Thursday, March 31, 2011

On Baseball's Opening Day, We're Hoping for Lots of Called Third Strikes (or Swings and Misses)

My favorite baseball team, the Los Angeles Dodgers, are hosting the dreaded San Francisco Giants on the opening day of the season.  And we're hoping that opening day starter Clayton Kershaw strikes out a lot of opposing hitters.  Here's why.   Kershaw, announced yesterday  that he and his wife, Ellen, will donate $100 for every strikeout  during the 2011 season to Arise Africa, a non-profit organization dedicated to helping end poverty on the continent through health care, education, business and discipleship.

So if Kershaw strikes out 10 Giants today, there could be $1,000 going to the program.  (It's all democratic. A strikeout of Pablo Sandoval is worth the same as a strikeout of Buster Posey).  Go get them Clayton!

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Lent: Contemplatives in the Heart of the World

"We are all called to be contemplatives in the heart of the world -- by seeking the face of God in everything, everyone, everywhere, all the time, and [God's] hand in every happening; seeing and adoring the presence of Jesus, especially in the lowly appearance of bread, and in the distressing disguise of the poor."   -Mother Teresa

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Fasting: So What if God Does Call us to be Political?

In a recent post, I mentioned that if our fasting is to be political, God will provide the means.

And there are times (as in the present) when God does move us, especially when we must speak about "collective sin."  You can't miss it.  It's all over the Old Testament and New Testament. Love Your Neighbor as Yourself.  This is not just an expression of good feeling or emotion.  Loosely translated it would say, "Place as much priority on making sure that the needs of your neighbor are met, just as you make every effort to take care of your own needs."  By doing so, we ensure the well-being of society as a whole.

Many members of the faith community responded to efforts in Congress to balancing the budget by taking the path of least resistance. Those efforts are contrary to the biblical concept of justice, and God gives us the gift of fasting to voice our concerns.  Here is what David Miner, a Bread for the World member in Indiana, said in a letter to the editor of a local newspaper:
There are ways to reduce the deficit without hurting people who are already hurting. This is an assault against the very people God instructs us to protect.

So I will not be eating, at all, this week. I am joining people of faith and conscience across the country in prayer and fasting, forming a circle of protection around programs that are important to poor and hungry people. Through our fast we invoke God’s assistance, to inspire us and our nation’s leaders to find ways to cut our deficits without adding to the challenges of those already hurting.
But it's not just this particular Bread for the World member. There are many other voices who have been called to prophecy via fasting and prayer:

Rev. Jim Wallis
"...budgets are moral documents -- they reveal our priorities, who and what is important, and who and what are not. To address excessive deficits is also a moral issue -- preventing our children and grandchildren from having crushing debt. But how you reduce a deficit is also a moral issue. We should reduce the deficit, but not at the expense of our poorest people."
A dozen faith leaders have joined Rev. Wallis, including Ritu Sharma of Women Thrive Worldwide.
"Seven in ten of the world's hungry are women, who are also responsible for ensuring that their families are fed. As someone who has tried to live on a dollar a day myself in some of the world's poorest areas, I have experienced a little of what they struggle with every day. It is essential for our lawmakers not to slash budgets that invest in the sustainability of global food supplies when food prices and hunger are both at all-time highs."
and  Rev. David Beckmann
"Does it bother us that millions of people across the globe stand to be impacted by these cuts? It should. The debate about the federal deficit is really a debate about our national priorities. It’s time we reshape those priorities, and my colleagues and I are inviting God to help us do it." 

Monday, March 28, 2011

Photographer Michael Nye & The Face of Hunger in America

And often people ask me...What are you working on?  I'm working on a project on hunger.   Almost always the next sentence is, 'What Country'?  -Michael Nye

A piece in the AARP Web site featured the work of photographer Michael Nye, who spent four years traveling our country to capture the faces of hunger.  Here is an excerpt from the article entitled, Faces of Hunger.  The piece was part of a weekly feature called MyGeneration 
Over 50 million Americans go hungry each day. For many people, this may seem like just another jaw-dropping statistic, but to photographer Michael Nye, these men and women all have a unique face and a memorable story to tell. 
The article is brief and is intended only as an introduction to the photos and the narrative that appear in this very touching  video below.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Movie about Microfinance in America to Show in Santa Fe

RESULTS Santa Fe invites to to  a screening of the movie To Catch  a Dollar: Muhammed Yunus Banks on America on Friday, April 1, 7:30 p.m. at the Center for Contemporary Arts (CCA) Cinematheque, 1050 Old Pecos Trail, Santa Fe.

Here is  description:
To Catch a Dollar affirms the promise of microfinance in this country, with stories of brave women entrepreneurs who show what they can do when given the chance. It is a story of hope, of inspiration, of enterprise, and of women empowerment, and will kick-off a long-term campaign to reframe perceptions of poverty in this country, and to extend the reach of financial services to those in need.

The screening includes an energizing discussion with Nobel Laureate Professor Muhammad Yunus, President Premal Shah and financial powerhouse, Suze Orman on poverty and financial literacy in America, and the role we all can play in creating a new American dream.

A number of local and global microfinance organizations from the Santa Fe area will be at the screening and will have information available about their work.  

Discussion about the national poverty awareness campaign that will follow the showing of this film throughout the U.S.  RESULTS is a national sponsor of both the film screening and the campaign. 

