Saturday, June 26, 2010

'Baking Bread for the Homeless'

If your name is Bread for the World, does that mean you bake bread for the homeless?  

For those of us who know Bread for the World, that is a silly question. And the young man who posed the query was partly challenging us but also wanting to know what we were all about.

The question came up in the context of a dialogue we had with middle school students from Belen, Los Lunas, Bosque Farms and other nearby towns in New Mexico. Those communities are in Valencia County, just south of Albuquerque.  This county has a high rate of food insecurity, so the subject of hunger hit home with many of the participants.  Check out the web site for
Feed Belen

It's not that the students were necessarily from households that lacked access to sufficient food.  There was no real way for us to know.  But some shared stories about someone they knew who, for example, had to resort to services provided by a local pantry.

Sarah Newman from the New Mexico Collaboration to End Hunger joined me in a discussion about domestic and global hunger that we had with about 28 students and three teachers. The participants are involved in the Summer of Service 2010 (SOS) program sponsored by the Belen Consolidated Schools and Earth Force, an organization that engages young people as active citizens who improve the environment and their communities now and in the future.

Cara Lynch, coordinator of the SOS program in Valencia County, offered this description:
Participating students will construct community projects around the issues of food in our community by rotating through four local sites over the course of five weeks: Willie Chavez Park, Belen High School, Belen Middle School, and Whitfield Wildlife Conservation Area. 
Cara had asked us to discuss the subject of advocacy as another option (besides direct service) to address hunger.

So what approach did Sarah and I take?  We decided to emphasize the point that advocacy begins with education and awareness, and also to draw a connection to the direct service programs that many of the students had already heard about.

We started out with a modified (for a secular setting) version of the hunger quiz below.  This is taken from Bread for the World's Make Hunger History booklet.  (The link is for the latest version; the image at the top of the blog is for an earlier version).

Click on image below to see larger version

We followed the quiz with a scaled-down version of the hunger banquet (using apples and pieces of apple instead of meals). We used the script from Global Citizen Corps, although Oxfam also has a great script.

Sarah followed that with descriptions of her organization and some of the programs available in New Mexico and how food insecurity ties in.  I talked about some great programs that work directly with people. The students loved the brochures about Heifer International that they received (although many had not even heard about the Heifer)

So what happens next?

Our dialogue with the students was just the beginning of a process that will offer them a hands-on-approach to several projects. 
Each week, teams of 12 students and one Belen Consolidated teacher will examine the topic of food from the various sites in order to develop community service projects that alleviate the problems of food in Valencia County.  
Stay tuned for updates and a follow-up.

And here are the answers to the quiz.

PSA from NM Collaboration to End Hunger

Check out the Public Service Announcement from the New Mexico Collaboration to End Hunger.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Three Weddings and Retirement Party

How have you spent your summer thus far?

Remember the movie starring Andie McDowell and Hugh Grant entitled Four Weddings and a Funeral?  

Well, part of my summer can be described with the title "Three Weddings and a Retirement Party," although it would be a big reach to say that my four events follow the script of the movie in any way.  

What I can tell you is that three of those four events feature some folks that have had some connection to Bread for the World in Albuquerque.  And this gives me an opportunity to offer a toast for all of them.

First, let me talk about the retirement party for Ann Sims, a long-time Bread activist and ex-member of Bread's board of directors.  Ann retired from her job as a nurse at the University of New Mexico Health Sciences Program.  So her son and her husband threw her a great party in her back yard.  At the party, I caught up with a couple of Bread folks I hadn't seen in a while: John and Violet Foley.  So there were are in the picture above.  Ann, Violet, yours truly, and John.

Now to the weddings. I went to three beautiful ceremonies within the span of four weeks.  They were all different and all memorable in their own unique way. One was at the Albuquerque Botanical Gardens, another at an old Jesuit church downtown and a third at a local Presbyterian church.

