Saturday, August 16, 2008

Improving American Aid

I just finished sending an on-line letter to people of prominence in the effort to improve the quality of foreign aid. Here's a message on behalf of me and the ONE campaign....
I think it's important that we not only give more foreign assistance, but that what we do give is spent in the most effective way possible. To that end, I just sent a letter to the Director of US Foreign Assistance, the President of the World Bank, and a couple of other important development figures asking them to publish information about what aid projects they are funding.

I hope that you'll join me in taking action by sending a letter:

We've seen aid achieve some amazing things in recent years - like over 29 million more children in school for the first time, and over 2 million more Africans with access to AIDS medications. But some aid money could be spent more effectively, and this is our best chance to make it happen.

Thank you

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Chicago area food pantries on CBS2

Yesterday, CBS2 ran a story about the rising need at Chicago area pantries. Kate Maehr, exec director of the Greater Chicago Food Depository, gave a statement. AAANNNDDD...the Niles Township Food Pantry was highlighted. Our own Cynthia Carranza, the director, gave them a tour and showed them the bare shelves at our local food pantry. The written portion below was strangely edited on the quotes, but it gives you an idea of what is on the video.

Great job, Cynthia and Kate!

CHICAGO (CBS) ― Making ends meet is becoming a struggle for more and more people everyday. Unemployment is up and it seems new layoffs are announced almost every day.

CBS 2's Dana Kozlov reports that it has more people than ever before turning to food pantries for help, but at the same time, the pantries themselves are having a hard time keeping the shelves stocked.

At a Southwest Side church, hundreds of people lined up for food on Wednesday.

Chicagoan Alfredo Velazco said, "I come here every Wednesday and I'm very grateful."

Carla Munoz said, "It is really good...don't have's good."

Elizabeth Arreola, the food pantry's longtime director, said demand is so great that she can barely keep up.

"There are so many...won't have enough...and their children," Arreola said. Almost 4,500 people came to the food pantry for bags of food in July, up from 3,200 people in June. She and others said it's a direct result of the sinking economy.

Kate Maehr, Executive Director of the Chicago Food Depository, said, "For so many people...gas in their tank...or at a pantry."

But food demand hasn't increased only in Chicago; at the Niles Township Food Pantry, demand has risen 25 percent in the last couple of months.

"This is totally bare...full. To the max."

Cynthia Carranza's pantry serves all or part of six northern suburbs. For the first time in years, she'll have to restock before the month is out.

"I have people coming to me with masters degrees...they can't make ends meet," Carranza said.

It's a harsh reminder that no one is immune from these tough times. While demand is up, donations to many pantries are down, making it harder for them to help those in need.

Dominick's In-store Food Drive (through Aug. 31)

Here's a Chicago area food drive for y'all! All during the month of August, Dominick's and Pepsico are joining forces to promote an in-store food drive to benefit both the Food Depository and the Northern Illinois Food Bank.

Donations of non-perishable food can be made at all Dominick's stores; donations received this month will be delivered during Hunger Action Month (September) to provide food to our neighbors in need.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

BEAT Hunger: Election Advocacy with Bread for the World

I want to let you know about a new grassroots initiative at Bread for the World to bring hunger and poverty to the forefront of the 2008 elections. It's called the Bread for the World Election Action Team against Hunger, 2008 (or "BEAT Hunger '08" for short). I invite you to be a part of it.

What is BEAT Hunger '08? (to find out more, visit

Picture this... You're at a town hall meeting with a candidate for Congress. The candidate finishes her stump speech, and now it's time for Q & A. Your heart is racing as you stand up to the microphone in the aisle... You introduce yourself, and ask your question about what she will do about the 35 million people in our country who are hungry or at risk of hunger... The candidate responds - maybe with an answer you like, maybe not. Your friend in the audience captures the whole thing on video and will post it on YouTube in about an hour. The candidate leaves the meeting knowing that this is an issue she must address if elected.

As a part of BEAT Hunger '08, you'll be speaking up to House and Senate candidates about hunger and poverty at town hall meetings and community events - a tactic commonly known as "bird-dogging."

Sign up for BEAT Hunger '08 to receive updates on candidate events near you:

We will track when many candidates for the House and Senate hold public events and notify you once you've signed up for BEAT Hunger '08. Ideally, two or three (or more) BEAT Hunger '08 members will be able to attend a town hall meeting - there's real strength in numbers. We will also help you along the way with tips on how to ask questions effectively, how to organize a group of people beforehand, how to document your experience, and how to follow-up with the campaign.

We invite your creativity too. We'll need guest bloggers, and we welcome short videos of question and answers to post on our Web site. BEAT Hunger '08 participants may also raise issues in the media, meet with candidates for office, and take other actions to let candidates know they have a constituency that cares about hunger. The sky is the limit.

If you would like to take a leadership role in BEAT Hunger '08, please consider becoming a "coordinator." We need grassroots leaders to help us track candidate schedules and to meet with campaigns and their staffs to educate them about hunger and poverty. If you're interested in finding out about becoming a BEAT Hunger '08 coordinator, sign up and check the box letting us know you'd like to learn more.

Thank you for taking the time to learn about this exciting new initiative. Our mission at Bread for the World is to urge our nation's decision makers to end hunger at home and abroad. With your efforts and God's help, we can move one step closer to realizing this vision.

Sign up for BEAT Hunger '08: