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Dominic Sr. is the director of the HELP program in Cincinnati, Ohio. The program works with men who are ex-offenders – “returning citizens,” as they prefer to call themselves – to help them cope with the difficulties they face in trying to integrate back into their communities and find jobs.
I am pleased to say that I got the ball rolling on the cover shot by writing about the HELP program in the 2014 Hunger Report. Joe traveled to Cincinnati at my suggestion to take pictures and make a short film about the men in the HELP Program. The film will be up on the Hunger Report website beginning November 25, the same day we launch the report.
Initially, I came to the HELP Program to talk with Dominic and other returning citizens about food stamps (now SNAP, the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program). In some states, federal law prohibits some returning citizens who would be eligible based on their incomes from receiving food stamps/SNAP benefits. Because states have the option of waiving or modifying the federal law, it does not apply in all states. Ohio is one of those that waived the law. I met with members of the HELP program because I wanted to hear from them how SNAP benefits made a significant difference in helping them with their transition back into society.
One of the men I met is named TJ, short for Terry Jones. At 41 years old, TJ decided for the first time to apply for SNAP benefits. He’d been eligible for benefits based on his income for most of his life, but he said he never considered applying because he was too proud. When he was a kid, his father told him there were three things a man should never do: pawn possessions, sell his blood, or use food stamps. TJ changed his mind about food stamps because of his own kids. Once he got out of prison, he wanted to help make sure they got enough to eat. That was his job as their father, the way he explained it to me. The SNAP benefits aren’t enough to feed him and the children together, but they help family members avoid some of the gnawing hunger they face at the end of each month.
When you talk to returning citizens about the difficulties of reentry, you realize very quickly that being released from prison doesn’t mean the end of their punishment. For example, the risk of being homeless is high. Family and friends may want to help by offering the recently-released person a place to live, but the law prohibits anyone who receives federal housing assistance from doing this. Getting caught flouting the law means that they could lose their housing assistance and possibly become homeless themselves.
Legal restrictions on SNAP, housing assistance, and other benefits mean that the family members of returning citizens – including children – are punished alongside them. In 2012, there were more than 800,000 parents serving time in prison, more than 80 percent of them fathers. When they’ve finished serving their sentence, they will return to their communities. I think most will feel the way TJ does – obliged to do what they can to feed their children.
People who are already severely disadvantaged face daunting obstacles in adjusting to life outside prison. One of the reasons recidivism rates are so high in the United States is the combination of laws such as these with the difficulty ex-offenders have in finding jobs. For instance, it is common for job applications to ask applicants whether they have ever been convicted of a felony. The bias against those who check “yes” is palpable. Perhaps it is a prospective employer’s right to ask such a question, but my point here is that someone returning from prison faces extraordinary difficulties. It takes strength to persevere when it feels as though the odds are overwhelmingly against you.
Marquez McCoy is another man in the HELP Program that I met. There is no mistaking Marquez for a man who can’t work. A small, muscular guy in his early 30s, he looks like a boxer – a welterweight. For most of his adult life, he’s been trying to dodge one knockout blow after another. Less than a month before I met him, he’d been turned down for a job working in the storeroom at a casino. People get passed over for jobs all the time – it was how it happened this time that illustrates the ongoing challenges that the men in the HELP Program, and every other returning citizen, face.
Marquez made a strong impression on the manager of the storeroom. He was up front about his past, and the manager was willing to give him a try. He too was up front with Marquez and told him that the Human Resources department might not be as open to hiring someone with a criminal record. To boost his chances, the manager asked Marquez to provide five letters of recommendation instead of the usual three. Marquez did him two better and provided seven letters, including one from a judge. Late on a Friday, Marquez got a call from the manager of the storeroom, not to offer him a job but to apologize because the HR department had turned him down because of his felony conviction.
It was the closest Marquez had come to getting a job in more than a year, and when it fell through he plunged into a severe depression, convinced he was never going to make money except by going back to what he did before going to prison – selling drugs. The men in the HELP Program worked with him, lifting him out of the depression, until the temptation to go back on the street and hustle subsided.