Of the three weddings, I want to especially highlight the nuptial ceremony for Ester Schneider and Marcos Griego. Ester has played a major role in having St. Andrew Presbyterian Church host our Offering of Letters workshops year after year.  She and Marcos are pictured at left (thanks to Carolyn Gonzalez for the photo).  Ester also spent a couple of years as local coordinator for the CROP Walk

Other Bread members participated in the beautiful wedding ceremony, which took place at St. Andrew.  Jenny Moore, a professor at the University of New Mexico School of Law who has spoken at many Bread events, and her daughter Kyra Ellis-Moore, who led an Offering of Letters at Albuquerque High School, sang a duet. Their rendition was the song made famous by Debby Boone, You Light Up My Life. 

Another special wedding this summer was the nuptial ceremony of Mike Shawver and Rosie Chinea. Mike has organized Offerings of Letters the past two years at Immaculate Conception Catholic Church, where he is director of young adult and social ministries.  Rosie, who spent five years as campus minister at Aquinas Newman Center, encouraged students to help organize and participate in the Bread letter-writing campaigns at our parish.

And in case you're wondering, the son of a friend from my faith-sharing group was the third person who got married (that was the wedding at the botanical gardens).

So here's a toast to Ann, Ester, Mike & Rosie!

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Addressing Food Insecurity Among Youth in Santa Fe

By Christina Selby

Sometimes you can't go forward without the help of your village.

Help us make change in our village!

As a part of my village, I am asking for your help. Earth Care is working with our youth to make positive changes in Santa Fe.

Frustrated with high rates of child poverty, food insecurity, the growing threat of climate change and lack of meaningful opportunities for young people in Santa Fe, we decided to create a multi-faceted, multi-year Youth Food Corps Program as part of a broader scope of work to build a local food system that meets the needs of children and youth in our community and improves the environment.

Earth Care formed the Santa Fe Food Project Coalition and sought funding through the Corporation for National and Community Service's AmeriCorps Program.

We just recieved the announcement that we were awarded the AmeriCorps grant, but we need matching funds of $70,000. The good news is every $1 you donate leverages $2 from AmeriCorps - it's a 2:1 match.

Earth Care is asking for 2,800 people/families to donate $25 each (feel free to give more to help us reach our goal faster) to this campaign. It will take a village to make this happen, so please join me in making an impact here locally by helping our area food producers, by supporting our schools, by creating jobs for young people, by improving our environment, by supporting our youth and helping those most in need in our village. We can't do this without the help of the Santa Fe Community. Please join us today!

Forward this to at least 10 friends; we want to reach 2,800 people by the end of July! You can donate online via the Earth Care web site, or mail your contribution to Earth Care, 1235 Siler Road, Suite D, Santa Fe, NM 87507.

(The author is executive director and co founder of Earth Care.  She is also school programs director for the organization)

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

David Beckmann Honored with 2010 World Food Prize

Every year some great person is awarded the The World Food Prize.  Sometimes the winners are honored on World Food Day. And more often than not, the honor goes to a worthy individual whose path I have never crossed.

I can't say that this year.

I am proud to share the news that our own Bread for the World President David Beckmann is one of two people to receive the prize this year.  The other is Jo Luck, who spearheaded the effort to build Heifer International.

Here's what the organizers of the World Food Prize say about David.
David Beckmann, first through his work at the World Bank and then as head of Bread for the World, has had a significant impact in shaping international development programs so that they truly reflect the needs of the poorest people in the world, and in mobilizing a grassroots effort for more focused policies and increased appropriations for hunger alleviation by the U.S. government and its partners.   Read More

Watch a short video with comments from David

In case you didn't know, the World Food Prize was conceived by Dr. Norman E. Borlaug, recipient of the 1970 Nobel Peace Prize. 

Since 1986, The World Food Prize has honored outstanding individuals who have made vital contributions to improving the quality, quantity or availability of food throughout the world. Laureates have been recognized from Bangladesh, Brazil, China, Cuba, Denmark, Ethiopia, India, Mexico, Sierra Leone, Switzerland, the United Kingdom, the United Nations and the United States. 

