Offering of Letters for 2007

Mon, 01/01/2007

Seeds of Change: Help Farmers End Hunger is the title for the 2007 Offering of Letters. The Offering will focus on reforming the U.S. Farm Bill in ways that will reduce hunger in the U.S. and around the world. The multifaceted Farm Bill affects hungry and poor people through policies for the Food Stamp Program, federal payments for farm commodities, rural development and others. Seeds of Change will seek to broaden support for U.S. farmers, enable hungry people in the U.S. to afford a nutritious diet, strengthen communities in rural America, and support the efforts of small-scale farmers in developing countries to sell their crops and feed their families. USDA NO LONGER MENTIONS HUNGER On November 15, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) released updated figures for household food security. After rising for 5 straight years, the number of people living in households struggling to put food on the table has decreased from 38 million in 2004 to 35 million in 2005. The number of people living in households that experience hunger rose slightly from 10.7 million to 10.8 million – nearly 4% of all U.S. households. In its new report, USDA refers to “very low food security” rather than to “food insecurity with hunger.” The reason given is that this is more scientifically accurate, but the political implications of not using the word “hunger” have spurred debate. For example, 64 members of Congress signed a letter to USDA asking whether the agency had considered the possibility that dropping the word “hunger” might influence key nutrition policy debates, media perceptions, and/or philanthropic efforts. Bread for the World spoke with journalists to draw attention to the change in terminology. Articles appeared in more than 100 U.S. newspapers, including The Washington Post, the LA Times, the Houston Chronicle, the Chicago Tribune and the Detroit Free Press. The Washington Post said in a November 17 editorial that USDA “has taken what you might call the Scarlet O’Hara approach to Americans without enough to eat: It will never call them hungry again… Whatever the intention, this linguistic airbrushing diminishes the shame of the problem, its persistence and its scope. That 11 million Americans reported going hun-sorry, reported disrupted eating patterns – is a national embarrassment.”