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10 posts categorized "Religion and Hunger"
Get ready. Next month Bread for the World and Concern Worldwide will team-up with other partners to celebrate the first 1,000 days of a global movement to make nutrition a key development goal. To update everyone on where our “Sustaining Political Commitments” event sits in “nutrition history,” we’ve put together an interactive timeline (above) that highlights some of the biggest moments since 2008. Use the side arrows to click through the slide-view, or click the "timeline" tab on the top left corner for a more linear perspective. Click on each event for videos, images, links, and a detailed description.
A lot has happened since September 2010, when developing countries founded the Scaling Up Nutrition (SUN) movement and donors—led by the United States, Ireland, and the United Nations—launched the 1,000 Days call to action to support it. What started as the recommendations of a scholarly series in a British medical journal has morphed into a global partnership. To date, 35 countries with high rates of maternal and child malnutrition have joined SUN. The movement has grown rapidly as governments and civil society leaders increasingly recognize the irreversible damage that early childhood malnutrition can inflict on whole generations—and conversely, the tremendous return on national investment in preventing this damage.
The 2013 Hunger Report is chock-full of stories on maternal and child nutrition, stunting, the 1,000 Day window, and the SUN movement. It’s all related to our recommendation for a bull’s-eye goal of ending mass hunger and extreme poverty by 2040.
Download the report at www.hungerreport.org to get the full story on Bread for the World’s recommendations regarding nutrition in the first 1,000 days.
Posted by Bread on May 20, 2013 in Africa, Agriculture, Asia, Assets for the Poor, Climate Change, Development Assistance, Economic Development, Food Aid, Food Prices, Foreign Aid Reform, Global Hunger, Good Governance, Hunger Hotspots, Hunger Report, Immigration, Inequality, Latin America, Malnutrition, Maternal and Child Nutrition, Millennium Challenge Account, Millennium Development Goals, Religion and Hunger, Trade, U.S. Hunger, Weblogs | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
In my last blog I mentioned that we now know what malnutrition is and what to do to overcome it. Much has been written about the “1,000-day window of opportunity,” the period from a woman’s pregnancy to her child’s second birthday. A growing body of scientific evidence shows that malnutrition during this critical time can carry lifelong consequences for a person’s health, education and earnings. When chronic malnutrition affects a large number of people, it can even affect a country’s economy.
The better news is that interventions to prevent and treat malnutrition during the 1,000-day window are not only highly effective, but also great investments in development, with very high returns for every dollar invested. Since nutrition is an integral part of all development sectors, it is often referred to as being “cross-sectoral” in nature. It means that improving a person’s health, or education, or economic situation can have a positive, sustainable influence on malnutrition. Improving nutrition isn’t just about growing more food or having better access to food anymore.
So, if we know what malnutrition is and what actions are required to defeat it, and if we have shown that investing in nutrition is a smart thing to do, what is holding back “scaling up” nutrition on a global scale? The Scaling Up Nutrition (SUN) movement now includes 35 countries, all with high levels of malnutrition. Even though some SUN members are among the poorest countries in the world, every SUN country has committed political and financial resources to take action against malnutrition. Could it be that a country’s commitment to fighting hunger and malnutrition is what is important?
What if an index of a country’s commitment was available to help measure and motivate concerted action? The Institute of Development Studies in the United Kingdom, along with the British and Irish aid agencies, has produced just such an index, called the Hunger and Nutrition Commitment Index (HANCI). Last year, the International Food and Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) noted in its Global Hunger Index that in recent years, progress in reducing hunger has been “worryingly slow.” The report found that in many developing countries, significant economic growth has not necessarily led to lower levels of malnutrition and hunger. Rather, a driving factor in making (or not making) progress on malnutrition seems to be a government’s political will (or lack thereof).
The Global Hunger Index treats efforts to reduce hunger and to reduce malnutrition as separate issues. Hunger is a key driver of migration, conflict, and gender discrimination. Malnutrition, the report found, can have different causes and consequences. It does not always come directly from hunger. One example of another cause is an impaired ability to absorb vitamins and minerals (micronutrients) due to disease.
So which countries are doing well according to the HANCI? The results indicate that Guatemala ranks at the top and Guinea Bissau (a small West African nation) at the bottom. The index provides an interesting set of information graphics that can be studied. Guatemala has made a substantial political commitment to improving access to clean drinking water, ensuring improved sanitation, promoting complementary feeding practices, and investing in health interventions. I’ve blogged previously about its “Zero Hunger Plan.” Guinea Bissau, on the other hand, has a low ranking because it has failed to invest in agriculture, leaving women in particular vulnerable to hunger and malnutrition; in addition, the country has not yet developed effective safety nets that can provide its citizens with a measure of food security.
In recent years, we’ve seen a truly incredible level of global momentum on nutrition. But how are the major donors doing when it comes to following through on their political commitments to ending hunger and malnutrition? Where would the United States, Canada, Australia, and the EU rank on the HANCI? Do these governments endorse policies and provide funding for programs that augment the efforts of the developing countries most affected by hunger, chronic food insecurity, and malnutrition?
A series of events in June 2013 will help answer these questions, indicating whether donor governments are “walking the walk” -- or just talking -- about their commitment to nutrition.
First, in London on June 8, the U.K. government will host the “Nutrition for Growth” event, during which governments will pledge specific monetary amounts to help scale up nutrition. Following this, during Bread’s National Gathering, we are hosting an event in Washington, DC, called “Sustaining Political Commitments to Scaling Up Nutrition”, to build on our very successful 2011 event. The Call to Action will bring 40 civil society representatives from SUN countries to discuss SUN’s next steps -- and what’s needed to carry them out -- with U.S. government officials, non-governmental organization nutrition stakeholders, and others, including Bread’s grassroots activists who will be in Washington, DC, for the National Gathering. Participants will be able to judge for themselves whether the U.S. government is “walking the walk” on its commitment to ending malnutrition, particularly among women and children.
Stay tuned to this space and the Bread for the World blog for more information.
Posted by Scott Bleggi on May 14, 2013 in Africa, Agriculture, Asia, Climate Change, Development Assistance, Economic Development, Food Aid, Foreign Aid Reform, Global Hunger, Good Governance, Hunger Hotspots, Immigration, Latin America, Malnutrition, Maternal and Child Nutrition, Millennium Development Goals, Religion and Hunger, Weblogs | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
A Place at the Table, a new eye-opening documentary on hunger in America is set to launch nationwide this weekend. It will expose the reality of hunger in America through the lives of three people. Barbie, a young Philadelphia mother, fights to make ends meet and break the cycle of poverty. Rosie, an imaginative fifth-grader, tries to distract her mind from hunger pangs as she learns and grows in rural Colorado. And Tremonica, a sunny Mississippi second-grader, struggles with health problems caused by the poor nutritional value of the food that her mother can afford. Their stories reveal the depth of the hunger crisis in America and the factors that drive it.
You can find a theater near you to view the film here, or watch it instantly via itunes here. But before you see it, hear from the directors, Lori Silverbush and Kristi Jacobson on how working on this film forever changed their view of hunger in America and its solutions:
Over the three years it took to make A Place at the Table, we met people who forever changed our understanding of what hunger in the United States looks like, why it exists, and how it can be fixed. Chief among them was Dr. Mariana Chilton, a Philadelphia physician and anti-hunger activist. Dr. Chilton handed out digital cameras to forty mothers in North Philadelphia and asked them to document their struggle to feed their families, then sent their pictures – stark and stunning – out into the world. This simple act had profound implications, giving the women a political identity as the Witnesses to Hunger, and a voice that has since become part of the national dialogue about hunger.
It was through Dr. Chilton that we met Barbie Izquierdo, a spirited single mother who relied on food stamps (SNAP) while searching for work. Her efforts, as well as her activism with the Witnesses to Hunger, led to a job at the Greater Philadelphia Coalition Against Hunger. What should have been a happy ending, however, was anything but—Barbie’s new income was too high to qualify her for SNAP, but too low to provide adequate healthy food for her own children.