Tickets available through CCA, or call: 982-1338. Tickets are $9.50 or $8.50 for members.

For more information, contact Lydia Pendley,

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Albuquerque BioPark Offers Sustainable Food Guide

So you thought the Albuquerque BioPark was just the zoo, the aquarium and the botanical gardens.  It is all those things, but it's also a source of good information about agriculture sustainability, finding foods locally and buying the right foods in the proper season.  

The BioPark has also published a handy guide to help us make the right choices.  (Thanks Sarah Newman from the New Mexico Collaboration to End Hunger for pointing it out to me).

Here's some of the text from the guide (actually a small foldable pamphlet).
Making choices for Sustainable Agriculture
Look around the produce section of your grocery store.  Chances are that the fruits and vegetables you see have traveled 1,500 miles from farm where they were grown to store where you shop.

Seek our grocery stores that stock locally grown alternatives. Use your your power as a consumer to personally contribute to a sustainable future.

Choosing fresh, local foods means that your food travels a shorter distance to reach you, requiring fewer natural resources, and also ensures that your money stays within the community, supporting NM farmers and your local economy.
You have the power to make a difference 
*Use this guide to learn what fruits and vegetables are local and seasonal 
*Visit your local growers markets to buy directly from local farmers
*Encourage your grocery store to stock locally grown foods.
    Other New Mexico Foods
    New Mexico has a plentiful supply of locally grown fruits and vegetables, but be on the lookout for other locally produced foods: breads, salsa, jam & jellies, chicken, lamb, beef, milk, eggs, cheeses and honey.
    Read labels and talk to sellers to find out which of your favorite groceries are locally produced. 
    The guide then provides links to Farmers Markets in New Mexico and the Slow Food Movement, a global, grassroots movement with thousands of members around the world that links the pleasure of food with a commitment to community and the environment.

    Check out the City of Albuquerque's Sustainability Web page 

    Click on the chart below to see larger image

    Friday, March 25, 2011

    The Teacher of Peace

    By Kay Huggins

    For the past seven years I’ve worked with a peace teacher. I arrive for my hour lesson around noon, at 4th and Lomas. Parking is not difficult, there are about seven free spaces on the northeast side of the intersection. In the summer, I arrive a few minutes early to apply sunscreen and don a wide brimmed hat. In the winter, I add a coat, scarf, mittens and stocking cap to my outfit. I dress completely in black; after so many lessons, I’ve made friends with this darkest of colors. Like a New York hipster, I now own black for all seasons.

    The instruction begins precisely at noon. One, two, seven, twelve women, all dressed in black, assemble. We greet one another with small smiles and smaller nods. Each finds her familiar spot, turns to face the traffic and stands. Individually, we are strangers to one another; collectively we are the Albuquerque Women In Black, a very small part of an international women’s movement for peace.

    I began standing in August of 2003. It was a time when my public life was limited by my caregiving activities. The war in Iraq had begun; I was numbed by the news reports. Then, one Sunday newspaper carried a story about a stand initiated in April just as the war began. It was a silent vigil promoting peace. “Simple and solid,” I thought, “I can do this.” The location was minutes from my house; my mom could easily stay alone for an hour plus ten minutes. I resolved to search my closet for black clothing and join in the silent vigil.

    I remember my first few stands. I was conscious of the heat; time seemed endless; it was difficult to keep my mind focused on “the big issues” of peace. I realized my weakness immediately; I had selected an activity least likely to be successful according to my personality. I am a busy person, able to do several things at once and usually bursting with energy. Part of my vocational choice rested on the awareness that, while I loved worship, I was challenged by sitting still for an hour. Thus, becoming a preacher seemed logical -- all that waving of arms, getting up and down, moving from chancel to floor and back. But, here I stood, having committed to stand in silence, although toes tapped, mind wandered (ruthlessly) and body sparked with energy.

    So, the stand took me in hand and became my teacher. She pointed out how I judged all who drove by according to their driving style, appearance, make of car, or response to Women in Black. The stand asked my heart: How can there be peace when the mind constantly judges? My quick mind determined to silence my inner judge -- a determination made unaware of the magnitude of my competency in judging.

    Gladly, the stand was wiser than I. Instead of insisting on the cessation of judgment, she gently invited me to discover the power of blessing. She gave me a mantra, accentuated by the peace on every inhale

    Inhale: Peace
    Bless: before, beside, behind, in.

    As each passing car received a one word blessing...and I felt my heart loosening. After several months, this practice became as natural as breathing...but far less mechanical. I found myself poignantly, passionately desiring peace for each individual driving by. Indeed, I found myself in each passing person. This simple act of blessing changed my world from a place of judgment’s divisive hostility and hurt to an avenue for unity’s compassion and companionship. Slowly, I was learning the equality of the need for peace -- peace is essential to every life. From the passing cars filled with strangers, to my small community of family/friends, to every solider and every perpetrator of violence -- peace is the breathe of life. Without peace, life has no room to grow, relax, become, bless.

    My teacher of peace changed my heart, gave me a blessing to share, taught me the strength of a silent stand before horror, and encouraged me to continue these lessons until horror becomes hospitality for all in peace.

