Wednesday, April 01, 2015

How Your Congregation Can Engage in Fearless Dialogue

Preaching is a dialogue between the preacher and the congregation. What opportunities arise when we all - lay people & clergy - are willing to be a little fearless? The New Mexico Conference of Churches and the Ecumenical Institute for Ministry invite you to discus this central aspect of congregational life at a conference on Saturday, April 18, 9:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m., Holy Rosary Catholic Church, 5415  Fortuna Rd. NW, Albuquerque (map). The conference is part of the NMCC's Congregational Vitality Series.

Rev. Dr. Robin Meyers, author of Spiritual Defiance: Building a Beloved Community of Resistance, and The Underground Church: Reclaiming the Subversive Way of Jesus, will lead the discussion. Get Tickets ($35, including lunch)

Rev. Meyers is senior minister of Mayflower Congregational UCC Church, in Oklahoma City, and professor of social justice in the Philosophy Department, Oklahoma City University. He is a peace activist and the best-selling author of six books. Check out the video of one of his sermons just below this poster.  



Robin Meyers - sermon at the  214th Annual Meeting of the Massachusetts Conference, United Church of Christ, June 15, 2013 from Mass. Conference UCC on Vimeo.

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Updates from Santa Fe on Food and Hunger-Related Initiatives

Here is food, nutrition and hunger-related legislation that the Lutheran Advocacy Ministry-New Mexico (LAM-NM) and the New Mexico Food and Agriculture Policy Council (NMFAPC) supported during this year's 60-day session of  the New Mexico State Legislature. 

The legislative session ended on March 21.  Some initiatives did not get past the committee stage, but others were approved and await Gov. Susana Martinez's signature.  Below is a summary from LAM-NM and the NMFAPC.

Supplemental SNAP Funding
LAM-NM advocated for additional funding for the State SNAP Supplement Program which serves over 9,000 elderly and people living with disabilities by increasing their SNAP amount to at least $25 per month. LAM-NM advocated for enough funding so that the minimum amount would be $30. The House version of HB2 did not include any additional funding for this particular program.

SB293 (Sen. Nancy Rodriguez) requested $200,000 for the State SNAP Supplement program, which passed the Senate Public Affairs Committee and reached the Senate Finance Committee.

HB93 (Rep.: Larry A. Larrañaga) requested funding for SNAP recipients to be able to double the amount of assistance that they can use to purchase fresh fruits & vegetables at Farmer's Markets.

HB93 passed the House Agriculture, Water & Wildlife Committee and was tabled in the House Appropriations & Finance Committee. Funding for this program is included in the House version of HB2.

Join the LAM-NM Advocacy Network to receive e-mail legislative updates

Local Fresh Fruits and Vegetables in School Meals
The NMFAPC sent out the following note on March 23. 
"Call, email or write Governor Susana Martinez immediately to ask her to sign the New Mexico Legislature's recommendation to fund these initiatives."

1) New Mexico Grown Fresh Fruits and Vegetables for School Meals $250,000 recurring towards school purchases of New Mexico grown fresh fruits and vegetables for school meals serving students statewide.  (SB415)

The appropriation would  support:
  • The purchase of New Mexico grown, fresh from the farm, fruits and vegetables to provide students with school meals that will encourage them to eat fresh produce for the rest of their lives. 
  • Augmenting school nutrition programs by providing more New Mexico grown fresh fruits and vegetables, assisting schools in meeting federal Child Nutrition school meal rules. 
  • Strengthening New Mexico's farming economy and agricultural legacy by increasing market opportunities for small and mid-scale producers across the state.
2) Double Up Food Bucks for Farmers Markets $400,000 recurring recommended for Supplemental Nutrition Assistance program (SNAP) participants to stretch their food dollars at 32 New Mexico farmers markets the process SNAP transactions.HB93

The appropriation would:
  • Serve nearly 400,000 SNAP participants at 32 farmers markets in 18 counties. 
  • Leverage up to $1.2 million in federal funds. Increase by 800% SNAP food sales at farmers markets. Strengthen New Mexico's farming economy.
3) Food Infrastructure capital outlay for the Española "food hub" and Rio Grande Development Corporation.

