Friday, May 9, 2008

Could You Eat on $21 a Week? Latest Breadcast subject

Two things here in this post below from The first is: awareness about what it's like to do a food stamp challenge (living on the money allotment given for food stamps for a week) from members of Congress. The second is: letting you know about Breadcast, an audio MP3 show from Bread for the World with poverty updates, global music and interviews of interest regarding hunger and poverty. You can subscribe or download it at
Could You Eat on $21 a Week?

The average food stamp recipient receives $1 per meal per day. Would you like to see two members of Congress try living on that diet? The co-chairs of the Congressional Hunger Caucus did just that.

In the May edition of breadcast, we hear from Reps. Jo Ann Emerson (R-MO) and Jim McGovern (D-MA) discuss what it was like for them eat like people on food stamps for a week. And our producer, Brian Duss, discusses his own adventures on the “Food Stamp Challenge.”

When you subscribe to breadcast on iTunes or download it from our Web site you’ll also get our legislative update, music from Keith Green, and hear more about a food stamp diet from food bank director George Jones, nutritionist Tracy Fox and Mark Andersen from We Are Family Senior Outreach Network.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

RESULTS Activist MIlestones

So...I thought I was doing pretty well as I come up on my first anniversary of becoming an anti-poverty activist. Then, I stumbled upon the "Activist Milestones" for the RESULTS organization. RESULTS is a secular,nonprofit, grassroots advocacy organization committed to creating the political will to end hunger and the worst aspects of poverty. Wow! I got up to, like, 7 of them and then decided I had a lot of work ahead of me. I'm posting this because these have already led me to expand my own work and thought it might give others some ideas to improve as well. Thanks, RESULTS.
The Activist Milestones are meant to be used as a step-by-step guide for you to introduce new volunteers and other community activists to the concrete actions they can take to hone and develop their skills as effective citizen activists. Taking these actions one-by-one builds a solid advocacy foundation for your group, and breaks down what is often an incredibly overwhelming amount of information RESULTS activists feel they need to learn in a short amount of time. This toolkit will allow activists to mark their progress as they move through the milestones and give Group Leaders the roadmap they need to facilitate skills training in their new groups and new volunteers.

Activists’ Milestones
1. Choose one RESULTS global or domestic issue and learn its basics.

2. Create and deliver a Laser Talk to another activist about the issue you choose.

3. Write a letter to your member of Congress and get a reply.

4. Write and get published a letter to the editor.

5. Send the published letter to your member of Congress.

6. Get to know the Congressional aide who handles our issues.

7. Ask a question at a Town Hall meeting or a candidate forum.

8. Meet with your member of Congress.

9. Call an editorial writer and inspire an editorial, which is sent to your congressional offices.

10. Speak to a local community group, church or student group about RESULTS or one of our issues.
Use the Laser Talk format to craft your talk.

11. Build a network of community allies to take action on specific issues.

12. Organize a community forum on one of our issues.

13. Organize a statewide media call.

14. Hold a fundraising event for RESULTS.

15. Attend the International Conference in Washington, D.C.

Online discussion:"Building Alliances to Save Mothers' Lives"

From the Population Reference Bureau, here is an online discussion tomorrow regarding maternal mortality. I believe this is one of the areas of least progress in the Millennium Development Goals, so this topic is key to ending extreme poverty!
Tomorrow: Take part in the Population Reference Bureau’s upcoming Discuss Online, “Building Alliances to Save Mothers' Lives”
When: Thursday, May 8, 2008, 1-2 p.m. (EDT)
Who: Theresa Shaver, director of the Global Secretariat, White Ribbon Alliance for Safe Motherhood

Where: You may submit questions in advance and during the discussion. A full transcript of the questions and answers will be posted after the discussion.

Each year millions of women die needlessly as a result of pregnancy or childbirth. Maternal mortality is now a rarity in most developed countries, yet worldwide, a woman dies every minute from a pregnancy-related cause. The United Nations has challenged countries to reduce their maternal mortality by three-quarters between 2000 and 2015, but many countries appear unlikely to meet this goal unless they receive help, especially within South Asia and sub-Saharan Africa.

What is being done to marshal the financial resources and political commitment necessary to ensure safe motherhood around the world? Can we do more?

On May 8, join Theresa Shaver as she responds to your questions on the challenges and successes of a major international effort to increase resources to save mothers’ lives.

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Population Reference Bureau
Inform. Empower. Advance.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Recipe for Hope: Responding to the Hunger Crisis

From Bread for the World...
It's in the news nearly every day: Food prices are soaring worldwide, and hunger is increasing. More low-income people in the United States are making trips to food banks, where stocks are quickly depleting. For the world's poorest people in developing countries—who spend up to 80 percent of their income to buy food—the situation is even more devastating.

