Developing strategies to end hunger
 

132 posts categorized "Assets for the Poor"

A Climate to End Hunger: Agriculture Is Part of the Problem and the Solution

Hunger Report Monday 2 Greenhouse Gas Emissions by Economic Sectors

Editor’s note: Welcome to Bread for the World Institute’s blog series on A Climate to End Hunger. The other day when I realized that Earth Day was approaching, I winced at my conflation of Earth Day with climate change. But it makes sense. Climate change is the biggest threat yet to Earth’s environment – and increasingly widespread hunger is one of its most tragic potential consequences. In this series, we reflect on how we can help prevent such a catastrophe. 

Today, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Working Group III published the third and final contribution, Mitigation of Climate Change, to the organization’s forthcoming Fifth Assessment Report. Working Group III, made up of hundreds of the world’s leading scientists, was tasked with surveying thousands of the latest peer-reviewed studies to gauge the current status of climate change, the hazards it poses to humanity, and, of course, what people can do to prevent and/or cope with those hazards. The Guardian’s Leo Hickman summed up the group’s findings best – and at Tweetable length:

Climate change is real. We are to blame. It will get worse if we fail to act. The solutions are available and affordable. But time is short.

The group’s findings support the warning – stronger than ever – of the threat posed by climate change not only to hungry and poor people, but to the entire global economy. Climate change is increasingly straining global food systems. The message to policymakers is that if all countries, rich and poor alike, do not act quickly and cooperatively, the hard-won global progress against hunger and extreme poverty of the past few decades could be rapidly undone.

More specifically, climate change threatens global food security by causing declining crop yields; disruptions in food access, utilization, and price stability; and significantly reduced access to water, food security, and agricultural incomes in rural communities.

As the report’s chart (above) shows, about a quarter of global greenhouse gas emissions are generated by the “Agriculture, Forestry, and Other Land Use” (AFOLU) sector — more than by the transport and building sectors combined. Sustainable agricultural practices will be crucial to reducing AFOLU emissions while still producing enough food for the growing population. Promising mitigation options include afforestation and sustainable forest management, improved cropland management, and restoration of organic soils.

At its core, responding effectively to climate change means building resilience in communities where people have always struggled to produce enough food. It demands strong and organized political leadership, infrastructure, and resources at all levels — local, regional, national, and global. Strengthening local capacity to create and implement informed, effective adaptation strategies is vital to building resilience.

Chapter 5 of the 2014 Hunger Report, Ending Hunger in America, examines how agriculture has been part of the climate change problem, and more importantly, how it must be part of the solution. Visit www.hungerreport.org to read more.   Derek Schwabe

Data to End Hunger: Social Security - It Pays to Wait

Editor's Note:  Institute Notes is grateful to Kristen Arnold and her colleagues at the National Academy of Social Insurance, here in Washington, DC, for today’s guest blog post. It’s an excellent example of simplifying, but not over-simplifying, data to present what people should know. People at risk of hunger and poverty need access to data on a variety of issues along with succinct explanations of why the information is important - and Social Security is certainly one of the most important of these issues.  

Photo for Social Security

Photo by Lindsay Benson Garrett/Meals on Wheels.

 Social Security is more than a number; it’s also America’s most powerful poverty-prevention program. Social Security benefits kept more than 22.1 million people out of poverty in 2012.

These data are interesting, but how can Social Security help you fight poverty on a personal level? On Social Security, knowledge can truly pay.

How does that work? If you’re thinking about retiring, you should know that every month you delay Social Security between 62 and 70 will increase your monthly benefit for the rest of your life. Waiting until 70 will increase it by 76%. That’s a big difference. Waiting even a year or two — if you can — can make a difference in how comfortably you’ll be able to live in retirement.

The National Academy of Social Insurance is a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization that educates policymakers and the public about Social Security, Medicare and other social insurance programs.  It also produces unbiased educational resources for individuals.

     When to Take Social Security: It Pays to Wait is a new toolkit that empowers workers nearing retirement to make informed decisions about when to take Social Security retirement benefits.

     The toolkit’s fact sheet, 16-page brief, and 3-minute video explain key messages:

      1) It pays to wait to take Social Security. If you can wait, even a year or two, your monthly benefit will be higher – for the rest of your life.