In 1990, Des Moines businessman and philanthropist John Ruan assumed sponsorship of The Prize and established The World Food Prize Foundation, located in Des Moines, Iowa.
And here's more background
The World Food Prize is the foremost international award recognizing -- without regard to race, religion, nationality, or political beliefs -- the achievements of individuals who have advanced human development by improving the quality, quantity or availability of food in the world.

The Prize recognizes contributions in any field involved in the world food supply -- food and agriculture science and technology, manufacturing, marketing, nutrition, economics, poverty alleviation, political leadership and the social sciences.

The World Food Prize emphasizes the importance of a nutritious and sustainable food supply for all people. By honoring those who have worked successfully toward this goal, The Prize calls attention to what has been done to improve global food security and to what can be accomplished in the future.

Friday, June 11, 2010

A Garden Symphony

Our thanks to Dan Young from UNM Research Service Learning Program for sharing this link. As Dan says, fresh vegetables make a wonderful soup.  And the best way to have fresh vegetables is to grow a garden.

Sunday, June 06, 2010

Alicia Sedillo and Debbie Ruiz: Albuquerque's Hunger Justice Leaders

We are proud to announce that Alicia Sedillo and Debbie Ruiz of Albuquerque were among the 74 young people selected for Bread for the World's Hunger Justice Leaders program this summer.  Alicia (right) and Debbie (left) were among more than 400 people (ages 20 to 30) who applied for the program, which will take place June 12-15.

They will have a very busy schedule over the four-day period, including workshops, strategy sessions, social events and some very interesting speakers like Alexie Torres-Fleming, executive director, Youth Ministries for Peace & Justice. Ms. Torres-Fleming gave a powerful and touching reflection at the Emerging Church Conference in Albuquerque in April 2008.  

Alicia and Debbie will visit the offices of Sen. Jeff Bingaman, Sen. Tom Udall and Rep. Martin Heinrich on Lobby Day on Tuesday, June 15, to urge our three elected officials to support efforts in Congress to change U.S. tax policy in a way that will benefit low-income families.  This is the subject of our 2010 Offering of Letters.. 

Both our Hunger Justice Leaders are recent graduates of the University of New Mexico.  Over the past year, Alicia has worked as an intern with the social justice office at the Archdiocese of Santa Fe.  Debbie has been active in social concerns at St. Bernadette Parish.  

Both recently participated in programs sponsored by JustFaith.  Alicia went through the full-year course with the group at St. Joseph on the Rio Grande parish, while Debbie took part in the Justice Walking program (the abbreviated college version) through Aquinas Newman Center campus ministry.

Congratulations to Alicia and Debbie!  We look forward to hearing about your experiences.

RESULTS-Santa Fe Invites You to Hear Speaker on EITC

By Lydia Pendley

RESULTS-Santa Fe is excited to host Theresa Upshaw at its monthly meeting on Saturday, June 12.  Theresa is the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance Coordinator (a federally funded program helping communities to reach low income people with tax information and preparation assistance) and works with the Northern Pueblos Housing Authority.
Event information:
Saturday, June 12, 10:30 a.m.  
(Galisteo and W. Barcelona, Santa Fe)
Theresa provides tax preparation assistance to low income people at the Tesuque, Picuris and San Ildefonso Pueblos as well as to small businesses and people living in other communities in the area.  She will bring us both data and stories about the impact of the EITC and CTC on the lives of families in these communities.  We also are hoping to have the VITA Coordinator for Santa Fe at our meeting.

RESULTS (a citizen advocacy organization dedicated to creating the political will to end hunger and poverty in the U.S. and worldwide) partners with Bread for the World on many issues. 

