Posts Categorized: Hunger

Farm Bill Debate Renews!

Steph Larsen leading a workshop

Photo credit: Shawn Poynter

Steph Larsen is on staff at the Center for Rural Affairs. Here she is leading a workshop at the National Rural Assembly in St. Paul, MN

     “Under current law, if one big corporation farmed the entire country, the U.S. Department of Agriculture would pay 60 percent of its insurance premiums on every acre.”

Sounds crazy, right? Yet this is reality and illustrates the way our food and farm policies give a hand up to the largest farms, while small-scale family farmers are largely neglected.  The article below (excerpted) from our partner, Center for Rural Affairs, points to the kinds of changes needed in the 2012 Farm Bill (yes, it should be called the Food and Farm Bill). Read what is important to our neighbors in rural areas of the country.

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Addressing the root causes of hunger

The Presbyterian Hunger Program has provided more than $100 million in financial support to effective groups in the U.S. and overseas since it was established in 1969. The five below are just a few of these initiatives, which are alleviating and striving to address the underlying causes of hunger.


Alabama Arise

Arise members speak out on income tax threshold

In response to a new report citing Alabama’s high income tax on the poor, a Huntsville TV station turned to Arise members for comment. Dale Clem, pastor of Monte Sano United Methodist Church and an ACPP board member, and Dick Hiatt, executive director of the North Alabama Food Bank, an ACPP member group, voice their concerns about Alabama’s upside-down tax system in this news clipView news video hereRead ARISE news release here.

Alabama Arise is helping low-income families build a future with individual development accounts (IDAs).  Under guidelines set forth by federal Assets for Independence Act of 1998, participants can get a “double match” for up to $2000 they save in an IDA.  For $2000 put into the IDA they can get $6000 for a downpayment on a home, college education or starting a small business.  What a great way to help others help themselves out of poverty.  Alabama Arise motto says it all “A hand UP, not a hand out”.

 

Boston Faith and Justice Network

Fair Trade Boston was designed to connect church teams, businesses and student groups to broader community engagement of Fair Trade.  They hold events for Christians to raise consciousness about how these issues relate to their faith such as film screenings, a national webinar on fair trade and faith, and a bike ride and a benefit concert for a local safe house for survivors of human trafficking.  They provide information to Boston-area residents so they are able to understand the ways workers are abused and how fair trade can address this.
The picture to the right is from BFJN director’s recent trip to India. Read Ryan’s India blog posts on their website.

 

Corporate Accountability International

Corporate Accountability International is “Thinking Outside the Bottle.”  They have convinced schools, businesses, mayors and  governors to support and create Bottled Water Free Zones.  We definitely need to come together and get various corporations to stop draining watersheds and aquifers for profits. We can work together and all be “Bottle Free”!

PHP has supported CAI’s water campaign in past years and is now supporting their work to combat unhealthy food advertising. Read about their campaigns.

 

First Presbyterian Church St Joseph

First Presbyterian Church St. Joseph will celebrate its 27th anniversary in June of 2012.  The church provides sack lunches every Sunday with the help of many volunteers.  While folks are there to pick up their food, nurses give flu and hepatitis shots, AIDS screenings and other health services.  There is a “Health Express” mobile clinic that parks in front of Open Door Food Kitchen twice a month to offer blood pressure checks, diabetes sugar level sticks, hygiene kits and referral services.  They also have Para Medic and a nurse practitioner on board.

And check out their Food for Kids program as well.

 

Idaho Community Action Network

Due to so many Americans struggling in todays time ICAN got together and came to legislature to increase Food Stamp Asset test from $2,000 to $5,000.  This bill is now a law! They are also trying to reverse Medicaid cuts after $35 million was cut from the state budget.  Started in 1999, ICAN has over 2,000 members statewide and they educate and mobilize people to advocate on issues of social, racial, and economic justice and to eliminate poverty in Idaho. Learn about their great food justice programs and read their new report:
Families or Corporations?
SUPER COMMITTEE CHOICE: NEED VERSUS GREED

New Report Shows Staggering Hunger and Food Insecurity Nationwide While Federal Funds Feed “Big Ag” Profits.

 

All this great work is made possible by the generous gifts of Presbyterians to the One Great Hour of Sharing. Thank you!

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PCUSA congregation plans for World Food Day

food for life with grain flying

Ashley Goff, the associate pastor at the PCUSA Church of the Pilgrims in Washington, D.C. sent us their plans for World Food Day (October 16) and the Food Week of Action.

Here is how she explained it ~~

“We are honoring the Food Week of Action starting October 9th and wanted to share our current plan. At Church of the Pilgrims, we are honoring Food Week in this way:
During our education hour prior to worship, we are having one of our members, Erin LittleStar who is active in sustainable food practices and local food/faith advocacy lead us in an hour of learning more about the food cycle and systems. This is an intergenerational event.

At the end of the hour, we are going to invite people to make 4 choices to honor the week in a practical way:

  1. Compost for a week: We have two standing composts at Pilgrims along with worm composting. People will be invited to compost for a week and bring the compost to church the following Sunday.

  2. SNAP Challenge: One of our members works for the Dept of Agriculture, specifically around SNAP, and recently did a SNAP Challenge with her colleagues. The challenge is to eat for a week on your amount you would receive for food stamps. (See how it works below)

  3. Local Food: Eat one meal a day with locally grown food.

  4. Intentional Prayer: Set an intention before each meal, snack, drink for the week. Setting an intention and honoring where the food has come from and naming if the food with be healthy or destructive to your body (and in turn to the planet).

Each session will be led by a church member who has been doing this practice and can explain the nitty-gritty.

After church, we are having a beekeeping 101 session and a farmer’s market group shopping experience. We have 5 beehives at Pilgrims which pollinate our urban garden (plus areas around us) and our beekeeper is coming to give us more information on our hives, feed the bees, etc.

Erin will be taking another group to our local farmers market to meet some farmer’s, shop for the SNAP challenge and have hands on learning around local food, seeing food as more than fuel but a faith experience.

Worship will be part of Food Week in some way. Yet to be determined!”

You can find all the resources you need for World Food Day and the Food Week of Action on the PCUSA’s Food and Faith website.


 Take the SNAP Challenge:

STEP 1 – Eat on $4/day for a week, a month or longer if you so choose. 

STEP 2 – Experience hunger for yourself and the difficulties faced by hungry people everywhere.

STEP 3 – Engage others by sharing your experience. We encourage you to keep a journal, post to our Facebook page, email us your story or simply share your feelings with with friends, family and coworkers.


And you? Consider getting your congregation to do something for Sunday, World Food Day ~ October 16. How about organizing a group meal? Just email us at php@pcusa.org and we will send you free placemats. No cost. Table discussion questions and other downloadable resources can be found here.

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Is your harvest ample enough for low income people, too?

logo from ample harvestI just read that poverty in the US is at the highest level on record. Results of the US Census tell us that 46.2 million people (15.1 percent) of the residents of this country were living in poverty in 2010. This means that many of our neighbors are forced to choose between paying rent or utilities and feeding their families. And we know that the cheapest calories tend to be the worst for our health, and we are seeing the dire effects of that! 

It doesn’t have to be that way, and strengthening local food economies in ways that reach low-income communities is an important step.

In this regard, I found this next fact surprising, and this reality is at the heart of the particular efforts of a group called AmpleHarvest.org:

More than 40 million American grow fruit, herbs and vegetables in home gardens – and that number is increasing.

Often, there is a glorious surplus!

AmpleHarvest.org enables people to help their neighbors in need by reaching into their backyards instead of (or as well as) their back pockets.

Learn how to connect this glorious surplus with food pantries that wish to distribute fresh, organic, local food!

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Fans of Farm Workers and NFWM

“WE CELEBRATE the 40 years of ministry of the National Farm Worker Ministry!”

Dominique holding 35 pound bucket of tomatoes

I am Dominique Aulisio. Through volunteering with NFWM and starting a Youth and Young Adult Network chapter in Orlando, I have had the opportunity to get to know farm workers and work hand in hand with them to fight the injustice they face.

YAYAs learn about hope, share in each others’ cultures, and learn the organizing skills we need to impact our world. As a young person, working with NFWM as an ally to farm workers has given me confidence in our power to change the systems that oppress farm workers and keep our communities divided. NFWM/YAYA is unique and vital to the farm worker movement and to the broader fight for social justice. I am grateful to have the continued opportunity to work alongside NFWM in the farm worker movement.

 

Olga speaking at a public rallyI am Olgha Sierra Sandman. I came from Mexico to enter a college for women in training for missionary work hoping to be sent to Africa. That changed when I had the opportunity to work for two summers for the National Migrant Ministry. After my marriage to Rev. Bob Sandman, we continued in Migrant Ministry.

In May 1971, I attended the first meeting of the National Farm Worker Ministry Board in La Paz, CA. I was fortunate to be a part of the evolving of the Migrant Ministry into the National Farm Worker Ministry. NFWM opened the door widely and I entered. The farm workers also opened their arms and embraced me, both giving me many opportunities to work side by side.

Forty years later, I reflect in gratitude and praise God, for giving me this life-time opportunity to be part of a movement of justice, for learning from the farm workers about self-determination and sacrifice, about fighting for dignity, and respect and for bringing to our tables the food that sustains life.

Written in my heart are Cesar Chavez’s words of wisdom: “When you work for justice, you can’t afford being a sprinter, you must be a long distance runner.” As I approach the finishing line, I’m ready to pass the baton on to all future runners for justice who will, as I have, stay the course and support the National Farm Worker Ministry and its courageous stand to be faithful to the struggle of the farm workers.

 

Maria in a field of grapesI am Maria Vidal. Years ago, I worked in the fields picking apricots and peaches near Stockton, California. When I learned that 15 farm workers had died from heat stress in California’s fields since 2005, I was motivated to act.

Now I am a volunteer with the National Farm Worker Ministry’s Support Group, LIVE – Luces y Voces de Esperanza. I and my fellow supporters seek ways that our people can be valued for their work. Above all, we bring farm workers hope that their dignity as persons will be respected. We let them know that they are not alone. It is a privilege to give my time and be in solidarity with the National Farm Worker Ministry, because NFWM works to see to it that farm workers have a voice.

 

And you can celebrate and contribute to the work of NFWM

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90 Years of Solidarity, 40 Years of the National Farm Worker Ministry

The National Farm Worker Ministry — which Presbyterians and the Hunger Program have been engaged with for decades — celebrates 40 years of solidarity and accompaniment with farm workers. Board chair Felix Garza and director Virginia Nesmith give some background and an invitation to support this work. Tomorrow, we’ll hear from Olga, Dominique and Maria about why they love NFWM.

***********

More than 90 years ago, state migrant ministries began providing services to farm workers. Decades later, those ministry leaders were ready when farm workers began organizing in the fields and called on religious groups to accompany them. In 1971, they founded NFWM as a national organization to mobilize faith community members in the farm worker struggle for justice.

protest at Reynolds

NFWM Marches at Reynolds Tobacco


For 40 years, we have been privileged, along with you, to accompany farm workers in the fields and in the supermarkets, in labor camps and corporate offices, on the streets and in the halls of Congress.

You have helped farm workers win better wages and working conditions and the right to enforce those through union representation; the recognition from many food service companies that we all share in the responsibility to improve the conditions of those who pick our produce; and new laws such as those requiring mattresses in labor camps.

