Monday, February 28, 2011

Shane Claiborne on Prayer, Liturgy and Social Justice

Shane Claiborne, an author who is one of the founding members of  The Simple Way community in Philadelphia, recently published a great piece on the value of integrating liturgy and prayer with our works of social justice.  Shane, who has spoken on Emerging Christianity at conferences in April 2009 and April 2010 sponsored by the Center for Action and Contemplation, is a pioneer in the New Monasticism movement and strong advocate for nonviolence and service to the poor.

Here are excerpts of the article, co-authored with Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove, entitled Shane Claiborne on a New Way to Pray.  The piece appeared in Relevant magazine.
It has been said we should live with the Bible in one hand and the newspaper in the other. We have to connect our faith to the world we live in, not just use it as a ticket into heaven or an excuse to ignore the hells around us.

We admire folks like Mother Teresa and Dorothy Day because they lived and proclaimed a faith that makes sense of our whole lives. But we don’t often stop to ask, “What kind of community and daily life made people like that possible in this world?”

In our own attempts to integrate action and contemplation, faith and practice, we found our way into new monastic communities. Through works of mercy on our streets and peacemaking in conflict zones around the world, our communities have been known for their activism. But our communities have also learned action alone can become hollow and depressing. We set out to change the world … and then we realized we couldn’t even change ourselves. Our passion for justice has brought us face to face not only with the world’s brokenness, but with our own limitations.

It is within this tension that we have relearned what it means to pray.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Words of Wisdom from Rev. Jim Wallis

U.S. military spending is now 56 percent of the world’s military expenditures and is more than the military budgets of the next 20 countries in the world combined. To believe all that money is necessary for genuine American security is simply no longer credible.

To say it is more important than bed nets that prevent malaria, vaccines that prevent deadly diseases, or child health and family nutrition for low-income families is simply immoral. Again, these are ideological choices, not smart fiscal ones.

To prioritize endless military spending over critical, life-saving programs for the poor is to reverse the biblical instruction to beat our swords into plowshares. The proposed budget cuts would beat plowshares into more swords. These priorities are not only immoral, they are unbiblical.

Read full piece:  This is Not Fiscal Conservatism. It's Just Politics

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Two Weeks!

Raise your hands if you've received this nice post card from the Bread for the World office in Portland?  Will we see you in two weeks at St. Andrew Presbyterian Church?

(And a heartfelt Thank You! to Jessie Bullock, administrative assistant in the Portland office, who designed the post card)

Click to enlarge image

Click to enlarge image

Childhood Hunger Campaign is Under Way in New Mexico

New Mexico is one of the states with the highest rate of food insecurity in the country, even though recent statistics show that we have made progress in recent years in addressing the problem.  Yet, there are still tens of thousands of people in our state who go hungry.  And where there are hungry families, there are hungry children.

So what can we do about it?  While there are broad efforts to address hunger among all generations, the national nonprofit organization Share Our Strength has launched a national campaign targeting childhood hunger called No Kid Hungry.

Nancy Pope, director of the NM Collaboration to End Hunger
The program is first being implemented in states where there are strong anti-hunger coalitions already working on this issue.  We were among the first chosen because of the great work of the New Mexico Collabortion to End Hunger.  Now SOS and the Collaboration are working on a joint campaign called NoKid Hungry New Mexico.

“The partnership with Share Our Strength will allow the Collaboration to focus its resources on simply connecting children to programs they are eligible for but not participating in,” said Nancy Pope, director of the New Mexico Collaboration to End Hunger. “We are pleased that Share Our Strength sees the potential for ending childhood hunger in New Mexico and we look forward to working hand in hand with them to make sure no child in New Mexico grows up hungry.”

The strong local organization gives the effort a strong chance of success.  "We want to use New Mexico as an example," said Billy Shore, SOS founder and executive director.  SOS has also developed strong partnerships in Maryland, Arkansas and Colorado.

So how is this going to work?

SOS director Billy Shore
First, let's define the problem. Roughly 170,000 New Mexico kids receive free or reduced-price school lunches funded by the USDA. All are eligible for other free meal programs, but only 60 percent are enrolled in school breakfast programs.

