Saturday, February 06, 2016

The Improving Child Nutrition Integrity and Access Act of 2016

Bread for the World is beginning to promote the 2016 Offering of Letters,  "Survive and Thrive," which will address maternal and child nutrition at the global level. The Bread website has more information, and we will address the topic in future blog posts. And mark your calendar for the Offering of Letters workshop in Albuquerque on Saturday, March 12.

Work Continues on Child Nutrition Reauthorization
Our advocacy work continues on the reauthorization of the Child Nutrition Act, which was the topic of our 2015 Offering of Letters.  Our letters urged the House and Senate to reauthorize the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010 before its expiration date of September 30, 2015. The deadline passed and Congress did not reauthorize this important initiative, which takes several steps forward to ensure that low-income children can participate in child nutrition programs and receive the meals.

The lack of reauthorization did not mean that the important programs went away. "We've been assured that child nutrition programs willcontinue to serve the nutritional needs of children beyond their expiration," said the Food Research and Action Center (FRAC).

Here's why reauthorization is important...

"Congress has a unique opportunity to close the hunger gap and improve national nutrition programs...," said FRAC.

"Feeding America is leading the effort to pass a stronger Child Nutrition Reauthorization (CNR) 2016 in Congress," said the organization.

An Initiative from the Senate Agriculture Committee
Because of strong advocacy efforts from supporters of FRAC, Feeding America, Bread for the World and other anti-hunger advocates, there is movement in the Senate... On January 20, the Senate Agriculture Committee passed Child Nutrition Reauthorization “The Improving Child Nutrition Integrity and Access Act of 2016” otherwise known as the Child Nutrition Reauthorization (CNR).This strengthened CNR will work to feed millions of children during the summer months and streamline current child feeding programs.

Here's what FRAC says:We are pleased to see that the bill takes a number of steps in the right direction to make good programs even better. Yet, the bill also reveals that our work is not finished. In particular, a new verification framework featured in the bill could threaten to increase the number of eligible low-income children who could lose access to healthy school meals.  Read FRAC's full statement

What about the House?  The movement is not as advanced in the House, but we expect that matter will come up soon, possibly in the House Agriculture Committee (where Rep. Michelle Lujan Grisham serves).

Take Action
So what can you do?  Advocacy Organizations have provided an opportunity to contact our Senators (Tom Udall, Martin Heinrich or your own Senator) and House member (Michelle Lujan Grisham, Ben Ray Lujan, Steve Pearce or your own House member).  Send your legislators a note via these links: Feeding America  and  Bread for the WorldThis FRAC site has good background for you to write a note to Congress.  Stay tuned for updates

Friday, February 05, 2016

Learn About Roadrunner Food Bank's Program to Link Health and Hunger


Quarterly Meeting on Tuesday, February 9  12 Noon

First Presbyterian Church (I-25 and Martin Luther King Blvd.)

Alissa Barnes, director of Community Initiatives at Roadrunner Food Bank, will talk about the food bank's new program on health and hunger.  Alissa is a member of the Interfaith Hunger Coalition's Advocacy Committee.

Our Education and Advocacy Committees will also present updates of their work over the past several weeks.  We are also seeking volunteers to serve on a committee to plan an Interfaith Service for World Food Day on Sunday, October 16, 2016

Data shows us that food insecurity and health go hand in hand. Food-insecure individuals are more likely to experience colds, stomach aches and migraines and suffer from generally poorer health than food secure individuals. In 2014, Feeding America conducted the Hunger in America study and found some staggering statistics  about New Mexico’s pantry clients:

  • Nearly half (46%) report being in poor or fair health;
  • 59% report choosing between paying for medicine or medical care or buying food at least once in the past 12 months;
  • 44% of hungry households said they have medical bills to pay, and;
  • 75% report purchasing inexpensive, unhealthy food as the most common way to have at least some food at home to eat.
As a food bank , we are focused on addressing Health and Wellness and leading in the national trend of food banks partnering with health organizations. We were pleased to share some of our Health and Wellness Initiatives with the Beyond Flexner Conference.  The conference brought a group of medical students, educators, and physicians together  to discuss social determinants of health.

