Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Joan Chittister: Heart Makes Ministry

In her most web column From Where I Stand  in The National Catholic Reporter, Sister Joan Chittister tells us the incredible story of how Lopi LaRoe, "artist and printmaker in her soul, New York television and theater stagehand on her tax form" felt a tug to respond to the recent problems in Haiti. 

Here is a short excerpt.
Some ministries in life a person can spend a lifetime planning. Like how to become a paramedic or how to join the fire department or how to go about being an advocate for people in need.

But there are other kinds of ministry in life, equally important to many but modeled by few. These are the ministries we never consciously seek out ourselves but that seem to seek us out on their own. Then they erupt in us when we least expect it.
The blog post, entitled It's the Heart that Makes the Ministry, is touching and inspiring and will definitely put a smile on your face.

Full Hearts Filling Empty Bowls

You are invited to Full Hearts Filling Empty Bowls, the the annual fundraising benefit for Project Share. Admission ($25 for adults, $10 for children 12 and under) includes exquisite handcrafted pottery, entertainment by The Soul Kitchen Trio and the Rhinestones, and food from some of the finest local restaurants, including:

Artichoke Café, Cielo Sandia at the Marriott, Johndhi’s, Le Chantilly, Romano’s Macaroni Grill, Mimi’s Café, Monroe’s, P’tit Louis Bistro, RB Winnings, Sadie’s, Savory Fare, Trader Joe’s, Whole Foods, Zea’s Rotisserie & Grill and A Cake Odyssey, ABC Cake Shop, CNM Culinary Department, Dee’s Famous Desserts, TLC Bakery

The event this year is even more special because Project Share will also be celebrating its 25th anniversary of service to the Albuquerque community.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

A Video of Art Simon's Address at Historic Westminster College

Almost a year ago, Art Simon, founder of Bread for the World, was invited to speak at Westminster College in Fulton, Missouri.

Art was one of the keynote speakers at Westminster College's symposium entitled Global Health: Who Cares? on Sept. 22-23, 2009.

This is the same college where  ex-British Prime Minister Winston Churchill gave his famous "Iron Curtain" speech in 1946.  Former Soviet leader Michael Gorbachev revisited the topic during a speech in 1992  that basically "closed the curtain" on the Cold War.

Below is a video of Art's address.  Westminster student Derick Dailey, who is  a graduate of Bread's Hunger Justice Leaders program and a candidate for the Bread board, introduced Art.  (Kudos for Derick for taking a lead role in arranging the visit to this historic location!).

The invitiation for Art to speak came as he was completing a nationwide tour to promote  his book The Rising of Bread for the World

By the way, check out Art's bio on Wikipedia and his profile on the Bread website.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

ESPN's Erin Andrews Urges You to Take Action Against Hunger

September is  Hunger Action Month, and Feeding America urges you to take action against hunger.  You can  show your support by signing the pledge online. 

Among those taking the pledge (and urging you to do the same)  is ESPN's Erin Andrews.  Watch her video urging you to join the Huddle to Fight Hunger campaign.

Friday, August 27, 2010

A Santa Fe Veterinarian Visits Heifer Projects in Peru

(On Saturday, September 4, Kim Freeman, a veterinarian from Santa Fe and a volunteer for Heifer International, will present a slide show about her experiences in Peru in December 2009.  During that trip, she visited several projects sponsored by Heifer. You are invited to her presentation at Travel Bug coffee shop, 839 Paseo de Peralta in Santa Fe, at 5:00-7:30 p.m.

Below is a piece that Ms. Freeman wrote about her trip)

By Kimberly Freeman

I was fortunate to accompany Heifer International Peru staff members; Alfredo Garcia (country director) and Julia Terrones (administrator assistance) and Manuel (Driver) to the high Andes, rural region of Pasco, Peru.