    I invite you to join the stand on April 7th at noon or to dress in black on that day as a sign of solidarity with your sisters who will be standing. 

    Please extend this invitation to other women you know.

    (The author is a Bread for the World member, Presbyterian pastor, and fellow singer/musician in a local Taizé group).

    Thursday, March 24, 2011

    A Five-year Plan to Address Hunger in New Mexico

    You might remember that the  New Mexico Collaboration to End Hunger recently held a series of consultations around the state to obtain feedback to develop a plan to address hunger and food insecurity in our state for 2011-2015.  As a result, participants came up with these four goals:

    Goal 1: Increase food stamp participation (SNAP) by all eligible New Mexico residents to 80% by the end of 2015. This represents an 18% increase in eligible New Mexican receiving benefits from the current 66% (14% divided by 80%=18%)
    Goal 2: Decrease the percent of food insecure children in New Mexico from the current rate of 24% to 15% by the end of 2015.  This represents a 38% decrease from 136,000 children to 84,600 children.
    Goal 3: Decrease the percentage of food insecure seniors in New Mexico from 8.82% to 6% by the end of 2015.This represents a 33% decrease from 30,500 seniors to 20,750 seniors. 3/11/20115 2011-2015 Goals
    Goal 4: Identify high impact community models in New Mexico to study and identify the effective elements to replicate in other New Mexico locations.

    Here is the executive summary:

    The Collaboration leveraged its successful efforts of the past four years by hosting six Community Meeting statewide in fall 2010 to gain input for this Plan. In addition to gaining input, the objectives of the meetings were to:

    1)increase awareness of local hunger, 
    2) increase understanding of the Collaboration, and 
    3) engage local partners and other stakeholders in developing effective strategies to end hunger in their community and across New Mexico. 

    The following Plan reflects the knowledge gained from these meetings and the experiences of the past four years of work to end hunger in New Mexico. The Partners listed in the Tactics of the Plan are not a complete list of organizations working to end hunger in New Mexico. It is just a beginning list and should be viewed as such.  (3/11/2011)

    Here is the full plan (in PDF format)

    Wednesday, March 23, 2011

    Fasting: Political or Spiritual?

    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? 
                                                     Isaiah 58: 6-7

    Having just eaten a banana and a piece of coffee cake, I started looking in my Inbox.  And there was this e-mail from Bread for the World President David Beckmann.  The headline read Fasting as an Offering to God.

    David and former Congressman Tony Hall, who now heads the Alliance to End Hunger (a Bread partner), are asking us to fast, not necessarily to make a political statement, but to use it as a tool for spiritual growth.  It reminds us with a strong exclamation mark that food and nourishment are a gift from God.  It is also a symbolic emptying of ourselves to bring us closer to God.

    Here's what David and Tony say in their invitation to join them.
    Bread for the World is a public policy advocacy organization, and our reason for being is to urge our nation’s decision makers to end hunger at home and abroad. We believe God wants this for our country, and we have joined other religious organizations in forming a circle of protection around programs that meet the needs of poor and vulnerable people.

    One aspect of our fasting is to ask God to make us more effective in this calling. But our fasting is not a political club to use against those who disagree with us; it is an invitation to our nation to seek God’s deliverance.
    So here is the dilemma.  How do we make this fast primarily about spirituality and not necessarily about politics? The thought is: What is the use of fasting if we don't get any mileage out of it?  Think about it this way. Depriving our bodies of nourishment is an act of solidarity with those who do not share the blessings that we have been afforded.

    So yes, the political aspect of our fasting is there; but not on our terms.  If our fasting is to make a statement, God will provide the means. Or perhaps we are not meant to make a statement.  A good guide is Matthew 6:17-18

    So if you are led to fast the rest of this season, click on  This Link to make your formal commitment.

    Also, read what Bread for the World member, Pastor Lynne Hybels, writes about fasting in the context of what is written in the book of the Prophet Isaiah.

    Tuesday, March 22, 2011

    UNM School of Law Presents Jeremy Seifert's "Dive"

    UNM School of Law, Envi­ron­men­tal Law Soci­ety & the Stu­dent Bar Asso­ci­a­tion Present ‘DIVE’ a film by Jeremy Seifert

    Thurs­day, March 24 at 7 p.m. 
    UNM School of Law, 1117 Stan­ford NE, room 2401.

    Inspired by a curios­ity about our country’s habit of send­ing food to land­fills, the award-winning doc­u­men­tary fol­lows Seifert and friends as they dump­ster dive in the back alleys and gated garbage recep­ta­cles of Los Ange­les’ super­mar­kets. In the process, they sal­vage thou­sands of dol­lars worth of good, edi­ble food – result­ing in an inspir­ing doc­u­men­tary that is equal parts enter­tain­ment, guer­rilla jour­nal­ism and call to action.

    A dis­cus­sion of the legal, moral and prac­ti­cal issues raised by the film fol­lows the screening.

    For more infor­ma­tion, con­tact John Ver­heul or call (505) 231‑1665. 

    Here is a clip from CompellerFilms

    Lent: The Merton Prayer

     MY LORD GOD, I have no idea where I am going. I do not see the road ahead of me. I cannot know for certain where it will end. Nor do I really know myself, and the fact that I think I am following your will does not mean that I am actually doing so. But I believe that the desire to please you does in fact please you. And I hope I have that desire in all that I am doing. I hope that I will never do anything apart from that desire. And I know that if I do this you will lead me by the right road, though I may know nothing about it. Therefore I will trust you always though I may seem to be lost and in the shadow of death. I will not fear, for you are ever with me, and you will never leave me to face my perils alone.