There are financial benefits if you can wait to start your benefits at or after your full   retirement age. Your benefit is reduced if you take Social Security before your full retirement age, and is increased for every month after full retirement age that you wait to claim, until age 70. If you wait until 70, your Social Security benefit will be 76% higher than if you started taking benefits at 62.

2) If you need Social Security to make ends meet, take it – you’ve earned it.

Social Security is there for you, and you can take it as early as age 62 if you need it to prevent financial hardship.

      3)If you’re married, you have two lives to plan for. If you are the higher earner, waiting to take Social Security provides a higher survivor benefit for your spouse if she or he outlives you.

     A widow can receive Social Security based on her husband’s work record if that benefit is higher than what she would receive based on her own work. Any increase in the husband’s benefit because he delayed claiming is passed on in the survivor benefit for his widow after he dies. (If the wife is the higher earner, waiting to take her benefit will increase survivor benefits for her husband if he outlives her.)

Social Security is the most important source of income for most retired Americans. Understanding the financial impact of waiting to take Social Security benefits could help you and your loved ones stay out of poverty in retirement.

Kristen Arnold is the Income Security Program Analyst at the National Academy of Social Insurance, where she develops strategic partnerships and new outreach initiatives and contributes to research on Social Security and Unemployment Insurance.

Humane Deportation Policy

Removals Rise through Three Administrations

Deportations have risen steadily through the last three U.S. presidencies. Under increased pressure, President Obama has pledged to review his administration's deporation policy.

Immigration advocates are continuing to take a “dual track” when it comes to pressuring the federal government on immigration reform, targeting both President Obama and House Republicans.

This week House Democrats introduced a discharge petition designed to force Speaker John Boehner to act on reform. As was predicted by both Democrats and Republicans, the measure failed, but it did draw more attention to the stalemate in the House.

While Congress remains mired, there may be more reason for optimism when it comes to administrative changes that improve U.S. policies on the deportation of unauthorized immigrants. The White House has been facing increasing grassroots pressure to stop deportations, and this month President Obama announced that the administration would review its deportation policy to see if it was possible to make it more humane within the bounds of the law.  

President Obama is working with both members of Congress and activists. Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson has been directed to review his agency's approach. Reports from the media indicate there are some very sensible and middle-of-the-road solutions under consideration. One of them is to “ease or stop deportations of foreigners who have no criminal convictions other than immigration violations.” According to this report, deportation resources would be shifted to target people who have been charged with or convicted of crimes and may pose a threat to public safety.

Such a change may help ease the outrage of grassroots immigration activists, who point out that the Obama administration has already deported about 2 million unauthorized immigrants. Many of them faced no criminal charges and had been living in a family and working. The proposal would thus also help stem the separation of immigrant families.  Andrew Wainer

What Does Stigma Have to do with Hunger? Meet Dawn

Hunger Report Monday 2

Dawn shares her story of facing social stigmas. (Video credit: Feeding America)

For millions of Americans like Dawn, the idea of accepting help--even when it's badly needed--is daunting and humiliating. While she was unemployed, Dawn received SNAP (food stamps) that helped keep her and her son fed and healthy. The safety net was there for her family when a job just wasn't. Getting by on SNAP was hard enough (the average benefit is less than $1.50 per meal), but being socially ostracized for it, she says, was the most stressful. Scrutinizing stares and rude comments became a usual part of her weekly grocery trip, and she found herself shopping late at night just to avoid ridicule. 

Dawn never forgot the undue shame that she was made to endure during that rough time--and the millions of others who still face it today. Like most Americans, she has a firm sense of self-reliance, and considers it a strength. But she knows that it can also feed that oppressive stigma. Today, she's a vocal advocate for the millions of Americans who bear a degenerating burden of guilt for circumstances they can't control.

We have many tools at our disposal (like the new SNAP EBT card system) that can make it easier for people to anonymously accept help when they need it, but as Dawn's story shows, they will not be enough. Combatting stigmas will start with challenging hurtful attitudes and assumptions about what it means to need help. 

Hunger is a shared public health problem--not a punishment for the few--and the more we talk about it this way, the sooner we may be able to reduce the stigma that makes it a much harder problem to solve than it should be.

