Winchester, IN                   Bread For the World / FOAM               
www.bread.org  updated: 
31 December 2014
Bread for the World Group meets the last Wednesday of every month@ 12:00 Noon....all people are welcome to attend the simple meal and spend time writing letters concerning hunger issues before congress.)
 

Winchester, IN    Bread for the World / Fast Once A Month     30 November 2016

www.bread.org and www.BreadIndiana.org

2016 Offering of Letters:  Survive and Thrive   Ending hunger means more than just providing enough food and calories for everyone.  It also means providing the right foods — good nutrition drawn from all food groups, rich with the vitamins and minerals crucial for the health, growth, and strength of both bodies and minds.  This Offering focuses on women (usually the primary caregivers for children) and their young children.  Depriving children of good nutrition early in life — starting in the womb — can stunt their physical and cognitive development and increase the risk of illness in childhood and later in life.  The cost of malnutrition is very high in terms of health care, school readiness, duration of education, and lost productivity and income.  Bread for the World believes that good nutrition is key to combating hunger and is the pathway to good health and active, thriving lives.

Unfinished Legislative Business as 114th Congress Ends

by Jennifer Gonzalez, interim managing editor at Bread for the World

 

After a polarizing election, the American voters have spoken, and the United States has elected businessman Donald J. Trump to become our nation’s 45th president.  With a new president and Congress, next year will bring a lot of uncertainty. However, Bread for the World will continue to pursue opportunities to push policies that put us on track to ending hunger and poverty.  “Bread for the World members are praying for President-elect Donald J. Trump and the new and returning lawmakers who will make up the 115th Congress in 2017,” said Rev. David Beckmann, president of Bread for the World.

But before we can turn our attention to 2017, our lawmakers must work together and pass unfinished legislation before the gavel falls on the 114th Congress.  The “lame duck” session began when members of 114th Congress returned to work the week of Nov. 14. They are expected to adjourn by mid-December, which gives them roughly a month to finish a long to-do list.

Global Maternal and Child Nutrition Funding     Bread’s initial request of $230 million for maternal and child nutrition in global health program has not been met yet. However, that does not mean that we should give up or that the fight for global maternal and child nutrition is over.  Congress still has not drafted and passed a final spending bill for fiscal year 2017. Even though reaching $230 million for global nutrition is unlikely at this point in the budget and appropriations process, there is still an opportunity to advocate for a slight increase of funding during the negotiation process for that final spending bill.

Child Nutrition Reauthorization Bill        Congress has yet to reauthorize a child nutrition bill, even though we worked hard in 2015 to make it happen. It was the focus of that year’s Offering of Letters.  During the summer, Bread and its partners participated in a rally opposing H.R. 5003, The Improving Child Nutrition and Education Act of 2016. We opposed it because it would change community eligibility and school meal application verification in ways that would reduce the number of children who get school meals. It also proposes blockgranting the school meals program in three states as a demonstration project.  The Senate Agriculture Committee developed and passed their bill, S.3136, the Improving Child Nutrition Integrity and Access Act of 2016, on a bipartisan basis.  Bread supports this bill. It is budget neutral. We will continue to press for a vote during the lame duck session.

Criminal Justice Reform    The legacy of mass incarceration is a scourge on our society. Nearly 77 percent of released citizens end up back in prison within five years, according to a U.S. Department of Justice study that tracked over 400,000 prisoners from 2005 to 2010.  A large part of the problem is a system that is stacked against released citizens. They are discriminated against by prospective employers, barred from accessing public housing, and are often ineligible to receive benefits like Social Security income, SNAP (formerly food stamps), and Temporary Assistance to Needy Families.  We want Congress to pass sentencing reform bills that will take the first step toward comprehensive criminal justice reform.  The Sentencing Reform Act (H.R.3713) addresses overly harsh mandatory minimum sentences for nonviolent offenders. The Recidivism Risk Reduction Act (H.R. 759) expands access to effective rehabilitative programs to formerly incarcerated men and women.

Fiscal Year 2017 Federal Budget     Congress needs to pass a fiscal year 2017 federal budget that strengthens and protects international and domestic anti-hunger programs before the budget expires on Dec. 9.  The federal budget needs to be passed or the government will shut down. Our task is urgent and your voice necessary. We need to push for bipartisan cooperation to pass the needed legislation.  The legislative clock will reset when the newly elected 115th Congress arrives in January. Any unfinished business from the previous Congress must be reintroduced — meaning the arduous process to pass legislation starts anew. It would be a shame, and a waste, to lose momentum on child nutrition reauthorization or a smarter sentencing bill, especially when passage could begin alleviating hunger for vulnerable people.

Please urge your current members of Congress to work together and pass these key pieces of legislation in the final days of 2016,” said Beckmann. “We have come too far to turn back now.”


Sample Letter

 

Sen. Joe Donnelly                        Sen. Dan Coats                         Rep. Luke Messer

720 Hart Senate Office Bldg.               493 Russell Senate Off. Bldg                    508 Cannon House Off. Bldg.

Washington, DC  20510                     Washington, DC 20510                         Washington, DC  20515

202-224-4814                                   202-224-5623                                    202-225-3021

www.donnelly.senate.gov                   www.coats.senate.gov                          www.messer.house.gov

Sen. _________________, Rep. Messer:

As your constituent, I am writing to urge you to work together with your colleagues in the 114th Congress to complete and pass key legislation to improve the lives of hungry and poor people in the US and around the world.  It would be fiscally irresponsible and wasteful to scuttle the work that has been done and have to start from zero in the 115th.

The current federal budget expires on December 9, and a new one for FY2017 should have been adopted by now.  Since it hasn’t been, there is still time to pass measures that will strengthen and protect anti-hunger and anti-poverty programs that affect millions of people.  Funding should be increased for the global maternal and child nutrition programs that promote security and help prevent huge future medical liabilities.  Though long overdue, S.3136, a robust Child Nutrition Reauthorization bill, should be passed for the next five years.  And criminal justice reform bills H.R.3713, H.R. 759, and S.2123 should be adopted to shrink our excessive and costly prison population and provide released prisoners a chance at meaningful new lives.

Please show that fiscal stewardship is more than mere rhetoric.  Do whatever possible to see that these important measures are passed by the 114th Congress, or explain to me why you will not do so.

                                                     Sincerely,

 

Winchester, IN       Bread for the World / Fast Once A Month       24 June 2015

<www.bread.org> and <www.BreadIndiana.org>

 2014 Offering of Letters:  Reform US Food Aid    Last year’s Offering focused on updating the government's 1950s food-aid practices to enable it to respond more flexibly and faster in a 21st century, globalized world.  Changes to our international food-aid programs would allow nutritional assistance to benefit 17 million more people each year — at no additional cost to US taxpayers. 

 

2015 Offering of Letters:  Feed Our Children    During 2015, Bread for the World is urging Congress to renew our federal government’s major child nutrition programs, including those for school meals, summer feeding, and the WIC nutrition program for pregnant and new mothers along with their small children. Every five years, Congress must re-authorize the law that funds these programs, which have helped millions of children over the decades. Thanks to the leadership of Bread for the World and its church partners, the 2010 Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act expanded and improved these programs.  It is now time to renew them.

 167 Million Fewer Hungry People in the World...

But Sustained Funding Is Still Needed

Scott Bleggi, Bread for the World Institute, 27 May ‘15

 The number of hungry people in the world has dropped below 800 million for the first time, according to this year’s State of Food Insecurity in the World (SOFI) report, released today. The report, authored by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, the International Fund for Agricultural Development, and the World Food Program, takes stock of the progress being made toward global hunger goals. 

The report identifies what still needs to be done as the world transitions to the post-2015 Sustainable Development Goals, which will follow the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) when they sunset this year.  In 1996, 182 countries at the World Food Summit committed “… to eradicate hunger in all countries, with an immediate view to reducing the number of undernourished people to half their present level no later than 2015.” The first of eight MDGs, all adopted in 2000, encapsulates this commitment, including the target “cutting in half the proportion of people who suffer from hunger by the year 2015.”

 So how is the world doing?

 The report reviews progress for every country and region. The news is good overall -- improvements outweighed setbacks.  But as can be expected with such a broad and ambitious worldwide goal, problem areas remain, and in some regions hunger is still a stubborn problem.

 Twenty-five years ago there were a billion hungry people. According to the new SOFI report, this number has now dropped to 795 million. The countries that improved the most had two features in common: strong economic growth that included investments in poor people, agriculture, and food production; and relative political stability. These countries were largely in East Asia and Latin America and the Caribbean. A solid majority of countries (72 of 129) have met the ambitious target of cutting hunger in half.

 These are certainly impressive achievements. Consider that natural disasters, civil and regional conflict, and weak governments can damage poor countries disproportionately.  Also, the world population has grown rapidly: it is higher by 1.9 billion people than it was in 1990. Predictions of widespread famine have for the most part not come true, but certainly there have been famines, such as the 2011 one in Somalia that killed at least 100,000 children younger than 5.