The Governor can be reached in several ways:
Call: 505-476-2200. You can also leave a direct message with her Policy Analyst Tiffany Smyth.
Email: via this link
Send a Letter to :
Susana Martinez, Governor
State Capitol Building
490 Old Santa Fe Trail, Suite 400
Santa Fe, NM 87501
(sample letter)

Stay Tuned for Updates

Monday, March 30, 2015

An Ecumenical Palm Sunday on the Plaza in Santa Fe

Presbyterian Minister  Harry Eberts, Catholic Archbishop Michael Sheehan
Episcopal Bishop Michael Vono
Three churches sit in the vicinity of the Plaza in Santa Fe, and each Palm Sunday members of those congregations come together to celebrate their common beliefs at the start of Holy Week.

As they have done on this day for the past several years, the clergy, elders and lay members of First Presbyterian Church, the Roman Catholic Cathedral Basilica of St. Francis of Assisi, and the (Episcopal) Church of the Holy Faith processed from their home churches to the Plaza to join together in celebrating Palm Sunday.

The faithful mingled with tourists with cameras and church officials with ornate vestments, they listened to a choir clad in black and white and were shown several symbols that are important during Holy Week. They heard a Scripture reading and they said prayers.

Rev. Dr. Harry Eberts, pastor of First Presbyterian Church, gave a brief but powerful reflection after palms were distributed among the congregants on the Plaza. "The palm is a symbol of peace," said Rev.Eberts.

There were no walls, just open air, an intense yellow sun and the deep and clear blue skies of northern New Mexico. At the end of the service (even though they were grouped by church and denomination), congregants joined in one long procession around the main square in Santa Fe in a true moment of unity.

Then each group left to continue celebrating Palm Sunday within the confines of their own walls.

It's good to come together every now and then to recognize that there is more that unites us than divides us.

Everyone received a palm (no exceptions)

Recording this moment for posterity
What is a service without a choir?
All were asked to raise their palms

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Steve Garnaas Holmes: A Reflection for Palm Sunday

Faith
”Hosanna!
Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord!
Blessed is the coming kingdom of our ancestor David!
Hosanna in the highest heaven!” —Mark 11.9-10
Jesus presents some street theater,
the new life enacted among us.
People love it for the moment,
but the Powers will have him killed, and he knows it. He has a week to live.
How’s he going to create a kingdom?
One week. How’s he going to change the world?

He comes on a donkey. He talks. He heals.
No power, no strategy.
Really, not even a kingdom.

No plan but this: just
love people, and forgive them.
Share a meal. Wash their feet.
Love them and forgive them.
And trust God with the rest.

That’s it. No other power, no plan.
Just love and trust God,
who takes our love
and heals the world with it.

This is jesus’ faith:
Do what you can. Do it with love.
Bless and heal and forgive along the way.
And trust that’s good enough for God.
It was good enough for Jesus.

Facing your trials, dealing with conflict,
confronting injustice, small as you are:
do what you can, do it with love,
bless and heal and forgive,
and trust God.

That alone will change the world.
That alone will save.
Watch.

Steve Garnaas-Holmes, from the March 26 entry of Unfolding Light blog

Saturday, March 28, 2015

Catholic, ELCA Bishops Visit Immigrant Detention Center, Issue Joint Call for More Humane Treatement of Detained Minors

Justice Prayer for Immigrants
In a strong spirit of  ecumenical solidarity, three Roman Catholic bishops joined with two of their counterparts from the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) to urge U.S. immigration authorities for a more humane treatment for detained minors who fled poverty and violence in.Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador and other Central American countries.

Refugees from violence in Central America have been held under inhumane conditions at detention centers in New Mexico, Texas, and Pennsylvania.  Last summer, Pope Francis urged U.S. authorities to welcome and protect these refugee minors.

In March of 2015, Roman Catholic Archbishop Gustavo García-Siller (San Antonio, Texas)  Bishop Eusebio Elizondo (auxiliary, Archdiocese of  Seattle), Bishop James Tamayo (Diocese of  Laredo, Texas) and Lutheran Bishops Michael Rinehart (Gulf Coast Synod) H. Julian Gordy (Southeastern Synod) visited with young mothers who are now incarcerated at Dilley Detention Center in Dilley, Texas. 

Bishop Gordy is chair of the ELCA Conference of Bishops' Immigration Ready Bench and Bishop Rinehart is a member of the board of directors for Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service.  A "ready bench" is a unit within the ELCA Conference of  Bishops that allows each leader to focus on a specific issue. Whether working on issues like immigration or international relations, these “benches” are dedicated to be “ready” when called upon to speak and/or advocate in their particular area of concentration.

A 'shameful policy'
Following are comments that Bishops García-Siller, Elizondo and Tamayo after  the visit to the detention center in Dilley.

“After this visit, my primary question is: Why? Why do we feel compelled to place in detention such vulnerable individuals –traumatized young mothers with children fleeing persecution in their home countries?”said Archbishop García-Siller following the visit. “A great nation such as ours need not incarcerate the most vulnerable in the name of deterrence. The moral character of a society is judged by how it treats the most vulnerable in our midst. Our nation’s family detention policy is shameful and I implore our elected officials to end it." 

Bishop Elizondo, chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ (USCCB) Committee on Migration, added: “The detention of families serves no purpose and undermines due process. It especially harms children, who experience emotional and psychological harm from detention. The policy is a stain on the administration’s record on immigration.

Bishop Tamayo said humane alternatives to detention exist and should be used for the population. "The government should consider placing these families in humane alternatives to detention, where they could live in the community and access needed services, including legal representation,” Bishop Tamayo said. “The Church is ready to assist in this effort.”

And here is a recent article about the work of the ELCA Ready Bench on Immigration."The ready bench is hoping to draw attention to the unfortunate incarceration of migrant women and children in detention facilities across the country," said  Bishop Gordy. See full article, which was published a week before the visit of the five bishops to the detention center in Dilley, Texas.

See the ELCA Bishops' Statement on Immigration.

Here is the USCCB tatement on Justice for Immigrants
and the Justice Prayer for Immigrants

Leaders from other denominations have also stepped forward to speak on behalf of immigrant minors. See this video  from Church World Service.

Friday, March 27, 2015

Food for Kidz Annual Packaging Event on Wednesday



The alumni group of Kids Against Hunger (Food  for Kidz) has scheduled its annual meal packaging day at St. Pius X High School on Wednesday April 1.  The local group is part of the national organization Kids Against Hunger, which organizes youth to become involved in anti-hunger relief efforts.

The above video was produced when Kids Against Hunger came to St. Pius X High School in 2009. Volunteers  package highly nutritious, life-saving meals for children and their families in developing countries and the United States. A number of the alumni are now part of  the Kids Against Hunger chapter at the University of New Mexico.  Visit the alumni group's Facebook page.

 "We will be putting together the meals from raw materials that we have been raising money to purchase," said Ali Frumpkin, an alumni leader. "Eighty percent of the meals packaged will remain in New Mexico to help our local food banks, and the remaining 20% will be given to Food for Kidz to be delivered to another location in need." 

April 1 at 8:00am - 3:00pm
St. Pius X High School Albuquerque
5301 St Joseph'S Dr NW, Albuquerque, New Mexico 87120

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

We Are the Eighth Day Event in Albuquerque Cancelled


New Mexico Interfaith Power and Light (NMIPL) and the UNM Sustainability Studies Program regret to announce that this event, scheduled for Friday, March 27, has been cancelled because of the unexpected withdrawal by some of the artists.NMIPL is planning to sponsor this event in March 2016. Stay Tuned

  ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

 We Are the Eighth Day
 4th Annual Event
Celebrating International Women's Day

Friday, March 27, 2015
6:30-8 pm
Celebrate Women artists sharing their healing of Earth through spirit and art. Enjoy light refreshments and one another

First Congregational Church
2801 Lomas Blvd. NE, ABQ


The follow artists will share their talent at the event:
  • Eileen Schaugnessy--musican and composer 
  • Basia Irland--Earth elements inspire healing art, water focus 
  • Allana Sindlinger--Artist who has worked with others to express feelings about climate change through art 
  • Renny Golden--Published poet with many awards, proceeds from her book will be offered for the work of NMIPL
Free will offering

Download flyer

Co-sponsored by New Mexico Interfaith Power and Light and UNM Sustainability Studies
For more information call 505-266-6966 or send an email to joankansas@swcp.com

Santa Fe Mayor Javier Gonzales: Addressing Hunger is a Moral Issue

Santa Fe Mayor Javier Gonzales was one of four panelists at the community discussion on food insecurity and hunger in northern New Mexico on Saturday, March 21. The forum was sponsored by Christus St. Vincent hospital, as part of a series of community discussions to commemorate its 150th anniversary. Below are some excerpts from a six-minute address by Mayor Gonzales, followed by the video of his talk. (Photo Kathy Armijo Etre from Christus St. Vincent and Mayor Gonzales) 

A report from Feeding America found some sobering statistics: 15% of people in Santa Fe are hungry every night.  What's even more unacceptable, 25% of our children are food insecure or hungry. And so many more live right on the line between security and hunger, one layoff or serious illness away from disaster. Almost 70% of our kids in public schools qualify for free or reduced price meals. If we really are one community, one family, one Santa Fe, we can't ignore the fact  that our neighbors are falling through the cracks."

There's no question  that it presents an important public policy dilemma. It's a public health crisis, as poor nutrition leads to lifelong chronic illness that increases costs and hurts health care outcomes for our entire community. It's also an education crisis, as kids who are hungry cannot be expected to come to school ready to learn.

To be perfectly honest, what's more important to me, is that it's a moral issue. We all depend on one another. No one in Santa Fe should worry about putting good healthy food on the table. Period.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Panelists: Nutritious Food Out of Reach for Low-Income Families in Northern New Mexico

Northern New Mexico is comprised of isolated mountain and rural communities, Navajo and Pueblo Indian reservations, small towns, medium-sized cities and the state's fourth-largest city, which also happens to be the state capital.  Hunger is prevalent in one form or another in each of these populated areas. And each of  these populations has its own challenges as well as the common struggle of ensuring access to fruits, vegetables and other nutritious items.
  
The topic of hunger in Santa Fe and northern New Mexico was the topic of the community conversation sponsored by Christus St. Vincent Hospital at the Jean Cocteau Theater in Santa Fe on Saturday, March 21.The panel was  led by Santa Fe Mayor Javier Gonzales, who was joined by Sherry Hooper (The Food Depot), Jenny Ramo (Appleseed New Mexico) and Dr. Luis Rigales (Family Medicine Center, Christus St. Vincent). A concern common to all communities in northern New Mexico was the lack of access to inexpensive nutritious food for a relatively large segment of the population, especially working families, children, seniors and residents of Pueblo and Navajo reservations.

Mayor Gonzales said 15% of people in Santa Fe are hungry every night, and 25% of the children who reside in the capital city are food insecure.  (See video with comments from Mayor Gonzales)

Sherry Hooper
Healthy Food is Expensive
There many factors that keep residents of northern New Mexico from acquiring healthy food , particularly the high cost of  fruits and vegetables relative to snack food. A major challenge is to ensure that food pantries and other providers have enough of the healthy options available. The problem is that pantries don't  have enough storage capacity even to store other donated food. "Our partner agencies don't have the storage capacity," said Sherry Hooper, director of  The Food Depot, who noted that one the major projects of  her Santa Fe-based food bank is to help agencies expand storage capabilities.

Access to healthy food is important for vulnerable populations, including children. "We seek levels of food insecurity higher [in northern New Mexico] in families with children," said Dr. Rigales.  "It is also very prevalent in Hispanic families."

Mayor Javier Gonzales
Jenny Ramo, whose organization spearheaded the introduction of  the Breakfast After the Bell program in New Mexico, says the program has limited reach. At present, only the schools in which 85% or more of students are eligible for free or reduced-price meals to provide a free breakfast to all students after the start of the instructional day. Ramo thinks the program should be expanded. "If you look at schools with a 70% rate of poverty--that is still a lot of poverty.

