The Common Good

"Lord, when did we see you hungry?": The 2012 Hunger Report

On Monday, Bread for the World Institute released the 2012 Hunger report, a 194-page guide on how we should approach updating U.S. Food and Farm policies. The report outlines a comprehensive approach to dealing with both foreign and domestic food-related problems, including malnutrition, wasteful farm subsidies, farm worker programs, and food aid/assistance.

David Beckmann, president of Bread for the World Institute, writes:
 

“Congress is starting work on a new farm bill at a time of increased hunger. One in five U.S. children now lives in a household that runs out of food sometimes. The number of hungry people in the world declined gradually for several decades, but has now surged to nearly one billion [1,000,000,000]. This is also a moment of intense political pressure to reduce U.S. federal spending. Congress and the president have bound themselves by law to make deep cuts in the federal budget deficit….

“There are a lot of reasons to feel discouraged nowadays. The economy remains dour, and our nation is deeply divided by partisan differences. At times like this, we need to reach more deeply within ourselves for inspiration. I have been struck by reports showing that people who experience God as a loving presence in their lives are more likely to support government programs that help hungry and poor people.”
 

Bread for the World has many recommendations in the new report, but I’d just like to highlight one for now: “Farm policies should lean more towards the production of healthy foods.”

Why this one? Most farm subsidies go to (wait for it) the largest, wealthiest producers (shocking, right?). Billions of dollars are spent subsidizing corn, wheat, soybeans, cotton and rice. Small and medium-size producers (many of whom grow vegetables — the foods that are supposed to make up half our dinner plate) receive little, if any, support from the current U.S. farm policy.

Securing affordable, healthy foods for our country’s poorest will in turn help us address other issues such as malnutrition and obesity, immigration, health care, and employment.

Take a look at the following film (it’s only 12 minutes and well worth your time) and see for yourself:


Beckmann concludes the foreword to the report, saying, “I’m a Christian preacher, so it’s my job to remind people that God loves you and me and everybody, including single moms who have trouble feeding their kids — and Somali moms who have trouble keeping their kids from dying of hunger.”

 

James Colten is a campaigns assistant for Sojourners.

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