Marquez entered the drug world, like so many kids from his community, about the time he was old enough to realize the smallness of his world compared to that of other kids. In grade school, he liked to learn and had good grades. When he was 13, he had a summer job with the Cincinnati Youth Collaborative that included cleaning schools in more privileged areas of the city. He saw what those schools looked like compared to his. In his neighborhood, most parents don’t finish high school, so the only education they can offer their kids was how to survive on the street. By the age of 13, Marquez knew all he needed to know to take home $500 a week in the drug trade. He could buy lunch for himself and anybody else he wanted to. Free lunches in the cafeteria stopped being a reason to come to school.
Mike Murphy, the executive director of the HELP Program, says the state of Ohio spends $42,000 a year to house and feed someone who is incarcerated. This cost to society should warrant more of an investment in a person’s transition back into the community – and repealing laws that prohibit family and friends from helping ex-offenders get back on their feet would cost nothing.
Typhoon Haiyan, known locally as Yolanda, made landfall on the eastern coast of the Philippines last Friday, November 8, 2013. As of today, more than 10,000 lives are known to have been lost. A total of 9.8 million people are now believed to have been affected by the storm as relief and rescue efforts continue to reach new areas along the storm’s destructive path.
Emergency assistance is urgently needed, and you can help survivors by joining the ongoing efforts of agencies such as Catholic Relief Services.
It’s also important to look at the bigger picture. Droughts, floods, and other disasters that endanger millions of people at a time are increasingly common. For example, the Philippines is no stranger to typhoons or other natural disasters. But Typhoon Haiyan, the 24th storm to hit the country this year, is the most powerful typhoon in the country’s history. Last year, more than 1,000 people died in a single typhoon.
The increasing frequency of devastating weather events over the past decade is in line with the effects of global climate change as predicted by climate scientists. Extreme events such as Typhoon Haiyan and its impacts are sobering reminders to the international community that we cannot afford to procrastinate on climate action.
The feasibility of ending hunger and extreme poverty depends on the world’s ability to manage large-scale disasters linked to climate change as well as economic shocks such as food, fuel, or financial crises. All of these factors pose significant risks to the pace and sustainability of reducing poverty.
As the Philippines and the global relief community face the aftermath of Typhoon Haiyan, UN climate talks are under way in Warsaw, Poland. The annual Conference of the Parties (COP 19) to the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) runs from November 11-22. The climate change talks in Warsaw must mobilize the political will to begin doing what it will take to limit climate change.
Bold action is needed now.
Developed countries must show they are meeting their commitments under the climate convention. Vulnerable communities will be stuck in a grim cycle of ever-more-frequent, ever-more-destructive natural disasters unless the global community takes emergency measures to prevent the planet from becoming more than 2 degrees Celsius warmer than in pre-industrial times -- the absolute threshold for preventing the most nightmarish scenarios of the Earth’s future.
On this Veterans Day, we remember all those who made sacrifices -- including, of course, many who gave their lives -- to defend our country.
But those who return from military service often fall on hard times. The Center for American Progress reports that as of December 2011, nearly one in seven homeless adults were veterans. U.S. census data from 2010 showed that nearly a million veterans between the ages of 18 and 64 -- more than 968,000 -- had lived below the poverty line within the previous 12 months.
The results of one of the first polls to focus specifically on veterans and hunger were released on Veterans Day 2011. In New York City, the survey showed, about one in four households with military veterans had trouble putting food on the table.
Margarette Purvis, president and CEO of the Food Bank for New York City, which commissioned the poll, said then, "Survival was supposed to be about getting them home to their families. But their second level of survival is how to be fed and have dignity."
Ironically, veterans who worry about where their next meal will come from may well have helped to feed others. The U.S. military has a history of working to make food available to hungry civilians in the aftermath of conflict. One intervention that helped establish an anti-hunger role for the military: The date was 1918. As a piece in the Huffington Post describes, American soldiers in northern France set up makeshift kitchens and distributed food that saved the lives of refugee children and families.
Many veterans have young children to support. Others have already raised their families, while still others served this country's interests but do not have a spouse and children. In a wealthy country such as the United States, all of these men and women deserve sufficient nutritious food.
On November 25, the Monday of Thanksgiving week, Bread for the World Institute will release the 2014 Hunger Report, Ending Hunger in America. Over the next three weeks, I will continue to preview sections of the report.
