Saturday, September 29, 2012

Rick Steves is Looking for 100,000 Friends

Rick Steves, the famous travel author and a friend of Bread for the World, will donate one dollar to Bread  for every person who "Likes" his page on Facebook between now and midnight, October 1.  Click here to Like his Facebook page.
















Here is Rick's Appeal

Wow, our “$100k for 100k friends” hunger initiative has inspired a frenzy of friending. I thought it would take days (not hours!) to reach this goal. You blindsided me. Thank you…and The full scope of Bread for the World’s innovative campaign against hunger and poverty launches on October 2nd, and that’s when I’ll write them the check. So, let’s make it out for this amount: 

$1 for every “like” I have on the Rick Steves Facebook page as of midnight, October 1st.

How far above $100,000 will we go? That’s up to you…with a little help from your friends. As I post this, we’re at $102,200. 

Please share this post, and make me write a bigger check.

To learn more about this exciting initiative, see the September 26th post on my Facebook Timeline. Watch the 3-minute videos from Mitt Romney and Barack Obama that explain their plans for fighting hunger and poverty in America. (You won’t find the candidates talking directly about this important issue elsewhere as it doesn’t “poll well.”) I found it fascinating to examine each candidate’s carefully chosen words on this subject. You can, too.

ONE Sweet Potato

The fall season is here, and this generally means an explosion of orange in the form of pumpkins at the growers markets and grocery store parking lots.  A handful of those pumpkins end up as Jack-o-Lanterns for Halloween.  
  
I came across another great carving, but this one was on an orange root vegetable.  James Townshend, a member of  The ONE Campaign, carved ONE's logo into this sweet potato in honor of  the organization's campaign to end  global child malnutrition. 

Here's is an excerpt from a blog post by ONE Global Creative Director Roxane Philson
What do tasty orange sweet potatoes have to do with malnutrition, a scourge that claims the lives of well over three million children a year? They have the power (or shall we say “superpower” since we’re talking about heroes, here) to provide much-needed nutrients like vitamins C, A and B6 to undernourished children, helping to avert stunting and ensuring proper growth. On top of that, sweet potatoes are relatively cheap to produce and easy to grow in uncertain conditions, perfect for regions prone to drought and famine.

Friday, September 28, 2012

Escaping Food Desert in the Lower Ninth Ward of New Orleans

On Saturday, Oct. 20, the residents of the Lower Ninth Ward in New Orleans hope to emerge from their “food desert”, a designation given to them by urban planners and the U.S. Department of Agriculture because they lack a grocery story within one mile of the historic neighborhood.  (USDA has put together a map of food deserts in the U.S., based on census data).

Event organizers would like food vendors and donors to take the trip with them. The lack of a Lower 9 grocery store is a condition which existed long before the devastating hurricanes of 2005 destroyed most of the area’s homes and businesses, according to event organizers. 

The Lower Ninth Ward Food Access Coalition, a project of the Center for Sustainable Engagement and Development (CSED), hopes to feature a stocked grocery store for-a-day at the corner of Caffin and St. Claude Avenues on Oct. 20, and allow 500 families to walk away with a real grocery store experience and supplies.    Read More in Krewe of Truth



Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Agriculture Cooperatives, Children's Drawings, and World Food Day

The UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) is commemorating World Food Day by holding its first-ever international contest for young people.  The entries are grouped in three age categories: 5-8, 9-12, 13-17.   The theme for the inaugural contest is Agricultural cooperatives -- key to feeding the world

"A cooperative is a business that balances two goals – making money and keeping its members and communities happy by providing what they need. Imagine a group of people working together to grow vegetables or fruit, to fish together or simply to sell something collectively," said the FAO.  "By joining forces, members of a cooperative can benefit by sharing materials, experience or other resources. They can also bargain in a more powerful way."

This is a great way to involve young people in the World Food Day commemoration.  And it's paid off. There are many fabulous entries from children around the world.  View the Children's Posters


Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Buen Provecho

You've heard about food deserts. How about food swamps? They are low-income areas with an overabundance of fast-food and convenience stores. For many folks who live in these areas, it is extremely difficult to find nutritious food in their neighborhoods. Many of these folks work multiple jobs and often have little time to go outside their neighborhood to shop for fruits and vegetables.  So the only alternative for many is to patronize the neighborhood hamburger or fried chicken place.

This is the theme of Buen Provecho (“Enjoy Your Meal”) (2012), a short documentary filmed and edited by three University of Southern California Masters of Social Work students (Elizabeth Huesca, Jason Lipeles and Monica C. Ramirez). Buen Provecho, set in Los Angeles, is their final project for the Media in Social Work course taught by Professor Rafael Angulo. Elizabeth Huesca directed the film and all three students filmed and edited the footage. Click here for more information.


Buen Provecho (Enjoy Your Meal) from Jason Lipeles on Vimeo.

Monday, September 24, 2012

The Albuquerque Crop Walk and Route 66

Isotopes mascot Orbit was there in 2011
Have you ever thought how cool it would be to have the Albuquerque CROP Walk follow Route 66? 

This year it comes close.  Even though the route does not follow the length of Central Ave.(which of course is Route 66), the walk starts and ends at a church whose web address is: http://www.rt66church.com/

In case you haven't guessed it, that church, which is a few feet away from Route 66, is Immanuel Presbyterian Church, 114 Carlisle NE, in  Nob Hill. 

By the way, former Albuquerque resident Rev. Daniel Erdman, who was involved with the walk from the very beginning, tells us that Immanuel Presbyterian Church was the site of the first or second CROP walk in Albuquerque in May 1984.