Working Together for a Healthy and Well Nourished New Mexico

Thursday, February 04, 2016

A Free Healthy Meal Seven Days a Week for Children and Youth in Albuquerque

Are you between the ages of 3 to 18 or have a child who is in that age range? If so, you can receive a free healthy meal at the Presbyterian Hospital cafeteria between 1:00 and 7:00 p.m., seven days a week.

The cafeteria is located on level 5-2, north side of the hospital, located at 1100 Central Ave. SE (map)

No identification is necessary, and any child or youth of 3-18 years of age qualifies.

You will need to order from a cashier and sign a log showing that you received a meal. The meal must be eaten at the hospital. A voucher is not necessary. 

The program is sponsored by Presbyterian Community Health.

Wednesday, February 03, 2016

Survive and Thrive: The 2016 Offering of Letters

Ending hunger means more than just providing enough food and calories for everyone. Side by side with the need for sufficient food to live an active life is the need for the right foods — for good nutrition. A diet drawing from all food groups that is rich with vitamins and minerals is crucial for the health, growth, and strength of both bodies and minds. Focusing on women and young children is important because these groups are the most vulnerable to hunger and malnutrition. Nearly half of the world’s smallholder farmers are women, with higher rates in developing countries.   -Bread for the World
Our 2016 Offering of Letters Campaign, "Survive and Thrive," urges Congress to prioritize support for maternal and child health programs, emphasizing nutrition. Goal 3 of the Sustainable Development Goals  is to ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages. It includes targets to reduce global maternal mortality and to end preventable child deaths.

Malnutrition is the cause of 45 percent of all preventable child deaths and contributes to many maternal deaths.

Through the 2016 Offering of Letters, churches would urge Congress to increase funding for the nutrition and health of mothers, newborns, and young children. In 2015, funding for nutrition in the global health account was $115 million—a slight increase from previous years. Bread and its partners believe a funding level of $230 million for nutrition programs is needed for 2016. Increasing U.S. investment in global maternal and child nutrition is central to successful development and helps improve the potential of millions of people.

As part of our campaign, we will urge Congress to pass the Global Food Security Act, which continues U.S. investments in improving nutrition and increasing the productivity of smallholder farmers. For example, food-aid reform will also provide an opportunity to improve nutrition among mothers and children. There will also be an international Nutrition for Growth summit this summer in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. There, governments could decide to make significant new political and financial commitments. Bread is urging Congress to push for those commitments. 

Albuquerque Offering of Letters Workshop
Stay tuned for details about the Offering of Letters workshop in Albuquerque, scheduled for Saturday, March 12, 2016.  Last year, 20 churches generated more than 2000 letters to Congress in support of efforts to increase domestic nutrition programs.  

Sunday, January 31, 2016

Bishop Jim Gonia's Super Bowl (and World Hunger) Challenge

If you are a football fan (and even if you're not), you are probably aware by now that the two teams vying in Super Bowl 50 are the Denver Broncos and the Carolina Panthers (based in Charlotte, N.C.).

According to oddsmakers, the Panthers are favored to win this game.  But that's not the line we care about. What's important is the BIG GAME challenge that Bishop Jim Gonia of the Rocky Mountain Synod (Team Denver) of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) made to fellow Bishops Timothy Smith of the North Carolina Synod and Herman Yoos of the South Carolina Synod (together as Team Carolina) to raise funds for the ELCA World Hunger Program.  (A similar challenge was made to the Northwest Synod, when the Broncos played the Seattle Seahawks in Super Bowl 48)..

Bishop Gonia issued his challenge to Bishops Smith and Yoos via the Team ELCA campaign, which allows individuals and supporters of and advocates for ELCA ministries, to invite friends, family and connections to “join the team” in support of the ministries that  they support.