“Our focus is on long-term change, the difference between just feeding a child today and making sure no child in the U.S. ever goes hungry again,” said Shore, who joined the Collaboration at the University of New Mexico Cancer Center to launch the campaign on Feb. 25. 

“State and city-wide No Kid Hungry Campaigns provide funding to the most effective anti-hunger organizations and build partnerships that bring together private funders, public officials and nonprofit organizations, which is why we chose to partner with the New Mexico Collaboration to End Hunger.” 

But there are also short-term goals.  The campaign seeks to increase the school breakfast program by 15 percent and the summer lunch programs by three percent in 2011. Share our Strength is investing more than $200,000 in 2011 for the New Mexico No Kid Hungry Campaign.  

Shore points out that many members of the public are not aware what it means to be hungry in the United States.  Children are not hungry here because of famine or wars or food scarcities.  In fact, we have an abundance of food here in the U.S. “Most kids in this country aren’t' lacking food in this country because we aren’t', but because they lack access to resources like school breakfast or school lunch or summer feeding,” he said.

Friday, February 25, 2011

A Farmer Gets His Own Piece of Land in Chiapas

Photo by Laura Pohl, Bread for the World
The Bread blog recently posted a great piece about the efforts of 
Marvin García, a resident of Chiapas, Mexico, to obtain his own parcel of land with the assistance of Agros International. The organization helps poor small-scale farmers buy fertile land with loans that carry a very low interest rate. García now grows corn, coffee, mushrooms and limes on his small piece of land located in the sustainable community of Santa Fe near the town of Comitán.

Here's an excerpt:
For years, Garcia tried to buy land in Chiapas, but the federal government repeatedly denied his application. He finally got involved with Agros in 2007, and a year later he obtained his land at Santa Fe. His life was transformed. As he explains, “It’s not the same to rent or borrow land to grow for selling or self-consumption.” 
The post makes the point that investing in Mexico’s rural development is critical to easing pressures to migrate to the United States. 
Santa Fe is a community of men, women, and children. It is not a village of grandparents taking care of their grandchildren because a whole generation is missing—forced to seek work far from home.
I highly recommend this piece written by Dulce Gamboa of the Bread staff.  It is accompanied by great pictures by Laura Pohl. 

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Divine Sparks in Our Food

Restaurant Banner at National Art Gallery, Washington, D.C.

By saying grace, we release the Divine sparks in our food.
Rabbi Herschel

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

The Voice of Justice

If Justice and Injustice were in the flesh, what would they say to us? Which would commend, which would rebuke—and whose voice would be most familiar?

This short film was shown on the first night of The Justice Conference on Feb. 11-12, 2011, in Bend, Ore. (Here are the credits)

The Voice of Justice from The Justice Conference on Vimeo.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Every Act of Justice

Is not this the fast that I choose: to loose the bonds of injustice, to undo the thongs of the yoke, to let the oppressed go free, and to break every yoke? Is it not to share your bread with the hungry, and bring the homeless poor into your house; when you see the naked, to cover them, and not to hide yourself from your own kin? Then your light shall break forth like the dawn.
         —Isaiah 58.6-8
Happy are those who fear the Lord. They have distributed freely, they have given to the poor. They rise in the darkness as a light for the upright.
         —Psalm 112. 9, 4
“You are the light of the world. Let your light shine before others, so that they may see by the light of your good works and give glory to your LIfe-Giver in heaven.

         —Matthew 5.14, 16

Every act of justice,
every act of compassion or mercy
is a light, a star in the night of this world.
You may think your efforts small and meaningless.
You may think they make no difference.
But go out and look up at the stars.
Which one should not have reached out in love?
Which one should never have bothered
to act in courage and compassion?
None of them rids the night of its darkness.
Yet God walks out and looks at them all
and smiles.
They all shine until they are swept up
in the great light
of the One who dawns among us.

