Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Turning Swords into Plowshares (Shovels) in the South Valley

He'll settle things fairly between nations. He'll make things right between people. They'll turn their swords into shovels, their spears into hoes. No more will nation fight nation; they won't play war anymore... Each man will sit under his own shade tree, each woman in safety will tend her own garden.   from Isaiah 2:4 and Micah 4:3-4 (The Message version) 
A coalition of churches, community organizations and businesses are coming together in the South Valley on Saturday, June 18, to turn swords into plowshares and spears into hoes. Working with the organization RawTools, the coalition will take weapons seized by the Albuquerque Police Department and convert them into gardening implements.

 The event, "From Guns to Gardens," will include food, music, poetry and testimonies from gun violence victims and shooters. Albuquerque Mennonite Church, American Friends Service Committee, Immanuel Presbyterian Church, Swan Kitchen, Veterans for Peace, New Mexicans to Prevent Gun Violence, Everence, and Southwest Organizing Project are sponsoring the event, which will be held at La Plazita Institute, 831 Isleta Blvd. SW (map), 10:00 am. to 3:00 pm.


Tuesday, May 24, 2016

More on the Final Push for Passage of Global Food Security Act

The House of Representatives and the Senate each approved a version of the Global Food Security Act. Both H.R.1567 and S.1252  seek to authorize funding for global food security programs and international disaster assistance programs.

For procedural reasons, the House is now being asked to take a second vote, this time considering S.1252. The House Foreign Affairs Committee has already endorsed the Senate version of the bill, so that gives the measure more weight when it comes to the House floor.  The two bills are nearly identical, but there are a couple of differences, listed below. Bread for the World and other global anti-poverty organizations are asking Reps. Michelle Lujan Grisham, Ben Ray Lujan, and Steve Pearce to support S.1252 when it comes to the House floor. Each provides an opportunity for constituents to contact them directly.  Just click on their highlighted names to send a message urging support for S.1252.
  • Senate bill offers a strongly desired two-year authorization, rather than a single year authorization as it appears in the House bill. This 2 year authorization of the Senate bill will ensure continuity of effort and congressional oversight well into the next administration. CBO has found that even with a two year authorization, this bill will not increase spending.
  •  Senate bill also includes an authorization of appropriations for existing International Disaster Assistance activities, including the Emergency Food Security Program. This is NOT the Food for Peace program. This is the disaster assistance program that is feeding Syrian refugees in Jordan and Lebanon; it is the program that enabled the US to be the first on the ground with life-saving aid in the Philippines and Nepal. It does not replace Food for Peace, it is filling the gaps and is critical to our national security.
  •  Senate bill includes an OMB cross-cutting reporting requirement that will provide even greater transparency about the use of foreign assistance funding.

Monday, May 23, 2016

The Opposite of Poverty

Mural at Trinity Catholic Worker House, Albuquerque
The opposite of poverty is not wealth. In too many places, the opposite of poverty is justice. 

- Bryan Stevenson

Sunday, May 22, 2016

Bono, Eugene Peterson, The Message and the Psalms

"The psalmist is brutally honest about the explosive joy that he's feeling and the deep sorrow or confusion," Bono said. "And it's that that sets the Psalms apart for me. And I often think, 'God, well why isn't church music more like that?'" -Bono
This video message documents the friendship between Bono (lead musician of the band U2) and Eugene Peterson (author of contemporary-language Bible translation The Message) revolving around their common interest in the Psalms. Based on interviews conducted by Fuller Seminary faculty member David Taylor and produced in association with Fourth Line Films, the film highlights in particular a conversation on the Psalms that took place between Bono, Peterson, and Taylor at Peterson’s Montana home. Read more in Sojourners magazine and The Huffington Post

Saturday, May 21, 2016

A Final Push in the House for the Global Food Security Act

Both the House and Senate have approved versions of the Global Food Security Act. So the legislation now goes to President Obama for his signature, right? Not so fast. The version that counts is the one that the Senate approved, and which the House must ratify. A very important first step toward this goal occurred this past week, when the House Foreign Affairs Committee  aprproved S. 1252. The full House must now vote on the Senate measure. Here is the tweet that Bread for the World sent out this week

The ONE Campaign is also urging its constituents to contact their member of the House of Representatives to support this very important initiative.
Rep. Michelle Lujan, who represents the First Congressional District in New Mexico, has already indicated strong support for the GFSA. Here's what she said in a letter to constitutents following the passage of the House version of the legislation (H.R. 1567).   
                   
"There is broad consensus that reducing global poverty and hunger requires accelerating growth in the agriculture sector.   Recent studies suggest that every 1% increase in agriculture income per capita reduces the number of people living in extreme poverty by between 6% and 1.8%.   Currently, more than 800 million people around the world suffer from chronic hunger and UNICEF estimates that 1 in 4 children is stunted as a result of adequate nutrition.    
                         
I strongly support the Global Food Security Act, which would authorizes several U.S. global food initiatives and authorizes $1 billion to carry out global hunger programs. It also requires the president to develop and implement a strategy to improve global food security, reduce chronic hunger and poverty, and improve nutrition."
  
This means she will almost certainly vote for S.1252 as it comes to the House floor. Still, we need to reinforce a request  that she support the Senate measure and to thank her for her support of H.R. 1567. Bread for the World provides a link to email our representatives to urge them to pass the Global Food Security Act (S. 1252).  Please contact Rep. Lujan Grisham or your own representative ASAP. 

Friday, May 20, 2016

Sharing the Airwaves with a Distinguished Group of Activists

"Food benefits have been a hot topic of conversation in New Mexico, and across the country, over the past year. The Martinez administration sought to implement new work requirements for some adults this year, but a judge ruled  in March that those changes won't go into effect until December.  The New Mexico Center for Law and Poverty wants the federal courts to bring in someone from outside the department to takeover processing of applications for some HSD programs, including food benefits."   -introduction to text related to call-in show
On May 19, 2016, KUNM, an affiliate of NPR in Albuquerque, chose the subject of food benefits, specifically the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) as its topic of discussion. The two principal guests on the show were Sovereign Hager, Supervising Attorney for NM Center on Law and Poverty and Miles Conway, Communication Coordinator for Council 18 AFSCME.  Joey Peters, reporter for NM Political Report offered background on a controversial issue where a group of workers in the Human Services Department testified earlier this month that their bosses changed applications for food stamps in order to prevent people from gaining access to emergency assistance. HSD officials invoked the Fifth Amendment more than 100 times last week when called to testify in court about the allegations.

A few of us were asked to provide insight on how state policies affected different communities of people in the state. They included Gordon Yawakia, Prevention Coordinator at the Albuquerque Indian Center; Brooke Tafoya, Director of Operations for A New Day Youth and Family Services, and Reed Russell, social services manager at Albuquerque Health Care for the Homeless. In my case, I (Carlos Navarro, State Coordinator for Bread for the World) spoke about the faith community's view on hunger and poverty in New Mexico. I come in at about 16th minute mark of the show.  There were also some good questions from the listening audience, and Sarah Gustavus did a masterful job of hosting. Read more on the background related to the report.  Listen to the Audio

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Thurgood Marshall: Always a Helping Hand



None of us got where we are solely by pulling ourselves up by our bootstraps. We got here because somebody — a parent, a teacher, an Ivy League crony, or a few nuns — bent down and helped us pick up our boots.

- Thurgood Marshall

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Back on the Radio

The last time I was on KUNM's call-in show, the host was Arcie Chapa, and I was in studio with a couple of distinguished guests: Kari Bachmann, a nutritionist from New Mexico State University and Mark Winne, an author and community food activist. At that time, I spoke about the passage of the Hunger-Free Communities Act of 2007,  which received strong bipartisan support (including then Sen. Pete Domenici of New Mexico).

Nine years later, here I am on the radio again to give a faith perspective about food assistance and food stamps, along with another respective member of the anti-hunger movement, Sovereign Hager of the New Mexico Center on Law and Poverty. And the host is Sarah Gustavus. (Sovereign will get the bulk of the minutes on the show, as well she should).

If you're in Albuquerque tune in on KUNM 89.9 on the dial on Thursday, May, 19, at 8:00 a.m. Or if you prefer (or are anywhere in the world), tune in on the KUNM app on your smartphone. Here is a preview that Sarah wrote ahead of the show. Below are a couple of tweets from Bread for the World this morning.

Monday, May 16, 2016

Photos from Offerings of Letters at St. Andrew Presbyterian Church,St. Paul Lutheran Church & St. Timothy's Lutheran Church

St. Andrew Presbyterian Church, St. Paul Lutheran Church and St. Timothy's Lutheran Church (all in Albuquerque) scheduled Offerings of Letters at the end of April and/or beginning of May.  Below are some photographs from each of those churches (courtesy of Fonda Kirchmeyer, Karla Ice and  Sara Love), along with Bread for the World's blessing prayer for letters and the litany/response that came from Offering of Letters booklet. (This is the sixth in a series about the congregations and schools in New Mexico that participated in the 2016 Offering of Letters. We have also featured Our Lady of the Most Holy Rosary (and South Valley Preparatory and Holy Ghost Schools), Albuquerque Mennonite Church, All Saints Lutheran Church, Immaculate Conception Catholic Church, and Peace Lutheran Church in Las Cruces).