And Violet Foley, a member of the CROP Walk planning team, tells us that Project Share (an agency that receives funds from the event) is the about the midway point this year. Walkers will proceed from Immanuel Presbyterian Church on Silver to Columbia to Kathryn and Yale to Project Share. Then they will reverse the course to the church. 

The walk will take place on Sunday, October 21Registration begins at 12:30 p.m., and walkers will start out at 1:00 p.m.

The 2012 Albuquerque CROP Hunger Walk theme is: 30, 300, 30000 --the goals for the event.
30+ Faith Communities
300+ walkers, and
$30,000+ funds raised for hunger

For more information contact:
Alicia Ruch-Flynn 512-554-6577
Nancy Jenkins 505-898-8128

Photo courtesy of Laura Pohl
There are two churches that have already raised more than $1,000 in pledges. 

And six individuals and one church have set up their own pages to obtain donations online.  

Find out more by checking out the official page for this year's walk. 
 
You can also visit and like the walk's official  Facebook page

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Webinar: Responding to Hunger in a World of Abundance

Catholics Respond to Global Poverty, which is supported by Catholic Relief Services and the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, has organized an interesting webinar for this coming Thursday.  CRS, as you might know, is one of the five partners with JustFaith Mnistries, along with Bread for the World.  This webinar was created primarily for Roman Catholics, but I'm sure anyone is welcome to dial in.

    When I was Hungry, You Gave Me Food
              What You Can Do to Address Global Hunger 
A Webinar sponsored by Catholics Confront Global Poverty  
                     Thursday, September 27, 2012
           12:00-1:00 P.M. Eastern Daylight Time


Background: In a world with unprecedented levels of food production, one in seven people – more than 1 billion - currently do not have enough food to eat. That’s greater than the populations of the United States, Canada and the European Union combined. This level of global hunger makes it imperative, from a moral and religious perspective, to create and support U.S. policies that address how food is grown, obtained, protected and prepared on a global scale, so that people do not starve in a world of abundance

The Catholic Church’s social teaching is rooted in the fundamental dignity of every human life. As the U.S. Catholic Bishops have stated in the document “For I was Hungry and You Gave Me Food,” the right to food is a basic right because it is required to sustain life and to maintain a truly human existence. The Bishops have called upon the Catholic community in the United States to bring their faith and moral convictions to bear on the U.S. response to the food needs of poor countries. Through the reauthorization of the Farm Bill legislation, Congress has the opportunity to take steps toward ending global hunger and to make sure that the United States provides strong funding to meet immediate hunger needs in both the U.S. and abroad.

Join Catholics Confront Global Poverty for:
  • An update on the global food crisis in such places as the Sahel region of West Africa, East Africa, and Lesotho;
  • A report on the current Farm Bill legislation and what it means for those who are hungry throughout the world;
  • A discussion of the U. S. Catholic Church’s policy recommendations for how the U.S. can make a difference based on Catholic social teaching and our experience; and
  • Suggestions for how Catholics in the U.S., through the Catholics Confront Global Poverty initiative, can respond to the needs of brothers and sisters who are hungry. 
 For more information:

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Eighteen Years Ago, Father Richard Rohr Said....

It was exactly 18 years ago, on Sept. 22, 1994, when Bread for the World and the Lutheran Office of Governmental Ministry (now called the Lutheran Adocacy Ministry) co-sponsored a great conference. (Thanks to great technical work from Bread member Mike Sims, we have the audio preserved on a cassette tape).

A few weeks ago, I reprinted comments from Bread for the World President David Beckmann from that same conference. Now, I would like to share a few words from Father Richard Rohr from that same event. (This is only an excerpt of his full talk, which lasted about one hour). 

Three Levels of Ministry
We've always said to our folks at the Center for Action and Contemplation that there are three levels of social ministry.  

First there's that hands-on level, that soup kitchen level--people who are clearly gifted to make eye contact and heart contact with the person right in front of you.  The Mother Teresas of this world, if you will.  The people who know how to let the flow happen immediately between them and other people.

The second level is what I call the healing, the teaching, the rehabilitation of persons--helping people learn how to survive, helping people to overcome that tension, that tragedy, that dark side, within. 

And thirdly, there are those who are gifted and called to the advocacy and change of systems
"I believe people at the third stage are quite simply building a dam to stop the swollen stream--building a dam against the "corrupt, dirty rotten system," as Dorothy Day called it--so it would stop drowning and destroying people.
The important thing, brothers and sisters, is that all three of those levels of social ministry in the church--and I believe that every good parish has to have some who represent all three--is that those people at the different levels respect and honor and reverence one another, and that none of them say, "I am the whole Christ...I am the eye, and I don't need the hand. I am the foot, and I don't need the ear."

The swollen stream
And all of us must recognize what I believe is a much more humble position, that most are one little part of the body.  I guess we can call the hands-on people the ones who are picking people out of the swollen stream.  The pain is right in front of you, and there is no time to ask who is worthy and who is unworthy.  The important thing is that the heart be opened and converted to see Christ is in the least  of the brothers and sisters.  There are some many Bread for the World people who are precisely those kind of people, who stopped asking the question of worthiness and merit, which only leads to ego and control.  

There's s a second group of people who aren't picking them out of the stream.  They're helping people how to survive in the swollen stream by teaching them how to swim, teaching them how to build boats, how to float, or maybe throwing other people life preservers. These are people involved in education, in medical care, in affirmation skills.  I work here at the jail with several people who spend the whole week doing just that--teaching those guys and gals that they are reflective of the divine image.  A lot of the past ministry of the church was very much on that second level.  We thought that by educating people, by giving people a sense of themselves, they would not be eaten up by the pain and the sin and the self-hatred of this world.  

