting reforms, which include more local and regional purchasing of food and eliminating the required but harmful monetization practice. These reforms will allow lifesaving assistance to reach millions more people each year without costing taxpayers more. By providing more flexibility to purchase emergency food from nearby merchants instead of shipping it from thousands of miles away, this approach ensures smallholder farmers in developing countries, many of whom are women, are empowered.

More importantly, the food would arrive more than two months faster, a lifetime when people are starving. As emergencies around the world continue to arise, we cannot afford to wait.

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Photo by Joseph Molieri/Bread for the World

Mass Incarceration

Overly harsh mandatory minimum sentences have contributed to the rapid increase in our country’s prison population. These often unnecessarily long sentences, combined with the lack of rehabilitative programs for people in prison, exacerbate hunger, poverty, and existing inequalities.

While serving time in prison, people lose income and work skills and often lack opportunities to participate in rehabilitative programs, making it even harder for many to find a job after leaving the prison system. Furthermore, laws ban individuals with felony convictions from getting some types of federal assistance. Many can’t receive SNAP (food stamps), TANF (Temporary Assistance for Needy Families), or housing assistance. With no job, no shelter, and no help, many individuals with criminal records are denied a second chance.

These situations also impact families. Children of incarcerated parents are more likely to fall into poverty, which often results in lower academic achievement and higher risk of depression, withdrawal, and behavioral issues.

But right now, there is an opportunity to change this. Discussions are happening in Congress to develop and pass legislation that reforms our criminal justice system. Your members of Congress need to hear from you that reforming our criminal justice system and ending mass incarceration must be a priority in 2016.

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Tammanna Akter and Joy in Barisal, Bangladesh. Photo by Laura Pohl / Bread for the World

The Global Food Security Act

You did it! Thanks to your faithful advocacy, the Global Food Security Act (S. 1252) passed Congress on July 6, 2016. President Obama signed the bill into law on July 20. It establishes a comprehensive strategy for the U.S. government to fight hunger and malnutrition, promotes nutrition among pregnant women and newborns, and prioritizes women smallholder farmers. It also makes permanent Feed the Future, a successful food and nutrition-security initiative.

Since Feed the Future was launched in 2010, it has emphasized a country-led approach to long-term agriculture development in 19 countries in Asia, Central America, and Africa. Feed the Future has achieved impressive results, helping nearly 7 million small-scale farmers increase crop production and providing nutritious food to more than 12 million children in 2014 alone. GFSA prioritizes nutrition for very young children, especially during the critical 1,000-day window from pregnancy to age two. This helps reduce instances of stunting, lifelong poor health, impaired cognitive and physical development, and diminished productivity. And the legislation seeks to advance women's leadership in agriculture, promotes policies that improve women’s opportunities to use and own land, and strengthens their access to financial services.

This bipartisan legislation is an example of what can be accomplished when we make the end of hunger, malnutrition, and extreme poverty a priority.  

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Photo by Louis Stippel/USAID

Federal Budget

The federal budget provides Congress and the president with the single biggest opportunity to shape our country’s priorities. The choices made about how the nation generates revenues and spends its shared resources should promote hope, opportunity, and economic security for all people, especially those struggling to put food on the table. As Christians, we believe that a key moral measure of our federal budget is how it treats those whom Jesus called "the least of these" (Matthew 25:45).

This year, members of Congress have once again introduced a budget that drastically cuts anti-hunger and anti-poverty programs like SNAP (formerly known as food stamps) and Medicaid. Specifically, the proposed budget turns SNAP into a block grant to states, cutting the program by more than $150 billion – over 20 percent – over the next 10 years. Cuts of this magnitude would require cutting benefits to millions of people, many of whom are children, seniors, and people with disabilities. If enacted, this budget will push millions more American working families and children into hunger and poverty.

It’s important that we continue to let Congress know that ending hunger and poverty in the U.S. and around the world must be a federal priority.

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"Jesus said ...
'You give them something to eat.'"

Matthew 14:16

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.

  • Budget 101: Block Grants, Flexibility, and Per Capita Caps

    Recent congressional budget proposals and plans to reduce poverty include options for changing the structure of current social programs from “entitlements,” which provide sufficient funding to address the needs of everyone who meets the eligibility requirements to “block grants,” which provide...

  • Key African American Contributions to Ending Hunger and Poverty

    Leaders from the African-American community have helped our country and other nations inch ever closer to the goal of ending hunger and poverty by 2030. Key contributions by African-Americans throughout this century can be found below.

    ...

For Faith

  • The Bible on Health as a Hunger Issue

    A brief examination of the biblical approach to health as a hunger issue.

    Includes an introduction to the issue, a Scriptural reflection, practical actions you can take, and a prayer.

  • Bread Newsletter January 2016

    In this issue: Another Great Year for Bread; Catholics Begin Observance of Holy Year of Mercy; Serving on ‘God’s Wave Length’ for 39 Years; and more.
     

  • Interfaith Religious Leaders’ Pledge to End Hunger

    A wide array of the nation’s faith leaders have come together on the eve of Pope Francis’ arrival in the United States to commit ourselves to encourage our communities to work for the end of hunger by 2030 and, toward that end, for a shift in U.S. national priorities.

    We are deeply pleased...

For Advocacy