The report offers a plan to end hunger in the United States by 2030. That’s more than enough time to get the job done, especially when you consider there are people in high places—for example, Jim Kim, president of the World Bank—who believe it is possible to end poverty globally by 2030.
With bold political leadership from the current and next U.S. presidents, Congress, governors, and state and municipal legislators—plus a public willing to do its part by holding these elected officials accountable—it wouldn’t take long at all to achieve dramatic progress against hunger and poverty in the United States. Bangladesh, Ethiopia, Peru and many other low-income countries have made such progress—if they can do it, there is absolutely no reason we can’t do it right here in the wealthiest country in the world.
Last week, I spoke about the need for a strong safety net with food stamps/SNAP as its center of gravity. This week I want to share what the report has to say about jobs. The 2014 Hunger Report argues that the most important thing we can do to end hunger in America is to reach full employment—so that everyone who can work and wants to is able to find a job.
Full employment is step one of the report’s jobs agenda. Step two is to improve job quality, primarily by boosting the minimum wage until it is a living wage, and by making it possible for parents to balance their work and family responsibilities—for example, by making paid sick leave, flexible scheduling, and high quality child care available to all workers.
Achieving full employment is possible if the federal government takes meaningful steps to stimulate demand. Unemployment is high for one simple reason—a lack of demand. Prior to the Great Recession, which started in 2007, a housing bubble was the main source of demand in the economy. Prior to that it was a stock bubble—recall the dot.com era? The economy hasn’t had a sustainable model of growth for nearly two decades now, but we know that one is possible. First, let’s look at a chart.
This is the most important chart in the 2014 Hunger Report. It shows the close relationship between the unemployment rate and the federal budget deficit. The blue line is the unemployment rate and the yellow line is the size of the federal deficit as a share of Gross Domestic Product. I prepared this chart using tools that are available to anyone on the Federal Reserve’s Economic Data (FRED) website.
I’m drawing attention to this chart because, presumably, the main reason federal lawmakers are resisting spending government resources to reduce unemployment is because doing so will raise the budget deficit. That may be true in the short run. However, this chart very clearly refutes that argument over the medium or long run. The chart shows that bringing down the unemployment rate, by whatever means necessary, will reduce the federal deficit. Why? Because when more people are working, they have more money to spend, which in turn creates jobs and leads to increased tax revenue to replenish government coffers.
In a well-functioning economy, the private sector would be leading the way by investing its own resources in job creation. But we don’t have a well-functioning economy, mainly because we haven’t had an economy based on a sustainable model of growth since before the housing and stock bubbles of the past two decades. We’ve got to start building things that produce sustainable value again.
The 2014 Hunger Report calls for government to invest in revitalizing the nation’s infrastructure, both physical and human. Physical infrastructure includes roads, bridges, transportation systems, and the like. These are public goods. The private sector on its own has very little incentive to invest in these areas, so government investments wouldn’t be crowding out the private sector. In fact, only the federal government can provide sufficient seed capital and then leverage the private sector’s talent for technical innovation.
To bring American infrastructure into the twenty-first century, according to the Society of Civil Engineers, we need an infusion of more than $3 trillion. Revitalizing the nation’s worn and decrepit physical infrastructure (even to the tune of a few hundred billion dollars) would create millions of construction and manufacturing jobs right there and shave entire percentage points off the unemployment rate.
“Investing in human infrastructure” means boosting the professions that help build the human capital we need to continue to innovate and develop the technologies that enable our workers to compete in a global economy. These are our teachers, healthcare professionals, and especially the caregivers who make it possible for families to manage their work and family responsibilities.
This is the thrust of the 2014 Hunger Report’s jobs agenda. Next week I will talk more about how ending hunger in America also depends on how we address the circumstances of marginalized populations, such as ex-offenders, low-income elderly people, and disabled people.
In a survey of over 800,000 people globally, access to nutritous food ranked among the most frequently mentioned development challenges. (Source: World We Want, A Million Voices report)
Since last year, leadership at the United Nations has been working very hard to find out what development issues matter most to ordinary people around the world. The process of developing the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) in 2000 has been criticized as not inclusive; the U.N. wants things to be different as the world sets successor development goals for the period after December 2015, the deadline for the MDGs.
So they’ve set out to poll everyday people the world over about their priority issues -- and last week they were proud to report that they’ve heard one million voices. And it turns out people had a lot to say.