Pastor Steve Garnaas-Holmes
From the Feb. 7 entry in the blog Unfolding Light

Monday, February 21, 2011

The Journey to Haiti Begins

Our friend Sharon Barefoot finally gets the opportunity to begin her ministry in Haiti as a nurse in a couple of weeks, If you recall, she was planning to start her work as a volunteer nurse with the Catholic Medical Mission Board (CCMB) back in October, but some unexpected developments occurred.

Here's is what she says in her blog Barefoot in Haiti.
So what kept me from going sooner? In October 2010 cholera hit Haiti resulting in the  231,070 reported cases and 4,549 deaths since the epidemic began. At  that time, I wanted to be part of the fight against the virulent  bacterium, Vibrio Cholerae, but was told I should wait until after  presidential elections. By November, there was unrest in Cap-Haitien, with  protests and violence against U.N. peacekeepers over the source of the  outbreak. 
Elections caused roads to close at the end of November, with  protests in early December. It was unclear, if safety would be an issue  while the current president’s party candidate, Jude Celestin, was part  of the race.  Celestin was put under international pressure to back out  of the race, and pulled out on 1/26/2011. The second round of elections  will commence on March 20th.
In the meantime, the CCMB site had a very nice feature on Nurse Sharon Barefoot. In that site, she offers us the opportunity to share in her journey by adding our thoughts to a bulletin board.
I invite you to share with me your words of wisdom. You may have given  through community service or are greatly devoted in service to your  family. I am not the 1st nor will I be the last to work overseas.  I  seek your stories and insights as I prepare to serve.
We look forward to reading your stories in your blog and will hold you and your ministry in our thoughts and prayers. Godspeed Sharon.

Hans Rosling: A Great Perspective on the MDGs

Hans Rosling is a Swedish physician, academic, statistician and public speaker. He is Professor of International Health at Karolinska Institute and Director of the Gapminder Foundation, which developed the Trendalyzer software system. This fascinating 16-minute video offers a great perspective on how to measure the progress of the Millennium Development Goals.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Sen. Jeff Bingaman and My Bread for the World Journey

Speaking at Bread reception
I write these words just days after Sen. Jeff Bingaman announced his decision not to seek re-election in 2012.

It was the early 1990s, and I had just moved to New Mexico a year or two before.  Bread for the World's western region organizer Emily Abbott talked me into attending the National Gathering,  Who could refuse Emily?

I can't say I remember much about the gathering itself, but I certainly  have very strong memories about Lobby Day. Just as hundreds of other activists, I did my duty and made visits to the Capitol Hill offices of my members of Congress.  As expected, I met with aides, but I made sure that the staff knew that our legislators were aware that they were cordially invited to our congressional reception.

So after filling out my reports, I went to the reception and started mingling with fellow Bread activists from around the country.  (I didn't know as many then as I do now!).  As I was walking around the room, a Bread staffer came up frantically to me, and said, "Carlos, please come to the front.  Sen. Bingaman is here asking for you?"  What? Me?   Naturally, I was pleased that my senator would come to the reception to ask for me.  He gave a nice speech and then left.   (That's him up there with then Board president Maria Otero).

As I was walking on Cloud Nine, a Bread staffer (can't remember if it was the same one), comes up to me ans says, "Carlos, we need you.  Rep. Steve Schiff is here asking for you."   Wha?  Two of my legislators came looking for me?   Rep. Schiff didn't come to make a speech.  He came to follow up on a conversation that I had with is aide about the WIC program.  But he did say a few words after some prodding from the Bread staff.

That was a turning point in my ministry as an anti-hunger advocate. I learned that my voice mattered, and that Sen. Bingaman and Rep. Schiff would come to seek me out to let me know that!  Granted, we haven't succeeded since that time to get a New Mexico senator or congressperson to attend our reception.  But if they did, I doubt we would have had the same impact as that one Lobby Day reception.   

How many senators meet directly with constituents?
In subsequent Lobby Day visits to Sen. Bingaman's office, I was pleasantly surprised that he made an effort to be present at many of the meetings with his aides. But as he gained seniority (and committee chairmanships), he was less able to be there.