Things didn't get off to a good start for Team Denver. "I just found out that as of 10 p.m. on January 28, TEAM CAROLINA has raised $3055 and TEAM DENVER has raised just $955!" said Coach Gonia.

Of course, QB Gonia did not mention that TEAM DENVER faces a numerical disadvantage to TEAM Carolina. There are 165 ELCA congregations in the Rocky Mountain Synod, including 22 in New Mexico. In contrast the combined North Carolina-South Carolina Synods together represent more than 300 synods.  Hardly fair, right? But that's beside the point. The three synods are on the same team to raise a combined $50,000 during the Super Bowl season for the ELCA World Hunger program. The combined total of slightly more than $4,000 as of Jan. 28 was way short of the goal. [Update: as of Jan. 30, The Rocky Mountain Synod Broncos were closing in. The score was $3,910 for TEAM CAROLINA and $3,360 for TEAM DENVER (click here for the latest score)]

Here's where you can help:
Give an online gift for TEAM DENVER
Give an online gift for TEAM CAROLINA

Note: You don't have to be an ELCA member or a member of one of those synods to participate.
Enlist supporters on Twitter using the #ELCABigGame hashtag

Saturday, January 30, 2016

Fourth Annual New Mexico Food and Farms Day Scheduled for Wednesday, February 3, in Santa Fe

The New Mexico Food and Agriculture Policy Council invites you to the Fourth Annual New Mexico Food and Farms Day at the State Capital.  The event is held in conjunction with  New Mexico School Nutrition Day, Cooking With Kids Day and the New Mexico Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics Day at the Legislature.

"New Mexico has a vibrant food and farming culture that is significant to our rural economy and provides employment opportunities on farm; in direct, wholesale, and retail opportunities; in food processing, distribution, value-added businesses," said Pam Roy, coordinator of the NMFAC and Farm to Table.

"As a broad based group of partners and participants, we're highlighting the Farm to School movement in New Mexico and the many schools that buy fresh fruits and vegetables from local farmers, school food service who care about providing meals with New Mexico grown produce, and most important, students who learn to incorporate fresh produce in their diets and enjoy experiential learning through programs like Cooking with Kids, Kids Cook, school gardens and more," added Roy. "Our children have the opportunity to enjoy New Mexico grown fresh fruits and vegetables in school meals and snack programs."

The day will include:
8:00 - 9:00am
Education Through Advocacy, room 324 at the State Capital - Participants will get a brief overview of the New Mexico legislative process before launching into a morning of fast paced activities. By Invite Only

8:30 - 11:00am
In the East Wing of the Capital (next to the Rotunda), organizations and agencies will share information and educate the public about their programs and their relationship to each other and the goals and purpose of the Day and beyond.

9:00 - 9:45am
Celebrate the 1st Annual Farm to School Award Ceremony and Press Conference. At the Rotunda, this special awards ceremony will recognize key individuals and their organizations for their work in creating educational programs in schools for children to learn about the world of food and gardening; food service and food entrepreneurs who have, through innovation and policy, changed the rules to be able to partner with local farmers to buy the freshest local produce for school meals; and, farmers who have been on the front lines for change by building partnerships with schools to purchase locally grown produce and paving the path for others. This will be the first on many occasions to honor leaders, risk takers, innovators, and believers.

10:00 - 12 noon
The New Mexico Legislature will honor New Mexico Food ad Farms Day, New Mexico School Nutrition Day, and Cooking with Kids Day in both the House and Senate Chambers. Policymakers will highlight the importance of these events and most importantly will recognize individuals and organizations for their efforts in building an important aspect of food, farming, and health initiatives in New Mexico.