Hunger is also a problem for seniors, many of whom must avoid certain foods to stay healthy. Many seniors suffer from hypertension, diabetes, high cholesterol and other diseases and require food  that is low in fat and high in nutrition. Those same seniors are on fixed incomes, and nutritious food is expensive.  

According to Dr. Rigales, the medical profession can be part of the solution. That's why he teaches residents not only to think in terms of medical treatments, but to take a more holistic approach, including how to increase access to nutritious food for patients. This could include promotion of community gardens and other sources of fruits and vegetables..

Jenny Ramo and Dr. Luis Rigales
The lack of access to technology is an issue in the Navajo Nation, where more than three-quarters of residents have experienced some level of food insecurity. While many of these residents are eligible for government assistance, applications must be filed online.

The USDA recently awarded a  US$2.4 grant to the Navajo Nation to to start a two-year Food Access Navigator pilot project. The project will address food gaps and improve local economies in four or five chapters in the Eastern Navajo, Fort Defiance, and Shiprock agencies on the Navajo Nation. One problem: there is no internet access in the remote areas where many of these residents live.  According to Ramo, Appleseed is working with Navajo communities to improve connectivity.

Questions and Issues
Food activist Mark Winne
Pam Roy, Farm to Table










A number of experts attended the community discussion, including author and food activist Mark Winne and his wife Pam Roy, executive director of Farm to Table and coordinator of the New Mexico Food and Agriculture Policy Council. Representatives of Kitchen Angels were also present.

Several interesting issues were raised during the question-and-answer session and during the presentations. Here are a few of those issues.

Why is  New Mexico Still at the Bottom?  The problem of hunger and poverty in New Mexico has been on our radar for several decades. There was renewed attention when Feeding America released statistics in 2013 indicating that our state ranked first in child hunger and second in overall food insecurity. Why haven't we been able to take action to reduce the number of poor and hungry people in our state? How do we create enough employment opportunities for our population and at the same time ensure that those are good paying jobs? Are we doing everything we can to ensure that the most vulnerable populations in our state have access to food? How do we best take advantage of our assets (our small and medium-sized farmers) to benefit our state residents? How do we emulate successful programs like the Agri Cultura Network in Albuquerque's South Valley in other parts of the state?  How do we make ending hunger a priority rather than an afterthought in our public policy?

Food Insecurity vs. Hunger There was also the issue of terminology. We've come to know hunger as food insecurity, partly because this helps the federal government (primarily the USDA) keep track of statistics. The term, which was coined in 2006, describes a condition when "consistent access to adequate food is limited by a lack of money and other resources at times during the year.” A couple of panelists, Jenny Ramo and Sherry Hooper, suggested that the term is too bureaucratic and does not truly describe what families are facing. "I do not like term food insecurity. That is a sterile term," said Ramo. Incidentally, participants at the Bread for the World Offering of Letters workshop in Albuquerque said the same thing. "Let us pledge to use the word hunger instead of food insecurity," one participant said, in reference to our campaign this year urging Congress to renew Child Nutriton programs. 

Sunday, March 22, 2015

A Reflection for the Third Day of Spring

I think gardening is nearer to godliness than theology. True gardeners are both iconographers and theologians insofar as these activities are the fruit of prayer ‘without ceasing.’ Likewise, true gardeners never cease to garden, not even in their sleep, because gardening is not just something they do. It is how they live.

 -Vigen Guroian

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Celebrate International Women's Day in Albuquerque with Poetry, Song, and Expressions about the Earth, Water and Climate Change

 We Are the Eighth Day
 4th Annual Event
Celebrating International Women's Day

Friday, March 27, 2015
6:30-8 pm
Celebrate Women artists sharing their healing of Earth through spirit and art. Enjoy light refreshments and one another

First Congregational Church
2801 Lomas Blvd. NE, ABQ


The follow artists will share their talent at the event:
  • Eileen Schaugnessy--musican and composer 
  • Basia Irland--Earth elements inspire healing art, water focus 
  • Allana Sindlinger--Artist who has worked with others to express feelings about climate change through art 
  • Renny Golden--Published poet with many awards, proceeds from her book will be offered for the work of NMIPL
Free will offering