Our destination was a town called Yanahuanca, north and east of Lima toward the Cordillera Raura highlands. The villages that we would visit over the next few days (Astobamba, Tango, San Pedro Pillao and Misca) are all within a couple of hours of driving from this main town and are all at or above 10,000 ft altitude.

Environmentally friendly Kitchens
We visited many, many households where women had received an improved cocina (kitchen) from Heifer. These stoves have made an indescribable difference to the people here. They are cleaner, more efficient, have a chimney to vent the smoke from the cook fire, use much less wood and have a small oven. They directly and positively impact the health of the family (especially the women), they reduce the time spent making food and they benefit the environment by reducing wood usage.

We had breakfast and lunch every day in the improved kitchens of these families. I was amazed at the wonderful food that I had every day. We ate baked squash and warm corn bread from the tiny ovens. We had delicious dishes of rice, potatoes and very tasty guinea pig (Cuye), chicken and mutton and even a dish called tocosh (admittedly I could not eat this one) that is made from fermented potatoes.

I had many cups of hot tea that helped me warm up in the often cold, misty weather. It did not escape me that feeding us could possibly be a burden to some of these families but they seemed happy to have our visit and discuss their lives with us.

Visiting the animals and their caretakers was the focus of my visit and a high point in this trip for me. I learned that these people have all of the same problems that other small (or even large) producers have all over the world. The only difference is that they have minimal resources to deal with these problems.

I was continually amazed at what they can accomplish and how they use their creativity and resourcefulness. It is also notable that the community as a whole recognizes problems and successes to be group issues and not just for the individual. The animals, in general, were quite healthy, well cared for and productive. The peasant farmers (campesinos) have general issues with parasites, infections, nutrition, animal husbandry and disease resistance in their sheep, goats, cattle, guinea pigs etc. They have issues with unpredictable weather with new and unpredictable excessive rain and drought patterns emerging.

Heifer collaborates with local organizations
The local organizations, a national organization called SENASA and Heifer International are teamed up well with people in the field as technicians and “promoters” to give training sessions, assistance with construction of stoves and animal facilities, preventative medicine and treatment for the sick animals. We traveled with many of these promoters (women and men) to visit the campesinos. These people are dedicated to their jobs, hard working and continually striving to learn more.

Throughout the trip, I saw Alfredo carefully listening to many people discuss their experiences and concerns in the meetings, kitchens and in the field. Ultimately, and after addressing the issue at hand, he was always able to turn the conversation toward the bigger issues of food sovereignty and capacity building for these rural areas of Peru.

He was amazing in his ability to take this complex issue and make it clear and concise by describing the value of a child’s nutrition or growing your own food or passing on the gift of knowledge or training. He was able to incorporate these core values into any discussion and solidify what is the basis of the success of Heifer’s programs.

All of the staff at Heifer Peru have a firm grasp on the big picture and also have an incredible insight into the lives of the people that they are helping. By taking these trips into the rural areas, they are reminded of the daily realities and shown the daily miracles that are performed by these hard working men and women. 

Sustainability and food sovereignty
For myself, I feel truly blessed to have been able to accompany the staff of Heifer Peru into the field. I have been a donor to Heifer for approximately 10 years and have been a local area volunteer in New Mexico.  More recently, I attended an amazing Heifer U 101 course focused on poverty and hunger issues.  I felt that I knew a lot about how Heifer works and have seen countless pictures and read lots stories about the projects and work around the world.  Read more about Heifer's education programs.

However, taking a trip like this and hopefully helping in a more direct way as a veterinarian was extremely meaningful to me, and no picture or story could have driven home the message of hope better than this trip. The basic idea of giving a person a cow versus a cup to sustain him or herself is at the core of Heifer’s values but also their cornerstones of gender equality, sharing, education, improving the environment and many others are ever present in the daily work done by Heifer Peru and other offices around the world.