 Sub-Saharan Africa’s hunger rate is still more than 33 percent, and more African countries (24) are experiencing food insecurity now than in 1990.  Hunger rates in countries with continuing crises are more than three times higher than elsewhere, according to SOFI.  In Africa and South Asia, “progress has been slow overall, despite success stories at country and sub-regional levels … there is no one size fits all solution.”

 This is why sustaining the development work being done in USAID’s flagship hunger and poverty reduction initiative, Feed the Future, is so important. Feed the Future’s focus areas were developed specifically to sustainably reduce global poverty and hunger. It has demonstrated progress in “significantly reduc[ing] both poverty and stunting (a measure of chronic food insecurity)” in countries where it operates, and adequate funding is essential so this progress can continue.   

 G-7 Commits to Ending Hunger and Malnutrition for Millions

Bread for the World, 11 June ‘15

 

In early June, the G-7 leaders during their annual summit in Germany committed themselves “to lift 500 million people in developing countries out of hunger and malnutrition by 2030.”  The theme of the summit—Think Ahead. Act Together — focused on food security and nutrition, the post-2015 development agenda, climate protection, and women’s economic empowerment, among other topics.

 The G-7 is composed of Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the United Kingdom, and the United States.  In advance of this summit, German Chancellor Angela Merkel called on all G-7 countries to end hunger and absolute poverty by 2030.

 As a result of the G-7’s decision, Bread for the World is urging Congress to demonstrate the United States’ pledge to this goal by passing the Global Food Security Act. The bill would make permanent Feed the Future, which has helped more than 7 million small-scale farmers increase crop production and has provided nutritious food to more than 12.5 million children in 2013 alone.  Feed the Future works hand-in-hand with partner countries to develop their agriculture sectors and break the cycles of hunger, poverty, and malnutrition.

 “The United States’ leadership has been important in focusing global attention on hunger and malnutrition. Congress should demonstrate similar leadership by passing the Global Food Security Act,” said Eric Mitchell, director of government relations at Bread for the World. “This legislation has strong bipartisan support in both the House and the Senate, and we urge congressional leaders to move this legislation forward and support its passage.”

 Sample Letters

 

Sen. Joe Donnelly                  Sen. Dan Coats                        Rep. Luke Messer

720 Hart Senate Office Bldg.          493 Russell Senate Off. Bldg                 508 Cannon House Off. Bldg.

Washington, DC  20510                 Washington, DC 20510                     Washington, DC  20515

202-224-4814                                      202-224-5623                                    202-225-3021

www.donnelly.senate.gov               www.coats.senate.gov                      www.messer.house.gov

 

Rep. Messer, Sen. _____________________: 

At the G-7 summit in Germany in early June, the US joined the other six nations in pledging to “lift 500 million people in developing countries out of hunger and malnutrition by 2030.”  I am writing to urge you to cosponsor and support the Global Food Security Act (H.R. 1567, S. 1252)  as one vehicle towards achieving that worthy aim. 

 Every night, nearly 800 million people around the world go to bed hungry.  Approximately 165 million children under age five are stunted, leading to lifelong conditions of poor health, impaired cognitive and physical development, and diminished productivity.  The economic costs of child undernutrition are substantial, estimated to decrease the gross national product of several African nations by 2 to 16 percent.  The 2014 Worldwide Threat Assessment specifically cited food insecurity as a "destabilizing" threat to our own national security.  It is imperative that Congress address this global crisis.  

The Global Food Security Act is bipartisan legislation that authorizes a effective approach to food security and agricultural development, one currently utilized by the successful Feed the Future program. This bill ensures that we can build upon this program's strengths to improve agricultural production as a means of  helping to alleviate global poverty and hunger and to enhance food security.  That in turn will strengthen communities, create stronger US trading partners, and build a more stable and secure world.

 Please cosponsor and support the Global Food Security Act, or explain to me why you will not.

                                                                

                                           Sincerely,

 

Winchester, IN       Bread for the World / Fast Once A Month       27 May 2015

<www.bread.org> and <www.BreadIndiana.org>

2015 Offering of Letters:  Feed Our Children    During 2015, Bread for the World is urging Congress to renew our federal government’s major child nutrition programs, including those for school meals, summer feeding, and the WIC nutrition program for pregnant and new mothers along with their small children.

Every five years, Congress must re-authorize the law that funds these programs, which have helped millions of children over the decades. Thanks to the leadership of Bread for the World and its church partners, the 2010 Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act expanded and improved these programs.  It is now time to renew them.

 The Global Food Security Act Now in the Senate

 

In late April, the House Foreign Affairs Committee passed H.R. 1567, the Global Food Security Act.  Bread for the World thanks its many members who called and wrote to Representatives to urge support of the bill.  In early May, the Senate introduced S. 1252, a companion bill to H.R. 1567.  The Global Food Security Act makes permanent the U.S.’s food security program, Feed the Future.  It also calls for a first-ever comprehensive U.S. strategy to address hunger and malnutrition in developing countries.  

This legislation could improve the livelihoods of over 500 million small-scale farmers in the world, many of whom are women.  The GFSA’s efforts to address nutrition among mothers and children will help the U.S. achieve its goal to end preventable child deaths, almost half of which are caused by malnutrition.

The Feed the Future program is already successful.  In 2013 alone, more than seven million smallholder farmers grew more food, and more than 12.5 million children received nutrition interventions.  However, Feed the Future is currently not a permanent program.  In order to ensure that it continues beyond the current administration, Congress needs to pass the Global Food Security Act, and the president then must sign it into law.


BFW advises that the next important step in moving this legislation forward is to urge Senators to support and cosponsor the Global Food Security Act (S. 1252).

Child Nutrition Programs Being Debated in Congress

The current child nutrition bill expires on September 30, and Congress has just started hearings on a new five-year reauthorization bill.  Now is the essential time for your elected officials to hear from you, as the new child nutrition legislation is debated and written.

 One in five children in the U.S. live in households that struggle to put food on the table.  The child nutrition programs (including school lunch, breakfast, summer meals, and WIC) provide nutritious meals for millions of children every day and strengthen the next generation.  It is imperative that Congress pass a robust new 2015 child nutrition bill to protect those programs and give more hungry children access to the meals they need to thrive.

 Despite hearings beginning in early May, the House and Senate committees have put child nutrition legislation temporarily on hold while they deal with other priorities.  However, plenty of work is going on behind the scenes, making this one of the most crucial times to contact and inform legislators about this issue.

 Sample Letters

 

Sen. Joe Donnelly                      Sen. Dan Coats                     Rep. Luke Messer

720 Hart Senate Office Bldg.             493 Russell Senate Off. Bldg               508 Cannon House Off. Bldg.

Washington, DC  20510                  Washington, DC 20510                    Washington, DC  20515

     202-224-4814                           202-224-5623                            202-225-3021

www.donnelly.senate.gov                   www.coats.senate.gov                   www.messer.house.gov

 

Sen. _____________________:

 Every night, more than 800 million people around the world go to bed hungry.  Approximately 165 million children under age five are stunted, leading to lifelong conditions of poor health, impaired cognitive and physical development, and diminished productivity.  The economic costs of child undernutrition are substantial, estimated to decrease the gross national product of several African nations by 2 to 16 percent.  The 2014 Worldwide Threat Assessment specifically cited food insecurity as a "destabilizing" threat to our own national security.  It is imperative that Congress address this global crisis.

 As your constituent, and as a follower of Christ, I urge you to cosponsor and support S. 1252, the Global Food Security Act.  This bipartisan legislation authorizes a successful approach to food security and agricultural development, currently utilized by Feed the Future. This bill ensures that we can build upon this program's successes to fight hunger and strengthen agricultural production. 

 The Global Food Security Act calls for a whole-of-government initiative, led by USAID, and for leveraging resources provided by non-governmental and faith-based organizations, private enterprises, universities, and foreign governments to maximize efficiency and impact.  S. 1252 can help alleviate global poverty and hunger in developing countries and enhance food security.  That in turn will strengthen communities, create stronger US trading partners, and build a more stable and secure world.

 Please cosponsor and support S. 1252, or explain to me why you will not.

                                                                    

                                         Sincerely,

 

 Rep. Messer/Sen. __________________:

I am writing to urge you to use your influence in Congress to help provide the fullest possible funding for our nation’s child nutrition programs as they are debated and reauthorized before they expire in September this year. 

 One of every five children in the US -- about 16 million kids -- live in households that struggle to put proper nutrition on their tables.  It is imperative that Congress protect child nutrition programs from funding cuts and harmful policy changes, and that you improve children's access to those programs without cutting other safety-net programs.  Failure to do so almost guarantees a less-educated, less-healthy, less-competitive US workforce in coming years.

Child nutrition programs serve as a lifeline for America's vulnerable children and their families. As your constituent, a Bread for the World member, and a follower of Christ, I urge you to protect and improve our vital child nutrition programs.

                                                                         Sincerely,

 

Winchester, IN       Bread for the World / Fast Once A Month       29 April 2015

<www.bread.org> and <www.BreadIndiana.org>

 

2015 Offering of Letters:  Feed Our Children    During 2015, Bread for the World is urging Congress to renew our federal government’s major child nutrition programs, including those for school meals, summer feeding, and the WIC nutrition program for pregnant and new mothers along with their small children.  Every five years, Congress must re-authorize the law that funds these programs, which have helped millions of children over the decades. Thanks to the leadership of Bread for the World and its church partners, the 2010 Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act expanded and improved these programs.  It is now time to renew them. 

Global Food Security Act Progresses in Congress

--Beth Ann Saracco, Bread International Policy Analyst, 23 Apr ’15

Due in part to the faithful advocacy of Bread members, the Global Food Security Act (H.R. 1567)  passed out of the House Foreign Affairs Committee on April 23.  The Global Food Security Act would put in place the Feed the Future framework.  This is a smart approach that recognizes that, in order to end hunger, we don't just need to make more food, but we need quality, nutritious food and systems in place to get it to the people who need it most.  The Feed the Future program would work on a local level to empower small farmers, growing the local economy while feeding hungry people -- a true win-win.  Feed the Future can save lives.

 Right now, more than 800 million people around the world are hungry, and approximately 1 in 4 children under age five is stunted due to poor nutrition, leaving them with serious complications that can last their entire lives.  But this problem is solvable. 

 Last November in the 113th Congress, the House Foreign Affairs Committee approved the Global Food Security Act and sent it to the full House of Representatives.  Unfortunately, the last Congress was paralyzed in political gridlock, and the House refused to take up the debate before the Congress ended.  It is a significant accomplishment for proponents of anti-hunger, anti-poverty programs that the GFSA has been reintroduced and passed out of committee so early in the 114th Congress. 

Bread for the World is committed to keeping this important legislation moving forward, in part because we have seen firsthand the difference its reforms can make.  On a recent trip to East Africa, I met with a women’s cassava cooperative outside Sengerema, Tanzania.  I was struck by the progress they were making in improving their lives and their families’ lives.  The women plant cassava, process it into flour, and then sell the flour at the market.  With the extra income they earn, standards of living in the community are rising, and the women and their families are seeing a higher quality of life.

Their success is a prime example of the progress being achieved on farms throughout the world.  Because of programs like Feed the Future, seven million small farmers grew more crops, and 12.5 million children received nutritious food.  Such progress has occurred in tandem with the progress of the Global Food Security Act in Congress.

The Global Food Security Act would support efforts like those of the Tanzania cassava cooperative throughout the world.  More families will be able to send their children to school, buy nutritious foods to supplement their children’s diets and provide basic medical care for them when it’s needed, and further invest in their families’ land and businesses.

From Washington, DC, to Tanzania, great strides are being made in our efforts to end global hunger and malnutrition, but that work remains unfinished.  We need the House of Representatives to pass the Global Food Security Act soon and send it to the Senate for their action.  Making this global food and nutrition security program permanent will ensure that real progress against hunger continues.

Sample Letter

 Sen. Joe Donnelly                  Sen. Dan Coats                     Rep. Luke Messer

720 Hart Senate Office Bldg.          493 Russell Senate Off. Bldg              508 Cannon House Off. Bldg.

Washington, DC  20510               Washington, DC 20510                   Washington, DC  20515

202-224-4814                             202-224-5623                            202-225-3021

www.donnelly.senate.gov                www.coats.senate.gov                   www.messer.house.gov

 Rep. Messer:

 Every night, more than 800 million people around the world go to bed hungry.  Approximately 165 million children under age five are stunted, leading to lifelong conditions of poor health, impaired cognitive and physical development, and diminished productivity.  The economic costs of child undernutrition are substantial, estimated to decrease the gross national product of several African nations by 2 to 16 percent. 

The 2014 Worldwide Threat Assessment specifically cited food insecurity as a "destabilizing" threat to our own national security.  It is imperative that Congress address this global crisis.  

As your constituent, and as a follower of Christ, I urge you to cosponsor and support H.R. 1567, the Global Food Security Act.  This bipartisan legislation authorizes a successful approach to food security and agricultural development, currently utilized by Feed the Future. This bill ensures that we can build upon this program's successes to fight hunger and strengthen agricultural production.   

H.R. 1567 is very similar to H.R. 5656, Global Food Security Act of 2014, which unanimously passed the House last December.  Both bills call for a whole-of-government initiative, led by USAID, and for leveraging resources provided by non-governmental and faith-based organizations, private enterprises, universities, and foreign governments to maximize efficiency and impact.  H.R. 1567 can help alleviate global poverty and hunger in developing countries and enhance food security.  That in turn will strengthen communities, create stronger US trading partners, and build a more stable and secure world.

 Please cosponsor and support H.R. 1567, or explain to me why you will not.

                                                                   

                                         Sincerely,

                                  

 

Winchester, IN       Bread for the World / Fast Once A Month       25 March 2015

<www.bread.org> and <www.BreadIndiana.org>

 2014 Offering of Letters:  Reform US Food Aid    Last year’s Offering focused on updating the government's 1950s food-aid practices to enable it to respond more flexibly and faster in a 21st century, globalized world.  Changes to our international food-aid programs would allow nutritional assistance to benefit 17 million more people each year — at no additional cost to US taxpayers.  

 2015 Offering of Letters:  Feed Our Children    During 2015, Bread for the World is urging Congress to renew our federal government’s major child nutrition programs, including those for school meals, summer feeding, and the WIC nutrition program for pregnant and new mothers along with their small children.

Every five years, Congress must re-authorize the law that funds these programs, which have helped millions of children over the decades. Thanks to the leadership of Bread for the World and its church partners, the 2010 Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act expanded and improved these programs.  It is now time to renew them.

  Congress Debates Huge Cuts to Food Programs

Eric Mitchell, BFW Director of Government Relations, 24 March 2015

 On March 24, the Senate and the House of Representatives started debating their 2016 federal budget resolutions. Votes on these budgets will determine anti-hunger policy for the rest of this year and beyond.  The budget proposals recently released by the House and Senate Budget Committees both contain enormous cuts to effective anti-hunger programs.

The House 2016 budget proposes cutting $140 billion from SNAP (formerly called food stamps).  That amounts to cutting 220 meals per year -- ten weeks worth of food -- from every SNAP participant.  The Senate budget proposes cutting Medicaid (the health coverage of 28 million American children) by $400 billion.

SNAP is our country’s largest child nutrition program.  It provides nearly 21 million children with meals when many would have gone without them otherwise.  Medicaid provides health coverage for 28 million low-income children.  The fact is that hungry children can't learn, and unhealthy children won't reach their full potential.

 If passed, these and other proposed budget cuts could lead to devastating increases in hunger and poverty in the United States and abroad. For example:

     --The House budget proposal drastically cuts SNAP by at least 34 percent (the equivalent of up to              ten weeks worth of food annually for each SNAP recipient).

     --Lifesaving international programs would be cut by 16 percent in the House budget.  Funding for                the international assistance budget has already been cut by 22 percent.

     --69 percent of the cuts in both the House and Senate budget proposals come directly from             programs benefiting low-income people — placing the burden of those cuts on people who are           already suffering.

     --Both budgets keep the automatic budget cuts of 2011 (called sequestration) in place — and cut               even further. This puts programs like WIC, food aid, and poverty-focused development assistance           in grave danger.


Congress repeatedly seems to want to use anti-poverty programs as their piggy bank for deficit reduction.  The federal budget is a statement on the priorities of our country. Our children's health and nutrition must be taken seriously. How can Congress propose cutting a program that helps nearly 23 million households, with 21 million children, put food on their tables?

Bread for the World asks all people of faith to raise their voices in response to these issues.  Please phone (or email) your senators and representative at 800-826-3688 on a special call-in day on March 25, or as soon as possible.  Urge them to oppose cuts to SNAP, Medicaid, and other programs that are working to end hunger and poverty in the U.S. and around the world.  Stress that Congress should be investing in our children, not undermining their health and taking meals away from them.

 

Sample Letter 

Sen. Joe Donnelly                 Sen. Dan Coats                          Rep. Luke Messer

720 Hart Senate Office Bldg.            493 Russell Senate Off. Bldg                 508 Cannon House Off. Bldg.

Washington, DC  20510                 Washington, DC 20510                      Washington, DC  20515

202-224-4814                             202-224-5623                                202-225-3021

www.donnelly.senate.gov                  www.coats.senate.gov                    www.messer.house.gov

 Rep. Messer, Sen. _____________:

 I am writing out of deep concern regarding the cruel cuts to effective anti-poverty programs being proposed in both the Senate and House 2016 budget proposals.

 The House’s plan to cut $140 billion from SNAP benefits would snatch ten weeks worth of food away from every current SNAP recipient, including 21 million children.  The Senate’s proposed cut of $400 billion from Medicaid would degrade the health care of up to 28 million American children. 