The legislative aide assigned to me or to my delegation from New Mexico was always someone who had some knowledge and responsibility for the issue I was bringing.  Sen. Bingaman frequently voted with Bread.  In 2008, he cosponsored the Global Poverty Act.  In 2007, he supported most of Bread's provisions related to the Farm Bill.

Sen. Bingaman hasn't left the Senate quite yet, and there are at least two more Lobby Day opportunities for advocacy.  This summer, we'll be coming to his office to ask his support for legislation on foreign aid reform.  I think Sen. Bingaman's appointments secretary Virginia White is expecting my call.  See you in June, Sen. Bingaman!  (Unless, of course, there is Senate Energy Committee meeting on that day). 

Speaking at Bread reception
Even though this post is primarily about Sen. Bingaman, I would also like to take a moment to offer a brief tribute to Rep. Schiff. He made an effort to listen to his constituents, even though his votes weren't always necessarily in line with Bread's legislative goals.  He served four terms until his untimely death of cancer in 1998.  He was replaced by Rep. Heather Wilson and then Rep. Martin Heinrich.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

An Ecumenical Program for JustFaith Ministries in Albuquerque?

Gary Cook, Tricia Lloyd-Sidle, Sharon Bidwell
JustFaith Ministries has had a resounding success among Roman Catholic parishes in Albuquerque, with half a dozen or more churches having participated in the program for at least one year.  And there is good reason.  Anne Avellone at the social justice office of the Archdiocese of Santa Fe has done a fantastic job promoting and supporting the program, which was the brainchild of Jack Jezreel,. JustFaith  has been available to Catholic parishes around the country for at least nine years.

But before I go any further, I'm sure there are readers of this blog who don't know much about the program. Here is a great description:
JustFaith is a scripture-based adult education program that looks at poverty and compassion through the lens of faith. Through prayer, study, and immersion experiences, participants are enabled to respond to the prophetic call to bring justice to a broken world.
And there was a nice write-up this year in the Jan-Feb edition of

The basic program, used in over 1,000 parishes and churches involving 20,000 people, is a 30-week process that empowers participants to develop a passion and thirst for justice, and prepares them for the work of social ministry.  (I say "basic," because other great programs are offered). 

In 2008, Bread for the World worked with JustFaith to develop a new ecumenical version of the curriculum to meet growing interest in the larger Christian community.  Bread for the World is now a full partner, along with Campaign for Human Development, Catholic Relief Services, Maryknoll Fathers and Brothers, and Pax Christi USA.

Which brings me to the purpose of this blog post.  We are working with the New Mexico Conference of Churches  and the JustFaith staff in Louisville, Ky., to promote JustFaith in Albuquerque.  We are just in the talking stages right now, but we some nice possibilities for our community.  There are a few options.  A church or congregation can embrace JustFaith as one of the programs it provides to its members.  Or a handful of churches can pool their resources and offer the program together.  (Some Catholic parishes in Albuquerque have done just that).

We would love to hear from anyone in Albuquerque who is interested.  (We have also introduced JustFaith to groups in Las Cruces and Santa Fe, and would like to promote the program in those communities too).

A number of  Bread members in Albuquerque (including yours truly) have participated in one or more of the programs.  We have provide you with some great testimonies.

(By the way, pictured above are Gary Cook, director of Church Relations for Bread for the World, and Tricia Lloyd-Sidle and Sharon Bidwell from JustFaith.  They all were here in Albuquerque to staff displays for the Association of Presbyterian Educators convention in Albuquerque in February).

Friday, February 18, 2011

Acting on that Pledge We Signed Last Year

Bread for the World Urges Us to Sign a Petition

Last year, many of us signed a pledge to end hunger. Now we need to take action to fulfill that pledge—by adding our voices on behalf of hungry and poor people as Congress tries to deal with the FY2011 spending bill. The process we’re watching is not pretty. 

The proposed cuts will affect real people, especially those who rely on food aid and are already in dire straits.

Food aid helps people who are desperate by providing food during times of crisis and emergency.  U.S. food aid also feeds children in developing countries at their local schools—sometimes it’s the only meal that child has during the day. 