Download flyer

Co-sponsored by New Mexico Interfaith Power and Light and UNM Sustainability Studies
For more information call 505-266-6966 or send an email to joankansas@swcp.com

Friday, March 20, 2015

Urge Congress Not to Cut Funding for SNAP and Medicaid

'This is real. This is not a false alarm."  -Rep. Jim McGovern, co-chair of the House Hunger Caucus
Photo: Bread for the World
The House and Senate Budget Committees just released their budget proposals. Both proposals contain enormous cuts to effective anti-hunger programs. The House budget proposes cutting $140 billion from SNAP (formerly called food stamps). The Senate budget proposes cutting Medicaid by $400 billion. Medicaid provides health coverage for 28 million children.
 
For anti-hunger advocates, it is not in our DNA to stand on the sidelines.  Bread for the World and the Food Research Action Center (FRAC) offer opportunities to take action.
 
In a post in the Bread Blog this week, Eric Mitchell, Bread for the World's government relations director urges us to send emails and make phone calls to Congress urging them to protect these vital safety net programs.  "Congress repeatedly wants to use anti-poverty programs as their piggy bank for deficit reduction," said Mitchell.  "I’m tired of it. I need your voice Will you call or email your members of Congress? Tell them to protect SNAP and Medicaid from cuts."

Bread for the World provides a toll-free number to the Capitol Hill switchboard 800-826-3688.  There is also a handy link to send an email to our senators and representatives.

"Congress should be investing in our children—not undermining their health and taking meals away from them," said Mitchell.

FRAC has set up a Call-In Day for Tuesday, March 24: Participate in Keep SNAP Strong Call-In Day. Call your Representatives (pdf) and Senators (pdf) and tell them to: protect SNAP; speak out on the floor in support of SNAP; and use the data above to vote on behalf of constituents who rely on SNAP and other programs that help lift people out of poverty.

FRAC also provides the opportunity for anti-hunger advocates to share data on SNAP participation rates by congressional district. This interactive map was developed by USDA.

Here is the data for New Mexico

"We strongly encourage you to reach out to your Senators and House Members immediately and use this data as part of your arsenal to protect SNAP from budget cuts," said FRAC. "The time for us to act is now. As our anti-hunger hero, Rep. Jim McGovern (D-MA), says, 'This is real. This is not a false alarm'."

FRAC offers handy tips on how to use the data when making contact with our member of Congress.
Highlight Number of SNAP Households: Urge your members to carefully consider how cuts to SNAP would be a disaster for thousands (use the number of households on the data sheet to make your point) of the most vulnerable citizens in his/her own backyard, including children, seniors, people with disabilities and others who are just trying to make ends meet.  
Point out the poverty level. Explain how cuts to SNAP would only make poverty and hunger in the district much worse, and would have a negative ripple effect for business and the local economy.
Highlight the Work Status numbers to illustrate that the majority of SNAP households had at least one employed person over the past year, which shows that these households are doing their best to make ends meet. SNAP plays a critical role in filling in the gaps — while also ensuring individuals get the nutrition they need - so people may be lifted out of poverty, rather than falling deeper into it.

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

A Bipartisan House Hunger Caucus

“Hunger doesn’t discriminate. This isn’t just an urban problem, or a rural problem. This is a problem that spans generations from children to senior citizens. We need to do more and we can do more. It was a privilege to join the volunteers and staff at the DC Central Kitchen to officially launch the House Hunger Caucus. I'm proud to join with Congressman McGovern to re-establish the conversation and together help find sensible, bipartisan solutions to combat hunger.”  Rep. Lynn Jenkins, R-KS, co-chair of the House Hunger Caucus

"One of the most important objectives of the Hunger Caucus is to foster better communication among anti-hunger advocates by bringing together stakeholders from federal agencies, state and local governments, non-profits, faith-based organizations, academia and business to discuss long-term strategies for ending hunger. The Caucus also serves as a vehicle for anti-hunger organizations to communicate directly to Congress about hunger and food insecurity issues." Rep. Jim McGovern, D-MA,co-chair of the House Hunger Caucus
Rep. Jenkins, Rep.McGovern Launched Caucus at DC Kitchen
Just about two weeks ago,  Rep. Jim McGovern, a Democrat from Massachusetts, and Rep. Lynn Jenkins, a Republican from Kansas, joined forces to relaunch the bipartisan House Hunger Caucus. The two representatives chose the DC Central Kitchen to announce that the House Hunger Caucus was back.