 Both are shining examples of the expression “penny wise and pound foolish.”  It is a known fact that poorly nourished, unhealthy kids do not perform well in school.  That makes them far less likely to become productive, contributing members of a thriving society and economy.  As a nation, we must invest in our future by providing for the well-being and wellness of kids, not sabotage that future through shortsighted, compassionless fiscal policies.

 Please use your influence in Congress to protect full funding for SNAP, Medicaid, and our other effective federal anti-hunger, anti-poverty programs.  If you will not do so, please explain why.

 

                                                                        Sincerely,

                                                                     

 

Winchester, IN       Bread for the World / Fast Once A Month       22 February 2015

<www.bread.org> and <www.BreadIndiana.org>

 2014 Offering of Letters:  Reform US Food Aid  Last year’s Offering focused on updating the government's 1950s food-aid practices to enable it to respond more flexibly and faster in a 21st century, globalized world.  Changes to our international food-aid programs would allow nutritional assistance to benefit 17 million more people each year — at no additional cost to US taxpayers. 

 

2015 Offering of Letters:  Feed Our Children  During 2015, Bread for the World is urging Congress to renew our federal government’s major child nutrition programs, including those for school meals, summer feeding, and the WIC nutrition program for pregnant and new mothers along with their small children.

Every five years, Congress must re-authorize the law that funds these programs, which have helped millions of children over the decades. Thanks to the leadership of Bread for the World and its church partners, the 2010 Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act expanded and improved these programs.  It is now time to renew them.

 Federal Feeding & Nutrition Programs for Children

Food affects many parts of our lives, both individually and collectively. Your own personal weight and health is directly connected to the food you eat.  We have learned in recent years that giving toddlers an early start in their education can give them advantages as they enter kindergarten — better-developed speaking skills, for example.

These advantages can produce other advantages that build upon each other.  Children will learn more quickly, which often translates into a better education, which then can mean a better job and higher productivity and pay.

In important ways, we all benefit from a more educated and highly productive workforce. 

The same is true of food, given how integral it is to our lives from the day we are born.  Ensuring children eat consistently and receive the nutrition they need has advantages that can grow and multiply as children grow.

Well-fed children are healthier, have fewer behavioral problems, and learn more easily.  This often means that, over the years, they become responsible and productive as they progress through school and enter the workforce and family life as adults.  This means fewer widespread problems, such as lack of skilled workers or public-health issues like diabetes and obesity. 

Our Collective Concern for Children's Nutrition  Nearly 16 million children in the United States – one in five – live in households that struggle to put food on the table.  Many of those children have parents who have job and work hard, but their wages aren’t high enough to cover the high costs of rent, transportation, and utilities — and daily meals. So our federal government’s feeding programs serve as a lifeline for vulnerable children and families. 

Because children are hit especially hard by the effects of hunger and malnutrition, nutrition programs aimed at children are particularly important.  A healthy start in life — even before a child is born — pays off for years, not only for individual children and families, but for communities and our nation as a whole. 

What the Federal Government Does   Only one out of every 20 grocery bags that feed people who are hungry come from church food pantries and other private charities.  Federal nutrition programs, from school meals to SNAP (formerly known as food stamps), provide the other 95%.  Our government’s child nutrition programs serve millions of children each year.  Here are the major programs and their functions for low-income children: 

National School Lunch Program: provides free or reduced-price lunches to 21.5 million low-income children in

       100,000+ schools

School Breakfast Program: provides free or reduced-price breakfasts to 11.2 million low-income children in 

       89,000+ schools

Summer Food Service Program: provides meals during the summer months; in 2013, to 2.4 million children in

       47,000+ community-based sites

Child and Adult Care Food Program: provides meals and healthy snacks to 3.4 million children in childcare or  

       qualified after-school programs

WIC Program: provides nutritious food (via WIC coupons or debit cards), nutrition education, and health care

        referrals to 8.3 million low-income pregnant women, infants, and kids up to age 5

 

As this summary shows, most of these programs provide ready-to-eat food in places where children can be reached directly.  Food provided through these programs meets science-based nutrition guidelines.

 

To receive free or reduced-price meals or WIC benefits, children must live in households that are “low-income” as defined by the federal government.  The illustration below shows the programs for which a typical family of four is eligible at various income levels.

 

The Current State of These Programs  With the start of the 114th Congress in 2015, there are new members and new leaders with little to no experience with child hunger/nutrition programs. These members of Congress must be educated on the importance of feeding children.  Additionally, the tight national budget and political climate make it harder to talk about programs that require more funding.  Congress must act by September 30, 2015, when authority ends for many of these child nutrition programs.  Specifically, we are asking Congress to: 

1) Continue strong investments in child nutrition programs that keep hunger at bay for millions of children, allowing them to learn and grow.  Without these programs, child hunger and food insecurity would be much worse, and many more children would suffer from inadequate nutrition. Congress should maintain the gains made in the 2010 child nutrition bill, preserving both the funding and the nutrition standards that have proven effective.

 2) Improve children’s access to feeding programs. Despite gains made in 2010, too many children are unable to get the meals they need to stay healthy and hunger-free, especially during non-school hours. Since 2010, a number of pilot projects have explored how to reach more children through the summer Food Service Program and school lunch and breakfast programs. Congress should use this research to further improve access. 

3) Ensure improvements to child nutrition programs are not paid for by cuts to other vital safety-net programs like SNAP (formerly food stamps). For the past several years, Congress has cut SNAP funding to pay for other programs. SNAP was also cut in the 2014 farm bill. Nearly half of all SNAP recipients are children, so Congress must no longer look to SNAP or any other safety-net programs to pay for investments in our children.

 Congress and our country should view child nutrition programs as investments in our children.  Such investments will not only produce a healthier and stronger generation of adults in the coming decades, but they can be a big step on the road to ending hunger by 2030. But we need to “plant” today in order to have something to reap later.

 Sample Letter

Sen. Joe Donnelly                 Sen. Dan Coats                    Rep. Luke Messer

720 Hart Senate Office Bldg.            493 Russell Senate Off. Bldg             508 Cannon House Off. Bldg.

Washington, DC  20510               Washington, DC 20510                   Washington, DC  20515

202-224-4814                         202-224-5623                           202-225-3021

www.donnelly.senate.gov               www.coats.senate.gov                   www.messer.house.gov

 Rep. Messer, Sen. _____________:

 As you consider the five-year reauthorization of child nutrition programs this year, I urge you to make sure that children at risk of hunger can get the healthy meals they need in order to learn and grow. 

 Specifically, I ask you to help protect child nutrition programs from funding cuts and harmful policy changes, and to improve children's access to those programs without cutting other safety-net programs.  Failure to do so almost guarantees a less-educated, less-healthy, less-competitive US workforce in coming years -- a concern I confront every week at the food pantry where I volunteer here in Randolph County.

 Child nutrition programs serve as a lifeline for America's vulnerable children and their families. As your constituent and as a follower of Christ, I urge you to protect and improve child nutrition programs.

                                               Sincerely,

 

2014 Offering of Letters:  Reform US Food Aid    For many decades, the United States has been a global leader economically, diplomatically, militarily, and in the humanitarian arena.  Our federal government often sends assistance in the form of food aid.  It is time to update the government's 1950s practices to enable it to respond more flexibly and faster in a 21st century, globalized world.  Changes to the food-aid programs would allow food aid to benefit 17 million more people each year — at no additional cost to US taxpayers.  This year's Offering of Letters focuses on learning about the United States' role in global aid and why reform is so critical, then writing to members of Congress to urge them to enact much needed reforms to our global food aid programs.  Together we can change policy and ensure continued, improved assistance to millions of hungry people around the world.

 A Victory: More Food, Less Shipping

Robin Stephenson, BFW, 22 Dec ‘14

 Just before Christmas, faithful advocacy won out over special interests in a modern-day David and Goliath story.  Bread members across the country told lawmakers to prioritize food for hungry people over profit for shipping conglomerates - and Congress listened.  In the final days of the 113th Congress, lawmakers passed a bill funding the Coast Guard for 2015 that rolled back proposals to increase subsidies to the world’s largest shipping companies for transporting US food aid.  Last spring, a provision was quietly slipped into the Coast Guard bill that the House passed, which called for an increase in the percentage of US food aid required to be shipped on US vessels.  Bread advocates responded quickly by targeting key members on the Senate Commerce Committee, the committee that considered the legislation next.

 In Indiana, Sen. Dan Coats of the Commerce Committee heard from anti-hunger advocates. “Bread activists spent two hours on a Thursday morning before a critical committee vote to ensure Senator Dan Coats voted by proxy,” said Jon Gromek, a BFW regional official. “His vote was a critical swing ‘yea’ to advance food-aid reform.”

 All of this advocacy happened as part of Bread’s 2014 Offering of Letters: Reforming US Food Aid.  Next year’s Offering will focus on a different topic, but Bread will continue to work on food-aid reform and urge Congress to pass the Food for Peace Reform Act.  For now, BFW celebrates the power of faithful voices and this victory that advocacy won for people who are hungry. 