Yet some members of Congress are advocating that we cut this critical aid by 46 percent. Forty-six percent!  This would be tantamount to taking food away from 18 million of the world’s hungriest and poorest people.

And this cut in food aid is only one of the many egregious cuts being proposed that will disproportionately affect hungry and poor people.  

There is no doubt that we need to focus on reducing the federal deficit. But we cannot and should not do so in a way that harms hungry and poor people.  Our spending decisions say something really important about who we are and what we care about.  We have a moral obligation to help those in need—and these spending decisions will mean the difference between life and death. 

As members of Congress struggle with how to make their spending decisions, let them know that we can’t just sit back and watch. We must urge congressional leaders now not to abandon hungry and poor people, wherever they may be.

Please join me and sign the petition to Congress about the FY2011 spending bill. Let Congress know that it’s not okay to cut the aid we give to our hungry and poor neighbors, be they at home or abroad. We hope to get at least 5,000 signatures by March 1 so that Bread for the World can personally deliver your petitions to our congressional leaders

(Based on an e-mail sent by Monica Mills, Bread for the World's Director of Government Relations)

Thursday, February 17, 2011

New Orleans Hunger Awareness Meal-A Great Success

The New Orleans Chapter of Bread for the World hosted its annual Hunger Awareness Award on Sunday, February 13th. Each year Bread for the World presents its Lindy Boggs Hunger Awareness award to an individual for his or her contribution to ending hunger.

The 2010 award was present to Don Everard, director of Hope House. Bread for the World also recognizes an organization for its efforts to provide food and shelter to the needy of metro New Orleans.

The 2010 Special Recognition award was presented to Just The Right Attitude. A youth group is also recognized for their dedication to serving the poor.

The 2010 Dedicated Service award was presented to St. Philip Neri Youth Ministry.

The New Orleans Artists Against Hunger & Homelessness (NOAAHH) uses the occasion to present cash grants to organizations that provide food and shelter to the needy in metro New Orleans.

The 2010 NOAAHH grantees included: Crescent House, Food for Families/Food for Seniors, Hope House, Just the Right Attitude, Lantern Light, N.O. AIDS Taskforce-Food for Friends, Ozanam Inn, Project Lazarus, Raintree Children & Family Services, Second Harvest, Southeast Legal Services and St. Bernard Project.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Citizens Have More Power than they Realize

Bread member Art Meyer
I recently came across a very interesting report about perceptions of congressional aides in regards to citizen advocacy.

The report, entitled  Communicating with Congress: Perceptions of Citizen Advocacy on Capitol Hill, is based on a survey of 260 congressional staff members between October 12 and December 13, 2010

The survey was conducted by a group called The Partnership for a More Perfect Union (PUP).

There were some interesting findings, and this one stands out:
Citizens Have More Power Than They Realize. Most of the staff surveyed said constituent visits to the Washington office (97%) and to the district/state office (94%) have “some” or “a lot” of influence on an undecided Member, more than any other influence group or strategy. When asked about strategies directed to their offices back home, staffers said questions at town hall meetings (87%) and letters to the editor (80%) have “some” or “a lot” of influence.
And this one is important because it underscores the importance of using our own words in our handwritten letters:
Grassroots Advocacy Campaigns – Staff are Conflicted. The congressional staff we surveyed have conflicting views and attitudes about the value of grassroots advocacy campaigns. More than one-third of congressional staff (35%) agreed that advocacy campaigns are good for democracy (25% disagreed). Most staff (90%) agreed – and more than 60% strongly agreed – that responding to constituent communications is a high priority in their offices. But, more than half of the staffers surveyed (53%) agreed that most advocacy campaigns of identical form messages are sent without constituents’ knowledge or approval.
There are also perceptions on the Internet, social media; and the content of communication with Congress. Read full summary   Read full report (in PDF format) Visit PUP's Web site.

Monday, February 14, 2011

NoKid Hungry: The Official Invite

View video with Jeff Bridges talking about national NoKid Hungry Campaign

A meeting of the  New Mexico Collaboration to End Hunger will follow at 11 A.M.  This is the organization's first meeting of 2011.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Who is Going to Bread's National Gathering in June?