It is also apparent that Heifer has folded its core values and successful ideas into the larger context of the issue of food sovereignty. This is a crucial step that Heifer International has taken to realize the enormous impact that raising people out of poverty and reestablishing local food systems can have on the world in general. In an ideal world, we would also see cooperative action taken by governments in the countries that Heifer works to secure their own food sovereignty

Lastly, I would like to say that although there is much work to be done in the world it is comforting to know that there is a large unified force that is working toward improving the global and local community. I am proud to be a part of this organization and I am delighted to have met my new friends at Heifer Peru!!

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Join CARE in Commemorating World Humanitarian Day

Celebrate World Humanitarian Day with CARE today by taking a moment to honor the hundreds of women and men dedicated to helping others around the world as well as those who have been injured or killed during the course of their work.

Millions of people suffer from immense poverty caused by natural disasters, conflicts, poor governance, societal barriers and more. Fortunately, there are people dedicated to making sure that the world's poorest and most vulnerable individuals — often girls and women — get the help they need to survive.

Take a moment to the watch the video. You'll learn more about who humanitarian workers are and why their work is so vital.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Study Confirms Long-term Impact of Childhood Hunger on Health

Multiple studies from respected organizations like Feeding America have confirmed that hunger and malnutrition affect children in many adverse ways, including school performance and cognative development.

Childhood poverty and hunger are very closely linked.  In its 2010 report Kids Count, the New Mexico Voices for Children indicated that the rate of poverty for children in our state (under 18 years of age) is 24 percent.

These studies allude to the long-term effects of childhood hunger, but generally only provide quantifiable data on short- and medium term consequences.

Health effects 10-15 years later
An article in the online version of Time magazine, dated Aug. 2, 2010, reports about a study conducted by researchers at the National Cancer Institute (NCI) and the University of Calgary, which confirms the long-term effects of childhood hunger on health.   Here is an excerpt:
Most studies to date have offered only snapshots of childhood health, assessing the short-term impact of hunger over a period of time.

In the new analysis, the scientists found that children who went hungry at least once in their lives were 2½ times more likely to have poor overall health 10 to 15 years later, compared with those who never had to go without food. 
"Our research shows that hunger and food insecurity are really damaging in terms of children's life chances," says lead author Sharon Kirkpatrick, a visiting fellow at NCI.
Read full article

(Thanks to my friend Sarah Newman at the New Mexico Collaboration to End Hunger for passing on this link).

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Who Controls the Farm?

In one of his recent No Reservations episodes on the Travel Channel, Anthony Bourdain took us to Dubai.  Many shows, including 60 Minutes in 2007, marvel at how this shiekdom "transformed itself from a spit of sand about the size of Rhode Island into the Singapore of the Middle East."   This post is not necessarily about Dubai, but also about Ethiopian land and agriculture policies. 

Dubai is an example of  capitalistic opulence, but I won't go deep into detail about that, other than question why a community in the desert needs an indoor ski resort.

There is also plenty of food in Dubai, including fresh fruits and vegetables. Where does that produce come from?  As a community smack in the desert, Dubai produces very little of its own food, although there are some innovative projects where some food is grown in vertical farms using desalinated and treated seawater.

Which brings us to a thought-provoking show that aired on the PBS NewsHour in April entitled Ethiopia's Abundant Farming Investments Leave Many Still Hungry. The Ethiopian government is allowing massive investment in some of the country's agricultural lands, but very little of the food stays in the country.  The produce is intended for supermarkets in cities like Dubai and Riyadh.  Here is a blurb from Bloomberg news service back in December 2009.   
Large-scale export-oriented plantations may keep farmers from accessing productive resources in countries such as Ethiopia, where 13.7 million people depend on foreign food aid, according to a June report by Olivier De Schutter, the United Nations special rapporteur on the right to food. It called for ensuring that revenue from land contracts be “sufficient to procure food in volumes equivalent to those which are produced for exports.”
Using productive land to grow crops for export.  Where have we heard this before?  Is this any different than Europeans taking some of the best land in Ghana to grow cocoa?  Probably not.  There is one slight difference.  In Ethiopia, companies are growing actual food, and very little of that stays at home.  