Check out hungerreport.org to read Dawn's full story--complete with photos and graphics--and to download the complete 2014 Hunger Report and read more about how social stigmas perpetuate hunger in America.  Derek Schwabe

Starting the Chat on Women's Empowerment

Hunger Report Monday 2

This past Friday — the eve of International Women’s Day — Bread for the World and the Institute hosted a Twitter chat with senior policy analyst Faustine Wabwire on how women’s empowerment can help end hunger. Research continues to show that, in nations and communities all over the world, gender bias is a principal cause of hunger. In fact, 55% of the reduction in hunger from 1970-1995 can be attributed to improvements in the status of women.

Senior Hunger Report editor Todd Post, Faustine, and other members of the Institute are currently at work developing the 2015 Hunger Report, to be released in November 2014, which will propose policy changes to improve women’s economic, political, and social status. International Women’s Day offered a prime opportunity to expand the discussion to the Twitter-sphere, resulting in a fruitful dialogue that  touched on the varied dimensions of women’s empowerment in the United States and around the world and gave us a chance to hear new perspectives.

Here’s a brief recap of where the chat went, with a smattering of sample tweets:

We had a lot of help getting the word out.  

We started by asking "Why women's empowerment?"

We examined the role of women in agriculture and the food system.

We looked back to the role of the Millennium Development Goals, and ahead to the threat of climate change. 

We pondered where hunger and poverty rates correspond — and where they don't. 

We acknowledged the influence of culture.

We heard from health experts on the role of good nutrition and access to health care. 

We shared resources with each other. 

We talked jobs and wages as next steps toward gender parity in the United States. 

We had many to thank for a rich online discussion. 

Derek Schwabe

Join us for a Twitter Chat on Women's Empowerment to End Hunger

Photo 21

Gender bias is a principal cause of hunger. Women produce well over half of the global food supply and are more likely to spend additional income on food. We won’t be able to end extreme poverty by 2030 without tackling gender inequality around the world. This is why women’s empowerment will be the focus of Bread for the World Institute’s (@breadinstitute) upcoming 2015 Hunger Report, currently being developed.

Join Bread for the World Institute Senior Policy Analyst Faustine Wabwire (@fwabwire) for a Twitter chat on the linkages between hunger, poverty, and women’s empowerment this Friday, March 7—the eve of International Women's Day. We want to hear your recommendations and stories to help answer the question:

What can we absolutely not leave out of the 2015 Hunger Report on women's economic empowerment to end hunger?

Be sure to include the hashtag #IWD2014 in your tweets. Here are the details:

What: Twitter Chat on Women’s Empowerment to end Hunger and Poverty

When: Friday, March 7, 2014

Time: 12 p.m. - 1 p.m. EST

Chat Hashtag: #IWD2014

Primary Twitter Accounts: 

@Fwabwire 

@breadinstitute

@bread4theworld

@asmalateef (Asma Lateef, director of Bread for the World Institute)

Faustine and the Institute will start the conversation with a few questions—but we hope to do a lot of listening. We look forward to hearing from you!

Meet Nadine: Social Exclusion and Hunger

Hunger Report Monday 2 Nadine

Nadine poses for a portrait. Click this image to view a video of Nadine's story. (Joseph Molieri/Bread for the World)

Nadine is a registered nurse, low-vision therapist, and former school teacher in Philadelphia who lost her job as a health service administrator when a debilitating medical condition struck without warning. Left with no job, drained savings, and limited assistance, the safety net is the only thing keeping Nadine from homelessness.

Food insecurity in the United States is much more common among members of society who have faced social exclusion, either due to a vulnerability like age or disability, or to discrimination by race, gender, or some other characteristic (see the chart below). Unfortunately Nadine has endured exclusion for all of these reasons.

As an African American woman, even in her healthiest years, Nadine had to hurdle serious barriers in order to attain the educational and employment opportunities that more men, and more women of other racial groups, enjoyed—opportunities that helped provide her with a steady, well paying job. But now, as a disabled senior, her physical inability to work, has left her teatering on the edge of poverty, homelessness, and food insecuirty.

Food Insecurity, Nadine

African American females are least likely to earn a high school or college degree, yet most vulnerable to fatal health conditions like hypertension and various forms of cancer. African American women also have higher rates of unemployment than white women and continue to have lower amounts of weekly usual earnings and median wealth compared to their male counterparts and white women. In 2010, African American women earned, on average, 64 cents for every one dollar earned by a white, non-Hispanic male. White women made 78.1 cents to the same dollar.

