Tuesday, June 28, 2011

This Might be their Only Meal All Day

This June, U.S. humanitarian worker Esperanza Lozoya and volunteers with La Luz de la Esperanza Palomas Outreach began serving a daily summer meal to 400 children in Palomas, Chihuahua. Volunteers from another organization, Border Partners, have in the past provided breakfast burritos.

The lunch provided as part of the summer program is the only daily food for many children in Mexico's only populated town along New Mexico's border with Mexico. 

Volunteers need your help to continue to provide assistance to Palomas.  To aid Lozoya's work in nutrition, health and child education in this
community (located across the border from Columbus, N.M.), please contact Victoria Tester at (575) 536-9726, or childrenofpalomas@yahoo.com

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Experts Address Nutrition, Hunger at Bread National Gathering 2011

If you weren't able to attend the National Gathering on June 11-14, you missed out on a great experience (view photos,  read very nice summary in Bread Blog).  There were  passionate preachers (Rev. Frank Thomas and Rev. Gabriel Salguero) and compelling speakers (NY Times food columnist Mark Bittman).  In addition to Mr. Bittman, a number of experts offered great perspectives on nutrition and hunger. Below are excerpts from four of these speakers.  (There were many more, but I found these four the most compelling). 

 Raj Shah
Photo: Rick Reinhard
If it weren't for Bread for the World, membership around this country, the fellowship of people coming together to highlight the opportunities and responsibilities we have as Americans to engage around the world and to serve around the world...and to protect those who are most vulnerable, we simply wouldn't be where we are today.

Your partnership, support and advocacy are genuinely more important today than they ever have been. In fact, USAID and our entire federal government have been seeking and putting in place a deeper, more operational, relationship with communities in faith around this country to support development, and health and education in some of the most vulnerable parts of the world.

In 2008 was the last time that the general public, our Congress, and our political leaders paid focused attention to world food prices and world food policies because we saw a price spike in that time that actually resulted in more than 100 million people moving back into a condition poverty and extreme hunger.

And that was shocking because for two or three or four decades we had seen a.consistent pathway downward in the amount of global suffering that is attributed to extreme poverty.  But for the first time in decades, we saw an abrupt trend in the other direction.  I think it caused us to ask ourselves three fundamental questions about who we are, what we stand for, and what we're committed to achieve around the world.
"In 2008...we saw a price spike in that time that actually resulted in more than 100 million people moving back into a condition poverty and extreme hunger.... Now, food and fuel prices are again high,  pushing an estimated 44 million people back into that condition of hunger and poverty."
We now now that more than 1 billion people will go to bed hungry every night.  We know that 3.5 million children this year will literally die because of malnutrition.  And we know that, just like in 2008, food and fuel prices and again high, again pushing an estimated 44 million people back into that condition of hunger and poverty.  
Raj Shah is administrator of the U.S. Agency for International Development. Previously, he served as under secretary for research, education, and economics and as chief scientist at the U.S. Department of Agriculture, where he was responsible for a safe, sustainable, competitive U.S. food and fiber system. At USDA, he launched the National Institute of Food and Agriculture, a new scientific institute that elevated the status and and funding of agricultural research to be more in line with other major scientific groups.

David Nabarro
Photo: Jim Stipe
There are too many hungry people, and they are hungry for too much of the time, in our world.  Hunger is more than the unpleasant feeling that we get from time to time from a skipped meal or even that slightly virtuous feeling that we get when we fasted for a day or two.