That's not to say that capital investments in farming are all that bad.  In fact, they are beneficial in creating a local food system.  Read more about Saudi investment in Ethiopian farm sector.  But perhaps the concept of social responsibility in investment is lost somewhere.  Can the big farms set aside a portion of the food for local consumption?  Better yet, can they allow local people to use some of their land to grow food for consumption in Ethiopia?

Rather than go on and on about this, I'd like to share the video from the PBS NewsHour.  

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Bread for the World's 2010 Christmas Card

Bread for the World has unveiled the design for its 2010 Christmas card, which was chosen with the help of members who voted for one of two designs.  

The winning design uses a photo taken by Bangladeshi photographer MNI Chowdhury for Majority World, a global initiative that champions the cause of indigenous photographers from the developing world.

A sick Hazara woman, accompanied by her husband and child, making her way to the nearest hospital – a three hour donkey ride from her home in a village near Bamiyan, Afghanistan.

Inside Message:
An angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream and said, ‘Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife, for the child conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. 21She will bear a son, and you are to name him Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.'
- Matthew 1: 20-21
May God’s grace and love in Jesus Christ be with you throughout the New Year

You may pre-order the 2010 Christmas card by visiting Bread for the World's online store. Two additional Christmas card designs are also available for purchase, including the wonderful design that was chosen for 2009, which portrayed three women carrying water in Jaiselmer, India, near the Pakistan border.

Monday, August 09, 2010

See a Film About Homeless Kids by Emmy Winner

World Premiere
Looking In  
Kids who are homeless

A Film by Emmy Award Winning Producer Chris Schueler
Appetizers, desserts and a Special Live Performance
by New Hope Baptist and Covenant Presbyterian Choirs
Friday, August 13th 7-9pm
New Hope Full Gospel Baptist Church
1901 Pennsylvania St. NE
(Corner of Pennsylvania and Indian School)

Proceeds from a Free Will offering will benefit Organizations working with families experiencing Homelessness.

Film will be broadcast on KRQE 13, KRWG 22 Las Cruces, KENW3 Portales; Check Local Listings for times

Sunday, August 08, 2010

Yo Mujer: Building a Rooftop Garden in Bogotá

By Nancy Bauer

I met the women of Yo Mujer in February 2009 during my first trip to Bogotá.  In fact, meeting this amazing group of women was the reason for my trip.

I am the Executive Director for Mango Tree Foundation, Inc.  The foundation was created in 2008 to work with women in the developing world to help them become self-supporting through the creation of income generating projects that are culturally, environmentally and economically sensitive and sustainable.    

The women of Yo Mujer are part of over 3 million people in Colombia who are classified as internally displaced. They have been forced off their land, fleeing from terrorism, guerrillas, paramilitaries and drug lords and have made their way to Ciudad Bolivar in Bogotá.  This is a very large and extremely poor area of Bogotá with a population of about 3 million people.  Unfortunately, the women are unprepared for a life in such a hostile urban area. They have very few skills for living in the city and are extremely vulnerable.  They have no jobs, no money and frequently are single female head of household families.  

 Mango Tree Foundation Empowers Women in the Developing World

The women find their way to Yo Mujer by word of mouth.  The nongovernmental organization offers temporary shelter, assistance with access to the rights they are due from the government, basic psychological counseling, and a fairly safe place to stay while they determine what to do next.  Money to support the organization comes through donations from different places but is inconsistent and infrequent which forces operation in constant crisis mode. 

Building the Garden
We asked the women one question: If this were a perfect world and you could have anything to help you with your work, what would it be?  They answered that they wanted a rooftop vegetable garden and some gallinas (laying hens).  How simple is that?  We took that information home and began working on the logistics of building a rooftop vegetable garden and somehow incorporate gallinas.  Our idea was to create the garden and then build a chicken coop over the garden.  However, after numerous discussions and consultations with experts, we had to put the gallinas on the backburner.  The garden would have to do.