We had expected to find hunger in the inner cities, but were surprised to also find it in idyllic rural towns like Collbran, Colorado, a proud ranching community nestled in a valley of the Rocky Mountains. In the summer of 2010, virtually everyone in town was feeling the impact of food insecurity in some way. The local pastor explained that lately even two-income families were relying on his church’s weekly communal meal and after-school feeding program for kids. Even the town’s sole police officer frequented the church’s food pantry to make it through the month. A local teacher, Leslie Nichols, described how the shame of being a hungry kid still haunted her today; she channeled those difficult feelings into action by distributing bags of food to the families of her hungry students.
In Jonestown, Mississippi, a sultry Delta town of 2,000, we encountered a food desert; despite industrial agriculture all around them, the town’s residents were forced to travel great distances to buy fresh food –a true obstacle for those without access to transportation or sufficient income for gas. Fast food and packaged processed food, the building blocks of an unhealthy diet, were readily available. We couldn’t help but ask ourselves: why does a cheeseburger—whose multiple ingredients must be processed, cooked, packaged, marketed, and advertised—cost less than a fresh peach? The answer is so tightly wrapped up in government farm policy, political horse-trading in Congress, commercial interests, and misguided social planning that unraveling it is more than the media is generally willing to take on, and certainly more than the average voter is able to comprehend without help.
Americans are told we can’t afford to make school meals nutritious or expand the nutrition safety net enough so that everyone can eat. We’re told that charities need to fill the gap. Millions of ordinary Americans are being encouraged to donate cans of food and volunteer their time at food pantries, believing that these efforts will make a significant difference, but a food bank employee quietly confided to us that canned food drives and employee-volunteer days were more valuable for public relations than ending hunger.
Charity is important, but it’s not solving the underlying problem. In fact, it could be making it worse by allowing us to avoid asking the really hard question: Why, in a nation that has the means to feed everyone well and plentifully, are 49 million people not getting enough to eat?
Over the next two years we dared to imagine a system in which food banks become obsolete. If federal agricultural subsidies went toward fruits and vegetables rather than overproduced commodities, would that peach be cheaper than the cheeseburger? Could the substantial expertise of food bankers and community food activists be marshaled to help set up local and regional systems of delivery to food deserts? Could we explore community-based growing solutions through public funding rather than relying on the quixotic arm of charity? If we were to modernize the safety net and base it on the reality of need, would parents like Barbie be able to focus their energies on parenting, studying, and their family’s upward mobility rather than the draining and demoralizing daily quest for food?
Why can’t school meals be highly nutritious and free for all students, like textbooks, thereby erasing the stigma for the millions of kids who need government-subsidized meals? Maybe then young people like Rosie, a struggling 10 year old we met in Collbran, Colorado, would have the energy they need to learn. And why not let teachers like Leslie Nichols teach children about healthy food choices and preparation? If we can teach algebra, why not food smarts?
All these changes would cost money up front, but it seems clear that in the long term we’d recoup our investment in the form of decreased healthcare costs and greater productivity. Doesn’t society prosper when people are healthier and have the money to make real, healthful food choices, thus increasing demand for those items? With increased demand comes greater production, leading to lower prices. Lower prices for fresh food would benefit the very people who need it most.
The true cost of hunger is measured not in dollars but in human suffering and loss of human potential. We made A Place at the Table because we truly believe that when Americans are made aware of injustice in their own backyard, they will demand change from their leaders. When Americans equate ending hunger with patriotism, we know we will solve the problem of hunger in America once and for all.
Lori Silverbush and Kristi Jacobson are co-directors of the documentary film A Place at the Table, about the shocking paradox of hunger in the wealthiest nation on earth, through the stories of three Americans who face food insecurity daily.
This article first appeared in the 2013 Hunger Report: Within Reach Global Development Goals. Read more from the report here.
Posted by Bread on January 09, 2013 in Africa, Agriculture, Asia, Assets for the Poor, Climate Change, Development Assistance, Economic Development, Food Aid, Food Prices, Foreign Aid Reform, Global Hunger, Good Governance, Hunger Hotspots, Hunger Report, Immigration, Inequality, Latin America, Malnutrition, Maternal and Child Nutrition, Millennium Challenge Account, Millennium Development Goals, Religion and Hunger, Trade, U.S. Hunger, Weblogs | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)
Sometimes the best way to communicate information is through pictures instead of text. And our new 2013 Hunger Report, Within Reach: Global Development Goals, offers a good balance for the eyes. Enjoy this colorful gallery of photos that tells the graphical tale of hunger and the ongoing struggle to end it across the world (I fully endorse viewing it full screen). Then maybe dive deeper into the Report to encounter the incredible stories and struggles waiting just behind the faces. Maybe download it to your e-reader?
On Twitter? Follow @BreadInstitute and stay current on hourly hunger-fighting news, data, stories, and solutions.
Posted by Bread on December 14, 2012 in Africa, Agriculture, Asia, Assets for the Poor, Climate Change, Development Assistance, Economic Development, Food Aid, Food Prices, Foreign Aid Reform, Good Governance, Hunger Hotspots, Hunger Report, Immigration, Inequality, Latin America, Malnutrition, Maternal and Child Nutrition, Millennium Challenge Account, Millennium Development Goals, Religion and Hunger, Trade, U.S. Hunger, Weblogs | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
This summer, newspaper headlines, home pages, and television screens across the nation continue to report an intensifying and expanding drought across the breadbasket regions of the United States. A wide range of farmers are suffering from the effects of the drought, from the small vegetable growers that stock our favorite local farmers markets to the large-scale corn and soybean producers that grow the bulk of the country’s staple food crops.
The repercussions for farmers and ranchers are staggering. The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has designated more than half of U.S. counties as disaster areas (see map below), and reports intensifying heat, rapidly falling crop yields, and dwindling livestock herds.
After weeks of record-breaking heat and no rain, it’s clear that the agricultural community needs immediate and strategic relief. As is usually the case with natural disasters, the drought has not come at an ideal time for lawmakers. However, before members of the House of Representatives went home for their August recess, they voted (223-197) to pass a revamped version of a disaster relief program for cattle and sheep producers. This was an accomplishment given the jumble of partisan and ideological disagreements in Congress on how and when to proceed with the nation’s next five-year farm bill. Nonetheless, the bill is limited in scope and would not go into effect until the Senate passes similar legislation. The major points of contention around the farm bill remain unchanged: subsidy policies and the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, formerly the Food Stamp Program).
The farmers that feed the country need the support of citizens and lawmakers alike if they are to continue to meet our food needs through good times and bad. The larger problem of sustainable food sources for a growing population requires new thinking about how to support the next generation of U.S. farmers. The average age of U.S. farmers continues to climb — currently it’s 57— and it’s not clear how this will be reconciled with the demands on agriculture in the coming decades. The drought must serve to elevate the national discussion about how to equip and inspire a new generation of American farmers even in hostile economic, political, or meteorological climates.
This excerpt from the 2012 Hunger Report discusses some disturbing demographic shifts in agriculture in the 21st century and the urgent need for both long and short-term responses:
Iowa farmer Arlyn Schipper hopes to see the family business he has built over decades carried on by his son, Brent, who is now farming alongside his father. At this stage of Brent’s career, it is impossible to overstate the benefits of having a parent as successful as Arlyn. His father’s mentoring alone is priceless. A more tangible benefit is the physical assets -- such as tractors and land -- that Brent stands to inherit.
Did you ever stop to think how overwhelmed churches would be if they had to feed all hungry people in the United States without any government support?
With many members of Congress calling for steep cuts in government spending, voters in these districts have asked why we need the government to feed hungry people in the United States. Can’t churches do the job?
More than 70 young pastors, ministers, and clergy are now gathered in Washington, DC, for Bread for the World’s Hunger Justice Leaders 2012: From the Pulpit to the Public Square—a powerful training to help attendees develop their own prophetic voice to urge our nation’s decision makers to end hunger here and abroad. Participating pastors understand that the federal government plays a crucial role in feeding our neighbors.