How Peanut Butter and Jelly Could Help America's Education System

Benjamin Spoer, USA Today            December 29, 2014

 Those in the education world — parents, teachers, politicos alike — hear near-constant consternation about underperforming inner-city schools. We cannot seem to decide whether the teachers are unqualified, the curriculum is inappropriate or the budgets are too small.  However, for many of these schools, there could be a simple way to improve academic performance.  It's something we in the public health world call, in academic speak, a peanut butter sandwich.

 Many big public schools are overcrowded to the point that students have to stagger their lunches. This means some kids are eating lunch at 10 AM and others at 2 PM.  Considering that a lot of these kids skip breakfast, many of them are going eight hours or more without anything to eat.  In fact, a 2013 report by No Kid Hungry, a nonprofit working toward ending childhood hunger, found that 73 percent of teachers say they have students who come to school hungry on a regular basis.  Feeding America and the USDA report that, in 2012, 15.8 million kids in the U.S. didn't have reliable access to food.  This hunger, combined with the long wait to eat or the very early lunch, has two big impacts on these kids' lives.

 The first is that it is nearly impossible to learn when all you can think about is food; more than one study has linked hunger to poorer grades. This means our kids are showing up to school hungry, and many of them are not allowed to eat for hours on end, which torpedoes their academic performance. If you ask teachers about this, some will tell you their kids are eating plenty.  Between classes, students will run to the vending machines, grab a Pop-Tart and an Arizona Iced Tea, and scarf them down as fast as possible.  While this may provide the raw calories these kids need to live, breakfast pastries and soda are far from brain food.  In fact, lower-quality diets have been shown to have a negative effect on academic performance, independent of hunger. And though the food in the cafeteria is not by any means perfect, it is typically better than the stuff students buy in the frenzied minutes between history and math.

 The second big problem with the long periods that these kids go hungry is that, from a health standpoint, the effects of hunger are more insidious than simple distraction. Though it may sound counterintuitive, inadequate access to food is associated with higher weight, because hungry people are more likely to eat more than they need to and store more of that food as fat.  So while at first student hunger may seem like an education issue, it quickly becomes a big health problem.  Not only do hungry kids' poorer grades make it harder for them to get into college, which has a massive negative effect on their lifelong well-being, but this hunger could also be contributing to the high rates of childhood obesity.

 Luckily, it's a pretty simple problem to solve. When I was a holistic health counselor at a public high school on Coney Island (through Dr. Oz's HealthCorps initiative — yeah, that Dr. Oz), I asked the guidance counselors to send me students who would regularly either fall asleep or start fights at 10 AM or 3:00 PM — the hungriest hours. My theory was that these kids were not angry or petulant, but instead were acting out the effects of their hunger. My prescription? Peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. PB&Js were an easy, delicious and culturally acceptable way to get healthy energy into students who were struggling so mightily against their own biology.  While my results were far from scientific, many of the students I worked with ended up with better grades and fewer trips to the counselor's office.

 PB&Js are far from a panacea. A sandwich cannot address the funding issues, crumbling infrastructure or myriad social burdens our schools and students face in their struggle to learn.  However, when we don't give our students enough food to fuel their brains, we set them up to fail.  If we are serious about improving educational achievement and ending childhood obesity, we have to make sure our students have the most basic tools they need to succeed, which in many cases might involve peanut butter and jelly.

 Sample Letter

 

Sen. Joe Donnelly                           Sen. Dan Coats                               Rep. Luke Messer

720 Hart Senate Office Bldg.             493 Russell Senate Off. Bldg                         508 Cannon House Off. Bldg.

Washington, DC  20510                       Washington, DC 20510                                    Washington, DC  20515

202-224-4814                                            202-224-5623                                                        202-225-3021

www.donnelly.senate.gov                        www.coats.senate.gov                                     www.messer.house.gov

 Rep. Messer, Sen. _____________:

 I am writing out of concern that the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC), school lunch and breakfast programs, Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), and other efforts to prevent poverty-related hunger may become easy targets for spending-cutters in the 114th Congress.  I ask you, as my voice in Congress, to do everything possible to protect full funding for those programs.

 We seem constantly to wring our hands over our lagging academic and economic competitiveness in the world and our astronomical spending on healthcare.  While we spend billions trying to address those problems, we tend to ignore the far less expensive ways of preventing them in the first place. 

 Studies have long shown that every dollar spent on the WIC program saves up to seven dollars in public healthcare expense later in its participants’ lives.  A recent study reported that 73% of US teachers have students who regularly come to school hungry.  USDA and Feeding America find that nearly 16 million US children do not have reliable access to food.  Those kids are sicker, prone to childhood obesity with all its long-term impacts, miss more school, have greater difficulty learning with their undernourished brains, and thus are more likely to become the unhealthy, less-competitive workforce of the future we worry about.

It makes far more sense -- morally and economically -- to invest in children’s healthy birth and infancy, nutritionally secure childhood, and freedom from hunger while they receive their education.  In the new Congress, please do everything possible to protect funding for WIC, SNAP, and school nutrition programs, or else explain to me why you will not do so.

                                                                                   Sincerely,

 

2014 Offering of Letters:  Reform US Food Aid    For many decades, the United States has been a global leader economically, diplomatically, militarily, and in the humanitarian arena.  Our federal government often sends assistance in the form of food aid.  It is time to update the government's 1950s practices to enable it to respond more flexibly and faster in a 21st century, globalized world.  Changes to the food-aid programs would allow food aid to benefit 17 million more people each year — at no additional cost to US taxpayers.  This year's Offering of Letters focuses on learning about the United States' role in global aid and why reform is so critical, then writing to members of Congress to urge them to enact much needed reforms to our global food aid programs.  Together we can change policy and ensure continued, improved assistance to millions of hungry people around the world.

                                                                                                     Whatever Happened to that Urgent Immigration Crisis?

September 2014 

            Remember just a few weeks ago when the airwaves were filled with outrage (much of it Congressional) over images of immigrant children in detention centers across the US southern border?  Unfortunately, the disappearance of the story does not mean the dilemma has been resolved.  Far from it......

            After Congress’ August recess, it has precious little time to pass some sort of budget before leaving again for final campaigning and the midterm elections.  The government's fiscal year ends Sept. 30, and Congress will most likely pass some sort of short-term budget because of the impending elections.  This also means the window of opportunity for Congress to address the humanitarian crisis of unaccompanied children fleeing their homes in Mexico and Central America has nearly closed.

            Since October 2013, more than 52,000 unaccompanied children have fled hunger, poverty, and violence and crossed into the United States.  Most have come from Honduras, Guatemala, and El Salvador.  By year’s end, that number is expected to grow to between 70,000 and 90,000.  The Department of Homeland Security is preparing for more than 100,000 children to arrive in 2015.  This situation is a humanitarian crisis.

            Many members of Congress are focusing on detention centers and how fast the United States can send the children back to their home countries.  Few are asking to what are we sending the children back.  Without addressing the root causes of this crisis, such as poverty and violence, this situation will continue.  More and more children will be driven to flee their home countries in search of greater educational and economic opportunities, safer and more stable communities, and a path out of hunger.

            This crisis is not just about the surge of new arrivals in the United States.  It is also about the conditions of poverty, hunger, and violence that force children to leave their homes on a dangerous, uncertain journey:

• 75 percent of the children are coming from three countries: Guatemala, El Salvador, and Honduras.

• More than half of the citizens of Honduras and Guatemala live below their national poverty line.

• About half of all Guatemalans suffer from moderately or severely stunted growth.

• Honduras has the highest murder rate per capita in the world.  El Salvador and Guatemala are among

the five most violent nations.

• Residents of all ages, including children, in these countries are getting caught in gang-related violence.

            The United States is not the only country experiencing this surge of unaccompanied children coming into its territory. The United Nations High Commission on Refugees reports that Mexico, Panama, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, and Belize have seen a 712 percent increase in children’s applications for asylum.  Other neighboring countries have seen a 700 percent increase in the last year. 

            Congress needs to take a balanced approach to this crisis.  It needs to address not only the children who have arrived in the United States already but also the root causes of the crisis in the home countries of these children. Congress needs to enact targeted policies that address economic and security concerns so that fewer children are forced to migrate and risk their lives in what is an extremely dangerous journey into the United States.  The U.S. State Department and the U.S. Agency for International Development support many economic

development, health, education, social service, democracy, and security programs in the region. However, these programs can be better structured to address the root causes of migration. Our federal government can also support new initiatives that help strengthen the governments of countries that have high numbers of residents who are migrating.           

Four Principles on the Child Refugee Crisis

1. As Christians, we are called to love and care for others, especially vulnerable people, immigrants, children.

     Israel was instructed to apply the same law to sojourners and natural born citizens, including the provision of gleaning for the destitute (Deut. 24:19-21). They were instructed to love the sojourner (Lev. 19:34) and treat him or her fairly (Exod. 22:21; Lev. 19:33).