RESULTS, like Bread for the World, has as its current advocacy action to urge Congress (both House and Senate), as it considers major tax legislation this summer, to make permanent the expansions of the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) and the Child Tax Credit (CTC) that were included in the stimulus bill in 2009.  Read about Bread's campaign.

In 2009 the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) alone lifted more than 6.6 million people above the poverty line, half of them children.

The Child Tax Credit (CTC) helps low and middle income families with the costs of raising children.  The EITC and the CTC are critically important tools for increasing income for low income families and reducing poverty.

We urge you to come to this meeting to learn more about the EITC and CTC and how we can become strong advocates for these critically important tools for raising individuals and families out of poverty.

(The author is a RESULTS co-group leader and Bread for the World member in Santa Fe).

Seeds AND Food

Those of you who are growing a garden this summer, raise your hands.  Yup.  I thought so.  I have a garden too.  This is very much a summer activity, even here in the  high desert.  My garden (tomatoes, chile peppers, oregano, basil) is doing rather well despite the 100-degree temperatures that we've experienced this week.   But this post is not about my garden.   This post is about gardens and fighting hunger.

The New Mexico Collaboration to End Hunger's Intergenerational Summer Food Program has formed a partnership with The Dinner Garden, an organization that provides vegetable seeds and helpful information to organizations and individuals nationwide to help them start their own gardens.  (The above photo is from the Dinner Garden Web site).  

"The founder wanted to provide longer-lasting and more empowering solution than simply handing over a bag of groceries to help feed others," said the Collaboration's manager Sarah Newman. 

Dinner Garden was profiled in the recent issue of Red Book Magazine.  Read article

As I blogged earlier, the Collaboration provides summer meals for children in New Mexico.  This year, about 7,500 children in New Mexico will benefit from this program this summer.

Saturday, June 05, 2010

The Cherry on the Sundae

Bread for the World members at Our Lady of the Most Holy Rosary Catholic Church in Albuquerque decided to "shake up" their offering of letters.   Instead of the usual "vanilla ice cream," they decided to make the letter-writing exercise into a "sundae."

In past years, the social justice committee at the church had set up tables after Mass and had parishioners write letters. 

This year, the letter-writing effort took place within the context of a social justice ministry fair that included booths related to fair trade, a woman's cooperative in Ciudad Juarez (Centro Santa Catalina), Bread for the World and other ministries. (Picture above shows Bread member Virginia Pitts as she staffs fair trade table. Below is the Centro Santa Catalina table, staffed by Pat McIntire).

Instead of writing their letters on paper, participants put down their thoughts about the EITC on post cards. The Norbertine Community, which staffs the parish, also wrote letters separately.

Our bulletin announcement encouraged our parishioners to enjoy the Fair Trade coffee and a scone while writing their post cards said Bread member Ellen Buelow, who helped organize the fair. 
Parishioners at Holy Rosary wrote a total of 97 post card/letters, 33 of which went to Sen. Jeff Bingaman, 32 to Sen. Tom Udall, 31 to Rep. Martin Heinrich, and one to Rep. Ben Ray Lujan.  

But the "cherry" on top of the sundae is that the church's social justice committee took the opportunity to organize visits to the local congressional offices in relation to the Offering of Letters.  Ellen and her husband delivered the correspondence.  They plan to visit with the legislative staff in Washington in June.

Below is Ellen's account of the visit to Sen. Bingaman's office. (In the above picture, she poses with Sen. Bingman's staffer Jessica Perez).
Larry and I went to Senator Bingaman's office today here in Albuquerque. His staffer, Jessica Perez, accepted our post cards from Offering of Letters of the Most Holy Rosary. I gave her the information about Bread for the World that she is holding in her hand. Jessica gave us the name of the D.C. staffer whom we will visit at the Hart Senate Building in several weeks. 
In addition to the post cards/letters, Ellen gave Ms. Perez information about Bread for the World.  Sen. Bingaman's staffer was very appreciative it gave her an opportunity to learn more about our organization.