A garden is not in itself income generating but it provides several very important things for Yo Mujer.
  • First, it is a way for the women and children of the community to come together to achieve a common goal. 
  • Second, having access to a garden will supplement the steady diet of rice and beans with much needed vegetables.  
  • Third, success of the garden will allow the women to sell extra produce at the local market. 
The rooftop before the gardens were built

We traveled to Bogotá to build the rooftop vegetable garden August 1-4, 2010, with our partners at Uniminuto and INPlazados. Wood, large bags of dirt and vegetables had to be carefully carried up four floors to the rooftops for construction.  Everyone in the community was so excited to be involved in this project – we had more people come to help build the beds than there was room for on the rooftops. 

The completed garden

After three days, 14 beds had been built on two rooftops.  Some of the beds were planted with baby veggies, some were planted with seeds and some were left empty  - they will be planted with seeds as soon as the first crop of vegetables is harvested.  The idea is to always have a crop ready to be harvested!        

Donations can help 

Contact Mango Tree Foundation if you have thoughts on how else you can help

(The author, a strong supporter of The ONE Campaign, resides in Roswell, Ga.)

Saturday, August 07, 2010

Celebrate National Farmers Market Week!

Price List for Los Poblanos Organics

Did you know that National Farmers Market Week is August 1-7? See USDA Proclamation

Does that mean that today, Saturday, August 7, is the last day to celebrate? Far from it!  You can continue celebrating clear into the fall. In fact, many folks from around the country have joined in the celebration. 

According to the USDA, there are now 6,132 farmers markets across our land? That represents a sixteen percent increase over the number recorded in the National Farmers Market Directory in 2009.

My favorite in Albuquerque is the Downtown Growers Market, held at Robinson Park.  In honor of Farmers Market Week, I took a couple of pictures this morning.

East Mountain Organics

Sweet Corn from Schwebach Farms in Moriarity

Contemplative Bloggers

The post I wrote immediately preceding this one is entitled A Blog that Makes You Think

I've always thought about blogging as an activity that occurs in the head.  But can it also be an activity that comes from the heart?

In a very thought-provoking post on the Weavings magazine blog, Pamela Hawkins asks if it is possible to practice contemplation by blogging.

(Click here to learn more about Weavings)

Friday, August 06, 2010

A Blog That Makes You Think

A close friend from Bread for the World sent me a link the other day that directed me to a very intriguing blog, entitled Global Food for Thought.  I have seen many great blogs, but not one that really addressed a lot of issues related to food, hunger, agriculture and related issues in such a thorough and thoughtful manner.  

It turns out the author and editor of the blog is none other than Roger Thurow, coauthor of the book, ENOUGH: Why the World's Poorest Starve in an Age of Plenty. He is also Senior Fellow, Global Agriculture & Food Policy

Every week, the blog provides a list of news clips and links related to global food production through the Global Food for Thought news brief. Click here for an example.

Sometimes the blog will go into depth on an interesting topic (through a regular feature known as Outrage and Inspire).  One recent topic with an innovative concept in Bungoma, Kenya: agriculture insurance.  Here is an excerpt: 
In the Bungoma Chemist shop, where you can get almost everything you need to battle a cold, de-worm your cattle or fertilizer your crops, something revolutionary is now on sale.

“Kilimo Salama available here,” proclaims a red and white display on the counter, beside a cash register.  In Swahili, Kilimo Salama means Safe Farming.  It is an agriculture insurance policy, the first of its kind offered to small-holder farmers in these parts.
The blog also provides the latest news on topics that we should follow, such as Niger's Worsening Food Crisis or an increase in food subsidies in member nations of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development. 

If you're interested in food issues, then this is the blog (or at least one of the blogs) you should bookmark.

Lend a Hand

Micah Challenge USA invites you to join in its  Lend a Hand campaign, which seeks to brings us back to the promise to reduce global poverty significantly by 2015.  

Micah Challenge is a global movement of thousands of individuals, families, churches, communities, organizations, and denominations that seeks seeks transformational change in society, through the active involvement of the church with the poor and against the injustices of poverty.

Here is a blurb about the campaign:
If the nations of the world did what they promised to do back in 2000 then half a billion people would be lifted out of poverty by 2015. We recognize that poverty will not be solved by governments, but that we as Christians have a special calling to love and serve the poor--This is why we are asking you to make a promise on 10.10.10 to Lend a Hand. We want to come together to commit ourselves to remembering the poor and living a life that helps bring them justice. We want to ask our leaders to do the same. And we want to pray, because we can't achieve anything as big as this without God's help.  
Click here to learn more about what you can do

Below is a brief "vimeo"  about the campaign

Micah Challenge - Lend a Hand from Just Adams on Vimeo.

Thursday, August 05, 2010

Our Common Taco

One of my Bread for the World friends recently shared a fascinating link on Facebook. The link was posted on site called The Good Blog

At the very top of the post is a huge map of the world with several curvy lines criss-crossing the globe.  This is all part of a project developed by landscape architect David Fletcher and members of the art and design studio Rebar for a class called Urbanlab at the California College of the Arts.  The project looked at the complexities of globalization using a taco.

Here are a couple of paragraphs describing the project:
The goal was to map the local “tacoshed,” which, much like a watershed, establishes the geographical boundaries of a taco’s origins—the source of everything from the corn in the tortilla to the tomatoes in the salsa.

By thoroughly understanding what it takes to make a taco, the class hoped to become “better able to propose and design a speculative model of a holistic and sustainable urban future.” The final product is a surprisingly useful microcosm of the industrial food system and its “richly complex network of systems, flows, and ecologies.” According to the class findings, within a single taco, the ingredients had traveled a total of 64,000 miles, or just over two and a half times the circumference of the earth.

Monday, August 02, 2010

Sam Daley-Harris: Purpose, Poverty, Pitfalls and Redemption

A fellow anti-hunger blogger from Chicago (CCYL) shared this inspirational video from Sam Daley-Harris the founder of our sister organization RESULTS. In May 2010 Sam gave a talk at TEDx NJ Libraries titled: “Purpose, Poverty, Pitfalls, and Redemption”.

Sunday, August 01, 2010

Check Out FRAC's New Web Site

The Food Research and Action Center recently unveiled its brand new Web Site.
It's much easier to navigate than the old site and has a lot of useful information on the home page.  
Click here to check it out

The New Debate on an Old Topic (Hunger)

Our local public library, like many public libraries around the country, offers patrons the opportunity to share their personal magazines with others. All you have to do is leave the magazines you don't need in rack by the door so someone else can pick it up.

I happened to have picked up the June 2009 issue of Harper's magazine and noticed a very intriguing article entitled Let Them Eat Cash: Can Bill Gates Turn Hunger into Profit?  I was also fortunate to have found the article online.

Fredrick Kaufman wrote this article after attending a conference on global food security, climate change and biofuels in Rome in 2009.  This is a long article that sometimes goes in tangents and is perhaps too long and too intellectual.  But it does bring up a series of very good questions and compelling points. 

First, let me start with an excerpt (which really explains the main point of the piece): 
The stories varied in focus and emphasis but employed the same basic plot points: biofuel production, caterpillar plagues, commodity speculation, crop disease, drought, dwindling stockpiles, fear, flood, hoarding, war, and an increasing world appetite for meat and dairy had bubbled into a nasty poison. Every day, another 25,000 people starved to death or died from hunger-related disease: every four seconds, another corpse.
Rising prices for corn, cooking oil, rice, soybeans, and wheat had sparked riots in Bangladesh, Cameroon, Côte d’Ivoire, Egypt, Ethiopia, Haiti, Indonesia, and nineteen other countries. Not to mention Milwaukee, where a food voucher line of nearly 3,000 people descended into chaos. (“They just went crazy down there,” said one witness. “Just totally crazy.”)