Activists from Minnesota, Alabama, New Mexico in 2007
How many New Mexicans can we get to Bread for the World's 2011 National Gathering on June 11-14 in Washington, D.C.?  The theme of the gathering is Changing the Politics of Hunger.  I know it's several months down the road, but IT'S NOT TOO EARLY to at least start thinking about it.

In addition to great workshops, inspiring worship, informative plenary sessions, visits to Capitol Hill, and informal networking ( activities), we will also participate in an International Meeting on Child Malnutrition on Monday. Grassroots leaders from developing countries and international development experts aims to build political support and momentum for global efforts to end malnutrition among mothers and children. This meeting is hosted and organized by Bread for the World Institute and Ireland’s Concern Worldwide.   

Here is the Tentative schedule (.pdf file) for the four days.  

(It would be great to have at least one person from each of our three congressional districts at Lobby Day on Tuesday!) 

How to Register

Participants in the National Gathering are invited to register early to take advantage of discounted registration fees and rooms at American University.

If you register on or before midnight April 30, 2011, the early bird fee is $225 for individuals and $450 for a family of four.  Register Now 

And if you're still thinking about it, here are some photos from past gatherings, plus some great descriptions from Bread about the general themes for this year.
Interfaith Convocation 2007
Worship. Powerful preaching, praise, and prayer will be offered throughout the National Gathering.

Learn. On June 11-12, participate in workshops and plenary sessions on such topics as how people of faith can influence legislation and assess the progress on Millennium Development Goal (MDG) 1: ending poverty and hunger. 

On June 13, interact with international development experts, nongovernmental organization leaders, and policy makers as we focus on Millennium Development Goals 4 and 5: child and maternal malnutrition.
Washington State delegation 2009
 Network. Engage with fellow attendees from all over the country and abroad.
Debbie Ruiz, Rep. Martin Heinrich, Alicia Sedillo, Robin Stephenson
Act. On June 14, meet senators, representatives, and their staff as you advocate for U.S. foreign assistance that more effectively reduces poverty.

Colorado state delegation 2009

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Social Justice is An Action

Tricia Lloyd-Sidle, JustFaith Ministries
Last fall, a politically conservative and controversial talk show host urged his audience to leave their congregations if the church mentioned "social" or "economic" justice.

Many people of faith who take to heart the message in the Gospels to care for our neighbors offered  a rebuttal. There were some great reflections from Bread for the World and Rev, Jim Wallis. 

I have had a great opportunity to take a closer look at the concept of social justice (and Catholic Social Teaching)  through the programs offered by JustFaith Ministries and scripture study by Ben Baran at my parish every Sunday.  

So, as I was browsing through the Web site of  Catholic Alliance for the Common Good, I came across a powerful reflection on this very topic by Eric LeCompte,  Executive Director of Jubilee USA Network, a interfaith coalition of more than 75 Denominations, Catholic Institutions, Human Rights, Labor and Environmental organizations.  The piece is entitled  No Apologies for Heeding God's Call of Social Justice
Justice is an action. Or at least, justice was an action for the Hebrew people. Justice is something to be actively sought after. It is even encoded into Hebrew law, "Justice, and only justice, you shall pursue..." (Deut 16:20).
The prophets were even more insistent. Justice and righteousness walk hand in hand, and the Hebrew word, tsedeq, can refer to either. Jeremiah goes so far as to say that to do justice is to know the Lord (Jer 22:16).
Micah 6:8 sums up the major themes of the 8th century prophets: Do justice (Amos), love kindness (Hosea), and walk humbly with your God (Isaiah).  All are actions.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Mark Your Calendars: Albuquerque Offering of Letters Workshop

Saturday, March 12
5301 Ponderosa Ave NE
Albuquerque, NM

Special Guests Speakers: Representatives from the local group Racine Kreyol Cultural Arts, who will tell us about relief efforts in Haiti in the aftermath of the earthquake in January 2010

  Sarah Nezzer, local grassroots volunteer for Oxfam Action Corps, will tell us about Oxfam America's efforts related to foreign aid.

