Bread Newsletter: February-March 2019


Mothers in a Zambian village learn how to prepare and feed their children a nutritious porridge. Photo: Joe Molieri / Bread for the World

Bread and Lawmakers Work Together on House Nutrition Resolution

By Robin Stephenson

Representatives Roger Marshall (R-KS) and Jim McGovern (D-MA) introduced a resolution this week, H.Res.189, that calls for U.S. leadership to accelerate progress on global nutrition—a key ask of the 2019 Offering of Letters Campaign: Better Nutrition, Better Tomorrow.

“This is a big deal,” said Heather Valentine, Bread’s director of government relations.

That’s because Valentine and Bread’s team of policy experts on global nutrition have been working behind the scenes for over a year that this moment is now a reality.

“Instead of reacting to policy recommendations in Congress, we have been trying to drive policy that we know can lead to one of the largest reductions of malnutrition the world has ever seen. This is the first big step,” she added.

Based on the overwhelming evidence that a focus on nutrition is improving the lives of women and children worldwide, Bread for the World committed to a two-year campaign that aims to scale up U.S. efforts on global nutrition. Marshall and McGovern are providing a path forward with this bill.

The next step for Bread members is to ask their representatives to cosponsor the legislation. “This is how we build champions and political will,” said Valentine.  “Cosponsorship gets people on record saying that we need to do something.”

Malnutrition, directly or indirectly, causes 45 percent of all deaths of children under the age of five each year. Survivors can bear the burden of childhood malnutrition the rest of their lives, at risk of never reaching their God-given potential.

McGovern has a reputation on Capitol Hill as a leading voice in hunger and agricultural policy and is a member of Bread for the World’s board of directors. In a hearing earlier in the week, the congressman urged House appropriators to increase funding for global nutrition and strengthen our capacity to address malnutrition in the FY2020 spending bill—the second key ask in this year’s Offering of Letters.

Bread members in Kansas knew that Marshall, an OB-GYN, was the champion they were looking for.

“Kansas has a global reputation of international and food security,” said Rick McNary, a constituent and long-time Bread member who has talked with Dr. Marshall about global nutrition. McNary noted that the agricultural state has long supported programs that are contributing to global food security, including a Feed the Future innovation lab that is housed on Kansas State University. The lab aims to answer the question of feeding 9 billion people by 2050.

“It stands to reason that Dr. Marshall would sponsor the nutrition resolution in carrying on the tradition of Kansas agriculture to provide solutions to feeding the world,” said McNary.

Marshall and McGovern are accustomed to working together on bipartisan solutions to end hunger. Both are involved in the Food is Medicine working group, which is part of the House Hunger Caucus. The group explores policies that can strengthen the links between food and health. The resolution they are sponsoring emphasizes the long-term health benefits and improved cognitive development that results from adequate nutrition.

Improved nutrition lays more than the foundation for an individual life. Development strategies that include a nutrition focus affect everything from economic growth to peace, and helps build the resilience needed against future shocks to vulnerable communities. Better nutrition is about building a better tomorrow.

Robin Stephenson is senior manager for digital campaigns at Bread for the World.

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Hunger and poverty persist around the world. Let’s pray for those who need our help the most. Photo: Joe Molieri / Bread for the World

Travel Through Ethiopia and Guatemala with Rev. David Beckmann

In late 2018, Rev. David Beckmann, president of Bread for the World, traveled to Ethiopia and Guatemala to see how development programs are improving access to nutrition, decreasing hunger, and bolstering resilience in communities. Along the way, he recorded short videos so that he could share his experience with Bread members. Click the links below to view a video and travel along with David to see how smart development is taking a bite out of hunger.

An experience of God moving in our time

(click here to view video)

“This is God,” says Rev. David Beckmann about Ethiopia’s reductions in child mortality. Global progress against hunger, poverty, and disease is an experience of God moving in our time. Two-fifths of the children in Ethiopia are still malnourished, but the Ethiopian government and international organizations are delivering effective nutrition assistance in many communities. The world’s gradual progress against hunger has suffered a reversal over the last several years, but not in Ethiopia. Learn more about how the U.S. government is helping to reduce nutrition and how to make that effort more effective by reading A Multi-Sectoral Approach to Nutrition. Assessing USAID’s Progress.