Chronic hunger is a miserable, debilitating, humiliating and frustrrating sensation for all who experience it.  It weakens, dampens, and saddens the human spirit. Undernutrition in childhood is a problem that affects children for life.  It is imprinting on the body a disadvantage that is very, very hard to overcome.  And nearly 1 billion people, that's around one-sixth of the world's population, are hungry.
"One-third of humanity is affected by undernutrition and its causes.  This is an emergency. "
And all those people are at risk of undernutrition.  And that's a very big global problem.  But it gets bigger.  Because even more people, perhaps another 1 billion, are not actually hungry, but are affected by a shortage of micronutrients, the vitamins and minerals that are so important for good growth and development. If you add them together, 1 billion plus 1 billion, 2 billion, nearly one-third of the world's population, one-third of humanity is affected by undernutrition and its causes.  This is an emergency.  It's not just us who should be involved in it.  It should be engaging every world leader, every civil society group, everyone who is concerned about the future of our world.  And as you know, it's been neglected. 
David Nabarro was appointed the U.N. Secretary-General’s special representative for food security and nutrition in October 2009. He has worked in the office of the U.N. Secretary-General as senior U.N. system coordinator for avian and pandemic influenza since 2005 and, since January 2009, has coordinated the U.N. High Level Task Force on the Food Security Crisis.

Maria Otero
Photo: Jim Stipe
I have a long history with Bread for the World, and I remember very fondly those years when I worked on the board.  Today's event is extraordinary because of  the presence and the partnership of these two outstanding organizations, Bread and Concern Worldwide.  Their intentionality and their commitment to the hungry around the world has made a real and tangible difference, and that's important to remember as we take this on. The bounty of our planet affords enough food for every human being.  And yet, we know that this might be true in theory but has yet to be proven in practice.
"How do I know my business is doing well? If I can feed my family.  Then I know my business is doing well."  -Microbusiness owner in Honduras
Tonight, after a full day's work, millions will go to bed with empty stomachs.  And this year many millions of children will die from undernutrition. When I lived in Honduras, I saw this first hand   I saw it in the homes of the migrant workers that I visited in my capacity as director for Accion International in that country.   One time when trying to measure the impact of what the loans had meant to tiny little businesses, I interviewed one of those migrant entrepreneurs, a man.  He said to me: "How do I know my business is doing well? If I can feed my family.  Then I know my business is doing well.  If I can't buy food for my family, and they go to be hungry, that tells me that my business is down."
Maria Otero has served as Under Secretary of State for Democracy and Global Affairs since August 2009. She oversees and coordinates U.S. foreign relations on a variety of global issues, including democracy, human rights, and labor; environment, oceans, health and science; population, refugees, and migration; and monitoring and combating trafficking in persons

Anna Lartey
Photo: Jim Stipe
At the moment sub-Saharan Africa is facing a serious crisis of hunger, poverty, high maternal mortality and infant mortality.  Maternal mortality in sub-Saharan Africa is about one in 31; compared to the situation in other developing countries, one in 290, and in the industrialized world, one in 4,300.  In fact, having babies in sub-Saharan Africa is a very dangerous business. Infant mortality is high in Ghana, about 50 per 1,000 live births.  That is to say, five out of every 100 infants die before their first birthday. Malnutrition is an underlying cause.  Children lucky enough to escape death from malnutrition, have to live with the irreversible consequences into adulthood.   Over 90% of malnourished children are found in poor countries, and sub-Saharan has hosted quite a number of these countries.
"Ghana is on track to meeting Millennium Development Goal 1"
It is therefore, not surprising that sub-Saharan Africa is a region that lags behind the most in making progress in achieving the Millennium Development Goals.  At the same time, there is good news.  One country in Sub-Saharan Africa is on track to achieving an Millennium Development   Ghana is one of the few countries in sub-Saharan Africa that is on track to meeting MDG 1: halving  poverty and hunger.  Ghana's poverty rate was reduced to 51% in 1991 to about 28% in 2006, thus  "becoming the first country in sub-Saharan Africa to achieve this goal.

I want to talk briefly about some of the things we put in place to get here...We have direct nutrition interventions like promoting breastfeeding...We have a national food fortification program, where we fortify our food with some of the micronutrients that people need...We also have a school feeding program, which was started in 2005.  Today, the program feeds over 1 million children daily.  For most children, the food they get in school is likely to be the main meal they get for that day....We have also put in policies to improve our agriculture production,  and we have increased food production.  We currently have free maternal and health services during pregnancy...We also have national health insurance, so that everyone has some kind of access to health.

