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In order to solve a problem, it’s important to know its causes. Research helps identify the root causes of hunger and strategies to end it that have worked in the past.
Research is also a way of gathering information and knowledge. And in our day and age, information is power.
Bread views research as a way of actively engaging decision makers and others on the issue of hunger. It’s not all academic or theoretical. For example, Bread’s briefing papers and annual Hunger Report always include recommendations for ending hunger. These are specific steps that will bring improvements in real life.
Bread uses research as a tool to help the federal government make educated decisions. Leaders need both the facts and an assessment of what those facts mean. This information makes it easier to see the implications of various decisions. Our research asks and answers questions like:
Research also helps Bread members and partners reach out to others as hunger advocates. It doesn’t matter whether it’s a conversation with church members or a high school government class. It’s easier to engage other people when we’re confident that:
Here’s an example: Most of the information in Bread’s materials comes from trusted outside sources. Suppose that a researcher interviews farmers in India. They say their top priority is building storage facilities. Currently, a lot of their harvested crops spoil before they can be brought to market.
Another researcher wants to learn how farmers who support their families by selling their crops at market are able to do it. How are they different from farmers who try but can’t? She gathers detailed information from people in both groups about their farming practices. It turns out that one difference between the groups is that the successful farmers have a way to store their harvested crops.
Americans who are concerned about hunger don’t have the time or inclination to read these studies. Even if they did, how could they know whether the research is valid? What if most other research didn’t reach these conclusions?
A lot of other questions arise. For example:
Even for policymakers, it’s impossible to evaluate so much complex information. So Bread staff talk with experts and sift through research. They evaluate how important an issue is in the larger context of ending hunger. In the example above, investing in crop storage facilities for smallholder farmers could become one of Bread’s recommendations. In their advocacy, Bread members would use the information supplied by Bread to tell policymakers that crop storage, along with other issues identified through research, is an important concern for hungry people overseas.
"An intelligent mind acquires knowledge."
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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.
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