What we've come to recognize in the last 20 years especially is that third level.  It still does not have for many people, the kind of credibility that it should have among Christian people.  For many folks, especially good middle class Christian folks, they still think that those who work for advocacy and legislative change are somehow tainted into "dirty politics" and are somehow involved where Jesus was not involved.

I believe people at the third stage are quite simply building a dam to stop the swollen stream--building a dam against the "corrupt, dirty rotten system," as Dorothy Day called it--so it would stop drowning and destroying people.  We have to admit that the least amount of people are gifted and qualified to work at that level.  It takes special skills, it takes special self-confidence, it takes a special kind of extroversion to learn how to work at that third level.  

What I think what is so wonderful about a day like today is that you're people who are willing to address legislative advocacy.  And how can we work for change at that level?  How can we build some dams, so that we don't just keep doing this mop-up work.

I'm so grateful for folks like you, who are willing to say, "How can we change the name of the question itself?" And therefore, hopefully, change a bit of the answer.  

Thursday, September 20, 2012

A Farewell Tribute to the New Mexico Collaboration to End Hunger

It was with great disappointment and sadness that we learned of the news that the New Mexico Collaboration to End Hunger was disbanding. The Collaboration met the same fate as state-supported New Mexico Task Force to End Hunger, whose mission, among other things, was to bring greater awareness about hunger in our state and to increase cooperation among agencies addressing hunger and poverty in our state.

I don't know the exact reasons why the decision was made to disband the Collaboration, an effective organization funded and supported by private sources (including the Albuquerque Foundation).

One can only guess that the decision had to do with the current economic downturn.  This would be ironic, because the Collaboration was created to track the economic trends and factors that led to hunger in communities in our state and to bring together the various groups working to address hunger and poverty in New Mexico.  You probably know that New Mexico had the highest rate of poverty in 2011, according to the U.S. Census Bureau's latest report on poverty in the U.S.  This means we also have a high rate of food insecurity.

The disappearance of the Collaboration does not mean that all programs that the organization support will also go away.  Partnering organizations will oversee some of the Collaboration's adult and senior projects.

I don't want to dwell on the reasons why the collaboration no longer exists.  Rather, I want to take this opportunity to celebrate the accomplishments that were made under the leadership of Nancy Pope, Sarah Newman, Meghann Dallin, Julia Price, Krista Kelly and others.

These are not in any chronological order but represent great milestones.

Widespread Efforts 
In its short existence, the Collaboration had a wide and lasting impact on the fight against hunger in our state. In my opinion, one of its biggest accomplishments was its ability to put together a comprehensive strategy, through a five-year plan to address hunger in New Mexico.  The plan was not developed in a vacuum.  Thanks to the efforts of Nancy Pope and Sarah Newman, the collaboration held  a series of community meetings in every corner of our state.  The collaboration also worked closely with national organizations like the Food Research and Action Center (FRAC) and Share Our Strength (SOS).  Using data from FRAC, the collaboration put out occasional reports, including one from FRAC that noted that more than 28% of households in New Mexico suffered from food hardship.  The organization partnered with local organizations and government agencies to promote solutions, including mobile summer meals in Torrance County, amd the visioning workshop and community discussoin on school lunches.

NoKid Hungry
Another huge accomplishment was the partnership with SOS on the NoKid Hungry New Mexico campaign.  SOS implemented the program initially in only a handful of states, and New Mexico was selected for two reasons:  The first is the consistently high rate of adult and child poverty in our state.

Here is the second reason, which I mentioned in a blog post in February 2011.
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.  Read Childhood Hunger Campaign Under Way in New Mexico.
There were many efforts associated with NoKid Hunger New Mexico, including the mapping of summer meal sites for school-age kids and teens.  The visioning workshop that we mentioned above also was related in part to the NoKid Hungry campaign and included a school lunch survey  And Meghann Dallin, using data from SOS, wrote a piece about how the large percentage of families in New Mexico that go without enough food.

Down in Ruidoso/Mescalero
The Collaboration also had a strong presence in the communities of Ruidoso and Mescalero Apache, thanks to the efforts of Julia Price, executive director of the New Mexico Alliance for Children (NMAC)

The Collaboration supported a handful of pilot programs implemented by the NMAC, which also worked closely with the Boys and Girls Club of Mescalero, the US Forest Service (Lincoln County Ranger Station) and others.

The projects promoted gardening, composting, planting of seedlings, and healthy food preparation.  The projects included a pizza garden, a soup garden, a chldren's garden at the Ranger station in Ruidoso, and a fall harvest event for the children of Mescalero and Ruidoso. The NMAC also competed for funding to plant an orchard in Hondo Valley.

Because NMAC is a strong organization, the projects in Ruidoso and Mescalero are likely to continue under Ms. Price's leadership.

Recognition and Support
Nancy Pope and Krista Kelly
I would be remiss if I didn't recognize Sarah Newman's contributions to the success of the day-to-day operations of the collaboration for much of the organization's existence. Her dedication to promoting anti-hunger efforts and nutrition education was admirable.  On a hot summer day in 2010, she took time off from her daily routine to assist me with a joint presentation to 28 middle school students and three teachers in Valencia County.  

Finally, I want to recognize Nancy Pope, who was one of five finalists for the Champions Against Child Hunger award. Nancy is pictured above at a farewell party with her successor Krista Kelly.