There is one thing we must mention.  Ghana would not have gotten this far without good governance and national political stability.  It's very crucial that good governance and political stability be in place to make these programs work.
Anna Lartey is an associate professor in the department of nutrition and food science at the University of Ghana.  Her research focuses on maternal/ child nutrition in sub-Saharan Africa, a subject on which she has published extensively. She won the University of Ghana’s “Best Researcher Award” in 2004. Lartey has served on several World Health Organization expert consultation task forces on child nutrition.

Monday, June 20, 2011

The Circle of Protection Has a Face

One by one, the faithful came up to Amma. And one by one, they received darshan, in the form of a hug and a blessing.  The best thing about the whole experience is that her face was full of joy each time she gave a hug.  And that joy manifested itself in a different way each time she gave a hug.  Sometimes it was a compassionate joy. Other times it was a serene joy.  Or it was a joyous joy.  I saw this same type of intense joy recently at an airport.  A mother hugged her little boy for no reason other than to express the joy of having him there. What can be more powerful than a parent's hug?

I happened to be on a list of "invited guests" who had been asked to come receive a special blessing from Amma on Friday in June. The list included Nobel Laureate Murray Gell-Mann; Felicity Broennan, executive director of the Santa Fe Watershed Association; Giselle Pérez of Acupuncturists Without Borders; Chris Courtney of Grassroots Yoga (who offers yoga fundraisers); Santa Fe author Glenys Carl; and others.

I had a couple of thoughts as I went up to receive the hug. One, my work to address hunger and poverty is indeed worthy of receiving a blessing. Two, even though I was personally uplifted, I went with a thought of obtaining sacred strength for this Circle of Protection campaign in which many of us are involved. It is true. We'll fight with all the intellectual and strategic gifts to ensure that programs that benefit poor and hungry people are not cut. But it struck me that we have to approach this effort with compassion in our hearts.

Since I don't speak her language, I have no idea what words Amma whispered to me as she hugged me (twice!).  But I didn't need to understand words. It struck me at that moment that a hug is the ultimate symbol of the circle of protection.

For many people, Amma is considered a saint and a holy person.  Even though the spirituality she offers is not the path I walk, there are many similarities. First and foremost, I believe that contemplation is at the core of our spirituality, requiring that we step out of ourselves to connect with God the Creator. 

And Amma connects action and contemplation (as in the center in Albuquerque created by one of my mentors, Franciscan Father Richard Rohr). Through her Embracing the World program, Amma provides people in impoverished areas with housing, health care, microcredit, fair-trade businesses.  One interesting business produces handbags from used saris. 

A circle of protection requires political strategy but also a heart. 

Sunday, June 19, 2011

NY Times Food Columnist Mark BIttman: Let's Change the Food 'Non-System'

Mark Bittman
I think I've been given 1/2 hour and I'm going to use it...to talk about food safety and public health problems; land, water and air pollution; food shortages and spiraling food prices; tortured animals and chemical-laden food; antibiotic abuse and a antibiotic-resistant diseases; world hunger; local hunger; fertilzer runoff, phosphate shortages; species extinctions; global warming; chronic disease, spiraling health care costs...I probably could go a little bit longer.

All of these crises...can find at least part of their causes in our food non-system.

The time has come for governments and perhaps more important citizens to act to rationalize the system of food production...Our governments are largely and increasingly beholden to corporations. Because they rarely act unless they are pushed. They're often coming down on the wrong side of important issues. For example, we continue to subsidize industrial agriculture at a time when sustainable is not only needed to counter poverty and environmental destruction, but has demonstrated its effect. We're in the process in cutting funding to the FDA at a time when food safety issues are as important as they have ever been.

We're discussing cutting funding to the world's neediest at a time when we should be increasing it. When three out of seven people are malnourished, we could in fact argue that 50 percent of the human race isn't eating well enough. It's hard to say that there's a food system in need of fixing. It's more like bringing order to chaos. Don't get me wrong. We've unquestionably seen progress, as many of you know from your work.

