Sunday, March 15, 2015

A Discussion of Child Nutrition, Hunger in New Mexico, and Food Insecurity vs. Hunger

Patty Emord takes notes on Nancy Pope's talk
Nancy Pope,a member of the steering committee of our local Interfaith Hunger Coalition and advisor to several national anti-hunger organizations offered a very informative presentation at our 2015 Offering of Letters workshop in Albuquerque on Saturday, March 14.

Ms. Pope--who has served as a consultant to Share Our Strength, Feeding America, the state of Maryland, and the ConAgra Foods Foundation-- provided us with the latest information on Child Nutrition legislation as well as general updates on anti-hunger programs. The updates she presented were relevant in a number of ways. First, she discussed a few ways on how it connected to our situation in New Mexico.  Here is a graph from her powerpoint presentation:

Child Nutrition Programs and the 2015 Offering of Letters
Just as important, Ms. Pope put together her presentation to make it relevant to "Feed Our Children," Bread for the World's 2015 Offering of Letters. This year's letter-writing campaign urges Congress to reauthorize a Child Nutrition Act that can close the hunger gap. As Ms. Pope noted, we can best make our case by offering relevant facts, which is one in five children in our country are experiencing hunger. She noted in the opening slide of her powerpoint presentation that Rep. Jim McGovern of Massachusetts used this data at the relaunch of the bipartisan House Hunger Caucus along with Rep. Lynn Jenkins of Kansas.
"[Rep. McGovern] noted that no congressional district is hunger free, and 17.5 million American households experienced food insecurity in 2013, while 5.6 percent of households were considered to have very low food security. In 2014, one in five children – 16 million – experienced hunger.

Shrinking wages & hunger
Hunger vs. Food Insecurity
One question that came up during the discussion is the use of the word food insecurity in so many of the official communications from the federal government. Ms. Pope replied that the phrase was coined in 2006 during the administration of ex-President George W. Bush to "soften" the word hunger.  For the record, the US Department of Agriculture describes "food insecurity" as a situation where "a family lacksaccess to enough food for an active, healthy life for all household members." One workshop participant urged others to tell it like it is. "Let's pledge to use the word hunger instead of food insecurity," during our Offerings of Letters.

Kirsten Marr & Rena Dragoo listen to presentation
Letters to Congress
We are hoping  that as many as 20 churches in New Mexico participate in Our Offering of Letters campaign this year. We are off to a good start in Albuquerque, with representatives from nine churches (Albuquerque Mennonite Church, All Saints Lutheran Church, Central United Methodist Church, First Presbyterian Church, Immaculate Conception Catholic Church, St. Andrew Presbyterian Church, St. John XXIII Catholic Church, St. Michael and All Angels Episcopal Church, and St. Paul Lutheran Church) attending the workshop. Our Lady of the Most Holy Rosary Catholic Church was not able to send a representative, but the church was the first to hold an Offering of  Letters this year.

Our next Offering of Letters workshop is scheduled for Santa Fe on March 29, at St. Bede's Episcopal Church. We are hopeful that churches that have organized letter-writing Sundays in the past will participate in this campaign (including St. Bede's Episcopal Church, First Presbyterian Church, St. John's United Methodist Church, and Westminster Presbyterian Church). 

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