Ethiopia: A story of resilience

(click here to view video)

The Tigray region of Ethiopia has been repeatedly struck by famine.  But David saw how U.S. food aid has financed reforestation projects that have increased rainfall, raised the water table, and helped to reduce the likelihood of famine. Agricultural assistance to Tigray’s farmers and improvements in the international humanitarian system have also reduced the risk of famine. Learn more about climate-resilient solutions in the 2017 Hunger Report: Fragile Environments, Resilient Communities.

Trade and poverty reduction in Ethiopia

(click here to view video)

David visits Hawassa Industrial Park in southern Ethiopia and sees how U.S. trade policy can spur economic growth and reduce poverty. The African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA)— legislation that Bread for the World has supported since 2000—improves the access of qualifying African countries to export into the U.S. market. Trade policies can benefit Americans and also help create jobs in Africa. Ethiopia has improved education, health, and agriculture, but its growing youth population has made job creation and manufacturing high priorities. Learn more about the jobs challenge in our country and developing countries in the 2018 Hunger Report.

Advocacy works

(click here to view video)

David reflects on progress he has seen in Ethiopia as his visit there winds up. He thanks Bread members for our role in advocating for U.S. programs and policies that have helped to reduce hunger in Ethiopia. Poverty-focused development assistance – notably agriculture, nutrition, and reforms in food aid – together with the smart trade policy in the African Growth and Opportunity Act are giving many families in Ethiopia a hand up. Poverty-focused development assistance, which is less than 1 percent of the federal budget, is lifting millions of people out of poverty.

Improving child nutrition in the Guatemalan Highlands

(click here to view video)

On the same trip, David traveled to Guatemala. In both Ethiopia and Guatemala, he saw nutrition programs at work. In this video, he visits an NGO that is distributing an improved variety of goats. If the goats a family raises produce more milk, their children are better nourished. Good nutrition during the 1,000-day period from the beginning of a woman’s pregnancy to her child’s second birthday is critical to a child’s health and future well-being. Bread for the World’s 2019 Offering of Letters: Better Nutrition, Better Tomorrow urges our government to accelerate progress toward ending hunger by increasing funding for global child nutrition programs.

Guatemala and trade: A sweet story

(click here to view video)

David visited Puerto Quetzal, Guatemala's largest Pacific Ocean port. Trade and economic growth can help end hunger, and the Guatemalan sugar industry has taken steps to address environmental issues and community concerns around the sugar plantations. Learn more about how global interdependence can be managed in ways to reduce hunger in the United States and worldwide in the 2018 Hunger Report: The Jobs Challenge.

Conflict as a root cause of hunger

(click here to view video)

David is moved by his visit to a cemetery near the village of La Esperanza. The long-ignored grievances of Mayan and other indigenous people led to a long civil war in Guatemala (1960-1996). Two hundred thousand people died and hundreds of thousands more fled across the border to Mexico. Social justice and peace are basic to progress against hunger. To learn more about the connections between conflict and hunger—made worse by climate change—read the 2017 Hunger Report: Fragile Environments, Resilient Communities.

Racial injustice and the power of faith

(click here to view video)

Long-standing discrimination continues to limit opportunities for indigenous people in Guatemala today. David asked Fidel Xinico Tum, his main guide in Guatemala, to explain how Mayan people have been able to achieve considerable economic and social progress nevertheless. Fidel, himself Mayan, thanks “the heart of heaven/heart of the earth” for giving Mayan people the strength to continue and flourish. Learn more about discrimination and hunger in the 2015 Hunger Report: When Women Flourish, We Can End Hunger.

Foreign assistance and Guatemala

(click here to view video)

In his final video, David notes ways that the advocacy of Bread for the World members has clearly helped in Guatemala. Poverty-focused development assistance, including nutrition assistance, has had a positive impact. Bread’s current work on immigration policy is also relevant. Assistance can reduce the poverty and violence that are driving most of the immigration to the United States’ southern border. Learn more about push factors in "Fact sheet: Why are families leaving Central America?"

