Shame on Congress (2006 Offering of Letter-Event)

Thu, 03/01/2007

Bread for the World members engaged Congress in record numbers in 2006. More than 300,000 letters, phone calls and visits were generated by members. But despite the faithful activism of members across the U.S., Congress adjourned without providing a single victory for hungry and poor people in 2006.

Our 2006 Offering of Letters, One Spirit, One Will, Zero Poverty, urged Congress to approve an additional $5 billion to keep our country’s commitments to hungry and poor people around the world. But the outgoing Congress adjourned in December without finishing 10 of the 12 spending bills for the current fiscal year, which began October 1, so the increase for poverty-focused development assistance was never finalized. There is still a possibility that the new Congress will take corrective action. But any increase is a long shot at this point.

Bread for the World members also worked hard to persuade Congress to pass the Hunger-Free Communities Act (HFCA), which was first introduced in May 2005 after members wrote ten of thousands of letters. The HFCA asked Congress to strengthen its resolve to cut U.S. hunger in half by 2010 and provide funding for local groups working together to solve hunger in their communities. On December 8, the day before adjourning, the Senate passed the bill by unanimous consent. But the next day, as Congress wrapping up their session, key House leaders stood in the way of allowing the Senate bill to come to the floor for a vote.

Bread for the World members need to S T O P the same fate to happen to the 2007 Offering of Letters, Seeds of Change: Help Farmers End Hunger.

Analysis of Bush Proposed Budget for FY 2008 Domestic Nutrition and Farm Bill Initiatives
Bush budget proposes cuts to nutrition programs that Congress has previously rejected; farm bill budget doesn’t match his proposed farm bill

WASHINGTON, DC – President Bush's proposed 2008 budget does not make life easier for hundreds of thousands of hard working, low-income people now in the hunger-fighting nutrition programs, especially the Food Stamp Program. The president's budget also fails to shed any light on how his recently released farm bill would be funded.

"The president's budget proposal offers the same cuts to the federal nutrition programs that we fought last year and Congress rejected. It also says little about any plan to help struggling rural communities and farmers in the United States and around the world," said Rev. David Beckmann, president of Bread for the World. "Congress needs to step up our nation's commitment to hungry and poor people, support struggling farm and rural families, and support the efforts of farmers in developing countries to sell their crops and feed their families."

Nutrition Programs

The president's 2008 budget request calls once again for changes that would eliminate food stamp eligibility for approximately 300,000 people which are mainly single-mothers who are not receiving cash assistance. This budget would also reduce the number of low-income children receiving school breakfast and lunch. Another proposal eliminates the Commodity Supplemental Food Program (CSFP), a program that provides nutrition assistance to more than 450,000 low-income seniors trying to make ends meet.

Farm Bill Programs

On its face, the president's budget offering for the farm bill does not reflect the administration's recently proposed farm bill. This budget certainly needs to adequately address the farm policy changes Agriculture Secretary Michael Johanns is seeking. There is a real need for changes in the farm bill to better support struggling farm and rural families of modest means and to ensure farmers in the poorest countries have the chance to work their way out of poverty.