Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Time is right for a Letter to the Editor

From Shawnda Hines, Bread for the World Media Associate:
Friends, during the next seven days, newspapers across the country will publish their opinion of the president’s last State of the Union address. More importantly, editors will want to hear what their readers think. This is a prime opportunity to get a letter to the editor published: a prime opportunity to call attention to our nation’s privilege and moral obligation to the world’s poorest people. And if your letter gets printed, not only will your neighbors read it—so will your members of Congress.

In his speech, President Bush devoted time to America’s efforts to fight global poverty, hunger and disease (see excerpt from his speech below). His remarks are right on target. As Bread for the World President David Beckmann said in his response statement to the speech, “One of the great legacies of this Administration will be its commitment to the continent of Africa particularly in the field of health. Reducing poverty and disease around the world has been one issue on which Republicans and Democrats have worked together.”

But words don’t change lives. To make the targets set in the Millennium Development Goals, America must put our money where our mouth is. We need more, and we need better poverty-focused development assistance—the very focus of Bread for the World’s 2008 Offering of Letters.

On February 4, President Bush will send Congress his budget request for fiscal year 2009. In the weeks that follow, members of Congress will begin the process of passing the 2009 federal budget. (On that day, we will also issue a statement and analysis of this year’s budget.)

I invite you to write a letter to the editor of your local newspaper this week about the need for more and better poverty-focused development assistance. Of course, it is of utmost importance that your letter be written in your own words. No one likes a form letter—including opinion editors. But here are a few points to help you formulate your own opinion and call for action by your elected leaders:

- In his State of the Union speech, President Bush spoke about our nation’s leadership in the fight against global poverty. Yet a billion people in the world live on less than $1 per day. [Check Bread’s Web site for more facts on global hunger and poverty]
- America is generous, but we can and must do more. Only half of one percent of our federal budget is dedicated to poverty-focused development assistance—long-term investments in things like education, agriculture, nutrition, clean water and the prevention of AIDS and malaria.
- An additional $5 billion will help the United States keep our commitment to achieve the Millennium Development Goals: cutting hunger and extreme poverty in half, reducing child mortality by two-thirds and meeting other specific goals that will help millions of poor families build a better future.
- The Senate should approve S. 2433, the Global Poverty Act, which will better coordinate U.S. policies and programs for the most effective effort to fight poverty and hunger around the world.
- If you know that your Senator or Representative sits on a Budget or Appropriations Committee, or if they have a particularly critical role to play in the budget debate, be sure mention that in your letter.

Detailed tips for writing and submitting letters to the editor can be found on Bread’s Web site. (

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