Saturday, October 01, 2005

New Mexicans Make Hunger History

I was asked at a local meeting of the United Nations Association why the United States had not made any commitments to implement the Millenium Development Goals within our own country. I replied that yes, indeed, there was a piece of legislation in the U.S. that was related to the MDGs called The Hunger-Free Communities Act .

This was the subject of our Offering of Letters in 2005. The legislation uses some of the same dates as the millenium goals to set our own goals; cut hunger in half in our country by 2010 and eliminate hunger by 2015. It can be done. We have the resources.

Separate pieces of legislation were introduced in the House (HR2717) and the Senate (S1120)
As of Sept. 27, 118 members of the House had co-sponsored HR2717, including Reps. Heather Wilson and Tom Udall. We're still working on Rep. Steve Pearce. In the Senate, 29 members had signed on to S1120, including both Sens. Pete Domenici and Jeff Bingaman.
This phenomenal record is due in large part to the myriad of voices from New Mexicans, who wrote and called our legislators to support the Hunger-Free Communities Act. We generated almost 1,050 letters to Congress this year! There were a lot of remarkable developments with this year's offering of letters. Peace Lutheran Church in Las Cruces generated 192 letters! Three congregations: St. John's United Methodist Church in Santa Fe and Iglesia Congregacional Unida and La Mesa Presbyterian Church, both in Albuquerque, held their inaugural offering of letters.

And students did their part too. At the University of new Mexico, three campus ministry groups and the BFW student chapter set up a couple of letter-writing tables at the Student Union Building and managed to get coverage in the student newspaper The Lobo. Read Article. And at St. Michael's High School in Santa Fe, religion teacher Karina Doyle managed to get her class to write 138 letters!

The Hunger-Free Communities Act also got some attention in the broadcast media during Arcie Chapa's call-in show on KUNM radio on June 9. The topic of the show was hunger in New Mexico. The guests were New Mexico State University nutritionist Kari Bachman (also a BFW member), Mark Winne (a member of the New Mexico Task Force to End Hunger) and me.

And of course, we brought the issue to our legislators on Lobby Day on June 7. We were able to meet in person with Rep. Udall, Sen. Bingaman and Sen. Domenici to ask them to support the Hunger-Free Communities Act. (Pictured above with Rep. Udall are Carlos Navarro, Ann Sims, Andrea Lucero, Connie Mirabal and Hank Bruce).

While we've achieved some success thus far, our efforts have just begun. We need to continue to let Congress know that one of the best ways to end hunger by 2015 is to ensure that nutrition programs remain adequately funded and that those who serve the poor and hungry continue to get needed support. So keep those letters coming!
Posted by Carlos Navarro

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