    Thomas Merton, Thoughts in Solitude

    (From the Merton Institute for Contemplative Living)

    Sunday, March 20, 2011

    Speakers: Foreign Aid Should Involve Local People

    Andy Ambrose
    Our 2011 Offering of Letters offers us four points to bring to our members of Congress when we write our letters about foreign aid reform.  While all four are important, I believe one deserves special attention, especially after listening to the three guest speakers at our Offering of Letters in Albuquerque on March 12.

    Chuck McCune chats with Cathy Pfefferle
    All three speakers--Chuck McCune of the Prizm Foundation, Adolphe Pierre-Louis of Racine Kreyol Cultural Arts, and Sarah Nezzer of Oxfam Action Corps--underscored the need to ensure that any changes to foreign aid place a high priority to empower the people of the host countries.

    As you know, there are four points of emphasis in our foreign-aid reform efforts in 2011, and what our speakers addressed was primarily the fourth point:  U.S. aid that meets the needs and wants of local people.

    Seed Saving, Environmental Awareness and Biodiversity in Old Town

    CelebrateSeedNM! 2011

    On a sunny and mild March afternoon, representatives from organizations who care about native seeds, sustainability and biodiversity gathered in Old Town Plaza to set up displays.

    This festival was a collaborative city-wide effort sponsored by the City of Albuquerque's Cultural Services Department and GardenersGuild.

    There were speeches (including a presentation by New Mexico State University professor Connie Falk on the dangers of genetically modified organisms), an opportunity to exchange seeds, cultural performances (native flute, native dances), and a children's area with hands-on growing, reading and art activities.
    And Bread for the World member Hank Bruce was on hand to promote the benefits of the moringa seed and the children's book that he and his wife Tomi Jill Folk wrote entitled The Miracle of the Moringa Tree. Miho Komatsu, who illustrated the book, was on hand at the booth with Hank.

    Friday, March 18, 2011

    A Child's Plea: 'Please No More Violence'

    On this second Friday of Lent we remember the children in the small community of Palomas in the state of Chihuahua.  The town, which is located directly across the border from Columbus, N.M., has suffered its share of the  drug-related violence that has swept much of northern Mexico (and many places in the interior).  The violence at times has hampered efforts to bring food and supplies to this mostly low-income community.

    Yet, volunteers like Esperanza Lozoya, Guadalupe Otero and Victoria Tester continue their efforts.  The above illustration was created by a child in Palomas with the plea "I ask you that there be no violence."

    I also want to share a letter from Victoria Tester about the efforts of  La Luz de La Esperanza Palomas Outreach in 2010 and now in 2011. Through this letter about the Palomas Outreach 2010 year, Tester--who is a U.S. coordinator for La Luz de La Esperanza Palomas Outreach-- hopes to inform you of extraordinary things accomplished on behalf of our suffering border town, where large numbers of people are living not only without safety, but without work, a daily meal, running water, electricity, or the ability to send their children to school.

    La Luz de La Esperanza Palomas Outreach is a U.S. non-profit secular humanitarian aid organization operating for the past seven years on Buenaventura Street in Palomas, Chihuahua.  They offer a daily meal program for seniors and the disabled, emergency family food distribution and community health services to destitute families of the border town of Palomas, Chihuahua. La Luz de La Esperanza Palomas Outreach is founded and directed by Mexican-American Esperanza Lozoya; it operates under the umbrella organization of the Andrew Sanchez Youth Center in Columbus, New Mexico, whose director Guadalupe Otero, Lozoya's sister, won a Robert Wood Johnson Award in 2003.

    Click on the link below to read Victoria Tester's letter

    Thursday, March 17, 2011

    March 17: "Obey the Speed Limit Day" on the Lenten Carbon Fast Calendar

    What is the first thing that comes to mind when someone asks you what are you commemorating today?  Many of us would say St. Patrick's Day.

    But today, March 17, is also "Obey the Speed Limit Day" on the Lenten Carbon  Fast Calendar developed by the Conference Leaders of Religious Institutes (NSW)

    Here is today's entry.
    March 17:  Show reverence for life and for the Earth today by obeying the speed limit when driving. The faster you drive, the more gasoline you burn per mile. You also increase your risks of causing an accident, injuring yourself or others.
    There are suggested actions for every day of the Lenten season, from Ash Wednesday to Easter Sunday.  The calendar for 2011 is targeted to people who participated in the 2010 Lenten Carbon  Fast, but is also easy to use for those participating for the very first time.