Yet we grieve for the many workers who continue to be exploited by our broken system, risking their health and their lives to put food on our table. With you, we remain steadfast to transforming the agriculture industry so that:

– No farm worker has to sleep 12 people to a trailer that has no ventilation.
– No farm worker dies from working in 100 degree heat without water or shade breaks.
– No farm worker suffers the horrible effects of being sprayed with toxic pesticides.
– No farm worker is cheated, paid for 48 sacks of oranges when they picked 53.
– No farm worker has to be silent in the face of abuse or risk being fired or deported.

We commit to saying “Yes” when farm workers ask for our help. We commit to engaging a new generation in this struggle. We commit to providing you with education and action opportunities so that together, we reach the day when each meal we sit down to is a meal we can eat with a clear conscience.

In celebration of 40 years of national work, our goal is to raise $40,000 in additional income. We recently learned about an exciting opportunity to have $5,000 of this appeal matched dollor-for-dollar by a new granting source. That means your anniversary gift is doubled – your $50 gift becomes $100 or your $100 gift becomes $200. Each donor to our anniversary campaign will receive an NFWM magnet in appreciation!

Click here to contribute online using our new secure donation system!

In Solidarity,
Felix Garza, President
Virgnia Nesmith, Executive Director

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52 ways toward a just and joy-filled food system

Yes!  There are things each of us can do to help bring about change in ourselves and for hungry people around the world.

 

Here are 52 ideas—enough to keep you and your congregation busy all 52 weeks of this year!


Highlighted items on the list — with a * — are ones particularly useful for involving children and young people.


Download the PDF list

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Sharing God’s Bounty: Community gardens are part of a growing movement addressing the root causes of hunger

Check out the cover story from the latest issue of Presbyterians Today. Reporter Darrin Youker shows how churches are addressing hunger in their communities with church gardens. Sharing God’s Bounty – Presbyterians Today November 2010 Presbyterian congregations are in the garden for a lot of reasons. They are donating the harvest food pantrties or soup kitchens – which often don’t have fresh produce – as part of their local hunger ministry. Congregations are reconnecting with the land while tending to Creation, and gardening builds community and strengthens the congregation. Also, children love gardens! Sometimes the best way to get kids to eat veggies is to show them how a carrot grows, and churches are tapping into this phenomenon. The Presbyterian Hunger Program (PHP) has a series of resources for adults and children called Just Eating: Practicing Our Faith at the Table that explores the relationship between the way we eat and the way we live. Youker’s article tells the story of four different Presbyterian churches (three of which PHP helped to start with the One Great Hour of Sharing offering), but we know that there are hundreds of other similar ministries across the country. Read the article and then let us know what your congregation is doing. Email php@pcusa.org or comment below. Read the full article at https://www.presbyterianmission.org/ministries/today/cover/

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Seeds

What do food and hunger have to do with agriculture? That’s a question I’ve been asked from time to time, and I can understand why. In the U.S., food doesn’t come from the Earth, it comes from a supermarket. We’ve…

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Community Food Conference 14

So you’ve heard about the Week of Action on Food, right? It’s October 10-17, and the Hunger Program helped put together a resource guide for congregations to use at worship, Sunday School, bible study, etc… Taking a trip to New Orleans for the Community Food Security Coalition Annual Conference would be a great way to close the week of action. The format for the conference is a little different this year. “This is not a conference to just stay in the hotel and never go outside.” That’s why they’re offering a ton of trips at the beginning of the conference to get out into New Orleans and see what there is to see in the world of food, culture and justice. Some of the more interesting looking trips include: * Food Deserts, Food Swamps & Food Access in Urban Communities * NOLA Urban Agriculture * Cooperation is the Name of the Game: the Mississippi Farmers Co-op If that’s not enticing enough, they’ve invited First Lady Michelle Obama (who’s been involved in the Let’s Move campaign to raise a healthier generation of kids) Regular registration for the conference ends October 1st. You can register for an additional fee up until October 19th. Visit www.communityfoodconference.org to learn more and register. Let us know if you’re planning on going… we’ll see you there. And check out their awesome shrimp fleur de leis. Kudos to whoever designed that!

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