The Collaboration certainly made its mark in the fight against poverty and food insecurity in New Mexico. Others will pick up some of the slack, but you will be missed greatly! Thank You and Godspeed.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

The Poorest State

What difference does it make whether we are the poorest state or the second-poorest state in the nation?  So we passed Louisiana to become the top state in terms of poverty numbers in 2011 (according to the U.S. Census Bureau). By moving to the top, we can use a hyperbole in the headline.  New Mexico is now the Poorest State in the United States   

Regardless of ranking,  both Louisiana and New Mexico should remain deeply concerned about the high rate of poverty, which almost certainly means a continuing high rate of food insecurity

Still, those pesky ranking numbers do say a lot about a state's commitment ot addressing the problem.  Granted, there are other factors, such as a depressed national economy, are contributing heavily to our current situation.

Before 2008, New Mexico's poverty ranking hovered around 44th or 45th.

The 2011 Numbers 
The Census Bureau  reported that 451,000 people were estimated to be living in poverty in New Mexico in 2011.  That is 22.2 percent of the population.

In contrast, 46.2 million people in the entire United States were deemed to live in poverty, or about 15 percent of the total population.

Rather than compare our statistics with the rest of the country, it's more significant to compare the data with previous years.  Here's what the Albuquerque Journal said in 2011, when the poverty rate was reported at 18.6 percent.: "New Mexico’s poverty rate was down from 19.3 percent in 2009 but up significantly from pre-recession levels of 14.0 percent in 2007. New Mexico’s poverty rate was 17.5 percent in 2000, the year of the last national census."   If you have a subscription the Jounal, you can see the full article here.

 "The increase in poverty and the decrease in household income can be attributed to New Mexico's slow recovery from the national recession," said Gerry Bradley, an economist and research director for New Mexico Voices for Children.

"Everything that happens in the area of poverty it's going to ultimately be traced back to the labor market. If we're losing jobs, we're not going to be improving in our poverty standings," Bradley noted.

According ot the Census Bureau, the national poverty rate in 2011 for children under age 18 was 21.9 percent.  The poverty rate for people aged 18 to 64 was 13.7 percent, while the rate for people aged 65 and older was 8.7 percent.  Here is a graphic

If you want more inforrmation, you can read the full report and get a headache from an overload of numbers, graphics and administrative speak.  Or you can get a very simplistic view from reading coverage from CBS News and KOAT-TV.  An alternative is to view highlights or  tables and figures from the Census Bureau report.  Or you can read the press release from New Mexico Voices for Children, which believes that the report offers a mixed bag for the state.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Understanding the Concept of Subsidiarity

Sen. Jerry Ortiz y Pino, Sister Geneal Kramer
There was a panel discussion at Aquinas Newman Center (the Catholic parish on the campus of the University of New Mexico, UNM) this past Sunday afternoon entitled Building Bridges when Politics Divide.  The panel included some distinguished participants: Sister Geneal Kramer, an instructor at the Albuquerque campus of St. Norbert College and a member of the Dominican community of Adrian, Michigan; State Sen. Jerry Ortiz y Pino; and Mark Peceny, a political science professor who is also dean of Arts and Sciences at  UNM.  The moderator was Richard Wood, a sociology professor at UNM.

One premise is that bridges can only be built when there is solid ground--the solid ground of understanding.  As those of us who studied Catholic Social Teaching through the JustFaith program, we must make every attempt at sacred listening.  This means listening closely and carefully to what the other person has to say.  This doesn't mean surrendering your principles.  What it means is to not form a prejudgment based on external factors.  It also means taking time to understand some of the concepts and ideas that are brought up in a discussion.

Having said that, I want to consider a theme that was brought up briefly at the forum: subsidiarity.  This theme, which Sister Geneal addressed, has become the subject of the presidential campaigns.  So what is subsidiarity?  The principle was first addressed by Pope Leo XIII in his encyclical (letter circulated) Rerum Novatum in 1891.  Pope Pius XI expands on the principle further in the encyclical Quadragessimo Ano in 1931.  Simply stated, the principle suggests that decisions should be made at the lowest level possible and the highest level necessary.

So, with Catholic Social Teaching becoming a subject of the campaign, let us examine this concept in a modern setting. We must understand what vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan, a devout Catholic, is trying to say when he uses the concept during campaign speeches.  He backs his argument for reducing the size of the federal government (and thus safety-net programs like food stamps, WIC, Head Start and others).  If we allow individuals to thrive, he argues, then society will thrive and the common good will be served. 

But it is important to look at the concept in the context in which it was written.   "Despite how often it is stated – subsidiarity does NOT mean smaller is better," said Meghan Clark, assistant professor of Theology and Religious Studies at St. John’s University (NY).

"To understand subsidiarity, we must remember that Pius is concerned that we will end up with a social order in which there are individuals and the state – with no intermediary communities, institutions or levels. The richness and diversity of human society is what Pius seeks to promote and protect," she noted  in a piece entitled Subsidiarity is a Two-Sided Coin in the Catholic Moral Theology blog.

So, does subsidiarity--in the form presented in the presidential campaign--actually lead to the common good?  Pope Pius XI answers the question in the encyclical.
Just as it is gravely wrong to take from individuals what they can accomplish by their own initiative and industry and give it to the community, so also it is an injustice and at the same time a grave evil and disturbance of right order to assign to a greater and higher association what lesser and subordinate organizations can do. For every social activity ought of its very nature to furnish help to the members of the body social, and never destroy and absorb them.
The U.S. Catholic Bishops also indirectly address the issue, in their 1996 encyclical A Catholic Framework for Economic Life, pointing out that all the players have some role in the economy.  Here is Principle 7:
In economic life, free markets have both clear advantages and limits; government has essential responsibilities and limitations; voluntary groups have irreplaceable roles, but cannot substitute for the proper working of the market and the just policies of the state.
But the bishops also argue without any anbiguity that the common good should take priority in any of our economic decisions.  This is stated in Principle 8 of the encyclical.
Society has a moral obligation, including governmental action when necessary, to assure opportunity, meet basic human needs, and pursue justice in economic life."
The debate is likely to continue during the coming weeks of the presidential campaign, especially as the two political parties attempt to court Roman Catholic voters.  It is incumbent upon us to understand the true meaning and the context of concepts such a subsidiarity and how they are compatiblewith the overarching teaching of the Catholic Church, which is to place a priority on ensuring the common good. 

