The senate has not yet finalized its foreign assistance appropriations for 2007. The Senate Appropriations Committee approved a bill in late June, under which the accounts considered poverty-focused development assistance by Bread for the World received an increase of approximately $1.2 billion over FY 2006 for a total of $11.3 billion. The full House passed a foreign operations bill that would provide an increase of $971 million in poverty-focused development assistance. While both of these increases are significant, they fall short of what is needed to keep our countryâ€™s promises to hungry and poor people around the world. Congress is not on track to fulfill U.S. commitments to double assistance to developing countries by 2010. An increase of $5 billion in poverty-focused development assistance is needed for FY 2007. Human development can be understood as the expansion of the real opportunities that people enjoy. Hunger limits those opportunities in a number of ways â€“ by causing deaths, physical stunting and mental retardation. Each year undernutrition contributes to the deaths of 6 million young children. People who have experienced (and survived) hunger in childhood may have a smaller physical stature (than their genetic potential), which can often lead to discrimination in employment for manual labor. Their minds my also have been permanently dulled, limiting their ability to analyze situations and to fully pursue their livelihoods. In all these ways, hunger narrows the opportunities available to individuals and retards human development. When aggregated over large segments of the population, it greatly impedes the economic progress of nations. In recent decades, there has been some improvement in the global hunger situation. The proportion of undernourished people has been reduced for one-fifth to one-sixth over the past 20 years, while the number of underweight preschool children in the developing world declined from 162.2 million to 135.5 million between 1990 and 2000. While this progress is important, it is not nearly enough to achieve the targets that the international community has set for itself as part of Millennium Development Goal #1: halving, between 1990 and 2015, the proportion of people who suffer from hunger. In fact, if the progress made by China is excluded, the number of undernourished people in the developing world has actually increased by 42 million since 1990 (FAO 2004). Why is progress not on track? Part of the explanation is the increase in humanitarian crises, but by far the most important reason is the choices of political leaders. Hunger is a multi-dimensional problem that requires inter-sectoral interventions in relevant areas, such as health, markets, learning and emergency preparedness. But too often the necessary investments have not been made. Contact your members of Congress and urge them to meet U.S. commitments to hungry and poor people around the world. Tell them we need an additional 1% of our budget in poverty-focused development assistance to reduce hunger, poverty and disease. Hunger-Free Communities Act (HFCA): Bread for the World is working to facilitate passage of the Hunger-Free Communities Act (HFCA) in the Senate and to build momentum for passage in the House. The HFCA commits Congress to ending hunger in the U.S. and strengthens the efforts of local groups working to reduce hunger in their communities. LOUISIANAâ€™S CONGRESSIONAL DELEGATION VOTE TO CO-SPONSOR HUNGER-FREE COMMUNITIES ACT Senator Mary Landrieu, D â€“ Yes Senator David Vitter, R â€“ No Representative Bobby Jindal, R â€“ No Representative William Jefferson, D â€“ No Representative Charlie Melancon, D â€“ No Representative Jim McCrery, R â€“ No Representative Rodney Alexander, R â€“ Yes Representative Richard Baker, R â€“ Yes Representative Charles Boustany, R â€“ No Check to see if your Representative and Senators have signed onto the Hunger-Free Communities ace. If they have, please thank them and ask that they take the next step by urging the Senate or House Agriculture committee chairman to move the legislation. If they have not, urge them to co-sponsor the Hunger-Free Communities Act. Point to make: Congress needs to increase efforts to help the more than 38 million people (including 14 million children) in the U.S. living in households that struggle for food.