We can get close to ending hunger in America by making improvements in economic policies as regularly discussed on Institute Notes. But we cannot end hunger altogether without confronting knottier social issues that tie down people like Nadine. Ending hunger requires ending discrimination so that all people can have access to the educational and job opportunities that allow an individual to earn enough money to keep her family out of poverty. But it also requires a strong federal safety safety net--made up of programs like Social Security, SNAP (food stamps) and disability insurance--so that physical inability to work does not remain a condemnation to chronic homelessness and hunger. 

Visit hungerreport.org to view photos and interactive data from Nadine's story and to read more about the role that a strong safety net plays in our four-part plan to end hunger in America.Derek Schwabe

Pakistan Joins the Scaling Up Nutrition Movement

This blog was submitted by Pirbhu Satyani, who is an intern in Bread for the World Institute.   He has a Hubert H. Humphrey Fellowship through American University and comes from Tharparkar/Sindh, Pakistan.    

  Pirbhu pic

Pakistan, a middle-income country, has taken the significant step of becoming the 46th member country of the SUN (Scaling Up Nutrition) Movement. An important role of SUN member countries is to collaborate with each other in making the issue of nutrition a top priority. SUN helps member countries design nutrition-focused policies and use resources efficiently to achieve improved nutrition, especially among women and children.  

In my country, malnutrition is a serious issue with many causes, including ineffective government policies, a poor health infrastructure system, food insecurity, and widespread poverty. In terms of Millennium Development Goal 4 (MDG 4), Pakistan is still far behind in reducing its under-5 child mortality rate. Every year, 800,000 children die in Pakistan -- 35 percent due to malnutrition. The risk of death is nine times higher for a child suffering from malnutrition than for a child with a balanced diet. PS blog 1 Pakistan’s National Nutrition Survey in 2011 indicated that 58.1 percent of households were food insecure. The government and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) are working on small projects, but there is no comprehensive and focused long-term plan or strategy to address the situation, to scale up successful programs with a goal of reducing the child mortality rate. The provincial governments (there are four) have been trying to make changes in policies and practices to improve the health and nutrition system since the 2010 introduction of the 18th Amendment to Pakistan’s Constitution, which empowered provinces to take action.  

Malnutrition arises when people have little access to food and limited health services. In Pakistan, the majority of the population (around 63 percent) lives in rural areas, where health services are very limited. The main livelihood of most people is agriculture – even though it would seem that being a farmer and being malnourished contradict each other. In Pakistan it is lack of access to a diversified diet that causes malnutrition. PS blog2 An unprecedented natural disaster (flood) in 2010-2011 made poor communities even more vulnerable. An estimated 20 million people were displaced, millions of acres of land were damaged, and there was widespread damage to crops, mostly wheat and rice. Farmers were unable to feed their families and malnutrition increased rapidly.   

Malnutrition in Pakistan can only be addressed through collaborative efforts -- by engaging the international donor community and by initiating long–term, sustainable programs such as food security, women’s empowerment, agricultural safety nets, early childhood development programs, and quality health service at the grassroots level (meaning reaching to rural communities). Pakistan hopes that best practices and effective government policies around the world can be shared with and imitated in Pakistan as it seeks ways to scale up successful nutrition actions via the platform the SUN movement has provided.

The commitment of Pakistan’s government to join the SUN movement may open more opportunities for technical support and may mobilize resources by engaging international donors to invest more in improving policies and strategies in the health and agriculture sectors, and in building the capacity of human resources and systems. If that is achieved, effective implementation of services can be ensured at all levels to improve health and nutrition for all in my country.

Scott Bleggi

Raising the Minimum Wage is Still Good for the Poor, CBO Report Shows

Hunger Report Monday 2
CBO Report, Raising the Minimum Wage Still Good for the Poor

This graph from the CBO’s minimum wage report shows the estimated broadly shared income gains that a $10.10 minimum wage would bring. (Congressional Budget Office)

Last week, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO), a federal nonpartisan agency, heralded good news for America’s working poor families with the release of a report confirming the net positive economic impact of raising the federal minimum wage to the president’s proposed $10.10 per hour.