12:30 - 3:00pm
Round Table celebration, discussion, and next steps by all of the groups and individuals involved. We ask ourselves what we learned, how it builds relationships and coordination, and what we commit to doing moving forward. Our discussion includes providing lunch. Venue TBD (more information forthcoming)

The organizations joining in the celebration include: New Mexico Food and Agriculture Policy Council, Farm to Table, New Mexico School Nutrition Association, Siete Del Norte, Cooking with Kids, Mid Rio Grande Council of Governments, New Mexico Cooperative Extension Service, New Mexico Dietetics Association, New Mexico Farmers Marketing Association, Santa Fe Food Policy Council, FoodCorps, Community Outreach Patient Empowerment (COPE - a Navajo Nation Coalition and youth group NCHO), Dine Food Sovereignty Alliance, and more.

Friday, January 29, 2016

Artists of Artstreet to Showcase Works During February

Images (left to right, top to bottom) Joe Goss, Tony & Julianna Pelletier, Sarah Sadler, R.L. Vallier, Brennan Diem
On Friday, February 5, the Harwood Art Center will open a gallery featuring works from the artists of ArtStreet through an exhibit entitled Recycled Heart. The annual showing brings the injustice of poverty and homelessness together while capturing the diverse, distinct, and highly individual response of the ArtStreet Artists to community chosen themes. The public is invited to the gallery opening, which will take place at 6:00-8:00 pm. 

The works will be on display on February 5-25 at the Harwood Center, 7th St. and Mountain Rd. NW (map), Monday-Thursday, 9:00 am- 5:00 pm, and 9:00 am to 4:00 pm on Fridays.  

ArtStreet, celebrating its 20 years of service, is a project of Albuquerque Health Care for the Homeless. The space gives artists – homeless and housed –– a common forum to share their experiences, coming together to make art and organize public exhibits like this. One component of the ArtStreet program is a community based open art studio.
"ArtStreet artists channel the potential within themselves and within discarded objects to create something new. They quickly learn to see media in a fresh way, enabling them to transform raw materials into works of art."   -from Recycled Heart post card
The exhibit is made possible in part with funding from the City of Albuquerque, City of Albuquerque Urban Enhancement Trust Fund, New Mexico Arts (a division of the Department of Cultural Affairs), the National Endowment for the Arts, and the Harwood Art Center of Escuela del Sol Montessori. 

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Members of Albuquerque Synagogues Serve Meals at Homeless Shelters on Christmas Day

By Michelle Radden-Vogler

For the past four years, members of several Jewish synagogues in Albuquerque; Congregation Nahalat Shalom, Temple Albert and B’nai Israel, have been preparing and serving breakfast meals to homeless people in our community on Christmas day and Easter Sunday. Volunteers from many different faith communities in Albuquerque also participate.

This year, Nahalat Shalom hosted the meal at the Good Shepherd Center and Congregation Albert prepared and served breakfast at St. Martin's Hospitality (in much of the same manner as on Christmas Day, 2014)

As members of the Jewish community we are providing this service so that those Christians who regularly work at the Good Shepherd Center have the opportunity to celebrate these important holidays with their families or in ways that are meaningful to them.

We are also participating in the Jewish concept of Tikkun Olam, a Hebrew term defined as ‘acts of kindness through human actions that help to repair the world’. Through these actions we seek to transform our broken world so that it reflect the divine values of justice and compassion.

The challenges of hunger, homelessness and poverty are huge issues that must involve all of us- from different faith communities and belief systems—in fact from every aspect of society.

We are grateful to be part of these efforts within our community as well as the many social justice projects affecting our world today.

The photos in this blog post were taken on Christmas day 2015 at Good Shepherd Homeless Center. The center, located in downtown Albuquerque, serves over 300 meals every day of the year to people in need. Brother Gerard Sullivan and all the fine members of the Center provide a variety of programs that assist people in lifting themselves out of homelessness and poverty.

The author is a member of Nahalat Shalom and a participant in the Interfaith Hunger Coalition.