The 2019 Offering of Letters: Better Nutrition, Better Tomorrow

(click here to view video)

David visits a nutrition program in Ethiopia and is filled with hope. Today, millions of children are thriving around the world because of global nutrition programs—programs and funding that exist because of your past advocacy. This year’s Offering of Letters campaign urges our government to accelerate progress toward ending hunger by increasing funding for global child nutrition programs. Do something really good. Go here to find out how you can make a difference.

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Rev. Nancy Neal is director of Church Relations at Bread for the World.

On Faith: 'Let justice roll down'

By Rev. Nancy Neal

The fifth chapter of the book of Amos includes the famous verse, “let justice roll down like waters, and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream.” While that familiar voice is the rallying cry for justice movements, it follows a harsh rebuke by God to the people of northern Israel for their hollow worship:

“I hate, I despise your festivals, and I take no delight in your solemn assemblies. Even though you offer me your burnt offerings and grain offerings, I will not accept them; and the offerings of well-being of your fatted animals I will not look upon. Take away from me the noise of your songs; I will not listen to the melody of your harps.” (Amos 5:21-23)

God is tired of religious rituals that are disconnected from the way the Israelites lived out their days. They would make burnt offerings and then keep people hungry. They would honor God, but then exploit vulnerable neighbors.

While many interpret this famous verse as God telling the Israelites to embrace justice and righteousness, it’s possible in this context that justice rolling down like waters and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream is God’s judgment pouring down on the people. Righteousness and justice are interconnected. Righteousness points to relationships that are just, while justice points to actions that lead to right relationships.

Hiking up the Crabtree Falls, just off the Blue Ridge Parkway in western Virginia, I watched the water come crashing down the rocks. I noticed that it came down with both great power, but also with great ease.

If only justice and righteousness moved through us, through our communities, through our nation with such power and ease. Can you imagine our world if righteousness was so consistent? What if we didn’t build dams of hate, fear, and greed to try to stop justice and righteousness from flowing?

The point of this passage is that God longs for just relationships with us—not just as individuals, but as communities and people groups. Restoring right relationships between one another is an integral part of restoring our relationship with God. We can choose to be carried by the waters of justice and righteousness, or we can choose to be barriers to them.

We engage in restorative acts of love in our charity work of feeding and clothing and housing and educating ourselves and our family members and our neighbors near and far. We build relationships of solidarity.

But we also engage in restorative acts of love when we work for justice by building relationships with our members of Congress and advocating for an end to hunger. We speak for ourselves and family members and our neighbors. We tell our stories and share our faith. This is why we write letters and make phone calls and visit offices and attend public events hosted by our elected officials.

Bread for the World’s 2019 Offering of Letters: Better Nutrition, Better Tomorrow provides an opportunity for worshipping communities to engage in restorative actions in a liturgical context. This year’s campaign asks Congress to pass legislation that establishes a new, scaled-up approach to global nutrition.

Passage of such a bill or resolution will strengthen U.S. commitment to global child nutrition and lead other countries to join us in the global effort to end hunger.

Food and nutrition are central to human survival, and they’re also central to our life in the church. Jesus fed the multitudes; he sat at table with tax collectors and others deemed unfit; and he gathered his closest friends and companions together around the table to share the bread and cup with them—the symbols of his new covenant with humankind in his body broken and bloodshed.

When we feed our families and our neighbors—whether they are next door, in the next community or across the globe—we witness the love and grace Jesus offered in those many meals, to the love and grace we receive when we gather, like the disciples, at Christ’s table.

As Christians, we can use our voices, build relationships with our elected officials, and share the story of God’s hopes for a world without hunger. We can make a difference.

Rev. Nancy Neal is director of Church Relations at Bread for the World.