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Mesi Anpil, Anpil, Anpil!

Reprinted from the blog Barefoot RN in Haiti.  This piece was posted on June 1, 2012

By Sharon Barefoot

I've been back from Ayiti aka Haïti, for nine weeks and two days. I was SO excited to come home and to eat New Mexican food and not be seen as the blan or white person. I can't imagine people who are stigmatized all their lives with a title that limits them, for I was tired of a title that wasn't limiting.

Almost everywhere I went in Haiti I would hear people calling me "blan", trying to get my attention, my resources, my English skills and who was I to say no. Everyday I would hear, M'grangou (I'm hungry), "Give me one dollar", or Bum mwen (Give me). 

At times when I heard blan, I felt they were really saying,"I see a dollar symbol, not a person", but deep down I know people saw opportunity for connection. It took time to accept that I wasn't each person's savior. I was a friend, and sometimes that meant giving through a kind word, a joke, my nursing skills, and yes, sometimes it meant being a financial resource. It took time to build the relationships I now cherish.

I never thought it would be such a challenge to give. I have SO much and yet as a volunteer I didn't have the same resources I would have as a working American... and I wanted to give so much more. More to the child begging on the street, the woman with nine children, the man who needed surgery. It seems there was always one more hand outstretched to receive and I knew being at the hospital, I would need to use resources for emergencies.

'An amazing receiver'
People mostly would say thank you, but the woman pictured here was an amazing receiver. She would glow and start saying things like, God bless you and wave her arms in the air with joy! She would come to get her blood pressure checked regularly at the clinic, but had no income to pay for medications. 

Thankfully I had the connections to the right people to place meds in her hand and they worked, her blood pressure was consistently improved. Not that I expected or even wanted that response from every patient. I must say it wasn't that she thanked me, it was that she was present with me and real with me. If she never said thank you, I wouldn't have cared. She's one of those people who you couldn't ruin their day even if you tried. She is a dynamic woman of faith, and an example to me of strength and joy.

I thank God for people like her and all Haïtians, for smiling and laughing with me. I thank people like you who care through their presence in this world. Family and friends gave during my time in Haïti and through them, I was able to pass on lifesaving resources during emergencies. Catholic Medical Mission Board supported me financially, Fr. Geordani sheltered me and fed me. For a few months of my time, MamaBaby Haiti provided room and board while I assisted with births and in both their clinics and at Hospital St. François de Sales. To everyone who gave, I want to say Mesi Anpil, Anpil, Anpil! Thank you very, very, very much! Joy beyond joy be yours!

(The author served for a year as a Catholic Medical Mission Board volunteer nurse in Port-au-Prince, Haiti. She has several touching entries similar to this one in her blog Barefoot RN in Haiti).

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Join Nuns on the Staten Island Ferry on Sept. 24

The “Nuns on the Bus” are hopping off the bus temporarily to jump on the Staten Island Ferry. Sister Simone Campbell and other Sisters plan to tell New York elected officials that we do not want the federal budget balanced on the backs of struggling families. If you live in the New York City area, come ride with them on September 24!

Friday, September 14, 2012

ELCA: 'Commitment to the Poor is Biblical Imperative'

Rev. Mark S. Hanson, presiding bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA), said that this church's commitment to those who live in poverty is "a biblical imperative for which Christ frees us to serve."

Bishop Hanson is one of several Christan leaders supporting the Circle of Protection  campaign. The clergy, church officials and organizational leaders involved in the campaign asked the 2012 U.S. presidential candidates to produce a short video addressing poverty. See letter to one of the candidates.

"These videos can encourage us to ask all seeking public office to make those living in poverty their priority," said Bishop Hanson.

"We are a church that rolls up it sleeves and gets to work, and the most effective advocacy I've seen arises out of stories from the global and community work we do together as Lutherans to combat hunger and poverty," said Rev. Andrew Genszler, who directs advocacy ministries at ELCA churchwide ministries.

Genszler said Lutherans engage public officials because "we believe government should work well for our neighbors, especially those who are poor and hungry. Speaking out for strong public policy that helps our struggling neighbors is another way ELCA members serve communities in the United States and across the world."   Read full press release from ELCA

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Sen. Bingaman: Difficult Decisions Expected in Lame-Duck Session

Here is the latest weekly video from Sen. Jeff Bingman. According to the New Mexico Democrat,Congress is likely to pass a continuing resolution during the next few weeks leading to the election, leaving the most difficult decisions on the budget until the "lame-duck" session that begins on Nov. 13 .

Here's what Roll Call says about the post-election activity: It has long been clear that Congress and the White House are leaving until after the elections the big questions about the renewal of Bush-era tax rates and whether to roll back pending spending cuts.  Read full article



UNICEF Reports a Huge Decline in Child Mortality in 2011

Imagine a world where child mortality (for children under 5 years of age) is zero. Okay, zero might be too much to ask. So let's change that to negligible.  The United Nations Children's Fund, more commonly known as UNICEF, today released statistics that show that the number of child deaths under age 5 dropped to 6.9 million in 2011. The good news is that the child mortality numbers represent a huge decline from 7.6 million on 2010 and (gasp!) 12 million in 1990. Read report from UNICEF's Chris Niles and Rebecca Obslter

It's extremely important to celebrate this level of progress.  But let us not forget that 6.9 million children under the age of 5 still died in 2011, and most of those deaths could have been prevented. So let's keep on trucking so we can continue to reduce those numbers.

