Category Archives: Catholic Relief Services

Take Action To Save Hunger Fighting Programs from Budget Cuts

Yesterday, I spoke to a great class at the College of Mount St. Joseph about the fight against hunger, both at home and abroad. We talked about proposed budget cuts in the Congress to food aid programs.

Here are food aid programs at risk of budget cuts:

Domestic Food Aid:

TEFAP:  The Emergency Food Assistance Program which supports food bank across the country. If funding is reduced there will be less support at a time of high unemployment when more families need the support of food banks.

WIC- Supplemental Nutrition for Women, Infants and Children.

Vicki Escarra of Feeding America says, “As Congress and the Administration look for ways to reduce the federal deficit, it is more critical than ever to protect funding for nutrition programs that provide the first line of defense against hunger in America.”

International Food Aid:

Food for Peace: This is the primary tool the U.S. has in fighting global hunger. This program was started during the Eisenhower administration and has saved countless lives and promoted stability worldwide.

McGovern-Dole program: This is geared toward international school meals. Agencies like Catholic Relief Services, World Food Program and others apply for McGovern-Dole funding to run school lunch programs in developing countries.

Here is an excerpt from an interview I did with Nora O’Connell of Save the Children discussing international food aid:

“For every one dollar that the U.S. government spends, roughly one-tenth of one penny goes towards food aid.

Completely eliminating food aid would do virtually nothing to impact either our debt or deficit. And it would not relieve Congress of the need to make the difficult choices required to alleviate the debt crisis. As Congress decides exactly where to make cuts, we urge them to do what’s right for children. Disproportionate and unjustified cuts not only hurt children today, they put our future at risk and move America further away from its values.

The best way to help prevent these cuts is to get in touch with Congress and let them know that programs that fight hunger and poverty are important. Individuals can call, write, email, or tweet their members of Congress and ask that they protect funding for international hunger- and poverty-fighting programs. Communication from constituents is critical to building support for programs that protect children and families across the globe, and help build a more stable and healthy world.”

You can reach your elected officials by visiting www.house.gov and www.senate.gov. You can let them know what you expect them to be doing about food aid both at home and abroad.

Catholic Relief Services says “Your action is particularly important now because the funding levels for FY 2012 will become the template for decisions about how much the U.S. invests in life-saving poverty-focused assistance for the next decade. Your voice is critical now to support poverty-focused international assistance so that life-changing and life-saving interventions can continue to reach those who need it most.”

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Filed under advocacy, Africa, Catholic Relief Services, Congress, Feeding America, Save the Children, School feeding, The Roadmap to End Global Hunger

Food for Peace, CRS Working to Feed the Hungry in East Africa

President Reagan called the U.S. Food for Peace program an “instrument of American compassion.” This government program has a tradition of feeding the world’s hungry. It saves lives. It represents the very best of America.

And we see it in action again with the recent Food for Peace donation of $64 million to the charity Catholic Relief Services (CRS). The food will be used as part of a relief mission to drought-stricken Ethiopia.


Ronald Reagan said “people who are hungry are weak allies for freedom.”  Today, Food for Peace is threatened with severe budget cuts by Congress. (photo courtesy of the Ronald Reagan Library)

Ethiopia is suffering food shortages from failed crops. For the food that is available, prices are high for many Ethiopian families.

Catholic Relief Services is feeding about a million people there as part of the Joint Emergency Operations Plan. The Food for Peace donation goes to this joint mission.

The charities CARE, Save the Children US, Save the Children UK, World Vision, Food for the Hungry Ethiopia, and the Relief Society of Tigray will assist in the distribution of the food.

Around a million people are being given a lifeline, thanks to Food for Peace, CRS and the other charities working together. In addition, CRS and other aid agencies continue their work to build up the resilience of farmers to drought. This effort has helped make Ethiopia less vulnerable to the drought, compared to parts of Somalia where aid agencies have had far less access in recent years.


Women collect water in a region of Ethiopia where CRS has been working on drought mitigation projects since 2003. Photo by KL Dammann/CRS

Food for Peace, which started during the Eisenhower administration, has come under pressure recently from Congress. Members of the House of Representatives have proposed cutting most, if not all, of the funding for Food for Peace. Yet hunger-fighting programs are a very tiny part of the overall budget and cutting them makes no dent in the federal deficit.

CRS is working with its partners throughout East Africa to bring relief from the massive drought that struck the region. This includes aid to Somali refugees in Kenya, as well as support to host communities there which are also suffering from the widespread drought. In Somalia, within the areas of Mogadishu and Baidoa, CRS is helping 28,000 displaced persons with health and nutrition services.

In addition CRS is providing food, water, and livelihood support to 35,000 drought-affected Somalis in the south-central part of the country. Their work involves not only emergency aid, but also projects for building up resistance to future droughts.

David Orth-Moore of CRS says, “While working to alleviate the immediate human suffering, CRS recognizes the importance of long-term drought mitigation programs, and we’ve seen that some communities are faring better now during this current drought because of those projects.”


You can help Catholic Relief Services by donating to their East Africa Emergency Fund

Article first published as Food for Peace, CRS Working to Feed the Hungry in East Africa on Blogcritics.

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Filed under Africa, Catholic Relief Services, drought, Dwight Eisenhower, East Africa, East Africa drought, global hunger, History, Kenya, malnutrition, Save the Children, Somalia, The Roadmap to End Global Hunger, World Vision

College Class Takes on Hunger and Poverty at Home and Abroad

The College of Mount St. Joseph in Ohio (College of Mount St. Joseph photo)

This week I spoke to the College of Mount St. Joseph’s (MSJ) UN Millennium Development Goals class. The MSJ class just returned from a trip to the United Nations in New York where they met with UN delegates. The students aim to take action on ending hunger and poverty, achieving universal education for children, and working on other development goals.

The class runs for the fall semester. Professor Elizabeth Barkley says, “Through their Service Learning with local agencies, students begin to make an impact in their world and realize that, although problems can seem overwhelming and unsolvable, young people can still make a difference.”

At the class I discussed ways you can take action to support the Millennium Development goals. One of the easiest ways is playing a game called Free Rice . In fact, MSJ has its own team . Playing Free Rice, you answer vocabulary questions and other subjects. For each correct answer 10 grains of rice are donated to the UN World Food Programme to fight hunger. The rice is paid for by advertisers on the site.

Currently, Free Rice is supporting school feeding in Cambodia. Earlier this year Free Rice proceeds supported school feeding in Haiti.

What better way to support the Millennium Development goals than through school feeding? The meal at school fights child hunger and malnutrition and improves class attendance and performance, giving children an opportunity to escape the poverty trap through an education. In many developing countries, school meals are the only meal children receive the entire day. Free Rice is a quick and easy way to take action and help children get these vital school meals.

Another idea we discussed in the class was advocacy, making your voice heard to your elected officials. Current budget proposals in the Congress threaten achievement of the Millennium Development goals. For instance, Congress is proposing reducing both domestic and international food aid.

One of the programs being threatened is The Emergency Food Assistance Program (TEFAP) which supports food banks across the U.S. With demand for food banks fast rising, TEFAP takes on even more urgency. However, the program is below last year’s funding levels and Congress is planning more cuts to it in 2012. Unless citizens take action, this vital source of supply for food banks is at risk.

One of the handouts I gave at class was a guide for how to use Twitter and Facebook to take action to contact your representatives on these key issues.

Another area where Congress is proposing cuts is to the U.S. Food for Peace and McGovern-Dole programs. These are two major global hunger-fighting initiatives sponsored by the United States. If funding is reduced, it is a major blow in the struggle to fight hunger and poverty around the world. Food for Peace was started back in the Eisenhower administration with the idea of sending U.S. surplus food abroad to help countries fight hunger and build stability.

The McGovern-Dole program supports international school feeding. For just several billion a year, we could provide food for children at school around the world. Contrast that to the 52 billion (at least) price tag for supporting nuclear weapons programs, with the Cold War long in the rear view mirror–something to think about if want to talk social justice and an intelligent search for peace in today’s world.

One of the highlights of the class was our discussion of Plumpy’nut, a vital life-saving nutrient. Ironically, at that very moment on NBC Nightly News, a segment featuring the plumpy’nut producer Edesia was being aired. Edesia and plumpy’nut have been featured In many of my articles over the past year, such as the Silent Guest , and also in the Providence Journal .

I talked about how critical Plumpy’nut is for rescuing children from dangerous malnutrition, and its easy storage and distribution. Plumpy’nut is a key part of the famine relief effort ongoing in East Africa, but is also critical to many other areas.

The problem with plumpy though is that low funding prevents aid agencies like the UN World Food Programme and UNICEF from having enough supply on hand. Therefore, many children needlessly suffer the effects of malnutrition. One of the students pointed out the need for establishing plumpy facilities in many countries. This creates jobs for the people in the country and provides a plumpy supply for faster and cheaper distribution.

I tried to talk the class into having a plumpy’nut mascot appear on campus for an event. Am waiting for word on this. I also learned that there was concern about the MSJ football team’s season. However, the team has compiled an outstanding record over the past decade with a number of conference titles. So history would suggest the team will do well.

And the class will do well also in working toward achieving the Millennium Development Goals. Professor Jim Bodle says a main purpose of the class is for students “to become aware of how our actions have an impact on the rest of the world.”

And that sums it up in a nutshell. Actions you take today can make a difference. Whether it’s service to a charity in your community, playing Free Rice, writing a representative, or even promoting Plumpy’nut using a mascot, all are ways you can take action to end hunger and poverty.

Article first published as College Class Takes on Hunger and Poverty at Home and Abroad on Blogcritics.

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Filed under Afghanistan, Africa, Books, Catholic Relief Services, drought, East Africa, East Africa drought, Edesia, global hunger, Ivory Coast, Kenya, malnutrition, Mercy Corps, Middle East, plumpy'nut, West Africa

Twitter, Facebook and Fighting Global Hunger

Twitter and Facebook are everywhere! But can these powerful social media tools help defeat man’s ancient enemy– hunger? Can they support relief operations for famine and drought-ravaged East Africa? Jen Hardy of the charity Catholic Relief Services recently took time to discuss Twitter, Facebook and fighting global hunger.

Can someone use Twitter to mobilize support for famine relief in East Africa and other areas suffering from hunger?

Absolutely! Twitter is a great way for people who share common interests to share information. It’s also a wonderful resource for searches about a particular topic. I suggest doing a few searches on Twitter to find out what people are saying about the drought and food security in East Africa. That way, your advocacy messages will be informed by the conversation that’s already happening.

Go to the Twitter homepage (even if you don’t have an account!) and try searching a few of these terms: drought, famine, East Africa, the name of a specific country (like Kenya or Somalia), and Horn of Africa.

Are there ways to make tweets about global hunger stand out?

Tweets with a link for more detailed information are great. You can share the most interesting tidbit in the text of the tweet, and then add a shortened url that provides further context.

It’s also a good practice to use hashtags when crafting a tweet about a specific topic, such as hunger. A hashtag is simply the “#” sign in front of a search term. On the Twitter platform, using a hashtag creates a clickable link to search for other posts with that same hashtag. It’s also a way to sort information quickly at an event, such as during a local fundraiser for famine relief.

Here are a few tips for using hashtags:

  • Don’t litter each tweet with multiple hashtags. Two or three is plenty.
  • Don’t leave spaces between a multi-word hashtag. For example, use “#HornofAfrica,” not “#Horn of Africa.”
  • Do use What the Trend or another site devoted to explaining hashtags if you’re not sure what something means and to find the best hashtag for a specific topic.

Can Facebook also be used for helping to feed the hungry?

Not only can Facebook help fight global hunger, I think it’s vital for raising awareness of the issue and sharing ways to get involved. A crisis that’s half a world away and slow moving, like the drought in East Africa, is so much more real when we feel a personal connection to the people living through it. Media coverage and advocacy by organizations are just parts of the puzzle in getting people to care. A few of my friends, for example, posted about how sad the pictures coming out of East Africa were, but they didn’t actually make a donation to hunger relief until I reached out through a personal message with a list of several of the most efficient organizations working in East Africa. That personal contact helped them take the final step from empathy to action.

There are so many ways to get involved in hunger relief on Facebook. “Like” a few organizations working in East Africa to get updates right to your Facebook feed. Recruit your friends to “Like” those organizations. Donate to an organization you trust through Facebook Causes. And share your own links to useful information as the East Africa crisis continues. Catholic Relief Services has a good collection of resources if you need a starting point.

Can sites like Blogger, WordPress and others be used to help hunger relief missions overseas?

Any blogging platform can be a wonderful way to share both the need in East Africa and resources for how to get involved. Blogs are a public way to share personal commitment to a cause like hunger relief, and most bloggers are savvy with search engine optimization. Many organizations working in East Africa either have a downloadable button for bloggers or can provide one on request. Blogs are also good platforms for discussing the politics of food aid and budget cuts. Calls to political action should include a link to find elected officials’ contact information .

There’s also a robust community of international aid and development bloggers who offer suggestions and critiques for how development can work better.

What are some other social media sites that can be used to help end hunger worldwide?

Social media facilitates connections between people, so any social media platform can build on existing relationships to help others. YouTube is perfect for those supporters who react to a more visual medium and it integrates well with Facebook in terms of sharing videos. If you’re an early adopter on Google+, search “Sparks” for drought and hunger topics. Post photos of a local awareness event on Instagram, Picasa or Flickr. If you sell your art or handicrafts on Etsy, donate a percentage of your sales to hunger relief, and link to your preferred organization. There are too many possibilities to list, and I’m sure there are many more that haven’t occurred to aid organizations yet (please add your ideas to the comments!).

Congress is proposing cuts to international food aid in the budget. Can Facebook, Twitter and other sites be used to get Congress to support international food aid programs?

Gritty details about the inner-workings of Congress make most people’s eyes glaze over. If you’re going to share anything about an upcoming vote or appropriation process, break it down for your friends and followers. Explain exactly what’s happening in simple terms, provide a clear ask for how they can get involved, and then provide instructions for next steps. If you want a shortcut to this whole process, sign up for the Catholic Relief Services/USCCB joint effort Catholics Confront Global Poverty . The CCGP action alerts break everything down into plain language and clear instructions (plus, we won’t bombard your inbox!).

Twitter is especially useful for contacting representatives. If your representative uses Twitter, send him or her @replies (beginning a tweet with someone’s Twitter handle directs a public message to their attention). It’s a nice way to break through the clutter of emails and phone calls, and the staffer assigned to the account will bring highlights back to the representative.

How can someone contact Catholic Relief Services with questions?

Besides our normal contact information , find us on Facebook , Twitter , LinkedIn and YouTube . Our Twitter feed for journalists is @CRSNews . And if you have any ideas for using social media to fight hunger, find me on Twitter ( @JenHardy ).

Article first published as Twitter, Facebook and Fighting Global Hunger on Blogcritics.

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Filed under Catholic Relief Services, drought, East Africa, East Africa drought, global hunger, malnutrition, social media, The Roadmap to End Global Hunger, West Africa

A New Friendship Train to Fight Global Hunger

When hunger ravaged Europe after World War II how did Americans respond? They started a Friendship Train to feed the hungry and help win the peace after the war.

Let’s start a New Friendship Train today to reach the hungry overseas starting first with East Africa which is suffering from famine and a severe drought. Then the train will move to provide relief to drought afflicted Afghanistan. Yemen, Haiti, the Ivory Coast and many other countries also need support.

Start the New Friendship Train. You can donate at these aid agencies……
 

First Destination: East Africa…To Feed the Hungry and Malnourished…..

Train images courtesy of Shortlines of Chicago Historical Society. Crossing lights image courtesy of Amazing Animations.

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Filed under Afghanistan, Catholic Relief Services, drought, East Africa, East Africa drought, global hunger, History, malnutrition, plumpy'nut, Save the Children, School feeding, Somalia, The Roadmap to End Global Hunger, UNICEF, World Food Programme, World Vision

The Roadmap to End Global Hunger

During 2009 the global hunger crisis escalated with the number of people suffering from hunger climbing over one billion. This great humanitarian crisis calls for action on the part of world leaders. In countries like Afghanistan, Yemen, Iraq, Pakistan, Somalia and Sudan hunger threatens hopes for peace. This book includes press releases, interviews and perspective on The Roadmap to End Global Hunger legislation in Congress. This bill (H.R. 2817) was introduced during 2009 by U.S. Representatives Jim McGovern (D-Mass.) and Jo Ann Emerson (R-Mo.). The legislation is based on the recommendations made by groups such as Save the Children, Catholic Relief Services, Mercy Corps, Friends of the World Food Program, World Vision and others. Inside you will hear from offiicials from these organizations as they discuss the Roadmap and its importance in fighting hunger. Also you will see how you can get involved to support the Roadmap to End Global Hunger. Also included in the book is a special historical perspective section on Fighting Hunger and World War II.

The Roadmap to End Global Hunger is available from:

Amazon.com

Google Ebookstore

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Filed under Afghanistan, Catholic Relief Services, drought, East Africa, global hunger, History, Ivory Coast, Kenya, malnutrition, Mercy Corps, Save the Children, School feeding, Somalia, Sudan, The Roadmap to End Global Hunger, West Africa, World Food Programme, World Vision, World War II, Yemen

Ending World Hunger: School Lunches for Kids Around the World

The book Ending World Hunger: School Lunches for Kids Around the World features over 50 interviews with officials from the United Nations World Food Programme, Catholic Relief Services, World Vision, the Barefoot Foundation and ChildsLife International. Each interview shows the status of these critical child feeding programs and the potential for expanding them to achieve universal school feeding. The interviews also focus on the impact school meals have for children in developing countries as well as how people can help these programs. Some of the countries profiled are Afghanistan, Sudan, Colombia, Somalia and Pakistan. The interviews published in the book originally appeared online at Blogcritics magazine. The interviews were arranged by William Lambers in conjunction with the UN World Food Programme office in Washington DC.

Ending World Hunger is available at:

Amazon.com

Google Ebookstore

Barnes and Noble

View the short film Ending Child Hunger: School Lunches for Kids Around the World from William Lambers on Vimeo.

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Filed under Afghanistan, Books, Catholic Relief Services, East Africa, Ivory Coast, Kenya, malnutrition, School feeding, Somalia, Sudan, West Africa, World Food Programme, World Vision, Yemen