But there are really two ways to approach the global problem of our food non-system. One is to say that we have to ramp up production to feed the world, and that's the argument that we hear so often. This is the common corporate and sadly governmental solution to every problem: produce more. Yet one could easily argue that producing more is what has gotten us into so much trouble, environmentally and even economomically. In fact, we produce too much...As many of you know we produce enough calories to feed everyone, and we're already in trouble.

And let's not blame coming generations for shortages. Poor people do not use a disproportionate amount of resources. Rich people do.

We need to produce based on need, rather than on potential sales. We need to produce intelligently, efficiently and fairly. We need to produce real food using sound agricultural methods.

And we need to get that food to real people.  We all know that our problem is not one of supply but of distribution.

But we also know that it's an issue of fairness, of justice, of responsibility.

The issue isn't economic, it's moral.

Excerpts from an address by New York Times food columnist and blogger Mark Bittman at a dinner hosted by Bread for the World and Ireland's anti-poverty organization Concern Worldwide on Monday, June 13.  The event was part of the 2011 National Gathering.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Pentecost at the Bread National Gathering

(Photo Rick Reinhard)
(On Sunday evening, June 12, Rev. Gabriel Salguero, president of the  National Latino Evangelical Coalition, graced the Bread for the World National Gathering with a reflection on Pentecost and Esther 4:10-17

Rev. Jeanette Salguero participated in the reflection, translating the sermon into Spanish.  Both she and her husband are senior pastors at Lamb's Church of the Nazarene in New York City.  Below are some excerpts).

It is not lost on me that today is Pentecost Sunday. That is significant if we're going to mobilize a movement for action.  A global movement. An inclusive movement.  A heterogeneous movement.

I think it is appropriate that we speak on Pentecost Sunday. Pentecost, at its core, is not just about speaking. The miracle of Pentecost is not the polyglot nature of the manifestation, but that they all heard.

One of the miracles of Pentecost is...the discipline to sit through something that is not your native tongue.  That is the miracle of Pentecost moments.

But I understand that if we’re going to to get something done. It’s going to take a movement, an integrated movement. Notice that I am not saying assimilated, but integrated.

So this is how we come to the table. Not my table. Not your table. God's table.

I think it is important that we reflect in the next few minutes about Esther Principles for Action. I think it is important that we listen from a woman this evening, particularly because poverty and hunger disproportionally affect women and children.  

It is important for us to hear from this woman about principles as we get set to be commissioned to action. This is a commissioning service. 

I was drawn to Esther because she is an interesting figure.  She is a beauty queen who changed her world around...But there was more to her.  From these texts, I just want to draw a few principles.

It is a crisis moment. There is threat of imminent death and extinction.  Mordecai, her uncle, says to her, "Now is the time for you to do something." You who know the Bible well might remember that she spent some time in anonymity.  Mordecai counseled her back not to reveal herself until the right moment.  We'll call that silent strategizing.

Mordecai says, "Now is the moment."  The time is now, when imminent cuts threaten the domestic and international communities suffering from hunger and poverty.

I want to tell you that the Mordecai named Bread for the World is telling all the Esthers in the room, "Now is the time.  For if we keep silent, do not think we will escape."
Photo Rick Reinhard
Allow me some alliteration. Purposeful proximity.

To go back to our communities. The communities whom we serve and commission us....Our access has to have a purpose. And that purpose has to be speaking truth to power.

Prophesy is to speak truth to power.  But prophesy is not just speaking truth to power. It is speaking truth to those who have been robbed of power. We need to speak truth to power. But we also need to speak truth to the power challenged.

Principle #1 is to ask ourselves why are we here. And it is for purposeful proximity. It is to say, if we are speaking is not just because we are saving the lives of people. It is a whole soul that we’re saving. It is the soul of this country that we’re saving.

In the words of Dr. Martin Luther King, "to prick the conscience of America."   It is not just people's lives that we are saving, but it is the moral compass of this country that we are saving.