Rev. Cheryl Finch, St. Andrew Presbyterian Church
Prayer Over Letters
Holy God, you long to call all people into your protective and healing care, as a mother hen gathers her chicks. We, too, can show your love in using the gift of our voices to advocate for mothers and babies at risk.

St. Paul Lutheran Church
Give us a hunger for righteousness, that our prayers and actions may ring out for the repair of all that denies needed food, clean water, and health care to pregnant women, new mothers, and their children.

Bless the letters we compose to Congress, and open the hearts of our leaders. We give thanks for our right to speak out for justice, and a system that makes our voices heard. In Jesus name, we pray. Amen 

Letter writers, St. Timothy's Lutheran Church




Litany

Bread of Life, strengthen in us your vision of a world where no baby or
mother dies from hunger or poverty. 
Make us restless to proclaim this good news to the world.

God of Compassion, we have become complacent in our lives and miss the suffering of others.
We confess our skepticism, our tendency to look away, our hardness of heart. In your strong love, stir us to see, pray, and act.

Letter writers, St. Timothy's Lutheran Church
God of Mercy, we pray for our elected leaders, especially those in Congress with the power to change and restore life to pregnant women, new mothers, and infants living in poverty.
Move the hearts of our leaders to restore life to the vulnerable.

God our Healer, we pray for all who lack adequate access to healthcare, and especially for mothers and children who need life-protecting medicines.
Bring to your light our wounded system that denies healing to the least.

God our Creator, we thank you for the gift of water that sustains our planet and our bodies. None of your children should lack for this most basic gift.
Open fountains of compassion that clean water may flow to those most in need.

Giver of Life, be present with all preparing to give birth, and with new mothers and their children. May the raising of our voices bring love and healing justice to those who struggle with poverty, hunger, and disease.
Deepen our appreciation for the gift of our lives, and use us to bless the lives of others. In Jesus’ name, we pray Amen.

These prayers were written by Rev. Julie Wakelee- Lynch, rector of St. Alban’s Episcopal Church, Albany, Calif., a longtime Bread for the World Covenant Church. Wakelee-Lynch is also editor of Daily Prayer for All Seasons, a newly released supplement to The Book of Common Prayer.

Sunday, May 15, 2016

Steve Garnaas-Holmes: Pentecost Prayer

Holy Spirit,
River of love, divine delight,
flow through me.
Flame of sun, burn in me. Wind of heaven, breathe in me.
Tongues of strangers, speak in me.
Love of God, sing in me.

Lead me beyond myself,
to return to you in the other,
to love you in my stranger,
my foreigner, my enemy.

Burn with your fire in me,
that it may be mine.
Breathe yourself into my life,
that it may be yours.
I am your song, and your singing.
I am your candle; you are my flame.

Holy Spirit,
love the world
in me.

-Steve Garnaas-Holmes
from Unfolding Light blog

Saturday, May 14, 2016

RESULTS, World Vision, Other Groups Urge World Leaders to Make Commitments on Child Nutrition Ahead of Rio Summit in August

No single event in the foreseeable future will play a bigger role in global nutrition than the “Nutrition for Growth” summit later this year. World leaders will gather to make specific financial and policy commitments to childhood nutrition, and their level of ambition in those commitments can change the trajectory of global childhood malnutrition — for better or for worse.Investment and focus has long lagged far behind the opportunity on nutrition. World leaders — the U.S. included — have woefully underinvested in critical nutrition programs for years, collectively failing millions of the world’s most vulnerable children.  -RESULTS action sheet , April 2016
Photo: World Vision International
The effort to improve child nutrition around the world is being fought on many fronts. Bread for the World is participating in the effort through the 2016 Offering of Letters, which  urges Congress to prioritize support for maternal and child health programs, emphasizing nutrition. As of May 2016, churches in New Mexico had written more than 1,200 letters to Congress on this issue.

Other organizations are taking a different approach. According to Heidi Brooks, a leader with the Albuquerque chapter of  RESULTS, members of the organization locally and around the country are pushing for President Barack Obama to join global leaders at the “Nutrition for Growth” summit in Rio de Janeiro on Aug. 4, 2016, in making financial and moral commitment to ensure that all children around the world have access to adequate nutrition.

 "President Obama now has a chance to show real leadership, stepping up to commit $500 million to nutrition in the final year of his Administration, setting this country and the next Administration on a new path to supporting healthier futures all around the world," says the RESULTS action sheet, April 2016, which also urges members and supporters to write a letter to the editor or Oped calling for action on nutrition.

Others involved in this effort include some familiar partners like ONE, CARE, Save the Children,and World Vision. Others are not as familiar but are also important players in the effort, including Action Against Hunger, End Water Poverty, Concern Worldwide, Global Health Advocates, People in Need, and Water Aid. (Like Bread for the World, ONE offers members and supporters the opportunity to urge Congress to ensure adequate funding for global child nutrition programs).

Photo: World Vision International
While RESULTS is focusing on President Obama and on the opinion pages of U.S. newspapers, among other things, World Vision International is placing its efforts on the European Union (EU).

"The Second High Level Summit on Nutrition will be held in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, on 4th of August 2016," WVI said in a briefing paper. "It is the biggest global event between now and 2020 to address the devastating burden of undernutrition."

The London-based organization calls on the European Commission (EC), the governing body of the EU, to focus on four areas: Secure Financial Commitments, Show Continued Political Leadership, Adopt Policy, and Ensure Accountability. "The EU should seize this opportunity to strengthen the political momentum and reinforce its leadership role in the fight against undernutrition," said WVI. "The Rio 2016 Summit will be the moment to evaluate progress made since 2013 and build on those commitments with the necessary financial support in order to ensure the ambition of the SDGs to end malnutrition in all its forms can be realised."

Friday, May 13, 2016

#StampOutHunger: The Spring Food Drive

The Stamp Out Hunger Food Drive is very important to our supply of available food.  In the spring, our food supplies are typically lower and with continuing increased demand for food.  Plus, since school is almost out, hunger increases over the summer months for children as they no longer have access to the free/reduced school breakfast and lunch program.  Our programs and partner agencies need more food to feed the increased number of hungry people and families.  -Roadrunner Food Bank
The National Association of Letter Carriers is holding the Stamp Out Hunger Food Drive tomorrow, May 14, in every community in our country. Please consider leaving out a bag or two bags filled with non-perishable food or bring the food to a local USPS branch. Roadrunner Food Bank in Albuquerque is also offering you the option of participating in its virtual food drive. Please help Roadrunner Food Bank and the Food Depot in Santa Fe ensure that they have an adequate supply of food on hand for the summer months.

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

What Happens When Your Pastor Endorses Your Offering of Letters from the Pulpit?

Rena Dragoo, Pat O'Meara & Joy Dinaro
 (Note: This is the fifth in a series about the congregations and schools in New Mexico that participated in the 2016 Offering of Letters. We have also featured Our Lady of the Most Holy Rosary (and South Valley Preparatory and Holy Ghost Schools), Albuquerque Mennonite Church, All Saints Lutheran Church, and Peace Lutheran Church in Las Cruces).

When Joy Dinaro, Rena Dragoo and Pat O'Meara were planning the Offering of Letters at Immaculate Conception Catholic Church in Albuquerque, they thought it was important to get support from the the pastor, Rev. Warren Broussard, and associate Rev. Eric Ramirez. Short of having the Offering of Letters be the center of the homily, the next best option was an endorsement from the pulpit.  Immaculate Conception was one of seven churches in New Mexico that scheduled their Offering of Letters on April 24.

Fathers Broussard and Ramirez were more than happy to ask parishioners at the Jesuit church to  write letters urging our members of  Congress to prioritize support for maternal and child health programs, emphasizing nutrition. "Father Eric's endorsement was particularly strong," said Dinaro.

Because of the support from the pulpit, the Offering of Letters at Immaculate Conception Church resulted in a total of 316 letters to Rep. Michelle Lujan Grisham, Sen. Tom Udall and Sen. Martin Heinrich. The parish deserves a  #hungefistbump

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Border Servant Corps Celebrates a Year of Service

 Border Servant Corps volunteers pose with NM State Sen. Jerry Ortiz y Pino
Border Servant Corps--an organization that provides volunteer opportunties in Las Cruces, New Mexico, and  El Paso, Texas--is celebrating one year of service. Full-time volunteers live in intentional community, learn about living simply, work for social justice, and explore spirituality.

The organization invites you to a celebration at Grapevine Plaza, 3900 W. Picacho Ave. in  Las Cruces (map) on Friday, May 13, beginning at 6:00 p.m. There will be speakers, a live and silent auction, dinner, and drinks. Contact (575) 522-7119 Ext. 16 or info@borderservantcorps.org. to obtain tickets, which are $45 each.

Among those providing support for these efforts are Peace Lutheran Church in Las Cruces and the Lutheran Border Awareness Project. These connections have provided a link with the Lutheran Advocacy Ministry-New Mexico, and the volunteers often participate in LAM-NM's annual advocacy conference.

BSC volunteers at Bread for the World event in Las Cruces
In 2015-2016, volunteers served at these sites:

El Paso, Texas:
Diocesan Migrant & Refugee Services
Iglesia Luterana Cristo Rey
Kelly Memorial Food Pantry
Las Americas Immigrant Advocacy Center
Paso del Norte Civil Rights Project
Reynolds Home
YWCA Transitional Living Center

Las Cruces, New Mexico:
ACLU-NM Regional Center for Border Rights
La Casa, Inc.
Southwest Asylum & Migration Institute
St. Luke's Health Care Clinic

Sunday, May 08, 2016

Celebrating Mothers as Refugees, Providers, Advocates, Peacemakers

Photo: Action Aid
"This Mother's Day the biggest choice I’ll be making will be whether to take mum out for afternoon tea or cook her dinner. But for refugee mothers, caring for their families this week will mean making choices with life or death consequences. At our mother and baby centres on the island of Lesvos, refugee mothers tell us daily about the horrific choices they face. As we prepare to celebrate mothers and the amazing sacrifices they make every day, it saddens me that refugee mums are being forced to make dangerous choices, not out of greed, or stupidity, but because they are fleeing harm and death." -Natalie Curtis, describing the five most common ‘choices’ refugee mothers tell us they are making to protect their children. Read more in Action Aid blog
Photo by Sam Tarling for CRS
Abir, a mother who fled the violent conflict in Syria, holds her daughter Nejwa at a tent settlement where they live in the Bekaa Valley. Lebanon has more than 1.1 million refugees, the highest number per capita in the world. More than 70% of them are women and children. Catholic Relief Services (CRS) and its partner The Good Shepherd Sisters provide food and essential living supplies.  Read more in CRS' Tribute to 12 mothers 
Photo: ONE
Mothers are so important in the fight against poverty and preventable disease. That’s because when women rise out of poverty, they are more likely to take their families, communities, and even whole countries with them. That's why, here at ONE, we think that every day should be Mother's Day! In Zimbabwe, Edith Fuyane is one of more than 1,000 urban farmers in the community of Bulawayo who have formed groups to support their own nutrition and that of the city as a whole. In a country where almost 60 percent of children under 5 suffer from anaemia, the importance of access to fresh food is huge.  Read More from ONE
Photo: Bread Blog
"One in every four children around the world is chronically malnourished — a preventable condition. As a mother, that bothers me. That is why I'm asking you to join me by signing a Mother's Day card asking congressional leaders to invest in nutrition. By investing $230 million this year in global nutrition programs for mothers and children, we can be on course to end hunger by 2030."  -Elaine VanCleave, a Bread for the World activist in Nashville. Read more in Bread Blog
Photo: Wikimedia Commons
Did you know that Mother’s Day is not some phony day made up by a greeting card company? It really is rooted in the peace movement!It goes back to the horror of the American Civil War and the Franco-Prussian War. Julia Ward Howe was an American pacifist and suffragette who created a “Mothers’ Day for Peace” on June 2, 1872. She believed women bore much of the loss and hardship of war. The Women’s International Peace Association agreed, and decided to observe a day of peace. Read more from Ceasefire.ca

Photo: Carlos Navarro
There is a long tradition of mothers’ movements, from the Mothers of Plaza de Mayo who stood up the military dictatorship in Argentina during the dirty war in the ‘70s and the similar movements that sprouted up around Latin America at the time to protest the disappearances of loved ones. In 1989 a mother and philosophy professor whose son was shot and killed by troops during the protests at Tiananmen Square started the group Tiananmen Mothers to protest the government’s suppression of the events of the uprising. And then in the late ‘90s Israeli women who had lost their sons in the ongoing conflict with Lebanon banded together to form Four Mothers and demand an end to their involvement with the country. When Israel finally did withdraw from Lebanon, these mothers, which swelled to a group of hundreds who regularly protested outside the Defense Ministry in Tel Aviv, were celebrated as being a major force in the ending of the 18-year-long conflict. Read More in The Sisterhood blog