Learn more about the 2011 Offering of Letters Campaign. 
Share strategies on letter-writing, worship, and other practical matters related to setting up an Offering of Letters at your church.  

Please Join Us!

Bread's 2011 Offering of Letters will continue to push Congress and the administration toward U.S. foreign assistance that is more effective in reducing poverty. We will advocate for a stronger U.S. government focus on reducing poverty, clearer accountability for how aid dollars are spent, a transformed U.S. development agency, and U.S. aid that meets the needs and wants of local people.

The 2011 Offering of Letters campaign will continue to push Congress and the administration toward U.S. foreign assistance that is more effective in reducing global poverty.

We seek changes on four fronts: 
  • A stronger U.S. government focus on reducing poverty. 
  • Clearer accountability for how U.S. aid dollars are spent and their results.
  • A transformed U.S. development agency. 
  • U.S. aid that meets the needs and wants of local people.   
  • Resources
    • Where is U.S. foreign aid in action? Read stories from Haiti and Liberia.
    • Watch the Video  
    • Download a copy of the Handbook in .pdf  
    • Visit Offering of Letters Web site.  
    • Listen to the Webinar from our western regional organizers

Wednesday, February 09, 2011

Bread for the World Video Examines Migration and Poverty

Bread for the World's new video examines the link between migration and poverty in Mexico. Listen to the story of two families trying to escape poverty.
The immigration debate in the United States centers on patrolling the border with Mexico, which is the source of 60 percent of all unauthorized immigration to this country. Nevertheless, the unauthorized immigrant population here has tripled from 3.5 million people...

Tuesday, February 08, 2011

La Ofrenda de Cartas 2011

La Ofrenda de Cartas 2011 de Pan para el Mundo urge al Congreso de los Estados Unidos y a la administración del Presidente Barack Obama a seguir adelante con reformas necesarias para que la ayuda exterior de los Estados Unidos sea más efectiva en reducir de la pobreza al nivel global. Estas reformas ayudarán a millones de personas a salir de la pobreza. Para más información visite este enlace (en inglés)

Saturday, February 05, 2011

The Post-Super Bowl 2011 Offering of Letters Webinar

What important event comes the day after the Super Bowl?  Why, it's The 2011 Offering of Letters Webinar for Bread Advocates in the Western Region. Seriously, if  you're interested in learning the nuts and bolts of this year's Offering of Letters and can't wait or are unable to attend our OL  workshop in Albuquerque on March 12 (more details to come), this is just what you've been waiting for.  Our regional organizers Matt Newell-Ching and Robin Stephenson will be quarterbacking this Webinar, which will be offered twice on Monday, February 7.

So if you're too busy cooking lunch or at work, you can join the evening call.  Or if you have a night job or would rather watch your favorite sitcom, then the noon one is the one for you.

I'll reprint the e-mail invitation that Matt and Robin sent word for word after this gold registration box.

Register Now!

Monday, February 7Choose from two times:
Free - Registration Required 
Register now to receive simple and detailed information about how to participate in the Webinar.

Year in and year out, Bread members win important victories that change laws and structures that allow poverty to persist. Last year, your voice helped keep 1.2 million kids out of poverty in the United States. With your voice and effort, 2011 holds great possibilities.

Building on the tremendous momentum built by Bread members in our 2009 effort, our 2011 Offering of Letters campaign aims to reform foreign aid by making it more effective and efficient at reducing hunger and poverty.
This coming Monday, we'll be leading interactive webinars to provide an overview of how you can participate in this year's campaign and create lasting change. The webinar is free, so register now!

For your convenience, we're offering two times for this webinar — noon and 6 p.m. (Pacific Standard Time) — so you get to choose which one works best for you. Each will last an hour.

During the webinar, we'll provide an overview of the issues at stake, strategies you can use to engage your church or community in letter-writing, helpful hints on how to write effective letters, additional ways you can help build the movement to end hunger, and plenty of time for Q&A.

You can learn more about our campaign by clicking on this link or by contacting us directly anytime.