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News Briefs

Lenten Season

Bread for the World believes ongoing prayer is essential to ending hunger and poverty. This year, Lent begins on March 6—Ash Wednesday. During this Lenten season, we hope you will make reflection and prayer for an end to hunger part of your Lenten discipline.

A resource to help you with your practice is a six-paneled table tent Lenten Prayers for an End to Hunger. The resource can be placed on your dinner table or office desk.  Each panel includes scripture readings for each of the five Sundays in Lent and Holy Week in Year C of the Revised Common Lectionary. A prayer and suggested actions are also offered for each week.

You are welcome to order multiple copies of these Lenten Prayers—free of charge—to share with family members, friends, and your church.  To order visit

2019 Offering of Letters

Bread for the World’s 2019 Offering of Letters: Better Nutrition, Better Tomorrow is now available online in both English and Spanish. Print toolkits were mailed in February.

The 2019 Offering of Letters urges Congress to expand support for global nutrition programs that improve the lives of millions of children and mothers worldwide. Specifically, we want Congress to support legislation and increase funding to accelerate progress on global nutrition.

Throughout the year, Bread members will be asked to get involved with advocacy actions as part of the 2019 Offering of Letters campaign. Look for details in Bread emails and the Activist Corner.  

For help with organizing a letter-writing event, reach out to Bread’s team of organizers by emailing them at

Catholic Social Ministry Gathering

Bread for the World participated in the Catholic Social Ministry Gathering (CSMG) in Washington, D.C., February 2-5. The CSMG brought together about 500 people from across the United States. Bread sponsored scholarships that brought in about 100 Catholic leaders from diverse racial backgrounds.

“Let Justice Flow: A Call to Restore and Reconcile” was the theme for the gathering. There were presentations and panel discussions on the recently released pastoral letter by U.S. Catholic bishops, “Open Wide Our Hearts: The Enduring Call to Love,” which addresses racism and racial justice in the church and the world.

While Bread has participated in CSMG for many years, this was our first year as a major sponsor. The sponsorship allowed us to present on the Bread for the World’s 2019 Offering of Letters: Better Nutrition, Better Tomorrow during the Monday morning breakfast.

Bread staff was joined by Edith Avila Olea, justice and peace associate director of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Joliet, who discussed the diocese’s Offering of Letters efforts. Olea worked closely with Bread organizers to collect 4,900 letters, which she brought with her to Bread’s Advocacy Summit and Lobby Day last year.

Bread staff also had the opportunity to share about our ongoing work with Latino leaders and young leaders at colleges and universities.

Rick Steves Holiday Fundraiser Brings in Over $1 Million

A holiday fundraising spearheaded by Rick Steves last year for Bread for the World raised a total of $1,187,352—far exceeding his million-dollar goal. More than 3,200 people participated and donated a total of $487,352.

Steve’s double matched the donations—bringing his contribution to $700,000. Steves is a Bread for the World member and host of public television's most-watched, longest-running travel series, "Rick Steves' Europe," and the author of more than 50 travel guidebooks.

You can read more about why Steves fundraises for Bread for the World here.

Bread for the World Institute Director Appointed to SUN Executive Committee

Asma Lateef, director of Bread for the World Institute, has been appointed to the Executive Committee of the Scaling Up Nutrition Movement (SUN). Her two-year term began on Jan. 28.

The SUN Movement Executive Committee acts on behalf of the SUN Movement Lead Group to oversee the development and implementation of the Movement’s strategy. Lateef will represent a civil society perspective and the SUN Movement’s civil society network.

2019 Quad-Centennial Monthly Devotional

The new, “Lament and Hope: A Pan-African Devotional Guide Commemorating the 2019 Quad-Centennial of the Forced Transatlantic Voyage of Enslaved African Peoples to Jamestown, Virginia (USA),” is now available online.

The 2019 Quad-Centennial is a global historic moment to acknowledge how the practice of slavery in the United States led to the development of public policies sanctioning the enslavement of Africans and African-descended people.

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Florence French, Bread regional organizer (second from right) and the students at U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio’s Miami office.  Florence French/Bread for the World.

Never Too Young to Make a Difference

By Robin Stephenson

In early February, eight of the junior advisory board members for the nonprofit Joshua’s Heart Foundation ditched class—with permission—and met with staff at U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio’s Miami, Florida office to talk about hunger.

The students were there to urge their senator to invest in and scale-up U.S. efforts to combat global malnutrition. This time, the students were the teachers.

The students, Florence French, a regional organizer at Bread for the World, and Peter England, a longtime Bread member met with Lea Padron, regional director, South Region, and Annette Rodriguez, a special assistant in Rubio’s Miami office.

The students included: Sophia Costa Martinez, Thalia Castro, Chaz Castro, Chiara Kusmierek, Amogh Baranwal, Nicole Hawley, Katia Gelbstein, and Victoria Von Simpson.

The evidence is clear that development programs focused on nutrition save lives. Over the past decade, 50 million fewer children are suffering the consequences of chronic malnutrition that leads to stunting.

Still, 1 in 4 children worldwide are affected by stunting and may never reach their full potential. In Guatemala, nearly half of the children are stunted due to a lack of adequate nutrition.

For 16-year old Nicole Hawley, just talking about statistics is not enough.

“I’ve already forgotten the numbers,” said Hawley to Rubio’s staff after French talked about the preventable cost of malnutrition. What Hawley did know was that hunger drives people from their homes and from childhood.

After explaining that she had met with Guatemalan migrant workers through a school program, Hawley made the issue personal. “What I do remember is the experience of working with girls my age who don’t have the opportunities I do,” she said.

French has been working closely with students at Joshua’s Heart Foundation, conducting advocacy trainings and finding opportunities for the young change-makers to impact federal policy and funding that helps end hunger at home and overseas.

This year’s Offering of Letters: Better Nutrition, Better Tomorrow aims to build a stronger future by urging Congress to increase funding for global nutrition programs.

French believes that there is no group better equipped to bring such a message to a decision maker like Rubio than the eight students who are part of a movement that aims to empower youth to thrive.

"I believe everyone's voice matters and is needed when it comes to ending hunger—especially youth," French said. "It's their future at stake and they have something to say about it. It's our job not only to listen but make sure they are heard."

French, who makes it a habit to keep strong relationships with in-district congressional offices through frequent visits, said this meeting was a little more special than usual.

She said England’s participation was more than an opportunity for the students to get encouragement and learn from each other. It was also an advocacy strategy. "It amplifies the idea for members of Congress and their staff that ending hunger is something that matters to all ages," French said.

Robin Stephenson is senior manager for digital campaigns at Bread for the World.

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An Uncertain Future for Immigrants in the U.S.

By Dulce Gamboa

“A new command I give you: Love one another.” —John 13:34

Becoming undocumented or facing family separation is a constant worry for immigrants in the United States, especially for those living under the Temporary Protected Status (TPS).

The Trump administration is currently attempting to terminate this protection for individuals from Sudan, Nicaragua, Nepal, Haiti, El Salvador, and Honduras. However, current litigation against the administration has delayed any action on the matter.

For the time being, TPS holders can continue to work lawfully in the U.S., but their future remains uncertain.

TPS holders come to the United States due to humanitarian emergencies (violence, civil war, or natural disasters) in their home countries. They stay in this country because it is not safe to return home.

Most TPS beneficiaries have been in the U.S. for more than 20 years. They are part of the societal fabric of our country. They have built lives here, have invested in their communities, have contributed greatly to the U.S economy, and have raised U.S. born children.

Terminating TPS puts immigrant families at risk of food insecurity and poverty, as parents have to face the impossible decision: go back to unstable home countries or remain in the U.S. without lawful immigration status or the ability to work lawfully.

Those who return to their home countries would place their lives and the lives of their family members in danger, in many cases going back home is a death sentence.

But staying in the U.S. without protected status creates its own problems. Undocumented workers face discrimination, exploitation, wage theft, and subpar working conditions that threaten to plunge families into poverty and hunger—not to mention living under constant threat of deportation and family separation.

Immigration is indeed a hunger issue. At Bread for the World, we believe all immigrants and TPS beneficiaries are children of God and deserve a dignified life.

Our Christian values call us to encourage Congress to find a bipartisan solution to TPS termination and provide protections for TPS beneficiaries, so they can continue working and reaching their full potential in the U.S.—the place they now call home.

Dulce Gamboa is an associate for Latino Relations at Bread for the World.

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Family copy of The Plain Dealer newspaper article via Angelique Walker-Smith/Bread for the World.

Women’s History Month: Foremothers Creating Community

By Rev. Angelique Walker-Smith

On January 14, 1954, my widowed paternal grandmother, Carrie Walker, and her 11 children were featured as the face of abject poverty and hunger in The Plain Dealer—a newspaper in Cleveland, Ohio.

The story, “Slums Just 4 Minutes from Public Square,” highlighted their home, Area B of a stores-and-flats building that held six families with a total of 43 persons. It was crowded, unsafe, and severely debilitated.

My grandmother was part of the Great Migration from 1916-1970 that saw millions of African Americans flee the south due to violence, poverty, hunger, and Jim Crow laws and move to the Northeast, Midwest, and West.

The root causes of the migration include the legacy of enslavement, dispossessed land, and lack of public policy support for work with dignity and wealth creation.

In “The Warmth of Other Suns: The Epic Story of America's Great Migration,” author Isabel Wilkerson points out, “they were seeking political asylum within the borders of their own country, not unlike refugees in other parts of the world fleeing famine, war and pestilence.”

This month’s Pan-African Devotional guide, “Lament and Hope,” highlights one of the root causes of the African American urban migration—the federal policy called U.S. Land Dispossession.

In 1865, President Andrew Johnson rescinded the 40-acre promise to former slaves who had fought for their country in the Civil War. The move prevented them from becoming fully independent from their former owners.

They were legally free, but they were prevented from becoming financially free. If the 4 million people forced into sharecropping had owned their land, they could have started earning income and eventually would have been able to put aside assets for the future. But sharecropping’s continual debt cycle made it nearly impossible to get enough to eat, let alone earn money.

Sharecropping continued for three generations. These families were often hungry and/or poorly nourished, far more likely to live in poverty than white people, and far less able to accumulate wealth. Yet, others left the south and went to the north in the United States and experienced the same conditions.

In the March devotional, Rev. Jennifer Bailey raises a biblical question around the dispossession of land policy. Where is home for African peoples in a “strange land” of discriminatory policies like land dispossession (Psalms 137: 4)?

She answers by stating that enslaved foremothers played a primary role of creating home. They did this in the face of family separation policies that removed black men and their children from them and community life. By the grace of God and their fortitude, these women weaved together a collective understanding of home from the fields to church fellowship halls to community centers ensuring a sense of belonging just like my grandmother Walker did.

During this Women’s History Month, the devotional invites you to consider the following questions. As we celebrate Women’s History Month, what unique role do women play in God’s vision of creating beloved community? How can you faithfully advocate for just policies to end hunger and poverty with a gender lens of empowerment?

Rev. Angelique Walker-Smith is senior associate for Pan African and Orthodox Church Engagement at Bread for the World.

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from our Resource Library

For Education

  • Election Resources

    One of the best times to raise the issues of hunger and poverty is during election campaigns. Engage candidates in your state/district on hunger and poverty using our elections resources.
  • U.S. Hunger and Poverty State Fact Sheets

    These fact sheets provide a snapshot of hunger and poverty in the United States and in each state plus Washington, D.C. 

  • Conflict and Fragility Are Hunger Issues

     Conflict is a main driver of the recent increase in hunger around the world and of forced migration. Hunger also contributes to conflict. 

For Faith

  • The Bible on Health as a Hunger Issue

    “As you therefore have received Christ Jesus the Lord, continue to live your lives in him, rooted and built up in him and established in faith.” These words from Colossians 2:6 remind us of the faith that is active in love for our neighbors.

    The Bible on...

  • 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.

For Advocacy


African at Heart

November 22, 2019


From the Blog