The MDGs were created to drive improvement in the livelihoods of the world’s poorest people -- and they have. More progress was made against hunger and poverty in the 2000s than during any other decade in history. But the exclusive group of officials from donor countries and international organizations that came up with the MDGs largely overlooked a valuable resource -- arguably the most authoritative source -- on how to overcome poverty: poor people themselves. You can read more about the MDG process and its implications in the 2013 Hunger Report.
The World We Want 2015 effort reached its one million voices through a combination of 88 open national consultations, 11 thematic dialogues, and an online global survey amplified by social media. The essential question put to global citizens: “What issues matter most to you?” Here’s a brief look at some of the main ideas expressed:
- Top issues: Education, health care, government accountability, better job opportunities;
- Top values: Universal human rights, equality, justice, and security (underpinned by more accountable governments);
- The urgency of improving people’s lives today;
- Concern about growing inequalities (e.g., income, wealth, access to education);
- The interconnectedness of issues and the need for a holistic, sustainable set of solutions;
- The need for data collection methods that measure progress more accurately.
Although The World We Want is particularly focused on hearing from people in developing nations, who are most urgently affected by development problems, it is intended to collect opinions globally and to include a wide spectrum of views. Americans are not yet well represented in the results – only 26,000 of the first million respondents are from the United States. But people here have more reason than ever to be concerned about “the world we want” – and the country we want. During the Great Recession, hunger in the United States grew by almost 40 percent, and it has barely budged since the recession’s official end nearly four years ago. Today, one in six Americans struggles to put food on the table.
The World We Want reminds us that most people around the world want the same things: quality education, jobs, health care, and yes, food. And we’ve learned from the MDG experience that when we set goals whose progress can be measured, we can accomplish more in less time. That’s why more Americans need to speak up about the issues we care about and press our elected leaders to adopt and carry out realistic plans to solve our most critical problems.
The 2014 Hunger Report, Ending Hunger in America, will be released in less than three weeks here in Washington, DC. Using lessons from the world’s experiences with the MDGs, it lays out a feasible plan for the United States to confront our high levels of inequality, unemployment, and poverty directly and to end hunger in this country by 2030.
If you haven’t yet, take the time to tell the U.N. about the world you want. We’ll keep you posted on the 2014 Hunger Report release here on Institute Notes.
Posted by Bread on November 06, 2013 in Africa, Agriculture, Asia, Assets for the Poor, Development Assistance, Economic Development, Food Aid, Food Prices, Foreign Aid Reform, Global Hunger, Good Governance, Hunger Report, Inequality, Latin America, Malnutrition, Maternal and Child Nutrition, Millennium Challenge Account, Millennium Development Goals, Religion and Hunger, Trade, U.S. Hunger | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
Amid the debate over potentially the biggest reform of immigration law in 50 years, American communities struggling with decades of population loss and economic decline are being revitalized by newcomers. The economic contribution of immigrants in high-skilled fields is relatively well known, but less acknowledged are the contributions that blue-collar immigrants play in revitalizing depressed communities and economies, both as manual laborers and small-business entrepreneurs.
In Rust Belt communities such as Baltimore, Detroit, and rural southeastern Iowa, immigration has slowed—and in some cases reversed—decades of population loss. In July 2012, after 60 years of population decline, Baltimore’s population actually increased, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. The increase was attributed in part to growing international migration. Detroit is infamous for its steep population decline since 1950.
But the drop would be even more significant if it were not for an influx of immigrants from Latin America. Between 2000 and 2010, Detroit lost 237,000 residents— 25 percent of the total population in just 10 years. But the city’s southwest immigrant neighborhoods, an area known as “Mexicantown,” actually increased in population.
Immigration isn’t revitalizing only cities; newcomers also inject life into rural American communities that might otherwise be vanishing. Rural Iowa has lost population every decade since 1920 – in fact, there are fewer people in rural Iowa now than there were a century ago. But immigrants have sustained some towns. Between 2000 and 2010, Iowa’s Latino population increased by 84 percent, while the total state population increased only 4 percent over the same decade. As other cities in southeastern Iowa have declined, towns such as West Liberty (population 3,742) have a stable population and economy because of immigrants.