Oddly enough, almost none of the food riots had emerged from a lack of food. There was plenty of food. The riots had been generated by the lack of money to buy food, and therein lay what may have distinguished today’s hunger from the hunger of years past. Therein lay the substance of the Rome conference.
You might have noticed that the headline (or subheadline) has a reference to Bill Gates, who has offered assistance to the World Food Programme (WFP) to help address one of the inequities of the current global economic system: a trade system that has tended to benefit the mutinational conglomerates at the expense of the small and medium-sized agricultural producers.  

Gates was going to provide funding to help expand the WFP's "program of local purchasing to small farmers and grain traders in the farther reaches of their client nations."
But Kaufman expressed some skepticism, suggesting that despite the good intentions of the WFP and Bill Gates, the efforts would have the effect of creating a different kind of "dependency" on the west. 

Perhaps my synopsis is somewhat simplistic, and there are many more complexities (and historic references) mentioned by Mr. Kaufman. 

As we consider approaches to foreign aid, we in the west have to examine all the questions that have been put on the table.  We must look at creative solutions to ending hunger, such as the one Bill Gates has proposed.  But we must also look long-term goals, such as promoting self-sufficiency.  

It strikes me that today's readings have some relevance to the topic at hand, especially the Gospel. There is one line (Luke 12:15) that must guide our quest to find solutions.  "Take care to guard against all greed, for though one may be rich, one's life does not consist of possessions."

By the way, Mr. Kaufman, also wrote a very good piece for Harper's entitled How Wall Street Starved Millions and Got Away with it.  That is a topic for another blog post.

Dateline: Choosing between Paying Your Bills and Feeding Your Kids

On Sunday evenings, we tend to watch 60 Minutes on CBS.   Last Sunday (July 25), we tuned into that program and decided that we really weren't all that interested in the topics, so we decided to check in on Dateline on NBC.  There was segment that was of extreme interest to my wife Karen and me.  

The program, entitled America Now: Friends and Neighbors,  addressed hunger and poverty in America.  Karen has seen similar stories first hand through her work as a client advocate at St. Martin's Hospitality Center, a homeless drop-in center in Albuquerque, and I have long been an anti-hunger advocate through my volunteer work with Bread for the World and other organizations.

Here's a quote from the program's host, Ann Curry:
For some, this economy may be turning around. But millions of families are at risk of going hungry in one of the richest nations on earth. The number of Americans visiting local food pantries has jumped 30 percent in the past two years alone. And here, in this rural region of Ohio, the very heart of America, the need is especially urgent...the stories poignant. 
Local Bread member Alicia Sedillo (who was one of our two Hunger Justice Leaders from Albuquerque this summer) also was touched by the program.  Even though the segment addressed the situation of folks in southeast Ohio, it got her thinking about our local situation in Albuquerque.  Here are her impressions:
Although the story talks about the recession and unemployment, it also focused on an important issue of hunger and how one woman took the reigns of her father's ministry of starting a non profit food pantry.  The thing I thought was cool was that she had people write letters on paper plates and she sent them to the White House.  It sounded like a very creative way to have an offering of letters :) 
Also, another thing I have been thinking about is the line of people waiting outside of The Storehouse. I live right down the street from it and sometimes I drive by it on my way to work.  The image of seeing all those people lined up to get groceries is very powerful and I have been struggling with how to use this in order to create awareness about hunger issues in our community. 
(Back in 2005, local anti-hunger advocate Mark Winne, who lives in Santa Fe, referred to The Storehouse in an article he wrote about cuts in nutrition programs for the publication In These Times).
The program speaks for itself, and hopefully it touched many people around the country to examine how we can respond.
If you want to see photographs, transcripts and more of Ms. Curry's impressions, click here

And here is a video: