Tag Archive | Democrats

Food For Peace Reform Act of 2014

 

african children

The Food for Peace Reform Act of 2014 (S.2421) was introduce on June 3, 2014 by Bob Corker, Junior Senator from Tennessee. This Act establishes the Food for Peace program in the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) under the Foreign Assistance Act of 1961. (Repeals authority for the current program under title II of the Food for Peace Act, including certain U.S. commodity purchase, U.S. cargo, and monetization requirements.)

 
The Act authorizes: USAID to provide emergency and nonemergency foreign assistance, including through the provision of U.S. commodities or local or regional procurement; nonemergency assistance to combat malnutrition and hunger, mitigate food crises, and promote resilient food security. It sets forth minimum funding levels for nonemergency assistance.
 
It also establishes the Food Aid Consultative Group, which shall: 1) test options for improved product packaging and storage; reform commodity acquisition and supply chain management; 2) increase private sector development in food aid products, packaging, and delivery; provide guidance on how best to use food aid commodities, including guidance on ensuring that the products reach their intended recipients; and 3) strengthen commodity quality monitoring. Further, it requires USAID to: 1)
assess the types and quality of agricultural commodities and products donated for food aid; 2) adjust products to cost-effectively meet nutrient needs of target populations; 3) test prototypes; adopt new, or improve existing, specifications for micronutrient fortified food aid products; 4) develop program guidance for matching products to nutrient purposes; and 5) evaluate performance and cost-effectiveness of food products and programs for vulnerable groups, such as pregnant mothers and young children.
Indian Girl
 
The Act also : 1) authorizes ocean transportation of agricultural commodities to be procured through full and open competitive procedures; 2) requires USAID to avoid displacing sales of U.S. agricultural commodities; 3) prohibits Program assistance from being made available unless USAID determines that the provision of the agricultural commodity in the recipient country would not: (a) result in substantial interference with the domestic production or marketing of agricultural commodities in the country, or (b) have a disruptive impact on the agricultural producers or the local economy of the country.
 
Further, the Act expresses the sense of Congress that the U.S. Merchant Marine: (1) is a critical component of the nation’s military and economic security; and (2) consists of a fleet of private, U.S.-registered merchant ships that provides domestic and international transportation for passengers and cargo.
 
Source(s): Congressional Research Service. http://www.govtrack.us
Photo credit: Microsoft Clip Art

No Child Should Go To Bed Hungry

little girl handing over phone

Because of the particularly challenging economic times confronting our nation, I often write about legislative action which will improve or harm the quality of life for the most vulnerable members of society including but not limited to indigent children and youth. More than one (1) in five (5) children lives in poverty and nearly one (1) in four (4) is at risk of hunger.

Often, I write about pending legislation which impacts indigent children, youth, and families with the goal of encouraging the reader to act to protect vulnerable families. I know that ensuring America’s children and youth are connected to healthy food where they live, learn and play is as important to you as it is to me.

Over twenty-five (25) percent of the children in the US under the age of six live in poverty. The poverty rate among women climbed to 14.5 percent in 2010 from 13.9 percent in 2009, the highest in 17 years. As poverty surged last year to its highest level since 1993, median household income declined, leaving the typical American household earning less in inflation-adjusted dollars than it did in 1997.

One out of every six Americans is now being served by at least one government anti-poverty program. Child homelessness in the United States is now thirty-three (33) percent higher than it was back in 2007. More than 50 million Americans are now on Medicaid, the U.S. government health care program designed principally to help the poor.

According to the USDA, over twenty six (26) million people benefited from SNAP last year. Over 80% of food stamp benefits go to families with children. One in five food stamp households includes an elderly family member, and one in four includes a disabled member. Increasingly, working families must rely on food stamps to supplement their wages in low-paying jobs.

The food stamp program is not a government handout – it is a true safety net program that provides access to food for people who cannot afford to choose between rent, medicine, child care and transportation. And it is efficient: The National Journal recently named SNAP “one of the government’s top successes” and the Government Accountability Office has repeatedly reported on the successes of this important program.

In the month of June, Republican members of Congress attempted to cut $20 billion from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), the program formerly known as food stamps, and failed. SNAP is our government’s first line of defense against hunger and malnutrition, and it should be better equipped to accomplish that task, not gutted for the sake of politics. Will you join me and add your name to the petition started by Rep. Jim McGovern telling House Republicans to vote down cuts to food stamps?

As stated by Representative Jim McGovern recently stated, “…any rational person would say that [Republican members of Congress] went too far. Instead, Republican leadership in the House of Representatives, has doubled down on the crazy, and drafted a bill that doubles the cuts to SNAP…” “Hunger shouldn’t be a political issue. We urge you to reject $39 billion in cuts to SNAP, and ensure that the 49 million people who are hungry in America – 17 million of whom are children – aren’t left without life-saving, vital aid..”

My question for the day is as follows: Why should one of the wealthiest nations in the world put children and other vulnerable persons at risk? As stated previously, drastic cuts to SNAP are being considered that would result in millions of Americans loosing SNAP benefits. If Congress cuts funding for this poverty relief program, it will affect millions of children and families, leaving them even more vulnerable to hunger in one of the wealthiest nations in the world.

Will you join me in speaking up for children right now, by asking your member of Congress in the US House of Representative to protect SNAP from any further devastating cuts? If so, please contact your Representative and ask them to not balance the budget on children and youth.

Your elected officials in Washington, DC need to hear from you loud and clear, since the children who rely on SNAP are unable to speak from themselves to our elected officials.

As was recently shared in an action alert from anti-hunger programs, there are a lot of misconceptions about receives SNAP. Lets be clear, without SNAP, many indigent families assert that their children would “probably would not have food to eat.”

For those of you that read this post and take action to prevent further cuts to SNAP, I thank you for taking action on this very important issue and lending your voice to children who cannot protect themselves.

You may never know what results come of your action, but if you do nothing there will be no result. ~ Gandhi

Source(s): Representative Jim McGovern Action Alert. No Kid Hungry Share Our Strength Action Alert. http://www.congress.org. Feeding America. Action Alert Voices for Americas Children. Action Alert Bread for the World. St. Vincent de Paul Society. National Center on Family Homelessness.
Photo Credit: Microsoft Clip Art

CIRCLE OF PROTECTION

Scared Child

Bread for the World sends out Action Alerts discussing the “Circle of Protection: A Statement on Why We Need to Protect Programs for the Poor” and encouraging supporters to take action to support funding for programs that serve the most vulnerable members of society.

In the Action Alert, Rev. David Beckmann, president of Bread for the World, states that, “Everything we have achieved for poor and hungry people in the last 35 years is under severe threat of budget cuts—nutrition programs such as the Supplemental Nutrition for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) and SNAP (formerly food stamps), as well as poverty-focused development assistance.”

It has been reported that more than forty-nine (49) million Americans lack reliable access to the food. Childhood hunger is a growing reality in America. In one of the wealthiest nations in the world, the prevalence of childhood hunger is a national travesty and for many a well-kept secret. Approximately, one (1) in four (4) children in America is food insecure. This is not the time to be cutting very necessary programs for the most vulnerable members of our society.

Statistics on Childhood Hunger in the United States:

According to the USDA, over seventeen (17) million children lived in food insecure (low food security and very low food security) households in 2009. ii

Twenty (20) percent or more of the child population in sixteen (16) states and D.C. are living in food insecure households. The states of Arkansas twenty-four point four (24.4) percent and Texas twenty-three point three (24.3) percent have the highest rates of children in households without consistent access to food.(Cook, John, Child Food Insecurity in the United States: 2006-2008. iii

In 2009, households that had higher rates of food insecurity than the national average included households with children twenty-one point three (21.3) percent, especially households with children headed by single women thirty-six point six (36.6) percent or single men twenty-seven pont eight (27.8) percent, Black non-Hispanic households twenty-four point nine (24.9) percent and Hispanic households twenty-six point nine (26.9) percent.v

These heartbreaking facts about the prevalence and the face of hunger in America and the proposed cuts to very necessary social service programs has drawn the attention of thousands of Christians, people of other faiths, heads of denominations, corporations, and nonprofit organizations and compelled them to take action. These groups have formed what has been termed a “Circle of Protection” around funding for programs that are vital to hungry and poor people both in the United States and abroad. It has been reported that in excess of thirteen thousand (13,000) Americans have signed a memorandum to their members of Congress, supporting the need to reduce deficits but not at the expense of hungry and poor people. The “Circle of Protection” statement reads as follows:

“In the face of historic deficits, the nation faces unavoidable choices about how to balance needs and resources and allocate burdens and sacrifices. These choices are economic, political—and moral.

As Christians, we believe the moral measure of the debate is how the most poor and vulnerable people fare. We look at every budget proposal from the bottom up—how it treats those Jesus called “the least of these” (Matthew 25:45). They do not have powerful lobbies, but they have the most compelling claim on our consciences and common resources. The Christian community has an obligation to help them be heard, to join with others to insist that programs that serve the most vulnerable in our nation and around the world are protected. We know from our experience serving hungry and homeless people that these programs meet basic human needs and protect the lives and dignity of the most vulnerable. We believe that God is calling us to pray, fast, give alms and to speak out for justice.

As Christian leaders, we are committed to fiscal responsibility and shared sacrifice. We are also committed to resist budget cuts that undermine the lives, dignity, and rights of poor and vulnerable people. Therefore, we join with others to form a Circle of Protection around programs that meet the essential needs of hungry and poor people at home and abroad.

1. The nation needs to substantially reduce future deficits, but not at the expense of hungry and poor people.

2. Funding focused on reducing poverty should not be cut. It should be made as effective as possible, but not cut.

3. We urge our leaders to protect and improve poverty-focused development and humanitarian assistance to promote a better, safer world.

4. National leaders must review and consider tax revenues, military spending, and entitlements in the search for ways to share sacrifice and cut deficits.

5. A fundamental task is to create jobs and spur economic growth. Decent jobs at decent wages are the best path out of poverty, and restoring growth is a powerful way to reduce deficits.

6. The budget debate has a central moral dimension. Christians are asking how we protect “the least of these.” “What would Jesus cut?” “How do we share sacrifice?”

7. As believers, we turn to God with prayer and fasting, to ask for guidance as our nation makes decisions about our priorities as a people.

8. God continues to shower our nation and the world with blessings. As Christians, we are rooted in the love of God in Jesus Christ. Our task is to share these blessings with love and justice and with a special priority for those who are poor.

Budgets are moral documents, and how we reduce future deficits are historic and defining moral choices. As Christian leaders, we urge Congress and the administration to give moral priority to programs that protect the life and dignity of poor and vulnerable people in these difficult times, our broken economy, and our wounded world. It is the vocation and obligation of the church to speak and act on behalf of those Jesus called “the least of these.” This is our calling, and we will strive to be faithful in carrying out this mission.”—Circle of Protection

This summer, Bread for the World supporters and others are encouraged to visit or call their senators and representatives at their local offices to urge them to protect funding for programs for hungry people. For further information about shared sacrifice or the “Circle of Protection” visit http://www.circleofprotection.us.

Source(s): http://www.bread.org/go/circle. http://www.circleofprotection.us. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/…/circle-of-protection-budget-cuts. ww.christiannewswire.com/news/5693716844.html. http://www.uscatholic.org/…/christian-leaders-call-circle-protection. Sources: U.S. Dept. of Agriculture; U.S. Census Bureau; Feeding America (online); Rhoda Cohen, J. Mabli, F., Potter,Z., Zhoa. Hunger in America 2010. Feeding America. February 2010; Nord, Mark, M. Andrews, S. Carlson. United States Department of Agriculture/Economic Research Service, Household Food Security in the United States, 2008 and 2009; Cook, John. Feeding America. Child Food Insecurity in the United States: 2006-2008; http://www.share.org; ww.feedamerica.org; http://www.nokidhungry.org; and Food Research and Action Center.

Photo credit: Microsoft Clip Art

______________________________________________________

iBread for the World Action Alert.

iiRhoda Cohen, J. Mabli, F., Potter,Z., Zhoa. Hunger in America 2010. Feeding America. February 2010.

iiiNord, Mark, M. Andrews, S. Carlson. United States Department of

Agriculture/Economic Research Service, Household Food Security in the United States, 2008.

iv Cook, John. Feeding America. Child Food Insecurity in the United States:2006-2008.

vNord, Mark, M. Andrews, S. Carlson. United States Department of Agriculture/Economic Research Service, Household Food Security in the United States, 2009.

Federal Student Loans: Tell Congress to Keep College Affordable for Students and Working Families

serious woman face

Tell Congress to Keep College Affordable for Students and Working Families. US Senator Elizabeth Warren came out with a bold proposal to have students pay the same interest rate on student loans as the big banks pay on their loans while Congress figures out a long-term solution to the problem.

Senator Warren needs our help to get more attention for it in the halls of Washington, in the media, and across the country. We can win this fight and show that Congress needs to respond to an agenda that works for us—not their big corporate backers—but only if we organize together in our communities, on college campuses, and everywhere our representatives can see us in this crucial month ahead.

On July 1, 2013, student loan rates doubled. In June, the Republican controlled House of Representatives voted to eliminate the fixed-interest loans for students entirely. This was a devastating move which could result in “ballooning financing costs” for new graduates struggling to survive in these particularly difficult economic times.

Stafford Loans are federal student loans made available to college and university students to supplement personal and family resources, scholarships, grants, and work-study. Nearly all students are eligible to receive Stafford loans regardless of credit. Stafford loans may be subsidized by the U.S. Government or unsubsidized depending on the student’s need. Stafford loan interest rates for 2012-2013 are currently unknown.

A 2007 law that reduced the interest rate on Stafford Loans from 6.8 percent to 3.4 percent is was extended by one year. Without legislative action, subsidized Stafford loans returned to the 6.8 percent interest rate on July 1, 2013.

Each year, more than ten (10) million students use subsidized Stafford loans to help pay for college. With rising tuition costs, attending college is very difficult for many students, and the increase in interest rates would cause a college education to be out of reach for many college age people. With that knowledge, we must act to ensure that Congress passes legislation to stop student loan interest rates from doubling this summer.

Stafford Loan Information: Eligibility
You must be a U.S. citizen or national, a U.S. permanent resident, or eligible non-citizen accepted for enrollment or attending a school that participates in the Federal Family Education Loan Program. Additionally:
• You must have submitted a FAFSA to be eligible for a Stafford loan
• For subsidized Stafford, you must have financial need as determined by your school
• You must be enrolled or plan to enroll at least half time

When Stafford loan rates doubled, countless students were affected. “We tell our children to get an education, and we owe it to them to keep that door to higher education to the middle class open.” Stafford loans have provided an opportunity for tens of millions of Americans to attend college.

A whopping 7% Stafford interest rate means that our students will be carrying our nation’s deficit. Meanwhile, banks borrow from the federal reserve at an interest rate of about 0.75%. Something just doesn’t add up. Getting an education shouldn’t mean financial devastation. Ask Congress not to double student interest rates!

For up-to-date information on this issue, check out the Student Loan Network Blog.

Tell your elected officials in Washington, DC to take swift action to pass the legislation to keep college affordable for students and working families.

Source(s): MoveOn Action Alert May 28, 2013. MPRNews On Campus, January 30, 2012. http://www.mndaily.com. http://www.staffordloan.com/stafford-loan-info/.
Photo credit: Microsoft Clip Art

Why Put Children at Risk ?

Scared Girl

My question for the day is as follows: Why should one of the wealthiest nations in the world put children at Risk?

Because of the particularly challenging economic times confronting our nation, I often write about legislation designed to improve the quality of life for the most vulnerable members of society including but not limited to indigent children and youth. As a result, I have written about the Farm Bill’s Reauthorization.

More than one (1) in five (5) children lives in poverty and nearly one (1) in four (4) is at risk of hunger. Often, I write about pending legislation which impacts indigent children, youth, and families with the goal of encouraging the reader to act to protect vulnerable families. I know that ensuring America’s children and youth are connected to healthy food where they live, learn and play is as important to you as it is to me. As a result, I am writing to you today to update on the Farm Bill.

Over twenty-five (25) percent of the children in the US under the age of six live in poverty. The poverty rate among women climbed to 14.5 percent in 2010 from 13.9 percent in 2009, the highest in 17 years. As poverty surged last year to its highest level since 1993, median household income declined, leaving the typical American household earning less in inflation-adjusted dollars than it did in 1997. One out of every six Americans is now being served by at least one government anti-poverty program. Child homelessness in the United States is now thirty-three (33) percent higher than it was back in 2007. More than 50 million Americans are now on Medicaid, the U.S. government health care program designed principally to help the poor.

With that said, Congress is making progress on the Farm Bill, which provides critical federal nutrition programs like SNAP, formerly known as food stamps that helps to feed hungry kids. Were you aware that more than one (1) in seven (7) Americans receives SNAP benefits?

This week, the Farm Bill is moving in the House of Representatives. Drastic cuts to SNAP are being considered, including proposals that would result in two (2) to three (3) million Americans loosing SNAP benefits and would cause nearly three hundred (300,000) children to loose access to free school meal programs. If Congress cuts funding for this poverty relief program, it will affect millions of children and families, leaving them even more vulnerable to hunger.

Will you join me in speaking up for children right now, by asking your member of Congress in the US House of Representative to protect SNAP from any further devastating cuts? If so, please contact your Representative and ask them to not balance the budget on children and youth. Your elected officials in Washington, DC need to hear from you loud and clear, since the children who rely on SNAP are unable to speak from themselves to our elected officials.

As was recently shared in an action alert from anti-hunger programs, there are a lot of misconceptions about receives SNAP. Lets be clear, without SNAP, many indigent families assert that their children would “probably would not have food to eat.”

For those of you that read this post and take action to prevent further cuts to SNAP, I thank you for taking action on this very important issue and lending your voice to children who cannot protect themselves.

You may never know what results come of your action, but if you do nothing there will be no result. ~ Gandhi

Source(s): No Kid Hungry Share Our Strength Action Alert. http://www.congress.org. Feeding America. Action Alert Voices for Americas Children. Action Alert Bread for the World. St. Vincent de Paul Society. National Center on Family Homelessness.

Photo Credit: Microsoft Clip Art

Reject Any Cuts to SNAP in the Farm Bill

Scared Child

June is national hunger awareness month. Ironically, the U.S. House Agricultural Committee voted to give more subsidies to big agribusiness and cut food aid for 2 million families, children, and senior citizens. Drastic cuts like these are not a necessity. But rather this was a choice to support tax breaks for the wealthy and big businesses (like Apple) by literally taking food from hungry kids. The full U.S. House of Representatives votes soon on whether or not to cut funds for SNAP.

Please contact your members of Congress to tell them to reject any cuts to SNAP in the Farm Bill. It is already a national sin and a shame that one in five children in America are at risk of hunger while companies like Apple skirt taxes on at least $74 billion in profit. Currently, Congress is poised to funnel more subsidies to profitable corporate agriculture companies. This is yet another example of legislation that favors corporations and the 1% over the 99%.

Our voices are more important than ever. Harmful automatic cuts (sequestration) to human needs programs are chipping away at critical and effective anti-hunger initiatives. There are efforts to cut SNAP (formerly food stamps) and international food aid in the farm bill.

Please call your members of Congress today and amplify the stories of others seeking to fight hunger in the world by sharing your own. Tell your members of Congress what drives you to work toward ending hunger?

Join the choir of Bread For the World activists taking to Capitol Hill on June 11, 2013. Let’s show Congress what a movement to end hunger looks like. It’s not too late to come to Lobby Day on Tuesday of this week. But even if you can not be with their for Lobby Day, you can still participate right where you are. Here’s how:
•Call or email your members of Congress today.
•Ask them to
1.Protect SNAP and improve international food aid in the farm bill.
2.Replace sequestration with a balanced plan that includes both revenues and sensible cuts.
•Share your story about why you are a Bread for the World member and why SNAP, international food aid, sequestration, and ending hunger matter to you.
•You can include additional facts from our Lobby Day talking points.

It is simply outrageous and morally wrong to give money to highly profitable large corporations at the expense of America’s children who rely on food aid. With that said, contact your members of Congress to tell them to reject any cuts to SNAP in the Farm Bill.

Personal stories like yours are what will move your members of Congress to act. So don’t delay. Help amplify the message that we can and must end hunger.

Source(s): AFL-CIO; Bread For the World

Photo Credit: Microsoft Clip Art.

US Economic Road to Recovery Is All About Jobs Jobs Jobs

computers

Our members of Congress must come to the understanding that for the US economy to experience a real and sustained economic recovery they as our elected officials must pass legislation which promotes the growth of living wage jobs.

As aptly stated by Professor Lawrence H. Summers from Harvard University, “…the United States and other countries will not benefit from further measures directed at rapid deficit reduction. Output and jobs will suffer. A weaker economy means that our children may inherit an economy with more debt and less capacity to bear the burden it imposes. Already, premature deficit reduction has affected economic performance in Britain and several countries that use the euro.

The 2012 election results should have sent the message to all elected officials that the electorate is more concerned about jobs than cutting the national debt. For more than two and a half years, there has been positive private-sector job growth. In the United States, the unemployment rate declined from 8.1% in August to 7.8% in September. According to figures released by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), one hundred and fourteen thousand (114,000) jobs were added that month.

In response to the release of the job growth report, AFL-CIO President said that the recent jobs report by the the BLS: “confirms that the economy is finally beginning to build some momentum, as we work to dig out of the devastatingly deep hole that President Obama inherited from George W. Bush and a generation of flawed policies. Now we need the President and Congress to build on this momentum and keep their focus on job creation, including by passing the American Jobs Act.”

Prior to the election, some political analyst asserted that the 2012 Presidential Race was all about jobs, jobs, jobs. The election results proved that they were in fact correct. The 2012 election at the federal level was all about jobs. As a result, the Democrats increased their number of seats in the United States Senate, United States House of Representatives, and they maintained the White House for a second term.

Highly regarded economists and the electorate have spoken “Trickle Down” economics failed miserably under Reagan and Bush as best demonstrated by the economic collapse— the road to recovery for our nation is in fact all about jobs, jobs, jobs.

Source(s): Washington Post, June 2, 2013. AFL-CIO. U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).

Photo Credit: Microsoft Clip Art.