    There are some actions related to food and social justice.  Consider this entry.
    March 14. Be aware of your food waste this week. Look for opportunities to avoid discarding food by planning well and eating leftovers.
    March 19: Purchase more mindfully today. Seek out manufacturers who use organic and sustainable materials and who respect thei workersʼ rights.
    April 2: Look to purchase locally grown food today. Grocery shop at your nearest farmerʼs market. Not only are you reducing CO2 emissions by buying local food, itʼs fresh and tastes great!
    View the full Lenten Carbon Fast Calendar

    Wednesday, March 16, 2011

    Lent: Steve Garnaas-Holmes -Meditation on a Disaster

    God does not cause earthquakes. God causes compassion.
             Kyrie eleison.
    We are small and fragile, and we need each other.
             Kyrie eleison.
    God is the love that draws us toward each other.
             Kyrie eleison.
    Sin is the fear that drives us away.
             Kyrie eleison.
    This is life is a gift. Every moment is precious.
             Kyrie eleison.
    Remember you are dust, and to dust you shall return.
             Kyrie eleison.
    This day, this moment, is the time for compassion.
             Kyrie eleison.
    Pray that you might become more purely loving today.
             Kyrie eleison.
    When all of life and death have swept over us, love is all that remains.
             Kyrie eleison.
    We hold our sisters and brothers in Japan in our prayers,
    mindful of the great compassion that enfolds them,
    the Infinite Love that weeps with them,
    the life-giving Presence that sustains them,
    the Spirit that holds us all as one.
             Kyrie eleison.

    Pastor Steve Garnaas-Holmes
    From the March 14 entry in the blog Unfolding Light

    Tuesday, March 15, 2011

    Lent: Edwina Gately -Connecting with God

    Lent is not so much about sacrifice for the sake of sacrifice. Our sacrifices are not intended to prove our worthiness to a God who already knows our hearts. We sacrifice only to remove the obstacles that keep us from connecting with our Creator.

    Our culture teaches us to think of God as a judging father. But in my times of prayer I have come to know  our Creator both as a tender father AND a loving mother ( Isaiah 49:15).

    I want to share an excerpt from the poem Presence, written by poet and essayist Edwina Gately.

    God is present
    in the wood stove and the oil lamp,
    in the gathering shadows
    and the silent stars.
    If she does not seem present 
    in my heart and soul -
    it is because I have limited God too much.

    Perhaps I should listen more intently
    to the wood cackling,
    and watch more closely,
    the oil wick flicker,
    to allow God's presence
    to envelop me.

    Sunday, March 13, 2011

    Can a Children's Book Help End Hunger?

    (Editor's note: Bread for the World members Hank Bruce & Tomi Jill Folk from Rio Rancho, N.M., announced that their latest book,  the Miracle of the Morninga Tree, is now available from Petals & Pages Press. This is a children's (and adult's) book written to help create an awareness of this valuable tree as a source of nutrition and a means to help provide safe drinking water).

    Can a children’s book help end hunger?  That’s what this colorful, beautifully illustrated new book about a special tree was created to do.

    Did you ever eat tree leaves?  The leaves of the moringa tree are incredibly nutritious.

    Have you heard about seeds that make dirty water safe to drink?  The seeds of the moringa tree can do just that.

    Do you think children can be great heroes?  In this story two children, with the help of an incredible tree, save the lives of everyone in their drought-stricken village in Kenya.

    In The Miracle of the Moringa Tree you are invited to:
    • Walk with two young children as they set out on a journey to save their village from starvation.
    • Sit under the talking moringa tree with them and learn all about what makes it so valuable.
    • Help them carry moringa leaves and seeds back to the village and join in the dance that follows.
    The Miracle of the Moringa Tree is about two young hunger heroes.  Amali and her brother Njema live in a drought stricken Kenyan village.  An elder tells the people not to give up hope and points toward the distant hills.  That night the two children set off to find the food Mzee speaks of.

    The next day they discover a moringa tree.  The tree teaches them how to cook and eat the leaves, pods and seeds.  It also teaches them how to purify the dirty water with these seeds.

    Friday, March 11, 2011

    Participate in Operation Rice Bowl During Lent

    Catholic Relief Services offers a great program called Operation Rice Bowl during the Lenten Season for Catholic parishes to observe the three personal and collective actions of the season: prayer, fasting and almsgiving.  
    The concept is simple. Each year, Operation Rice Bowl invites us to pray with our families and faith communities; fast in solidarity with those who hunger; learn more about our global community and the challenges of poverty overseas; and give sacrificial contributions to those in need.
    Each Lent, nearly 13,000 faith communities across the United States participate to demonstrate solidarity with the poor around the world. Seventy-five percent of Operation Rice Bowl donations come to CRS to help fund development programs designed to increase food security around the world. Twenty-five percent of the donations support hunger and poverty alleviation efforts in dioceses within the United States.
    The program helps many countries around the world, but efforts are highlighted in six countries.
    While the program is designed for parish participation, you as an individual can also take part.  There are many resources available, including materials for families and individuals.  And there are opportunities to give

    Operation Rice Bowl Prayer

    We lift our prayers to you, God of Love, on behalf of our brothers and sisters in need. As we learn about their struggles, our almsgiving comes to their aid; our fasting unites us in their hunger. You call us to be disciples for all nations. Bless us this Lenten season. Amen.

    Thursday, March 10, 2011

    Lent: Richard Rohr & The Spirituality of Subtraction

    The notion of a spirituality of subtraction comes from Meister Eckhart (c.1260 -1327), the medieval Dominican mystic. He said the spiritual life has much more to do with subtraction than it does with addition. Yet I think most Christians today are involved in great part in a spirituality of addition.