Here a video from UNICEF

 

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Presidential Candidates Discuss Views on Hunger and Poverty

"We believe that this presidential campaign should include a clear focus on what each candidate proposes to do to provide help and opportunity for hungry and poor people in the United States and around the world."  -Circle of Protection leaders
This summer, the Christian leaders comprising the Circle of Protection invited President Barack Obama and Governor Mitt Romney to submit short video statements on how they each plan to provide help and opportunity for hungry and poor people in the United States and around the world. Both candidates agreed to participate.  Here are videos and transcripts.



Letter to President Barack Obama from Circle of Protection Leaders
 
Download President Obama's Video Transcript



Letter to Gov. Mitt Romney from Circle of Protection Leaders

Download Gov. Romney's Video Transcript
  
Click here to send a note of Thanks to the candidates for their statements

(Videos and Transcripts courtesy of Bread for the World)

Drought and a Vulnerable Food System

"The US drought has exposed the continuing vulnerability of the global food system. As prices of key staple crops climb, the international community is once more assessing the possibility of another food crisis. 

While the long-term effects of the current drought remain to be seen, national governments and international actors can and should take lasting steps to build the resilience of vulnerable groups, prevent future food crises, and enhance global food security."
 

- Dr. Shenggen Fan 
director general,International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI)

Read full commentary in Global Food for Thought blog 

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

The U.S. Budget and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights

In her latest weekly mailing Think About It - Pray About It- Act on It, Sister Jane Remson, director of Bread for the World New Orleans, urged folks on her list to consider the UN's Universal Declaration of Human Rights and its relationship to our government's decisions on the budget.   
Everyone has the right to a standard of living adequate for the health and well-being of oneself and one’s family, including food, clothing, housing and medical care and necessary social services, and the right to security in the event of unemployment, sickness, disability, widowhood, old age or other lack of livelihood in circumstances beyond one’s control. Article 25 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights signed by the U.S. on December 10, 1948.
There is no congressional district in the U.S. that is free from hunger, homelessness, unemployment, in need of medical care, etc. Does our nation’s budget honor the commitment it signed in 1948? A commitment the U.S. demands other signing nations honor. When Congress votes on our nation’s budget it must do so in light of the common good for all citizens and not in favor of a select few.

“Let each of you look not only to one’s own interests, but also to the interests of others.” (Philippians 2:4) .

Let your members of Congress know our nation’s budget reflects our nation’s moral character. Vote NO on the Ryan Budget or any of its parts..

Capitol Hill Switch Board 1-800-826-3688

Bread for the World New Orleans - 504-864-7434

Monday, September 10, 2012

A Message to Congress on a Whiteboard

Photo: Bread for the World
There were more than 1,000 participants, 50 speakers and some two dozen musicians at the first annual Wild Goose West Festival in Corvallis, OR, over the Labor Day Weekend.

There was also an opportunity for organizations, including Bread for the World, to set up booths. Regional organizer Matt-Newell Ching  and  Bread volunteers (like Sharon Thornberry, Mike Hiland, Lyle Anderson and others) conducted  a little experiment.  Using a whiteboard and erasable markers, they asked folks who stopped by the Bread booth to answer the following question:

“Who do you want Congress to remember when they consider budget cuts to programs that affect low-income people?” 

The responses, which were recorded in photographs, can be viewed here.

Read full article in the Bread blog

Sunday, September 09, 2012

The Line: An Opportunity to Promote Dialogue About Poverty in America

Bread for the World is one of  five organizations promoting The Line a documentary from Emmy Award-winning producer Linda Midgett,  Sojourners is the main sponsor of this groundbreaking feature, which chronicles the new face of poverty in America. As Sojourners CEO Jim Wallis puts it, "more and more of our friends are in poverty — in the pews, in our workplaces — through no fault of their own, and they are slipping below the poverty level."

In addition to Sojourners and Bread, the three other sponsoring organizations are Christian Community Development Association, Oxfam America, and World Vision.

After you view the trailer below, you can take a few actions to become involved. You can acquire the DVD and host a screening.  "All you need is five friends to host a screening, and we'll send you a copy of the DVD and a discussion guide absolutely free!" said Sojourners.  One screening is scheduled in New Mexico, at the High Mesa Healing Center, just north of Ruidoso on Oct. 2 at 5:30 p.m. (For more information call 575-336-7777).

You can spread the word, and if you have a Twitter account you can also send a Tweet to presidential candidates.  Click on the home page and scroll down to the bottom.

Poverty in America — It's not what you think.
The Line documents the stories of people across the country living at or below the poverty line. They have goals. They have children. They work hard. They are people like you and me.

From Chicago's suburbs and west side to the Gulf Coast to North Carolina, millions of Americans are struggling every day to make it above The Line

Saturday, September 08, 2012

Dos Manos: A Visit to Mixteco Migrant Workers in Colonia Guadalupe Victoria (Chihuahua)

By Victoria Tester
It is in the small where everything important truly is. There are only small things in this whole world, and children know this. It is there, in those small things, that I want our organization, Dos Manos, to live.

When we get to the Mixteco migrant field workers’ quarters, a woman in a red skirt is washing clothes in a stone tub, hanging them to dry in the strong sun. A curious little girl with a solemn, round baby on her hip, who turns out to be Griselda carrying Delfino, comes over to us.

The children and maybe the women recognize us from the recent August bean distribution in the main plaza of the colonia, where at the end of the distribution, the very last of the hundreds of pounds of beans, a handful, were lost to the dust near the truck.