But you have the power to make a difference in this global hunger crisis. Bread for the World is launching an emergency Recipe for Hope campaign which will run from Mother's Day, May 11, through Father's Day. We will help hunger activists raise awareness and take action. Each week, an email from Bread will offer the ingredients for a:
Recipe for Despair—more information on the causes of this crisis
Recipe for Hope—specific actions you can take to help end it
It’s easy to feel helpless when you watch people around the world suffering for lack of food. Join Bread for the World's Recipe for Hope and be part of the solution.

Mother's Day Recipe:

Ingredient for Despair: Rising Fuel Prices

You've likely felt the impact of rising fuel prices at the gas station. The cost of a barrel of crude oil has doubled in a year, reaching a new record. Higher oil and energy prices affect the entire chain of food production, from fertilizer to harvesting to storage and delivery. People in the United States are seeing these increases in their grocery bills. Poor people in developing countries are hit even harder, since these countries must import food to feed their citizens.

The Washington Post put it well in a recent special series, "As prices skyrocket, those who can least afford it are squeezed the most as the world confronts the worst bout of food inflation since the Soviet grain crisis of the 1970s." Read Rising Food Prices: Impact on the Hungry by the World Food Program.

Ingredient for Hope:
Join the campaign and sign up to receive weekly emails and tell-a-friend.

Somalia today: Food Riots with Fatalities

"I've never demonstrated before, but I'm not ashamed because if you can't eat, you will do whatever you can," said Abdullahi Mohammed, 57, of Mogadishu. "Before I was eating three times a day, but now sometimes it's not even once."

This quote from the LA Times coverage of today's food riot in Somalia really leapt out at me. The food riots have started and are well underway in the developing world. Today, the issue was that shops refused to accept the Somali shilling, preventing citizens to buy food with the only currency they could hold. Gunfire and grenades were used upon the looting protesters in Mogadishu. I am heartbroken considering that more of the same is sure to come. I think of the irritability I feel when I fast. I think about the love I have for my children. I think about how small my fasting irritation would be in comparison to the desperation and unfocused wrath I would feel if extreme hunger were coupled with watching my beloved starve. I think I might be out burning tires as well and (if I thought I could get away with it to feed my children)...looting. Not the most moral admission, but an honest one.

France said that it would double it's food aid to Somalia. I don't know what that amount would be, but it is a call for all of "developed nations" to live up to our Millennium Development Goal commitments. We said we would help and we didn't. And now there are people dying in the streets over rice. It won't be fast enough to help the people in Somalia in the short term, but passage of the Global Poverty Act is critical...not only to get our ball rolling in providing more and better poverty-focused development assistance, but to tell the rest of the world we give a damn about people besides ourselves.

Monday, May 5, 2008

Farm Bill Update: Over $10B increase for nutrition prgms

Bread for the World Celebrates Nutrition Gains in Farm Bill

Washington, DC, May 2, 2008 -– Bread for the World today welcomed the agreement reached this morning by congressional negotiators over the $10.361 billion increase for national nutrition programs included in the farm bill over a ten year period. Negotiators, however, still have to reach an agreement over the commodity payments portion of the farm bill.

The food stamp program accounts for $7.8 billion of the increase for national nutrition programs. Currently, 26 million Americans receive food stamp benefits; with an expected increase to 29 million because of high food prices. "They can claim a sizeable victory with this agreement in the nutrition title," said Rev. David Beckmann, president of Bread for the World. "Food stamps remain our first line of defense against hunger for the working poor across the country, and today is a great day for those who are most in need."

He hopes that the congressional negotiators will be as successful in reforming the commodity titles in the farm bill just as they have been in increasing the national nutrition programs.

"Even before the recent spike in food costs, 90 percent of low-income families who participate in the food stamp program ran out of benefits by the third week of the month. With food costs rising, they run out even earlier," said Rev. Beckmann.

The timing for an increase in funds for nutrition programs could not be better, since the number of people going to food banks has increased by 20 percent in the wake of soaring food prices. The Emergency Food Assistance Program (TEFAP) also received a significant increase and indexing for inflation.

Under the agreement hammered out early this morning, the minimum monthly benefit for food stamps increased from $10 to $14 and the standard monthly deduction for a family of three or fewer has been increased to $144 monthly. These two benefits will be implemented in step with the U.S. consumer price index which will prevent their losing ground to inflation in the future.

"Speaker Pelosi, and Representatives Rangel, DeLauro, and Peterson did the lion's share of heavy lifting on championing this proposal, and we are deeply grateful for their valiant efforts. I'm certain many hungry folks across the country will be grateful as well when they see their food stamp benefits go just a little further," said Rev. Beckmann.

One disappointing aspect of this morning's agreement was the decision to cut the McGovern-Dole International Food for Education program by $800 million.

"We hope a sizeable portion of the previously-proposed $860 million set aside for the McGovern-Dole initiative finds its way back into the legislation before it becomes law," said Rev. Beckmann. "This program not only helps feed hungry kids; it encourages them to be in school and provides the nutrition they need to grow and learn. What could be more important?"