    The capitalist worldview is the only world most of us have ever known. We see reality, experiences, events, other people, and things—in fact, everything—as objects for our personal consumption. Even religion, Scripture, sacraments, worship services, and meritorious deeds become ways to advance ourselves—not necessarily ways to love God or neighbor.

    The nature of the capitalist mind is that things (and often people!) are there for me. Finally, even God becomes an object for my consumption.  Religion looks good on my resume, and anything deemed “spiritual” is a check on my private worthiness list. Some call it spiritual consumerism. It is not the Gospel.
    Adapted from the book Radical Grace: Daily Meditations
    Subscribe to Richard Rohr's Daily Meditations and other e-mail reflections from the Center for Action and Contemplation

    Wednesday, March 09, 2011

    We Are the World 25 for Haiti

    I want to observe this Ash Wednesday and the start of the Lenten season by posting this video of hope. (Thanks to local Bread member Debbie Ruiz for this suggestion).

    Monday, March 07, 2011

    Blessing of Bread for the World's New Office Space

    Monday, March 7, 2011
    (based on blessing service prepared by Margaret Mary Kimmins)

    As we come to this new place, we dedicate ourselves in this space to be a Christian voice urging our nation's decision makers to end hunger at home and abroad.

    As these new offices give us a clear view of the Capitol, confirm and strengthen our vision of our loving reign. We ask this through Christ, our Lord.  Amen.

    Spirit of the living God, fall afresh on us. 
    Spirt of the living God, fall afresh on us.
    Spirit of the living God, fall afresh on us.
    Melt us, mold us, fill us, use us,
    Spirit of the living God. fall afresh on us.

    God of all, we thank you and praise you for the power of your presence among us.  We thank you for the leadership to end hunger that is represented by those gathered here, and for the many and diverse gifts the contribute toward the achievement of your mission.  Be the hope that sustains and strengthens us.  Amen

    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?
                                                                     Isaiah 58:6-7

    If you offer your food to the hungry
       and satisfy the needs of the afflicted,
    then your light shall rise in the darkness
       and your gloom be like the noonday.
    The Lord will guide you continually,
       and satisfy your needs in parched places,
       and make your bones strong;
    and you shall be like a watered garden,
       like a spring of water,
       whose waters never fail.
    Your ancient ruins shall be rebuilt;
       you shall raise up the foundations of many generations;
    you shall be called the repairer of the breach,
       the restorer of streets to live in.   
    -Isaiah 58:10-12

    We dedicate this room to be a place in which our faithful board members work toward furthering the vision of a world without hunger.

    We dedicate this space as a hospitable connecting point in the network of relationships among Christian leaders, congregations, and members across the broad spectrum of the church.

    We dedicate this space as a platform from which to speak with one voice in advocating for improved federal policies and programs for poor and hungry people.

    We dedicate this space as the base from which informed advocates journey to Capitol Hill to speak truth to power.

    We dedicate this space as the hub for Bread's grassroots network of organizers, activists, and congregations across the country.

    We dedicate this space to be a center for study, analysis, research and education to further the understanding of issues that affect hungry and poor people. Loving God,  hear our prayer.

    Prayer of Gratitude and Blessing
    We pray in gratitude for all who partner with us.
    We pray in gratitude for the board, staff, and members of  Bread.
    We pray in gratitude for all who support Bread
    We pray in gratitude for our Bread activists, Bless them, O God.

    We pray in gratitude for this place. Bless this place, O God.

    With grateful hearts, we pray a blessing.

    May the Lord bless you; may the Lord bless this space;
    May the Lord be present to you; May the Lord be present in this space;
    May the Lord give you peace; May the Lord let peace reign in this space
    The Lord bless you; the Lord bless this space. Amen!

    A Thought on a Monday

    "The question should not be 'What would Jesus do?' but rather, more dangerously, 'What would Jesus have me do?' The onus is not on Jesus but on us, for Jesus did not come to ask semidivine human beings to do impossible things. He came to ask human beings to live up to their full humanity; he wants us to live in the full implication of our human gifts, and that is far more demanding."

    Rev. Peter J. Gomes, professor and minister at Harvard University who passed away Feb. 28

    Sunday, March 06, 2011

    Megan's Sabbath Year: A Great Blog

    From "Jacqueline's Mariposas"
    I recently discovered a wonderful blog from Megan Marsh, a fellow Bread for the World activist and board member from Colorado Springs.  Megan's Sabbath Year is filled with touching personal accounts about her faith journey, her work with Compassion International and the people she has met.

    The March posts about her recent trip to El Salvador are especially touching.  She traveled to the Central American country with a delegation sponsored by Compassion International.

    Here are a couple of examples.  In a post entitled  The Generosity Gap, Part Two  Megan writes:
    We met the most amazing young man on the 2nd day of our trip. His name was Saul Garcia and he attended ES-720, Josue Child Development Center since he was six years old until he graduated from the program.

    We first met Saul when he appeared to tell us about how the administration of Josue CDI is run. He showed us the files of some of the kiddos who go to the project. Some were over three inches thick! After touring the project, we got to go to Saul's house to meet his mother, hear his testimony and share a meal with them. His home was very clean and I feel it had a peace resting on it. Seven people lived in the house which was probably less than 400 square feet.
    And here is how she describes her encounter with a eight-year-old Margarita, in The Cure for Invisibility, Part Two
    One of the first things eight year-old Margarita did when she met me was pick her nose and put a booger in my hand as we held hands in a circle. I looked up at the sponsor, Brenna, who was holding her other hand and we grinned at each other. We both saw her do it. "Today is gonna be so awesome!" I thought.
    These are just excerpts.  I urge you to read the posts completely to get the big picture.  And I also recommend that you read all her posts from El Salvador.  Your day will be "awesome" after you do.