2. Any solution to the child refugee crisis must address the root causes of hunger, poverty, and violence that are driving the children to flee their home countries.

     a. There should be additional funding to support sustainable economic development that will address the conditions of poverty, hunger, and violence in these countries. Efforts that create better futures for children and deter migration should be identified and expanded.

     b. Investments in small-scale agriculture programs must be continued and further expanded to address the high levels of hunger and malnutrition in Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador.

     c. The United States should work with immigrants’ countries-of-origin and with the diaspora in the United States to strengthen weak governments. Further investments in community-based youth violence prevention programs should also be made.

     d. U.S. development and immigration policy strategies should be more closely aligned, ensuring our U.S.-funded development projects help to reduce the propensity to migrate.

3. All child refugees should be treated humanely and compassionately while in the United States.

     a. The United States should ensure proper medical treatment and health care, nutrition, housing, and safety for unaccompanied children.

     b. The children should receive a fair hearing in the United States to determine their eligibility for refugee status.

     c. The children should have the right to adjudication before an immigration judge. Their right to due process should be respected.

     d. Congress should refrain from weakening existing laws that establish legal protections for unaccompanied children entering the United States.

4. Children should not be put in situations where their lives are in danger.

     a. Ensuring the safety of children should always be a priority.

     b. Stronger investment in regional protection systems for children and migrants should be made to promote child welfare and access to social services.

     c. For children returning to their home countries, the handoff must be appropriate to the age of the child.

 Call (800-826-3688) or email your U.S. senators and representative, and urge them to include in any upcoming budget bill funding for effective poverty-focused development assistance programs in Central America that will address the root causes of poverty, hunger, and violence that are driving the children to flee.  Your voice will send a powerful message to your elected officials that while the national media coverage may be dwindling, you haven’t forgotten about the tens of thousands of refugee children fleeing into the United States from Honduras, El Salvador, and Guatemala.

 Sample Letter

 Sen. Joe Donnelly                        Sen. Dan Coats                           Rep. Luke Messer

720 Hart Senate Office Bldg.             493 Russell Senate Off. Bldg             508 Cannon House Off. Bldg.

Washington, DC  20510                        Washington, DC 20510                      Washington, DC  20515

202-224-4814                                            202-224-5623                                                 202-225-3021

senator_donnelly@donnelly.senate.gov   senator_coats@coats.senate.gov          IN06LMima@mail.house.gov

 

Rep. Messer, Sen. _____________: 

I am writing to urge you to push for inclusion in the FY2015 budget bill of robust funding for effective poverty-focused development assistance in Central American countries. 

 Judging by the recent lack of media coverage, one could imagine the problem of unaccompanied immigrant children on our southern border has been solved.  As you well know, it hasn’t.  Congress’ failure to enact wise comprehensive immigration reform this year is a global embarrassment, but there still is time to take an essential first step. 

Accelerated deportation does not resolve the immigration crisis.  Those children are being returned to situations of terrible violence, poverty, and hunger that in many cases will lead them to flee northward again.  Only by addressing those root causes of undocumented immigration through smart development assistance can we hope to stem the human tide.   

Please publicly support such development assistance for Central America in the FY’15 budget, or explain to me why you will not do so.

                                              Sincerely,

 

2014 Offering of Letters:  Reform US Food Aid    For many decades, the United States has been a global leader economically, diplomatically, militarily, and in the humanitarian arena.  Our federal government often sends assistance in the form of food aid.  It is time to update the government's 1950s practices to enable it to respond more flexibly and faster in a 21st century, globalized world.  Changes to the food-aid programs would allow food aid to benefit 17 million more people each year — at no additional cost to US taxpayers.  This year's Offering of Letters focuses on learning about the United States' role in global aid and why reform is so critical, then writing to members of Congress to urge them to enact much needed reforms to our global food aid programs.  Together we can change policy and ensure continued, improved assistance to millions of hungry people around the world. 

Farm Bill is Now Law.... and Poverty Still Leaves Americans Hungry

Bread for the World, March 2014

 It’s no secret the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance program (SNAP, or food stamps) has been dealt a series of crushing blows over the last several months.  Unprecedented cuts were made to the program, including an $11 billion cut that took effect last November 1 and impacted more than 47 million Americans.  Earlier this year, an additional $8.6 billion cut to SNAP was signed into law as part of the farm bill.  As a result, 850,000 SNAP households in 15 states and the District of Columbia will see their benefits cut by about $90 a month.  Those cuts will have serious consequences for millions of hungry Americans.  

The 2013 farm bill is now law, but the work of protecting and strengthening its nutrition programs is far from over.  The SNAP cuts in the farm bill are a huge blow to those families who will see their food budgets shrink.  Our voices have made, and can continue to make, a difference for them.

 Faithful advocates successfully blocked harmful provisions that would have led to millions of people not just experiencing cuts to their benefits, but losing them altogether.  Compassionate advocacy stopped policy changes at the federal level that would have banned convicted felons from the program for life (a move that would have affected millions of children in the process), punished people for not finding work in a tough economy, and allowed states to drug test every applicant.  

There likely will be more attempts to cut SNAP funding in the coming months.  Because the program remains at the center of a bitter congressional tug-of-war, nonpartisan advocates must dispel myths about SNAP and spread the accurate message that it helps children and struggling families to eat.  In a nation that has more than enough food to go around, no one should have to go hungry merely because nutrition programs to help the poor are an easy target for Congress’ search for budget savings.  Poor public nutrition today leads to huge public medical costs in the future -- a classic case of “penny-wise and pound-foolish.”

 With so many families seeing their SNAP benefits reduced, our work to protect other anti-hunger and anti-poverty programs takes on even greater importance.  Protecting WIC, school meals, and tax credits, and reinstating and strengthening emergency unemployment insurance (BFW estimates that 72,000 American unemployed workers are losing insurance each week) will be crucial to making sure that families reeling from the SNAP cuts don’t fall deeper into poverty as a result.

 US Hunger Statistics      14.5 percent of U.S. households struggle to put enough food on the table.  More than 48 million Americans—including 15.9 million children—live in these households.  More than one in five children is at risk of hunger. Among African-Americans and Latinos, nearly one in three children is at risk of hunger.

      More than one in seven people in the United States lives below the poverty line, which was $22,113 for a family of four in 2010.  More than one in five children in the United States lives below the poverty line.  Most Americans (51.4 percent) will live in poverty at some point before age 65.  65% of low-income families have at least one working family member, and 79 percent of single mothers who head households work.  In most areas, a family of four needs to earn twice the poverty line to provide children with basic necessities.  Low-income households already spend a greater share of their income on food than do wealthier families.  Food accounts for 16.4 percent of spending for households making less than $10,000 per year compared to the U.S. average of 12.7 percent.

     Of the more than 20 million children who receive free or reduced-price lunch each school day, less than half receive breakfast and only 10 percent access summer feeding sites.  For every 100 school lunch programs, there are only 87 breakfast sites and just 36 summer food program sites.

      One in every two babies born in the United States is enrolled in the Women, Infants, and Children nutrition program.

Although 81.3 percent of eligible infants are enrolled in WIC, the program reaches just 47.3 percent of eligible children ages 1 to 4.

Sample Letter

 Sen. Joe Donnelly                                            Sen. Dan Coats                                            Rep. Luke Messer

720 Hart Senate Office Bldg.                          493 Russell Senate Off. Bldg                       508 Cannon House Off. Bldg.

Washington, DC  20510                                     Washington, DC 20510                                 Washington, DC  20515

202-224-4814                                                         202-224-5623                                                     202-225-3021

senator_donnelly@donnelly.senate.gov        senator_coats@coats.senate.gov               IN06LMima@mail.house.gov

 Dear Sen. ____________, Rep. Messer:

Please use your influence in Congress during the current debates and negotiations over the FY2015 budget to safeguard US nutrition and anti-poverty programs. 

 It is a global embarrassment that in the wealthiest nation on earth, nearly 15% of our families -- including 16 million children -- live in food insecurity.  The US produces more than enough food to feed our people.  No one should have to go hungry merely because the poor are easy, voiceless targets for Congress’ budget cuts while “corporate welfare” gets lavishly funded.  Poor public nutrition today leads to huge public medical costs in the future -- a classic case of “penny-wise and pound-foolish.”  History surely will shame such shortsighted priorities.

 In negotiations over the new federal budget, please help protect WIC, school meals, SNAP, the Earned Income Tax Credit, and the Child Tax Credit.  Please also work to reinstate and strengthen emergency unemployment insurance (Bread for the World estimates that 72,000 American unemployed workers are losing insurance each week).  If you will not help protect poor and vulnerable Hoosiers in these ways, please explain that choice to me.  