In addition to supporting communities that are experiencing overall population loss, immigrants are making disproportionate contributions to Rust Belt economies, particularly to Rust Belt cities such as Detroit, Baltimore, Pittsburgh, and St. Louis.
As they have throughout much of U.S. history, immigrants make up a disproportionate share of our country’s entrepreneurs. Their business initiative is evident in some Rust Belt commercial corridors, where immigrant entrepreneurs large and small contribute dynamism and innovation to the economy. While immigrants are 13 percent of the national population and 16 percent of the labor force, they comprise 18 percent of small business owners. Nationally, immigrant-owned small businesses employ 4.7 million people and generate $776 billion in income. Immigrants’ propensity for business ownership is even more pronounced in the Rust Belt than in the country as a whole.
In order to realize their full potential economic impact on the Rust Belt, unauthorized immigrants need legalization and a path to citizenship. Without this, they live in a climate of fear even as they help struggling U.S. cities and towns survive. It is up to national policymakers to reform our immigration system so that newcomers can support their families and make a fuller economic contribution to the nation – particularly to the cities and towns that need it most.
Migrant workers load cucumbers into a truck in Blackwater, Virginia, on the farm of Ricky Horton and Sherilyn Shepard. Photo by Laura Elizabeth Pohl for Bread for the World.
In her recent op-ed in The New York Times, Sonia Nazario, author of the novel Enrique’s Journey, argued that poverty is the primary root cause of undocumented immigration to the United States. The wage differential between the United States and many Latin American countries; the 53 million Latin Americans who, according to the United Nations, were malnourished in 2010; and the 1.5 billion people in developing countries that are living on less than $1.25 a day all encourage people to migrate to escape both poverty and hunger.
Enrique’s Journey follows the character of 16-year-old Enrique, from Honduras, as he attempts to reunite with his mother Lourdes, who left to seek work in the United States when he was just 5. It takes Enrique eight tries and 122 days to cross the U.S.-Mexico border. Lourdes had barely been able to feed her two children in Honduras, but working in the United States as a nanny, she was able to send enough money home for food and other necessities. In 2011, immigrants from Guatemala, El Salvador, and Honduras sent home more than $10 million in remittances, most of which was sent from the United States. Remittances, while helpful, should not be regarded as a panacea since they can lead to too much dependence on the diaspora.
Nazario’s opinion piece points out that although immigration can bring significant economic benefits to families, there are also significant drawbacks – including the separation of families. Enrique represents the estimated 48,000 children every year who enter the United States without documentation to join a parent. Nazario points out some of the consequences: “They feel abandoned, and disproportionately join gangs or get pregnant; searching for the love they feel they feel they missed.” She argues that mothers and fathers should not have to make the impossible choice between abandoning their children, or not feeding them.
Unfortunately, the U.S. government response to immigration has done nothing to solve the problem. In fact, billions of taxpayer dollars have been spent in recent years on significant increases in fences, personnel, and technology intended to reduce the number of immigrants attempting to cross the U.S.-Mexico border without authorization. A study conducted by the University of California, San Diego, showed that 97 percent of migrants who want to cross the border are eventually successful in doing so. There are currently 11.1 million undocumented immigrants living on the margins of the U.S. economy and society. Fences do nothing to confront the root problem: the deep poverty and significant inequality in the home nations of immigrants that push them to risk their lives to get past these fences.
Nazario calls on the U.S. government to redirect the $18 billion per year currently spent on border enforcement to fund targeted economic development programs in immigrant-sending countries. She also suggests that the United States collaborate with Mexico and Central American countries to “coordinate a percentage of the tens of billions of dollars that immigrants send home to Latin America each year toward investing in job-creating enterprises.” At Bread for the World Institute, we also emphasize the links between migration and development and support measures to help fight poverty in immigrant-sending regions and communities.
Today is Halloween, but the real scare comes tomorrow, November 1. That’s when the additional Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, formerly food stamps) benefits that were included in the 2009 Recovery Act run out. Every household that receives food stamp/SNAP benefits will be affected – about 48 million people. For a family of three, the reduction in benefits means a loss of roughly 16 meals per month.
This will play out in predictable ways. Parents will cut back on meals first to spare their children from going without. Nationally, the food insecurity rate for children is 21.5 percent, and in some states, it climbs to 30 percent. There is only so much cutting back that parents can do. Hunger and food insecurity rates for both children and adults will increase – unless the economy improves more quickly than it has since the recession officially ended, more than four years ago now.