Saturday, January 23, 2016

Saturday Morning Tweets: Global Hunger in 2016...House Hunger Caucus...Hunger in New York...The Storehouse Seeks Volunteers

FAO Releases Hunger Projections for 2016
Millions more people globally are facing the threat of severe food and water shortages in early 2016 as droughts and flooding devastate crops and strain a humanitarian system already struggling to meet needs, aid agencies warned.

The weather disturbances caused by this year’s El Niño, described by the United Nations as the worst in nearly two decades, come as conflict and persecution drive the number of people forced to flee their homes to a record of more than 60 million.  -World Economic Forum, via Thomson Reuters
Link to Article

Rep. Lynn Jenkins, R-Kan, Meets with Constituents
Rep. Lynn Jenkins, House Hunger Caucus Co-Chair Talks with Advocates: “Thank you for talking about ending hunger @RepLynnJenkins with advocates today! #No1Hungry #EndHunger2030” Tweet by @bread4theworld on 1/7/16.

Exhibit on Hunger in New York City
The Storehouse in Albuquerque Seeks Volunteers
One local organization is supplying around 3,500 people, who are less fortunate, each month with food and could volunteers to help their cause. The Storehouse New Mexico is the states largest food pantry who currently have only a small team of employees. There are a lot of tasks to take care of and a few extra hands would help the process. Article in KRQE

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Circo for the Community Rescheduled for March 5

The Circo for the Community fundraiser, originally scheduled for this Saturday, January 23, has been rescheduled for Saturday, March 5.

The performance will benefit the New Mexico Conference of Churches, La Mesa Arts Academy, New Mexico Interfaith Power and Light, and the New Mexico Faith Coalition for Immigrant Justice and the Albuquerque Aerialist Collective. Tickets are $40 and can be purchased on the NMCC site or at the door (you can write a check for any of these organizations). The cost of the ticket includes dinner and a reception.

The Lord's Prayer in Aramaic

On a recent trip to the Holy Land, our friend Rev. Greg Henneman had many great experiences, which he shared a special blog called Stories of Zion. On Day 7, Greg (a former associate pastor at Central United Methodist in Albuquerque), dedicated his post to the theme of singing. This video below shows two Syrian Orthodox priests singing the Lord’s Prayer in Aramaic at Capernaum.

Monday, January 18, 2016

Sojourners: #WhyWeMustReclaimMLK

Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King was outspoken against capitalism’s oppressive clutch on both the national and global levels. King made it clear that racism and economics were intimately intertwined. I’m reminded of his classic quote, “What good is having the right to sit at a lunch counter if you can’t afford to buy a hamburger?”

King acknowledged that the discussion of class couldn’t be divorced from the discussion of race. While both conversations make us uncomfortable, somehow we would rather remember King as a civil rights leader only, and not also as a vocal critic of capitalism who instead favored a form of Democratic Socialism.   excerpt from  #WhyWeMustReclaimMLK ( tribute to Dr. Martin Luther King)

Sunday, January 17, 2016

Pope Francis' Five Finger Prayer

Using the fingers on your hand, start with the thumb and pray these intentions in this order:

1.The thumb is closest finger to you. So start praying for those who are closest to you. They are the persons easiest to remember. To pray for our dear ones is a "Sweet Obligation."

2.The next finger is the index. Pray for those who teach you, instruct you and heal you. They need the support and wisdom to show direction to others. Always keep them in your prayers.

3. The following finger is the tallest. It reminds us of our leaders, the governors and those who have authority. They need God's guidance.

4. The fourth finger is the ring finger. Even though it may surprise you, it is our weakest finger. It should remind us to pray for the weakest, the sick or those plagued by problems. They need your prayers.

5. And finally we have our smallest finger, the smallest of all. Your pinkie should remind you to pray for yourself. When you are done praying for the other four groups, you will be able to see your own needs but in the proper perspective, and also you will be able to pray for your own needs in a better way.