                                                                                  Sincerely,

 

Winchester, IN       Bread for the World / Fast Once A Month       27 February 2013

<www.bread.org> and <www.BreadIndiana.org>

 2012 Offering of Letters:  Circle of Protection Around Poor and Hungry People    Each year, Bread for the World members write to their Congressional delegation to advocate for policies that can help end hunger in the US and around the world.  The 2012 Offering of Letters campaign urged Congress and the Administration to form a “circle of protection” around programs that help poor and hungry people.  (Within that campaign were four mini-campaigns that address specific legislative topics: domestic nutrition, poverty-focused foreign assistance, tax policy, and international food aid.)

2013 Offering of Letters:  A Place at the Table   Bread’s first goal of 2013 is collecting signatures for online and printed petitions to President Obama to set a goal and work with Congress to enact a plan to end hunger.  We have not achieved all that we advocated for in last year’s Offering of Letters, "Expanding the Circle of Protection" -- that is just the nature of law making.  Thus, the 2013 Offering of Letters will continue to focus on congressional action needed to ensure a place at the table (both the dining table and the policy table) and to protect vital programs for poor and hungry people, especially as the new feature-length documentary A Place at the Table opens in theaters across the country in March.  This part of the 2013 Offering of Letters will be similar to past campaigns, focusing on letters and personalized emails to members of Congress.

 Staring Down the Sequester

February 2013

 Congress may have addressed the fiscal cliff at the beginning of the new year, but the budget fights will continue, and the next round of deadlines are approaching rapidly.  On March 1, the across-the-board cuts — known as the sequester — begin to take effect.  Then on March 27, the current stopgap measure funding the government — known as a continuing resolution or CR — expires. 

Members of Congress agree that the sequester is a bad approach to deficit reduction, but they can’t agree on how to replace it. Thus, an increasing number of members of Congress are saying they believe the sequester will go into effect for at least some period of time. 

Latest estimates suggest nondefense programs will be cut by about 5.1 percent for the remainder of the current fiscal year.  Under this scenario, WIC (special supplemental nutrition for women, infants, and children) would be cut by approximately $333 million, and 450,000 recipients would lose benefits.  Poverty-focused development assistance abroad would see roughly $1 billion in cuts. This could mean tens of thousands of lives lost due to reduced or denied access to food aid, medicine, clean water, and other services that U.S. aid dollars provide.  More than 2 million people would be harmed by cuts to international Food for Peace and McGovern-Dole school feeding programs. 

As bad as these cuts would be, the sequester is not the biggest budget threat. Congress could subject these programs to further cuts as Congress finalizes appropriations for the remainder of the 2013 fiscal year, which runs through Sept. 30, 2013. More concerning, some members of Congress want to alter the sequester to protect defense spending by shifting the $45 billion in defense cuts to have the full $90 billion in cuts fall on nondefense discretionary programs, including WIC, poverty-focused development assistance, international food aid, and other appropriated spending programs. 

Moreover, a number of entitlement programs for hungry and poor people are currently protected from the sequester — these include the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, formerly food stamps), the child nutrition programs, the Earned Income and Child Tax Credit, and Medicaid. However, some in Congress are urging a sequester replacement package that eliminates these protections. 

Bread for the World is calling on Congress to eliminate the thoughtless spending cuts of the sequester with a balanced package that includes both new revenue and responsible spending reductions.  This plan needs to retain in the budget these vital programs that help feed hungry people and move poor people out of poverty. 

The Farm Bill         Congress failed to reauthorize the farm bill in 2012, choosing instead to extend most farm programs through Sept. 30, 2013. Therefore, the House and Senate Agriculture Committees must begin the process again, going through the committee process and basing their work on the bills written last year.  Although the 2012 Senate proposal had some good provisions when it came to international food aid reform, it also cut SNAP by $4.5 billion.  The far more drastic 2012 House proposal cut SNAP funding by over $16 billion and slashed international food aid programs by more than 95 percent.  Bread for the World urges its members to continue advocating strongly against cuts to SNAP and international food aid in the work being done by Congress on a new farm bill. 

U.S. Hunger       We live in the world's wealthiest nation. Yet 14.5 percent of U.S. households—nearly 49 million Americans, including 16.2 million children—struggle to put food on the table.  The fastest, most direct way to reduce hunger is through the national nutrition programs.  The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program or SNAP (formerly food stamps), is the country's first line of defense against hunger.  School lunch and breakfast programs provide free- and reduced-price meals to millions of low-income children so they can focus on learning.  The Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) provides nutritious food packages to low-income pregnant and nursing women and young children so our country's most vulnerable infants and toddlers get the nutrients they need for healthy development.   

Sample Letter 

Sen. Joe Donnelly                                         Sen. Dan Coats                                                Rep. Luke Messer

B33 Russell Senate Office Bldg.           493 Russell Senate Off. Bldg                                   508 Cannon House Off. Bldg.

Washington, DC  20510                          Washington, DC 20510                                            Washington, DC  20515

202-224-4814                                                  202-224-5623                                                          202-225-3021

senator_donnelly@donnelly.senate.gov     senator_coats@coats.senate.gov                      IN06LMima@mail.house.gov

 

Sen. ______________, Rep. Messer:

 I am writing in concern about the harm posed by the sequester (and by many of its proposed alternates) to essential programs which have been helping poor and hungry people survive the recent recession and the current sluggish economy.  In the wealthiest nation on earth, it is inexcusable that 49 million Americans -- over 16 million children -- are food insecure.  It is even more grievous that their government now tells them they must get used to being even hungrier, in order to correct its reckless overspending and its selfish abetting of the expanding gulf between the wealthy and the poor in the USA. 

Surely your aides have told you that under the sequester, nondefense programs that help the poor will be cut by about 5.1 percent for the remainder of the current fiscal year.  Do you realize that means that 450,000 WIC recipients would lose benefits?  Or that thousands of lives may be lost as poverty-focused development assistance abroad is cut by $1 billion?   Or that millions of Americans still trying to get back on their feet after the recession will miss meals and go without medical care if Congress unwisely replaces the sequester with a package that cuts currently-protected entitlement programs like SNAP, Medicaid, EITC, and the Child Tax Credit? 

Far too many of those who will be hurt are your constituents here in Randolph County.  Our food pantry had to serve a record 441 households of them (1365 people) last month.  I urge you to help Congress, as soon as possible, to stop the thoughtless spending cuts of the sequester and replace them with a balanced package that includes both new revenue and responsible spending reductions, a package that protects vital programs that help feed hungry people and move poor people out of poverty. 

                                                                        Sincerely,

 

2012 Offering of Letters:  Circle of Protection Around Poor and Hungry People    Each year, Bread for the World members write to their Congressional delegation to advocate for policies that can help end hunger in the U.S. and around the world.  The 2012 Offering of Letters campaign will urge Congress and the Administration to form a “circle of protection” around programs that help poor and hungry people.  (Within that campaign are four mini-campaigns that address specific legislative topics: domestic nutrition, poverty-focused foreign assistance, tax policy, and international food aid.)

 Bread for the World Honors the Legacy of Sen. George McGovern

 Washington, DC, October 22, 2012

 Bread for the World and the entire anti-hunger community are mourning the death of Sen. George McGovern of South Dakota, who devoted much of his career to fighting for programs that support hungry and poor people in the United States and around the world.  His commitment to ending hunger and his accomplishments in that field led to his being named a World Food Prize co-laureate with Dole in 2008. 

 In the USA, Sen. McGovern was instrumental in feeding hungry people by reforming the food stamp program in the 1970s.  Working closely in a bipartisan effort with Sen. Robert Dole of Kansas, Sen. McGovern modernized and expanded the program now known as SNAP (the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program), which currently assists 46 million Americans.

 The two senators also jointly established the McGovern-Dole International Food for Education and Child Nutrition Program, which serves millions of people in developing countries.  Since the 1990s, that program has provided low-income countries with U.S. agricultural commodities and financial and technical assistance for school feeding programs, and also supports maternal, infant, and child nutrition programs. With funding of about $200 million, the McGovern-Dole program in 2010 served approximately 5 million beneficiaries in 28 countries.

 “Sen. McGovern’s anti-hunger legacy is apparent in the millions of lives that have been spared through the programs he sponsored,” said Bread president David Beckmann. “We pray that lawmakers will continue his bipartisan commitment to ending world hunger by protecting -- from potentially devastating federal budget cuts -- the McGovern-Dole school feeding initiative and other programs that help lift millions out of poverty.”

 Phoenix Mayor Attempts to Live on Food Stamps

by Travis Waldron, ThinkProgress, 28 September 2012

When local activist groups challenged Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton to live on a food stamp budget for a week to mark Hunger Awareness Month, he took them up on the offer and found out just how hard it was.  Stanton kept a diary on the challenge, which allotted him roughly $29 a week, the same amount 1.1 million Arizonans receive from the Supplemental Assistance Nutrition Program (SNAP) each week.

By day four, Stanton noted that he was “tired” and “it's hard to focus” after leaving the house for work without time to scramble eggs or eat a decent breakfast:

 OK- ran out the door today with no time to scramble eggs or even make a sandwich.  So I’m surviving on an apple and handful of peanuts, and the coffee I took to the office until dinner.  I'm tired, and it’s hard to focus.  I can’t go buy a sandwich because that would be cheating- even the dollar menu at Taco Bell is cheating.  You can’t use SNAP benefits at any restaurants, fast food or otherwise.  I’m facing a long, hungry day and an even longer night getting dinner on the table, which requires making EVERYTHING from scratch on this budget.  It’s only for a week, so I’ve got a decent attitude.  If I were doing this with no end in sight, I probably wouldn’t be so pleasant.

 According to Stanton’s Facebook page, the city he governs ranks 34th-worst among America’s 100 largest metro areas in terms of hunger, and one-in-four Arizona children are food insecure.  Across the nation, there are more than 46 million people receiving SNAP benefits.

 Despite the challenges presented by poverty and hunger, some in Congress have proposed cuts to the programs that help struggling families afford food. The House’s proposed budget could kick millions out of SNAP and hundreds of thousands of children out of school lunch programs, exacerbating the high rates of food insecurity America’s families are already facing.

 Write to Congress

Research from the Congressional Management Foundation confirms that handwritten, mailed letters are still the best way to communicate with your members of Congress.  In fact, 96 percent of Capitol Hill staff reported in a survey that if their member of Congress had not reached a decision on an issue, personalized letters would influence his or her position.  Personalized emails can also be effective, but congressional offices experience large amounts of email and sometimes lack the additional staff to handle the volume and evaluate the email’s authenticity.  Handwritten letters from constituents of members of Congress are always read and logged.  Sending paper letters to legislators’ in-state offices can help them reach their Washington office more quickly.

 Sample Letter

 

Sen. Richard Lugar                                                    Sen. Dan Coats                                               Rep. Mike Pence

306 Hart Senate Office Bldg.                   B40E Dirksen Senate Off. Bldg.                                     1605 Longworth HOB

Washington, DC  20510                           Washington, DC  20510                                             Washington, DC  20515         

       202-224-4814                                            202-224-5623                                                               202-225-3021

senator_lugar@lugar.senate.gov        senator_coats@coats.senate.gov                   mike.pence@mail.house.gov

                  or                                                                           or                                                                        or

 1180 Market Tower                                        1650 Market Tower                                           1134  Meridian Plaza                                                

10 W. Market St.                                       10 W. Market St.                                                 Anderson, IN 46016

    Indianapolis, IN 46204                        Indianapolis, IN  46204

 Dear Rep. Pence,

As unthinkable as it is, nearly one billion people around the world suffer from chronic hunger, making hunger the world's number one health risk.  I am writing to ask you to help protect funding for international food aid programs when the budget debate gets going in Congress after the election. 

Last summer’s drought in your district significantly harmed farmers here in Randolph County.  It was a mere taste of what people all over the planet will be dealing with for decades to come as climate change and severe weather events make it more difficult for people to produce and obtain adequate nutrition.  So while we must reduce our deficits, it must not be done at the expense of aid programs to help the world’s most vulnerable people. 

Especially in tribute to Sen. George McGovern, please protect funding for programs such as Food for Peace (P.L. 480) and the McGovern-Dole International Food for Education and Child Nutrition Program for emergency food aid, which rescue millions of people each year from hunger and help children reach their full potential.  Showing compassion by sending food to vulnerable people -- especially in volatile, unstable places -- can help ensure our own national security far less expensively than sending soldiers, ships, and airplanes can.

 Our poverty-focused international aid programs are so small compared to the total federal budget that cutting them will not affect our deficit, but any cuts would have a devastating impact on hungry people worldwide.  For their future, which is so inextricably linked to our own, I urge you to create a circle of protection around funding for vital international food aid programs. 

                                                                                                                               Sincerely,

 

2012 Offering of Letters:  Circle of Protection Around Poor and Hungry People    Each year, Bread for the World members write to their Congressional delegation to advocate for policies that can help end hunger in the U.S. and around the world.  The 2012 Offering of Letters campaign will urge Congress and the Administration to form a “circle of protection” around programs that help poor and hungry people.  (Within that campaign are four mini-campaigns that address specific legislative topics: domestic nutrition, poverty-focused foreign assistance, tax policy, and international food aid.)

   

Raising a Family on a Not-for-Profit Salary: The Blessing of Tax Credits

by Zach Schmidt, Bread Midwest field organizer

            As a husband and father of four, I want to provide for my family—on my own.  I am striving toward this end and believe I will get there.  At the same time, we have received countless blessings along the way, from a wedding check we found hidden in Frugal Living for Dummies six months after our honeymoon, to interest-free car loans and mortgage down payment assistance from generous parents.  And those are just two drops in the well.

            At times we have written these blessings in a journal.  Always, we try to notice and to thank God for them.  It is in this same grateful spirit that my wife and I anticipate the blessing of the Earned Income Tax Credit and Child Tax Credit as the tax documents begin hitting our mailbox in January.

            We live frugally and have made decisions to cut unnecessary expenses. I see the dollars slip out of our air-conditioned home when the front door is left ajar.  On the train last week, some fellow commuters were bewildered when I told them we do not receive any television channels.  We use coupons and shop at our local Aldi and wholesaler.  Our mortgage payment is less than what most families pay for rent.

            These means of stretching our dollars—which I happen to enjoy, and my wife and children tolerate—are also a blessing.  And yet, as frugally as we live and as greatly as we have been blessed, we still struggle to make ends meet. The Earned Income Tax Credit and the Child Tax Credit help keep our family afloat financially.  It is difficult for me to imagine how families carry on with less.  God truly, faithfully provides for us, and we are grateful.  But I must continue also doing what I can to protect my family and the many families that need these credits even more—much more—than we do.

 

EITC and CTC Funding Threatened in 2013 Budget

            A series of tax cuts will expire at the end of 2012, including two provisions that are critical for low-income working families: the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) and the Child Tax Credit (CTC). These tax credits boost household earnings and lift millions of people out of poverty each year.

            The Earned Income Tax Credit is a refundable tax credit that supplements the wages of low-income workers. The more wages people earn, the more benefits their families receive until a certain point when the benefits begin to decline and finally disappear. People apply for this tax credit when they complete their income tax returns. In 2010, this credit lifted 5.4 million people out of poverty—including 3 million children.

            The Child Tax Credit provides financial support for working families with children. The credit is available for children under age 17 to families earning at least $3,000.  Families can receive a refund of 15 percent of their earnings above $3,000 up to $1,000 per child.  The CTC is a partially refundable tax credit families apply for when they complete their income tax returns.  In 2009, the CTC lifted 2.3 million people, including 1.3 million children, above the poverty line.

            Millions of Americans continue to feel the effects of the Great Recession—and an alarming number are poor and hungry.  Nearly one in six people lived in poverty in 2010 ($22,113 for a family of four), including 22 percent of children and more than one in four children under age 5.  More than one-third of the U.S. population was poor or near poor in 2010 (living below twice the poverty level).

            Unfortunately, a job doesn’t guard against poverty.  In 2010, 10.7 million people with jobs lived below the poverty line.  A full-time minimum-wage earner makes only about $14,500 a year.  We need a growing economy, more good jobs, and measures—such as these tax credits—that ensure working families can support their families.

            Taxes are a hot topic in Washington, but unfortunately the focus remains mostly on tax cuts for the middle class and the wealthy.  The importance of the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) and the Child Tax Credit (CTC) is getting lost in these discussions.  When these credits do come up, it’s usually because they’re being targeted for cuts.  The House of Representatives twice passed bills that included cuts to the CTC.  At the end of 2011, the House included a cut to the CTC as a way to pay for extending unemployment insurance and the payroll tax cut.  The final bill enacted by the House and the Senate did not include the CTC cut, but the House again passed that provision as a part of the budget reconciliation bill earlier this spring.  Fortunately, the Senate did not take up that bill, so the cut has not become law.  However, we’re likely to see these proposals continue to appear as Congress keeps looking for ways to pay for other bills.

            The 2001 and 2003 (Bush) tax cuts expire at the end of 2012, and Congress is in the midst of debating which parts to extend.  The Senate voted to continue the tax cuts through 2013 for incomes up to $250,000.  That proposal funds the current EITC and CTC benefit levels, including the 2009 improvements, which Bread supports. These are: (1) allowing families to count earnings below $13,000 towards the CTC, (2) additional marriage penalty relief for the ETIC, and (3) a larger EITC for families with three of more kids. The House’s version of that bill would extend the 2001 and 2003 tax cuts through 2013 for nearly all incomes, even those above $250,000.  However, it would not continue the current EITC and CTC benefit levels, effectively raising taxes on low-income working families.

 

 

 
On Sept. 30, 2009 Dave Miner, President of the Board of Bread for the World came to speak at the Winchester Chapter meeting during lunch.  Ron Ferguson is on the left. Joining the Winchester Chapter were 4 friends from Muncie (where there is a chapter) and 6 friends from Richmond.