It is not the moral compass of this country, it is the moral compass of multinational corporations, it's the moral compass of churches and denominations.  Prophetic solidarity. We’re not just saving people, we’re saving the soul of a country.  This prophetic solidarity should lead to powerful pluralism.

To be clear, if we're going to make change that is sustainable, we need intentional diversity. We need to move beyond tokenism. Latinos are not in America to say "Uno para inglés y Dos para español." We're here to be part of a movement, African Americans, Asian Americans, First Nations or Native Americans, we need a Pentecost integration that moves beyond tokenism.

For this to work, the voices of indigenous leadership have to be at the table, we need Esther, we need Mordecai and we need the Jewish people of Shushan, we need powerful pluralism.

And if we have powerful, pluralism, it should be informed by policy intelligence. There's nothing worse than an uniformed opinion that destroys you.

When Mordecai comes to Esther, he had surveyed the situation.  I was appreciative to hear (USAID Administrator) Raj Shah this morning, because he gave us his perspective of what governments should be.

And then I was more moved when (Rev.) Ched Meyers spoke because it gave us a theological profundity.  

We are not just going to follow policy. We are going to form and inform, based on our faith, based on our commitments...on a God who loves all, on a God who welcomes all, on a God who wants to feeds all.
Excerpts of Sermon at Bread for the World's National Gathering, June 11, 2011

Friday, June 17, 2011

2011 National Gathering in Pictures

The Bread for the World Communications staff has put together a fabulous photo album with images from Bread for the World's 2011 National Gathering on Flickr.  The albums depict activities in each of the four days.  Here is the Photos Home Page  And here is the Program Guide with the full schedule

 Social Media Expert & California Organizer Holly Hight. (Rick Reinhard)

Watoto Childern's Choir  (Rick Reinhard)

Ray Suarez MCs panel at 1000 Days Conference.  (Jim Stipe)
(Event Cosponsored with Ireland's NGO Concern Worldwide)

Circle of Protection: Indiana delegation prays before entering Sen. Dan Coats' office
(Laura Elizabeth Pohl)

And if you want more, click here to check out the videos and other multimedia presentations put together by Laura Pohl from the Bread staff.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

A Reflection on Our Daily Bread (Isaiah 55:1)

Bread  is the symbol of sustenance for the poor.  

We have enough bread on the planet, but we have distribution problems relative to our bread...because some store it up in barns and charge money, and if you can't pay, you can't eat. That means that some of us end up with a whole lot of bread and some of us end up with nothing. Those of us who live in the United States with plenty of bread need to ask fundamental questions of why we have so much and others have so little. The truth is that everyone could eat were not for a distribution problem.

God takes a revolutionary position on the distribution problem, offering bread free of charge to everyone, for God says in Isaiah 55:1  You who have no money, come by and eat.  That is Grace.  It's the love of God.  Come by and Eat.  In God's Kingdom you don't have to buy.  God freely gives us. God does not have a distribution problem.  Sin entangles us, and we block up the distribution chain.

When you work on behalf of the poor, you are doing work.  Distributing bread in the spirit of Isaiah 55:1

Which brings me to your work, my work...
I say us because the flaw of capitalism is excessive individualism.  Give me, give my, give to my group, give to my constituency.  It is rarely give us

So who is the us?  I believe that we must say that "us" is the entire human family.

It is a critical concern that the people of faith speak for "give us."  Why is this important? Because capitalism will not do it. Martin Luther King, says, "No matter how the economy expands, it will never eradicate poverty... Capitalism does not have an ability to end poverty.  The faith community must humanize capitalism.

We have to change the politics of hunger, because we can't balance the budget on the backs of the poor of hungry while the rich get more and more and the corporations get millions and millions...

When Jesus ultimately says give us our daily bread. Bread is also the person of Jesus.

Dr. Rev. Frank Thomas 
Excerpts of Sermon at Bread for the World's National Gathering, June 11, 2011

A Prayer on Lobby Day

Photo by Elaine VanCleave
We must move away from asking God to take care of the things that are breaking our hearts to praying about the things that are breaking God's heart.