    Saturday, March 05, 2011

    Hunger & Poverty Issues at the State Legislature

    On Saturday, March 5, Ruth Hoffman from the Lutheran Advocacy Ministry New Mexico provides updates related to hunger, poverty and food-related issues before the New Mexico State Legislature in Santa Fe.

    • A New Mexico state program provides supplemental SNAP (formerly Food Stamps) benefits for seniors who are eligible for minimal assistance under federal rules.  The funding ($1 million) for this program has been eliminated in HB2 as it currently stands. We are advocating for $1 million in funding for this program. 
    • SJM7 (Sen. Cynthia Nava) asks the Public Education Department to convene a task force to study children’s access to proper nutritionSJM7 has passed the Senate and is now in the House Education Committee.
    •  SB144 (Sen. Cynthia Nava) would require all school districts to establish breakfast programs in their elementary schools and that it be served during the school day. S144 is now on the Senate Floor Calendar.
    • Affordable Housing & Homelessness: HJM22 (Sen. John Ryan & Rep. Bill O’Neill) asks Gov.  Susana Martinez to implement an Interagency Council on Child Homelessness. HJM22 has passed the House Appropriations & Finance Committee and is on the House Floor Calendar.  
      SB177 (Sen. Jerry Ortiz y Pino) would allow local municipalities and counties to ask voters to increase property taxes to create a local housing fund. SB177 was amended in the Senate Corporations Committee so that it only applies to Santa Fe County and is now in the Senate Finance Committee.

      Family-Sustaining Income 
      Lutheran Advocacy Ministry-NM is advocating that deeper cuts not be made to the funding for programs that help low-income families.  Those programs include General Assistance,Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (cuts to monthly assistance amounts and other TANF programs have already been made), child care assistance (cuts have already been made to eligibility and copayments for families have been increased), and programs for people experiencing homelessness. HB2 includes adequate funding for the General Assistance program and further cuts to the TANF program. The funding for programs that assistance people experiencing homelessness has not been cut. The funding for child care assistance in the House's version of HB2 is insufficient to maintain the program at current levels.  SB72 (Sen. Tim Keller) would not allow employers to consider credit scores in hiring except when there is a real occupational requirement for doing so. SB72 has been tabled in the Senate Corporations Committee.  See Action Alert below---  
      SJR10 (Sen. Cynthia Nava) would propose a constitutional amendment for voter approval in 2012 that would designate a small percentage of the Land Grant Permanent Fund to fund early childhood care and education programs in our state. Those programs would include quality child care assistance.  SJR 10 passed the Senate Rules Committee and the Senate Judiciary Committee and is now in the Senate Finance Committee.  
      Action Alert: Please take a few minutes to call the members of the Senate Finance Committee and ask them to support SJR10 which proposes a constitutional amendment for voter approval in 2012 that would designate a small percentage of the Land Grant Permanent Fund to fund early childhood care and education programs in our state. Those programs would include quality child care assistance. The members of Senate Finance and their telephone numbers are below:

      Sen. John Arthur Smith, Chair -- 505-986-4365
      Sen. Carlos Cisneros -- 505-986-4362
      Sen. Sue Wilson Beffort -- 505-986-4395
      Sen. Rod Adair -- 505-986-4385
      Sen. Pete Campos -- 505-986-4311
      Sen. Carroll Leavell -- 505-986-4278
      Sen. Howie Morales -- 505-986-4863
      Sen. Steven Neville -- 505-986-4701
      Sen. Gerald Ortiz y Pino -- 505-986-4380
      Sen. Mary Kay Papen -- 505-986-4270
      Sen. Nancy Rodriguez -- 505-986-4264

    Friday, March 04, 2011

    A Review and a Study Guide for Exodus from Hunger

    Robin Stephenson, Bread for the World's western region field organizer, wrote a great review about Bread for the World President David Beckmann's new book Exodus from Hunger  in the Bread blog.

    If this is your first exposure to the book, there is a special section for Exodus from Hunger in the Bread Web site.

    Robin read the book during a recent organizing trip to Montana.  Here's what she wrote in the blog post entitled Dig Deeper with Exodus Study Guide:
    Beckmann, Bread’s president, situates the work of ending hunger and poverty as an opening to allow God to work in our lives. “God did not send Moses to Pharaoh’s court to take up a collection of canned goods and blankets,” he writes. “God sent Moses to Pharaoh with a political challenge: To let the Hebrew slaves go free.”
    I was so inspired by the book that when I finally landed in Kalispell, Montana, and gave my presentation at Northridge Lutheran Church, I was filled with excitement about what is possible when we let God work in those spaces
    You can enjoy the book on your own and use as an inspiration for your personal anti-hunger efforts.  Or you can get together with a group of friends or a church social justice committee to exchange impressions and ideas.   Robin highly recommends the study guide that was put together with the book.  The guide was developed by Kathy Wolf Reed, author of Glee: A Study for Adults.

