Saturday, June 14, 2008

I joined RESULTS

It's official. I just joined RESULTS yesterday!

RESULTS is a nonprofit grassroots advocacy organization committed to creating the political will to end hunger and the worst aspects of poverty. RESULTS is committed to individuals exercising their personal and political power by lobbying elected officials for effective solutions and key policies that affect hunger and poverty.

This is remarkably similar to the other organization that originally turned me into a media advocate, Bread for the World, only it doesn't have the Christian basis to go with it. I'm very excited to expand my connections with this group and learn the things that they are teaching. Bread and RESULTS go hand in hand to accomplish a great deal of good work on behalf of people in need, so I'm happy to be a double agent in this regard. Don't worry, Bread! I'm still with you, too! :)

For more information about RESULTS, visit!

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Obama supporters volunteer at GCFD

Last night, a group of Obama supporters came together to put their values into action by volunteering at the Greater Chicago Food Depository. We shared fundraising ideas, talked about our candidate, talked about poverty, talked about life and ...oh, yeah! ...we bagged about 1,500 lbs of corn flake crumbs into usable size portions to be given to people in need!

This was my favorite volunteer activity I have ever done at the Depository. Think about your box of cornflakes... hundreds of crunchy flakes perfectly formed and waiting for your consumption. But what about the crumb at the bottom? What about those crumbs back at the factory? All of those crumbs are still full of needed calories and nutrients, clean enough to serve and eat, but just not pretty enough to sell. Thousands of pounds of crumbs that could be wasted. But because of places like GCFD, they are not wasted. They are donated by the manufacturer, repackaged, and given to those who might use it as delicious breading or eat it as cereal. Less waste, more food for the hungry. A perfect solution.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Uganda 'happy' about food crisis

I came across this on the Poverty News Blog ( who cites the BBC as the source. If trade barriers can be removed, then it is possible that a great deal of long term good could come from (relatively) short term hardship.
Uganda 'happy' about food crisis
from the BBC

The president of Uganda says he is "very happy" about the food crisis.

"Why? Because we produce a lot of food... We are stuck with food," President Yoweri Museveni told Commonwealth heads of government.

The president hopes the food crisis will prompt the removal of trade barriers, allowing countries like Uganda to profit from food surpluses.

A BBC correspondent says most benefits are going to large, commercial farms, while poor Ugandans are suffering.

The BBC's Sarah Grainger in Uganda says most of the population are subsistence farmers, who do not export their crops but are affected by the rising cost of fuel and other inputs.

But overall food production has risen in recent years.

Uganda's growth rate is expected to reach 8.9% later on this year, up from 6.5% last year, partly due to debt relief.

"Our problem has been marketing... We produce 10 million metric tonnes of bananas and 40% of it rots because we have nowhere to sell it," President Museveni told delegates.

President Museveni said milk production had risen so rapidly, it had been poured away.

That was until Uganda set up a recent agreement with an Indian processor plant: excess milk is now being shipped to India.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Extreme Poverty in IL?

A couple of days ago, I posted something from the Hearland Alliance regarding poverty in IL. They made the claim that "Nearly 700,000 Illinoisans continue to suffer in extreme poverty every day." I was wondering about World Bank definition of extreme poverty which is living on less than $1 a day and if this could possibly be related to that.

I got clarification from them about that figure:
"Just to clear up any confusion, our definition of extreme poverty is based on 50% of the Federal Poverty line, which is the standard definition used in the United States. That is roughly $10,000 a year or less for a family of four. The number of 685,970 is the specific number we are referring to when we say "nearly 700,000." "
-Doug Schenkelberg I Associate Director, Policy and Advocacy
Heartland Alliance for Human Needs & Human Rights

Monday, June 9, 2008

Bread for the World's Recipe for Hope Week #6

From Bread for the World...the last installment of Recipe for Hope. A statement of a hunger problem and proposed actions to fight it!
Ingredient for Despair: Restrictive and distorted trade policies
Another national government policy that can come between supply and demand is the prohibition of certain exports. Some grain-producing countries have done this recently in an effort to keep domestic prices under control. Thus, less grain is available globally while demand has risen. The result is dramatic increases in the price of corn, soybeans, wheat, oats, rice, and others.

In a recent series on the hunger crisis, the Washington Post reported that factors that interfere with supply and demand explain why "the global food trade never became the kind of well-honed machine" that has made the price of manufactured products increasingly similar worldwide. Some economists argue that if market forces played a larger role, food prices would have risen more gradually and the world would have had more time to adjust.

Read the Washington Post story:

Ingredients for Hope:
Our Recipe for Hope has two components—something you can do; and something you can say to our nation’s leaders.
1) Prayers for a Time of Hunger
In celebration of Father's Day this Sunday (June 15)—and to remember fathers around the world struggling to feed their families—include special prayers for hungry people in your worship services or when you say grace at home. Download prayers in full-color.