One of the Mixteco women knelt to retrieve the scattered beans, the little girls raced to help her, and I’d dropped to my knees, too, to find the precious beans, shake off their dust and drop them into the Mixteco’s worn plastic bags.

Later, a compassionate policeman accompanied us to view their quarters.

Now we’ve returned, without the policeman and with a donation of beef and posole, lard, masa harina flour, sugar and spices, powdered milk and dried eggs. It’s to make a huge posole so everyone can eat together, we explain. They accept the food with quiet dignity, setting it aside into the shadows of one of the rooms.

Through the doorway of that dim interior, we see a woman, in obvious pain, on her back on a blanket on the cement floor, and an old woman kneeling next to her, in a curing ritual, laying on hands. A young boy sits, shaken, in the same doorway, and they say he’s been bitten by a snake, a rattlesnake, or something else, a spider. It happened in the fields where he was picking chile yesterday. There is a single visible puncture wound to his hand, and a slight bruise formed around it. He has a fever.

We talk to the gentle man who sits just inside the doorway, the only man not out in the fields with the others, except for a very old man who is ill and resting in the yard, unable to eat for the past three days. Among the few grown people at the quarters, only the gentle, younger man’s Spanish is fluent.

They Need  a Teacher
'No,’ he tells me, ‘these children do not have a teacher. They need someone. ’

The children gather round. ‘Who knows the alphabet?’ I ask. Only one little girl, of the many, shyly acknowledges she does. She repeats it aloud for us with quiet joy. They nod, yes, they do want a little school, they do want to learn the alphabet and other things. They do want to have a little meal I’ll bring. They do want to me to come back for a couple days this summer, and then to return for four weeks next summer, because yes, they do expect to be back here, back in Colonia Guadalupe Victoria in this life that is the hard cycle of life for the indigenous migrant workers.

Here in the courtyard? Too hot, they say, Teacher, no shade. In one of the empty rooms? No empty houses, the children say, all have families. Then where? Yes, they decide, it will be in one of the houses. For now we go to the shade of a thin tree, the children gathered close. Even the boy with the snake or insect bite on his hand. Even the little girl with Down syndrome who has never once spoken. They don’t want to miss a single picture in the child’s story book in Spanish I brought to read aloud.

It’s Óscar De la Hoya’s Super Óscar.

Super Óscar the dreamer
Óscar era una soñador incorrigible. They like this. They listen to every word concerning Óscar’s incurable daydreaming. They are unsettled, longing, when Óscar even somehow daydreams through lunch. I look into their large eyes as they swallow a little, and at the thin hunger of their bodies. 

These Mixteco migrant children are as undernourished as the other hundreds of undernourished children I’ve worked to serve near the Mexico-U.S. border. Óscar even daydreamed on the school bus. Yes, they nod, they, too rode a bus to get here, to Chihuahua, from their village in Guerrero, and they, too, daydreamed. They laugh when Óscar daydreams so much his big stack of pancakes gets cold, and even his orange juice turns warm. Yes, they raise their hands, they do like orange juice very much.

Saturdays everyone in Óscar’s neighborhood gets together for a huge picnic in the park. The Mixteco children don’t know what a ‘picnic’ is. They don’t have tables here in the colonia, anyway. But when I explain that food is laid on a blanket and eaten outside, they very much want to have a picnic, like Óscar.

The owner of the skies
They laugh as he daydreams the shapes of the clouds instead of passing out the lists of foods everyone is supposed to bring. We look up at the sky above us, rich with September clouds. Yes, they do see shapes in the clouds, too. Look: a turtle, a horse, a dragon, a bird, and yes, we agree that the skies above our world are so beautiful. One little boy hesitates. He looks at me, solemn. And quietly, earnestly asks: “Who is the -- owner -- of the skies?”

I am startled. But why? Doesn’t their very life revolve around the ownership of the land, the very earth over which they walk and they and their parents and sometimes their whole villages must travel in order to work the harvests? All the children look into my face. “Who owns the skies?” I ask. They don’t answer. ‘God owns the skies,’ I explain, in my best, assured tones. ‘He made them for us, these big beautiful skies, because we are His creatures and He loves us.’ They are relieved, mostly satisfied. We look up at the vast blue ceiling over our heads.

Then Óscar goes shopping. He goes to the supermarket and loads at least six shopping carts with delicious fresh food, and even a mountain of strawberries. I am ashamed.

The children marvel at the rainbow colors of cloths spread over the picnic tables. Yes, didn’t they see a rainbow, just yesterday after the rain, a huge rainbow right here, in the sky?

Óscar jumps rope in a vat of cream to whip it for the strawberries. I turn the page, maybe too quickly. I know these children have never tasted a glass of fresh milk. Then Óscar sits down to his favorite event, the empanada eating contest. The hungry children stare into five mountains of empanadas. Óscar has eaten the sixth mountain and is wiping crumbs from his mouth.

I do turn the page fast, a little angry with Óscar, and myself for even bringing him with me to the Colonia Guadalupe Victoria, though he’s an incorrigible daydreamer, just a lucky boy, and I know it’s not his fault. It's my own. Óscar falls asleep under a rainbow-covered picnic table, snuggled by what looks like a pet weasel.

The children don’t mind. They do not have tables, but maybe they, too, would sleep under them if they did, since they don’t have beds. Felices sueños,Óscar.

I pass out 23 lollipops, and 23 single sticks of colored chalk. Not a single child complains about the lottery of color of their lollipop or their chalk. They agree they’ll practice writing on their walls.