In 2009, one in seven people in the United States was receiving Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits. In most states, government support for anti-hunger resources outweigh resources from charitable providers on the order of nine to one.
As the 2012 Hunger Report shows, it is imperative that both public and private programs work hand in hand to end hunger in our nation.
Internally displaced people who have come to Dali camp, next to Tawilla, North Darfur, Sudan, are currently farming the lands rented by local owners for the rainy season. Most came to Tawilla recently, fleeing the early 2011 clashes in the Shangle Tubaya area.Photo by Albert Gonzalez Farran/UN Photo.
The 2012 Christian Study Guide includes six small-group sessions rooted in the content of the 2012 Hunger Report: Rebalancing Act: Updating U.S. Food and Farm Policies. Session 1 sets the context, while the following five sessions develop particular themes emphasized in the Hunger Report. If your group cannot do all the sessions, we recommend that you do Session 1 before any others.
Each session of the Study Guide invites participants to consider how they might take action in response to the issues discussed.
At the end of each session, pray for efforts to transform our nation’s food and farm system, and consider if there is an action or service that God might be calling you and your group to do.
Or, start with Session 1: Our Broken Food System Can Be Transformed.
Just like in Israel and Judah, the food systems that support vulnerable people today are broken. At times of economic crisis, we see cuts to vital safety net programs that help people stay out of poverty. Learn how people of faith can help transform a broken food system.
Posted by Bread on April 09, 2012 in Africa, Agriculture, Assets for the Poor, Development Assistance, Economic Development, Food Aid, Foreign Aid Reform, Global Hunger, Good Governance, Hunger Hotspots, Hunger Report, Immigration, Inequality, Latin America, Malnutrition, Maternal and Child Nutrition, Religion and Hunger, U.S. Hunger | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
Peaches for sale at Abingdon Farmer’s Market in Abingdon, VA. Advocating for healthy food and food for hungry and poor people is important, says Ken Cook, president of the Environmental Working Group. Photo by Laura Elizabeth Pohl/Bread for the World.
“Food is hot.”
I get that a lot these days.
Local food, organic food, slow food, whole food, real food, sustainable food; foodsheds, food deserts, regional food; food patriotism, food justice, food rules, fair food, peak food; industrial food, genetically modified food, superfood, food sovereignty, food celebrity, Food Network; Know your farmer, Know your food: it’s all hot.
You don’t have to be a foodie to know that even raw food is hot.
So what’s not hot about food? The politics of it. The politics of food are barely warm.
Ken Cook is president and co-founder of the Environmental Working Group (EWG), a public interest research and advocacy organization focused on protecting human health and the environment.
Last Saturday I attended a presentation on debt at a church by where I live. A friend of mine is a financial counselor and volunteers to speak at churches, at women's shelters and other venues where people who want professional advice on managing their money can't afford to pay for it.
Debt is a big problem in the United States, and not only at the household level. It's a problem for our government, presently running a record $9 trillion debt. Carrying that much debt makes it hard for government to invest in national assets like infrastructure (remember the bridge that collapsed in Minnesota last year) or our country's most important assets, its people. When individuals carry too much debt, it also makes it difficult to invest in productive assets (e.g. education) that in the long run would increase their economic security and self-sufficiency.
Of course not all debt is bad debt. You can't buy a house without accumulating lots of debt. If you don't have a record of paying down your debts, you have a lot harder time getting credit at reasonable interest rates. To some extent, we all need to carry some amount of debt.
One of the paradoxes about being poor is that you pay more for credit in the form of higher interest rates. When you think about it, if anyone needs credit at low interest it's poor people. Lending to the poor entails more risk to creditors, and this is why the credit industry says they have to charge poor people higher interest. The poor get into trouble paying down debt because that's the nature of being poor, living from paycheck to paycheck. It all seems like a self-fulfilling prophecy if you ask me, but hey I'm just a guy who works at a nonprofit.