The loss of the additional SNAP benefits in the Recovery Act dovetails with another imminent threat to families who participate in SNAP. The Senate and the House of Representatives are negotiating a new U.S. farm bill. Cuts to food stamps are the top item of business. If many members of the House have their way, millions of people will be thrown out of the program. The House is pushing for work requirements – which may sound like a good idea, except that millions of people who need SNAP aren’t working because they can’t find jobs. Presently there are three job seekers for every job available. The percentage of people unemployed for six months or more hasn’t been this high since the depths of the Great Depression in the 1930s.
Last week, my colleague Derek Schwabe previewed the 2014 Hunger Report, Ending Hunger in America, whose release is coming up on November 25. It is possible to end hunger in our country, but not in this economy or with this Congress. This Congress doesn’t seem to understand that when jobs are scarce, the country needs a safety net that is strong enough and broad enough to keep people from falling into the void. Most of the 2014 Hunger Report is focused on creating jobs and improving job quality. I’ll say more next week about the jobs agenda in the report, but since this seems to be a moment of reckoning for SNAP, I wanted to use this blog post to talk about the program and about the safety net more generally.
While working on the 2014 Hunger Report, I had a chance to speak with a number of people who rely on food stamps/SNAP and other forms of government assistance to supplement their low incomes. One of these was 87-year-old Lucy Jeffers. Ms. Jeffers lives in a subsidized housing complex in Takoma Park, Maryland, a town where I lived for more than 10 years. I spoke with her earlier this year, not long after the first year of across-the-board cuts to discretionary spending -- known as sequestration – went into effect.
A widow living alone, Ms. Jeffers receives just $30 per month in food stamp benefits. Sequestration did not affect her SNAP allotment, but it did raise the cost of her rent by $11 per month. Perhaps that doesn’t sound like too much, but Ms. Jeffers lives on less than $800 per month in Social Security, so $11 is a big deal for her. Her rent is fixed, but her food budget is not. Ms. Jeffers told me that the $11 hike in rent was going to make it harder to stretch her SNAP benefits. As it is, by the end of the month her meals consist mostly of plain rice with a little butter and some tea.
Some members of Congress say that food stamps must be cut because government spending is out of control. Is this a valid argument? Hardly. The House seeks to reduce spending on food stamps by $39 billion over 10 years, which amounts to less than 0.5 percent of the federal budget. The difference in the federal budget deficit won’t even be noticed.
In the upcoming Hunger Report, we cite data provided by the Meals on Wheels Association – the organization that provides meals to homebound seniors – showing that for every dollar invested in Meals on Wheels programs, the government saves $50 in healthcare costs. So if the objective is deficit reduction, cutting SNAP or other nutrition assistance is exactly the opposite of what Congress should be doing.
The 2014 Hunger Report makes the case that hunger in the United States can become a thing of the past – if Americans decide that it should be. We back up our argument with solid evidence. But one sure way not to end hunger in America is to move backward by taking food from 48 million low-income people, whether they are elders like Ms. Jeffers, schoolchildren, babies, disabled people, low-wage workers, or “others.”
In exactly one month, on November 25, Bread for the World Institute will release our 2014 Hunger Report. We’re eager to share the report not only because it’s a major component of our analysis of hunger this year, but because it presents an ambitious goal that is nonetheless 100 percent attainable: ending hunger in America. That is the report’s title, and its substance is a realistic plan to reach this goal.
We’ve learned a lot, especially since 2000, by looking at global efforts to end hunger and poverty. A critical lesson to apply here at home is that clear goals, a sound plan, effective leadership, and collaborative work that includes a range of partners can produce stunning results.
Around the world, more people escaped poverty during the 2000s than any other decade in history – and every major region made progress. The progress coincides with efforts to reach the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), which garnered support from all over the world and included specific targets such as cutting the rate of global hunger in half.