We're hoping to be doing more webinars in the future, and we welcome your feedback on topics you'd like us to cover — just email back with your suggestions. We've also included some frequently asked questions about webinars below. 

Thanks so much, and we hope to "see" you on Monday.
Peace and Blessings,
Robin and Matt
Robin Stephenson and Matt Newell-Ching
Organizers for Bread for the World's Western Region
(AK, AZ, CO, ID, HI, MT, NM, NV, OR, UT, WA, WY) 

Bread for the World
HAVE FAITH. END HUNGER.325 NW 21st Ave., Suite 100
Portland, OR 97209
888-752-7323 (888-75-BREAD)


What is a webinar?
A webinar is a conference call combined with an online PowerPoint presentation. Once you register, we'll email you instructions on how to dial into a toll-free number with your phone, and how to log in online. It's easy, fun, and we promise that after you're done, you'll be equipped to teach your faith community about how to urge our nation's decision makers to reform foreign aid to make it more effective and efficient at reducing hunger and poverty.

What do I need to participate?
You need a phone and an Internet connection. If you have a high-speed Internet connection (for example, if you can be on the phone and on the Internet at the same time), you will dial into a toll-free conference call and login to the Web portion at the same time. We will send you simple and detailed instructions on how to do this immediately after you register.

What if I have dial-up and can't use my phone and Internet at the same time?
Not a problem. As long as you have a phone, you can hear the audio presentation. When you register, there will be an option to receive the PowerPoint presentation via email. We will create a PDF file of the slides that you can open up and print out or follow along on your computer — you don't even need PowerPoint to make it work. If you choose this option, look for an email Monday morning.

What's the cost to participate in the webinar?
This webinar is free, but you must register in advance so we know how many lines to reserve.

A Breakfast Burrito for Every Hungry Child

New school breakfast program in Palomas, Mexico needs support

(The following is a press release from Border Partners, a nonprofit organization based in Deming, New Mexico.  Border Partners is one of two New Mexico organizations partnering with the community in Palomas, Chihuahua, just across the border from Columbus, New Mexico. The other group is La Luz de La Esperanza Palomas Outreach, which contributed the illustration above.)

School officials were very concerned because 200 children arrived hungry for classes every day in Palomas, Chihuahua, Mexico. They approached Border Partners to consider the situation. Local citizens wasted no time in addressing that need. A newly organized volunteer program “took off like a rocket,” according to Peter Edmunds, Border Partners founder and co-director. Their goal: to give each hungry child a breakfast burrito.

The Border Partners group, with donations from people the U.S., provided funding to launch the new school breakfast program in the small economically-struggling town, just across the border from Columbus. The program leadership came from a local team of dedicated volunteers who use economical, solar cookers in food preparation. With a ton of beans purchased from a Deming farmer, the volunteers were able to start, last November, distributing their breakfast burritos each day at three schools. A hot meal opened the students’ school day with a nutritious start.

But, as the prophet Nehemiah would remind us: every advance of God can encounter a setback. Sadly, the school breakfast program—begun as such a resounding success—has encountered difficulties as the citizens of Palomas struggle to find funding so they can continue purchasing the food for volunteers to prepare.   They did not have food to prepare during January.

Border Partners is helping them to start a recycling program that should eventually provide at least some of the money to keep the program going but, for now, they are dependent on donations. 

They are also trying to reduce the cost of the burrito and find cheaper sources of the component foods.  Bean producer, Eddy Diaz at Diaz Farms in Deming, has promised to provide pinto beans at a very low price.  Peppers Supermarket in Deming has agreed to sell Border Partners the other food needed at a 50% discount.

Now, the basic burrito, consisting of a tortilla, beans and a little cheese, costs only about 15 cents or $30.00 per school day for the 200 students.  And, once again, the volunteers are making burritos and delivering them to the schools!

Border Partners is hoping that U.S. funding will supplement the program until the Palomas volunteers can secure a sustainable and stable source of income to pay for expenses. 

Contributions for the school food project are tax-deductible. Checks payable to “Border Partners” can be earmarked for the “School Breakfast Program” and sent to:

Border Partners
406. S. Granite Street
Deming, NM 88030