Saturday, January 16, 2016

Urge the New Mexico State Legislature to Increase the SNAP Supplement to $30

Photo: Lutheran Advocacy Ministry-NM
The short (30-day) session of the New Mexico State Legislature is generally about budget and money matters. And there is an important budget issue that could help alleviate hunger in New Mexico: an opportunity to increase the SNAP supplement that seniors and many people with disabilities receive to $30. 

Background: This state program, which uses an appropriation from the General Fund, was created in 2007 to supplement the minimum amount from SNAP ($16 per month) that many seniors and people with disabilities receive to $25. In March 2009, funding was appropriated to increase the $16 minimum to $30 per month. Due to budget constraints, the minimum amount was decreased to $25 on January 1, 2011.

Senate and House Committees are Important
There are proposals in the 2016 session to increase the amount back to $30. To bring the State SNAP supplement back up to $30, an appropriation of $400,000 is required. The Senate Finance Committee and the House Appropriations and Finance Committee play a key role in this decision. If your representative or senator is on one of the two committees, please take a moment to send him or her an e-mail urging them to appropriate $400,000 to SNAP state supplement program so that the minimum amount received could be $30. (There is a willingness to increase the supplement. Even Gov. Susana Martinez's budget proposal includes funding to raise the supplement to $28).

We can contact our own legislators about this issue, but the members are those two committees are key in this effort.  "It is especially important if folks can contact their own legislators, particularly if they are members of either of these committees," said Ruth Hoffman, director of the Lutheran Advocacy Ministry-New Mexico, which provided information for this post. Follow this link to find out who represents you in the State House and Senate.

Senate Finance Committee (links have contct info): Sens. John Arthur Smith (chair), Carlos Cisneros (vice chair), Sue Wilson Beffort (Ranking Minority Member), William F. Burt, Pete Campos, Carroll H. Leavell, Howie C. Morales, George K. Muñoz, Steven P. Neville,  and Nancy Rodriguez.

House Appropriations and Finance Committee: Reps. Larry A. Larrañaga (chair), Paul C. Bandy (vice chair),  Jimmie C. Hall (deputy chair), Sharon Clahchischilliage, Doreen Y. Gallegos, Stephanie Garcia Richard, Conrad James, Patricia A. Lundstrom, Sarah Maestas Barnes, Dennis J. Roch, Nick L. Salazar, Tomás E. Salazar, Jeff Steinborn, Christine Trujillo, Luciano "Lucky" Varela, Monica Youngblood, and John L. Zimmerman

The two committees have already been meeting ahead of the full session, which begins on Tuesday, January 19.

Here are some talking points:
  • Increase the State SNAP Supplement to $30
  • Because of the way income is counted under the SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program), many seniors and people with disabilities are eligible to receive only $16 per month in federal SNAP assistance.
  • Over 11,000 of New Mexico's seniors and people living with disabilities now receive this much-needed benefit.
  • Funding to increase the minimum amount received to $28 was included in the Governor’s 2017 budget recommendation.
It may not seem like much but an additional $5 can buy:
  • 2 loaves of whole wheat bread
  • 2 dozen eggs
  • About 3 lbs of chicken
  • About 4 lbs of apples
  • At least a gallon of milk

Friday, January 15, 2016

A Powerful Prayer to Open a City Council Meeting in Boise, Idaho

“We come before you to confess we seek peace through violence and find security in weapons. And we abandon the hungry and the sick and the homeless, and we pursue wealth at all costs. We mistreat the creation you have entrusted to our care. Forgive us, Holy One for our hubris and our short-sighted behavior. Even so, you love us.” 

-Rev. Marci Auld Glass, Pastor,Southminster Presbyterian Church, in Boise, Idaho, Tuesday, Jan. 5, at the start of a city coucil meeting. (Read more this srticle in Idaho Statesman).

Rev. Glass is a member the governing board of  Ghost Ranch in northern New Mexico