- Margaret Gibb

Friday, June 10, 2011

Orbit Invites You to Learn About Efforts to Reduce Child Hunger in New Mexico

No Kid Hungry Summer 
Press Event

Please join the New Mexico Collaboration to End Hunger at a press event to announce summer food activities to reduce child hunger in New Mexico

Friday, June 24, 2011
11:00 a.m.
3001 University SE
Albuquerque, NM 87106
RSVP to Meghann Dallin at:

U.S. Department of Agriculture Regional Administrator, Bill Ludwig, will discuss children’s access to summer food in New Mexico and the partnership between USDA and the No Kid Hungry Campaign    

(Read about New Mexico launch of No Kid Hungry campaign in February)

(Note: Mr. Ludwig is not the only VIP who will attend this event.  There will be a guest appearance by Orbit, mascot of Albuquerque Isotopes Baseball Team).

Celebrating Elva Thaemert

Elva chats with Jack Curtin at Bread picnic
When I first moved to Albuquerque back in 1992, one the first things I did was to find out if there was a local Bread for the World group.  Surely enough, there was a dedicated group of individuals led by Lutheran Campus Pastor Howard Corry, which met monthly to talk about Bread issues and write letters. 

One of our early activities was a picnic at a park near Lomas and Girard.  (I was fairly new in Albuquerque then, and I found out that picnics in the summer can be sometimes be interrupted by monsoon rains).

One of the members of this illustrious group was Elva Thaemert.  I was impressed by her dedication to Bread and her passion for social justice.  My wife Karen and I sometimes gave her rides to Bread events.  And as I got to know her, I heard some great stories about Bread.  Elva said she and her husband Emil were friends with Bread's founder Art Simon when he was assigned to Colorado.  (Elva would chuckle when she related how her husband used to give Art haircuts).

When I think about how Bread New Mexico came to be, I can't help but think about dedicated people like Elva, Howard Corry, Titus Scholl, John Haaland and many others who devoted one Saturday a month to help build the Bread movement locally.

Elva passed away on June 5 here in Albuquerque.  We will have a chance to honor her memory at a Memorial Service on Sunday, August 7, at St. Paul Lutheran Church (Elva's home congregation), 1100 Indian School Rd NE, at 2:00 p.m. 

And even though Elva is no longer physically with us, she and family made sure that Bread for the World would be part of her legacy.  They asked that all memorial donations be sent to Bread for the World (425 3rd St. SW, Washington, D.C. 20024) and/or Lutheran World Relief (700 Light, Baltimore, MD, 21230).

Fell free to leave a comment sharing your memories about Elva.

Saturday, June 04, 2011

Mapping Summer Food Sites for Kids and Teens

The New Mexico Children, Youth and Families Department, New Mexico Public Education Department School Nutrition Bureau, New Mexico Collaboration to End Hunger, New Mexico No Kid Hungry Campaign, and Share Our Strength have developed a really cool Web site that allows residents of New Mexico to easily find locations that provide summer meals for children and teens.

To find a feeding site, simply click on this link.  You will be prompted to enter your zip code, town, and/or county to gain access to see a map and list of summer food sites near you.   Information will appear below the map with additional details.   

Intergenerational Summer Food Program 
There are other programs to help provide food.  This is the fifth summer of the Intergenerational Summer Food Program (ISFP)! The New Mexico Collaboration to End Hunger began the program five years ago with a pilot of three sites that fed 600 children. The 2011 ISFP will provide weekend food bags, grants for community gardens, volunteers and outreach to 8,200 children at 70 sites this summer. 

Last week and over the next two weeks food is being delivered to the sites all over our state.  This food will be packed into over 56,000 weekend food bags for children (and their families).  The weekend bags are added into the free breakfast and lunch provided to children ages 0-18 by USDA through CYFD and PED. Special thank to the funders who continue to support ISFP. They are: PNM Resources Foundation, The Anderson Foundation, ConAgra Foods, CitiCards, Domanica Foundation, Daniels Fund, Sandia National Labs, Santa Fe Community Foundation, Share Our Strength and Wells Fargo.