Food insecurity in the United States (struggling to put food on the table) has grown considerably since the Great Recession, even as undernourishment (not enough calories for an active life) around the world continues to fall. (Data sources: USDA & FAO)
In the 2013 Hunger Report, we pointed out that the MDGs have come to define the global development framework. In nearly every country on Earth, they have mobilized support among the public, leadership, and civil society to reduce hunger and extreme poverty. As the deadline to reach the MDGs, December 2015, approaches, there’s a lot of work left to do – and lively discussions are under way about their successors in the global development agenda. You can read all about this in Faustine Wabwire’s recently launched briefing paper, and, starting November 25, in chapter 5 of the 2014 Hunger Report. In the United States, however, perhaps the greatest impact of the MDGs is the realization that clear, measurable targets work.
Even as global poverty continues to fall, poverty and hunger here at home have risen by 40 percent since 2007. Of course, the conditions in very poor countries – where millions of young children die from malnutrition-related causes and large percentages of those who survive are stunted – are nothing like the challenges facing most low-income people in the United States. By the same token, however, not having enough money to feed your kids is a fundamental human problem no matter where you live.
Many Americans have come to think that high poverty and food insecurity rates are an inevitable “new normal.” Hearing of the significant progress made at the global level can give us the encouragement needed to renew our efforts. At the same time, making progress in the United States may help build support for American efforts to help hungry and poor people overseas.
In the remaining weeks before the release of the new Hunger Report on November 25, we will continue this Institute Notes conversation on the specifics of what needs to be done to end hunger in our country. Next week, Hunger Report Senior Editor Todd Post will write the next installment in the 2014 Hunger Report launch series.
Last week in Des Moines, Iowa, the 2013 World Food Prize Symposium brought together more than 1,000 international scientific, business, and policy experts from more than 65 countries. The weeklong dialogue on ending hunger has been called the “premier conference in the world on global agriculture." This year's World Food Prize Laureates are pioneers in biotechnology: Dr. Marc Van Montagu of Belgium and Dr. Mary Dell-Chilton and Dr. Robert Fraley of the United States.
Among the many key issues discussed was the need to build resilience: in families, in communities, in nations, and in the world. Bread for the World Institute's recent Briefing Paper, A Global Development Agenda: Toward 2015 and Beyond, emphasizes that responding effectively to climate change means building resilience in communities where people have always struggled to produce enough food. This task demands strong and organized political leadership, infrastructure, and resources at all levels — local, regional, national, and international. At the same time, understanding the interactions between agriculture and climate well enough to know how to respond effectively will require new investments. We need to improve data collection and analysis so that we can create and implement evidence-based adaptation measures that work.
Rev. David Beckmann, president of Bread for the World, and Cardinal Peter K.A. Turkson, president of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, The Holy See, The Vatican, at the World Food Prize Symposium. Photo Credit: John Coonrod
- Cardinal Peter K.A. Turkson has served as the president of the Roman Catholic Church’s Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace in The Vatican since 2009. His remarks focused on the importance of addressing long-term food security issues while respecting both the land and rural populations, and of promoting sustainable agricultural development in poorer countries.
- Tony Blair, former prime minister of the United Kingdom, is currently Patron of the Africa Governance Initiative. Mr. Blair spoke on a panel entitled 40 Chances in a reference to the number of growing seasons an average farmer has during his or her lifetime. With the theme of “Redefining the Fight Against Hunger, Poverty, and Suffering,” this discussion focused on the drivers of food security, which include aid effectiveness, trade, private sector investment, and technological innovation. Mr. Blair also announced new joint programs designed to foster market-based solutions to global challenges in the areas of hunger, poverty, and conflict.
- President Ólafur Ragnar Grímsson of Iceland stressed that the need to respond to the problems caused by increasing climate volatility is one of the most pressing current issues worldwide.
Also last week, the 2013 Global Hunger Index report was launched at the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) in Washington, DC. The report, The Challenge of Hunger: Building Resilience to Achieve Food and Nutrition Security, calls for breaking down the silos between the emergency relief and development communities and for focusing on approaches that enable people and systems to better resist, absorb, and transform in response to shocks such as droughts, floods, and food price volatility.
Click here to watch video footage of 2013 World Food Prize sessions (Note - Footage is grouped by day and time.)
Posted by Faustine Wabwire on October 22, 2013 in Africa, Agriculture, Climate Change, Development Assistance, Economic Development, Food Aid, Food Prices, Foreign Aid Reform, Inequality, Malnutrition, Maternal and Child Nutrition, Millennium Development Goals, Trade, Weblogs | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
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