    Here is one sample question in the study guide.
    1. On pages 96–98 Beckmann tells the story of Pat Pelham, a young mother from Birmingham, Alabama. On page 103 he shares the story of Connie Wick, an elderly retiree from Indianapolis. Take a moment to study these women’s stories. Then, on the whiteboard or newsprint, list the ways these women were similar in their circumstances and their approaches to grassroots organization. Then list the ways in which these women differed. How are their lives like or unlike the lives of people in your group? How might their efforts offer hope to those looking to become involved with U.S. politics?
    The book not only invites us to use our thoughts to look at our personal and collective efforts on hunger. We are also summoned to prayer and reflection.  Here's a great spiritual exercise from the study guide.
    The first step Beckmann offers in deepening one’s personal involvement in the fi ght against hunger is to pray intentionally. As a group, say together the Lord’s Prayer, but after each line allow several moments to refl ect silently and carefully on the words in that line (“Our Father, who art in heaven . . .Hallowed be thy name . . .”). Allow the Spirit to guide the length of your pauses. When you have fi nished, share what felt different about praying this familiar prayer in this way. Did you fi nd new meaning in any of the words?
    Click here to download the study guide (in .pdf format)

    Thursday, March 03, 2011

    FoodCorps Seeks Volunteers in New Mexico

    Vanessa Apodaca
    FoodCorps is seeking young men and women interested in food, agriculture, community organizing, education, health, and public service to serve in the first class of FoodCorps Members. FoodCorps’ inaugural term of service starts on August 15, 2011 and ends August 14, 2012.

    New Mexico is one of 10 states participating in the national program. Our state program is managed by the University of New Mexico Office of Community Learning and Public Service (in partnership with Office of the Vice President for Community Health UNM-HSC, UNM Research Service Learning Program)

    There will be a maximum of 10 volunteers selected for New Mexico, assigned to service sites around the state.  They include Lobo Gardens Initiative and the AgriCultura Network (Bernalillo County), La Semilla Food Center (Doña Ana County), Connections Inc. and the Five Boys & Girls Clubs of Gallup in partnership with tribal Clubs in Tohatchi and Crownpoint (McKinley County), Kewa Pueblo in partnership with John Hopkins Center for American Indian Health (Sandoval County), The Farm to Table and School to Table (Santa Fe County), Tierra Lucero (Taos County) 

    Learn More about the Sites
    Number of Service Positions with the primary focus of: 
    • Building and tending school gardens: 5
    • Facilitating sourcing and purchasing for local schools: 1
    • Teaching kids about food and nutrition: 4

    FoodCorps values diversity of background, experience, and opinion. We welcome applications (deadline April 10) from anyone who:
    • Will be 18 years or older at the start of service (August 15,   2011)
    • Is a legal resident of the United States
    • Holds a high school degree or GED
    Click here to Apply
    (Deadline is April 10)

    Contact for FoodCorps in New Mexico: Vanessa Apodaca 
       Watch a Video:

        Wednesday, March 02, 2011

        No Mozzarella or Pepperoni, but Many Other Pizza Ingredients are Found in this Garden...

        What grows in pizza garden?  Tomatoes, basil, oregano, bell peppers, onions, garlic
        Did you know that there is a big outdoor pizza in Otero County in southern New Mexico? Well actually, it's a garden shaped like a pizza. The space is round like a pizza shell and is divided into wedges (pizza slices), and each wedge contains a plant that is used as an ingredient in pizza. There are bell peppers, oregano, basil, garlic, onions, and tomato plants.  

        And even though many Italian chefs will tell you that Romas make the best tomato sauce, this garden does not confine itself to that variety. "We use a variety of heirloom and organic tomatoes, and include cherries as well as the larger varieties," said Julia Price, executive director of the New Mexico Alliance for Children

        The pizza garden has been a feature of the Mescalero Apache Boys and Girls Club just outside the mountain community of Ruidoso in Otero County since 2007. The project is sponsored by the NM Alliance for Children and the Eating SmART program. Eating SmArt is designed to reduce food insecurity for children in economically deprived circumstances.

        Amricorps volunteer with two young gardeners
        The pizza-shaped plot has two other companion garden, the Three Sisters Garden and a Sunflower House.  The children are involved in the process from the very beginning from design, to care, to harvest.

        "The children’s learning garden teaches sustainable living and the growth and nurturing of edible plants," said the alliance. "The garden brings the nutritional concepts to life and becomes an additional food source for the kids and their families." 

        Julia Price
        The garden also offers children the opportunity to experience eating fresh produce out of the garden.  "One child had never tasted a fresh bell pepper before," said Julia Price.

        "We find that kids are more likely to eat healthy produce they have grown themselves!"-NM Alliance for Children
        And there's more. "The garden project also increases environmental awareness and provides opportunities to hone math, science, and language arts skills," said the alliance.

        Art is indeed a very important part of the project.  The children are asked to decorate the bricks that are used to mark the "pizza wedges" in the garden.

        The garden projects are a very important link to the No Kid Hungry New Mexico campaign, which was launched in Albuquerque last Friday. The main sponsor of the campaign locally is the New Mexico Collaboration to End Hunger, which partnered with Julia Price in 2007 to develop Eating SmArt.