Victoria Tester is the executive director of Dos Manos, a newly forming Taos-based organization founded by Michael Odom, which will work to aid communities in humanitarian crisis along the U.S.-Mexico border through projects in nutrition, health and education. The mission of Dos Manos is to create hope, justice and compassion along the border and in other geographical areas of crisis. The organization aids the work of Esperanza Hope Lozoya in Palomas and rural Chihuahua, and that of other dedicated individuals, groups and organizations, through material resources, funding of existing projects,and co-development of projects in emergency areas. They also work to develop original, Dos Manos-inspired, projects. Ms. Tester can be reached at victoriatester@dosmanosnonprofit.org. Your inquiries are welcomed.

Friday, September 07, 2012

A Free Screening of Half the Sky Documentary

New Mexico PBS and Community Cinema cordially invite you to a free screening of the documentary Half the Sky

Wednesday, September 26, 
KiMo Theatre
423 Central Ave NW
Albuquerque, NM.   
7:00-9:00 PM  

Following the screening, please stay for an interactive discussion on women's issues in New Mexico. Moderated by Sophie Martin of New Mexico in Focus.

Filmed in 10 countries Half the Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity Worldwide follows Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn (authors of the book Half the Sky), and celebrity activists America Ferrera, Diane Lane, Eva Mendes, Gabrielle Union, Meg Ryan & more as they circle the globe to tell the stories of inspiring, courageous individuals.

Across the globe oppression is being confronted and real meaningful solutions are being fashioned through health care, education, and economic empowerment for women and girls. Read more about the Half the Sky Movement.

If you recall, CARE  and the CARE Action Network used this documentary as the centerpiece of its outreach campaign around International Women's Day in 2010.  If you missed viewing the documentary then, here is your opportunity to see it.

My Pledge: Meatless Mondays

By Jasmine McBeath
(reprinted from the New Mexico Oxfam Action Corps blog)

I have to admit that I only recently considered the changes I could make to my diet that would affect others. Although I grew up in a conscientious, environment-oriented family, we were more concerned with saving water than food. In fact, my boyfriend still refers to me as "The Water Nazi" for turning off the facet while he's midway through brushing his teeth or shaving.

But when I read about "Meatless Mondays", something stuck. I had learned about Oxfam's GROW Campaign from my training, and this plan provided a simple, concrete way to support the "eat less meat" objective.

The phrase has been around for almost 100 years (originally a WWI slogan to ration food), but I didn’t know about “Meatless Mondays” until a recent backlash from ranchers about the content of a USDA newsletter. This flurry of articles made me dig a little deeper, and realize that the campaign has reached a lot of people. According to a report by the American Meat Institute, nearly 20% of households participate.

Chefs are on board; schools, hospitals, and even whole towns have implemented meat-free Mondays. 80,000 children attending Baltimore City Public Schools made the switch. University of California Santa Cruz and Carnegie Mellon students enjoy Meatless Mondays at their dining halls. The Cobblestone Café at John Hopkins Hospital offers only vegetarian options on Mondays. Bigger still, San Francisco and Washington,D.C. have passed city-wide resolutions. And in 2011, Aspen became the first “Meatless Monday Community” with over 30 restaurants and organizations participating.

If you're like many of my friends, you're probably asking, "What difference does it make?" The answer is: a lot. A family of four that trades in their steak dinner for lentils once a week saves 12.5 Olympic-size swimming pools of water per year. Moreover, “if everybody in America did that, that would be the equivalent of taking 20 million midsize sedans off the road,” food advocate Michael Pollan commented on Oprah. Water, land, fertilizer, oil. These are all things we don’t often consider when eating meat. Maybe you knew that livestock farming accounts for almost 20% of greenhouse gases, but did you know it also represents 8% of water use worldwide?

The drain on resources gives rise to other problems. According to Oxfam press officer Ben Grossman-Cohen, "If we don't reduce our environmental footprints as we increase production, poor people, particularly women, will be the first to suffer. Eating less meat is a simple way to reduce the pressure on global resources and help ensure that everyone has enough to eat." Oxfam's GROW campaign goes a long way toward feeding a world population estimated to grow to nine billion by 2050.

Now, I realize there are many people that go way beyond the once-a-week pledge. There are vegans and vegetarians, and others like a former roommate of mine that ate veggie burgers every other day just because they were simple to prepare and tasted good. However, we all do what we can, and that means "Meatless Mondays” for me. This plan assures I eat less meat by making it a priority at least once a week. I've conned my boyfriend into joining in also. As a big meat-eater, it’s a significant sacrifice for him, but I’m confident I can cook up some great vegetarian meals. I’ll keep you updated on how it’s going, and post some fun recipes so you can join in too.

(The author is a volunteer grassroots organizer for Oxfam Action Corps in Albuquerque)

Thursday, September 06, 2012

RESULTS-Santa Fe: Speaker to Discuss Tax Credits for Low-Income Families

RESULTS-Santa Fe invites you to participate in the September RESULTS national conference call followed by its local meeting.  The gathering will take place on  Saturday, September 8, 10:30 a.m., in the library of  the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Santa Fe, 107 W. Barcelona.

Theresa Upshaw, Volunteer and Site Coordinator  for the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance Program (VITA) with the Northern Pueblos Housing Authority is a featured guest speaker. Theresa will share with us the stories of the people she assists who receive Earned Income Tax and Child Tax Credits and how important these two tax programs are to helping families out of poverty. 

RESULTS has worked very hard this year to advocate for preserving the improvements made to the EITC/CTC in 2009 which are set to expire at the end of this year if not acted on by Congress. The information that Theresa brings us will inspire and strengthen our advocacy

Bread for the World is also working to preserve funding for tax credits for working families via one of its four mini-campaigns for this year's Offering of Letters.