News agencies and opponents of raising the minimum wage, however, mostly ignored the good news of positive outcomes not only for working poor people, but for the vast majority of Americans. That’s why I’ve decided to recap them here:

If the minimum wage is raised to the proposed $10.10 an hour by 2016, the CBO estimates that…

  • 16.5 million low-wage workers would earn higher wages.
  • A net 900,000 people (i.e., factoring in potential job losses) would no longer be working full-time yet living in poverty.
  • The American workforce would see a $31 billion increase in income — the majority of it going to families earning at or below twice the poverty threshold.
  • Families with earnings below the poverty threshold would have an average 3 percent increase in income.
  • Only America’s top earners (with incomes six or more times the poverty threshold) would see a decrease in their income, and this decrease would be small.

Opponents of a higher minimum wage trumpeted the only statistic in the entire report that suggested a potentially harmful effect on low-wage earners – an estimate that there is a two-thirds chance that raising the minimum wage would lead to a loss of about 500,000 jobs (0.3 percent of total U.S. employment).

But the benefits I’ve just listed, for millions of low-wage workers and for the entire economy, overwhelmingly outweigh the possible loss of 500,000 jobs that pay poverty-level wages.

The idea that higher wages necessarily result in fewer jobs is simplistic and short-sighted. Higher wages do not operate in a vacuum. Raising the minimum wage produces many other positive results — most obviously, a rise in people’s earnings. And as people make more money, they spend more, they pay more in taxes, the economy grows, and more good jobs are created.

Thanks to the Congressional Budget Office, U.S. policymakers have a small mountain of evidence that raising the federal minimum wage is the right course of action — for the nation's economy, and especially for its most vulnerable families. 

The 2014 Hunger Report, Ending Hunger in America, recommends a $12 minimum wage — what it takes for a single breadwinner in a family of four, working full-time, year-round, to pull her or his family just over the federal poverty line. Read more about the rationale behind that recommendation at hungerreport.org.

Derek Schwabe

Gender Equality: A Stand-alone Goal in the Post-2015 Agenda?

TohminaPhoto Credit: Laura Elizabeth Pohl for Bread for the World

 The Millenium Development Goals (MDGs) are an unprecedented global effort to achieve human development goals that are identified collectively, achievable, and measurable. Globally, substantial progress has been made toward many MDG targets- including cutting in half the proportion of people living in poverty. Every region of the world has made progress.

MDG target 3A aims to eliminate gender disparity in primary and secondary education level by 2005, and at all levels by 2015. While MDG3 has helped boost political will, and encourage more development groups to invest in resources to promote women's equality, broad progress toward gender equality has wavered, with persistent gender-based inequalities in health, education and politics around the world.

With just two years left to the MDG deadline of December 2015, now is the time for an intensive effort to articulate a goal on gender in the ongoing process to develop a post-2015 global development framework.

Last week, February 3-7, the eighth session of the UN general assembly Open Working Group on sustainable development goals  (SDGs) was held in New York to discuss gender equality and women's empowerment.  These discussions will be included in the UN general assembly report later in 2014, with a proposal for the new 'sustainable development goal' framework. 

A summary of the meeting highlights these points:

  • Gender equality was affirmed as an end in itself and as an essential means for sustainable development and poverty eradication. There can be no sustainable development without gender equality and the full participation of women and girls. Gender inequality is the most pervasive form of inequality in the world. 
  • There was widespread support for a stand-alone goal on gender equality, supplemented by cross-cutting targets under other goals. 
  • Many expressed broad support for a number of priority actions, including: preventing and eliminating all forms of violence against women and girls; empowering women legally and economically; and strengthening women’s voice, participation in decision-making and leadership in all areas of life. 
  • The recognition, reduction, and redistribution of unpaid care and domestic work, disproportionately borne by women and girls, was also recognized as an area for action. 

The question is-- what will guarantee that structural constraints to gender equality—whether social, economical or political —are overcome?

"The problem is not a lack of practical ways to address gender inequality but rather a lack of change on a large and deep enough scale to bring about a transformation in the way societies conceive of and organise men’s and women’s roles, responsibilities, and control over resources."  UN Millennium Task Force on Education and Gender Equality

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