2) Call Congress on Bread for the World's annual Lobby Day, June 17
Please call your member of Congress on Tuesday, June 17th, and ask them to increase poverty focused development assistance by $5 billion in the fiscal year 2009 budget. Use this special toll-free number, and ask to be transferred to your senator's office: 1-800-826-3688. Find out who your members are.
Talking points:

-In light of the recent hunger crisis, we must increase our commitment to programs that provide sustainable assistance to hungry and poor people.

- Poverty-focused development assistance is focused primarily on programs that reduce hunger, poverty and disease in the world's poorest countries.

- An additional $5 billion will help to ensure that the United States keeps the commitments we have made to the world's most vulnerable people.

Sunday, June 8, 2008

Advocacy action for IL

From the Heartland Alliance... ( I agree with the advocacy, but wonder about that stat that claims the 700,000 IL residents live in extreme poverty. I'm not sure they are going with the definition of extreme poverty which means living on less than $1 a day. I have to check out what they mean by that, but in the meantime, I still feel it is worth contacting the Gov to fund the commission.
"The Illinois legislature has left the Capitol for the summer with some unfinished homework on ending poverty in Illinois.

They took the important step of unanimously passing legislation to create the Commission on the Elimination of Poverty (HB4369). But the legislature provided NO funding to support the critical work of the Commission.

Nearly 700,000 Illinoisans continue to suffer in extreme poverty every day.

The matter is now in Governor Blagojevich’s hands - to both sign the legislation creating the Commission AND to make sure the Commission has funding to do its work.

To make this Commission and its vision of ending poverty in Illinois a reality, the governor needs to hear from you!

Please ask the governor to support this important work and help realize human rights in Illinois! "
Here is a url to help you contact Gov Blagojevich

Leaders at UN summit pledge to ease food crisis

ROME (AP) — World leaders at a U.N. summit embraced an ambitious strategy to combat a food crisis that is causing violent riots and threatening to push up to a billion people across the globe into hunger. Delegates from 181 countries pledged Thursday to reduce trade barriers and boost agricultural production to combat rising food prices, but some nations and groups maintained more concrete measures will be needed. After three days of wrangling, delegates at the Rome-based United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization approved a declaration resolving to ease the suffering caused by soaring food prices and step up investment in agriculture. The summit struck a balance on the contentious issue of biofuels, recognizing "challenges and opportunities" in using food for fuel. The declaration called for swift help for small-holder farmers in poor countries who need seed, fertilizers and animal feed in time for the approaching planting season. U.N. officials and humanitarian groups have pointed out that such an approach has already helped millions of farmers in Malawi, where food security has strongly improved thanks to a support package based mainly on a fertilizer subsidy.

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon had told the summit that import taxes and export restrictions must also be minimized to alleviate hunger and the document called for "reducing trade barriers and market-distorting policies." "We took the measure of the problem of hunger in the world correctly," said FAO head Jacques Diouf. He said the gathering was not a pledging conference but billions of dollars from countries, regional banks and the World Bank had been promised in recent days.
The strategy laid down in Rome will have to translate quickly into farm and trade policies in each country, as even before the crisis there were some 850 million undernourished people in the world, with the number increasing rapidly, according to U.N. officials.

Soaring fuel prices drive up the cost of fertilizers, farm vehicle use and transport of food to market. Speculation and increased consumption of meat and dairy goods by populations of China, India and other booming developing nations is also considered a main factor in the food price hikes.

Some countries felt the Rome summit had not gone far enough. Argentina said it was unhappy the declaration did not blame subsidies — generously granted to farmers in the U.S., the European Union and other Western food-producers — for a major role in driving up prices. Monica Robelo Raffone, head of Nicaragua's delegation, said the conference had failed to offer solutions or identify the reasons for the price increases. "It doesn't mention the real causes behind the crisis: the high oil prices, the market speculation, the subsidies ... it's a step back," she said.

U.S. Agriculture Secretary Ed Schafer welcomed the declaration's tone on biofuels, saying the United States remains "firmly committed to the sustainable production and use of biofuels, both domestically and globally." The biofuel issue was a volatile one at the summit. The summit struck a balance on the fuels, which are made from crops such as sugar cane and corn, saying that "in-depth studies" are necessary to ensure that the environmentally friendly energy source does not take food off the table. Brazil, the United States and other big producers of biofuels disagree on which crops are better-suited to produce energy and how much they contribute to driving up food prices. U.N. officials, including Ban, have called on the international community to issue guidelines to ensure biofuel crops do not compete with food crops and do not encourage deforestation.