Rep. Jenkins, who represents a district that includes the university town of Lawrence and the state capital of Topeka, follows the legacy left by Rep. Bill Emerson and later his wife Rep. Jo Ann Emerson, Republicans from Missouri, who took a leadership role in the House to address hunger. They worked closely with Rep. Tony Hall of Ohio, Rep. Mickely Leland of Texas and other Democrats to find bipartisan solutions to ending hunger. Here is a press release from Rep. Jenkins about her participation in the caucus. And check out this article from The Hays News in Hays, KS.

And here is the text of a speech  that Rep. McGovern, a member of the Bread for the World board of directors, made to announce the creation of the caucus. The congressman represents a district in central Massachusetts, including the city of Worcester. If you prefer to listen to his words, the video is found at the end of this post.

Rep. Michelle Lujan Grisham Joins Caucus
So, how can we know if our elected representative sits on the hunger caucus? The list of members of the reconstituted caucus has not been released, but a highly placed source in Rep. Michelle Lujan Grisham's office confirmed to us that the congresswoman has joined the caucus. This is very appropriate, since Rep. Lujan Grisham, who represents the First Congressional District in New Mexico, has worked hard to protect nutrition programs in her role as member of the House Agriculture Subcommittee on Nutrition.

Rep. Lujan Grisham was among nearly 30 members of the House who took the SNAP Challenge. Because of her strong dedication to ending hunger, we honored Rep. Lujan Grisham at our Bread Rising/40th Anniversary Event in Albuquerque last October. While the congresswoman could not be there in person, we presented a plaque to her local community outreach staffer.

As to other members, I suspect that some congresspeople who served in the previous
version of the caucus are back. Here is a recent list of those members.

Sunday, March 15, 2015

A Discussion of Child Nutrition, Hunger in New Mexico, and Food Insecurity vs. Hunger

Patty Emord takes notes on Nancy Pope's talk
Nancy Pope,a member of the steering committee of our local Interfaith Hunger Coalition and advisor to several national anti-hunger organizations offered a very informative presentation at our 2015 Offering of Letters workshop in Albuquerque on Saturday, March 14.

Ms. Pope--who has served as a consultant to Share Our Strength, Feeding America, the state of Maryland, and the ConAgra Foods Foundation-- provided us with the latest information on Child Nutrition legislation as well as general updates on anti-hunger programs. The updates she presented were relevant in a number of ways. First, she discussed a few ways on how it connected to our situation in New Mexico.  Here is a graph from her powerpoint presentation:











Child Nutrition Programs and the 2015 Offering of Letters
Just as important, Ms. Pope put together her presentation to make it relevant to "Feed Our Children," Bread for the World's 2015 Offering of Letters. This year's letter-writing campaign urges Congress to reauthorize a Child Nutrition Act that can close the hunger gap. As Ms. Pope noted, we can best make our case by offering relevant facts, which is one in five children in our country are experiencing hunger. She noted in the opening slide of her powerpoint presentation that Rep. Jim McGovern of Massachusetts used this data at the relaunch of the bipartisan House Hunger Caucus along with Rep. Lynn Jenkins of Kansas.
"[Rep. McGovern] noted that no congressional district is hunger free, and 17.5 million American households experienced food insecurity in 2013, while 5.6 percent of households were considered to have very low food security. In 2014, one in five children – 16 million – experienced hunger.

Shrinking wages & hunger
Hunger vs. Food Insecurity
One question that came up during the discussion is the use of the word food insecurity in so many of the official communications from the federal government. Ms. Pope replied that the phrase was coined in 2006 during the administration of ex-President George W. Bush to "soften" the word hunger.  For the record, the US Department of Agriculture describes "food insecurity" as a situation where "a family lacksaccess to enough food for an active, healthy life for all household members." One workshop participant urged others to tell it like it is. "Let's pledge to use the word hunger instead of food insecurity," during our Offerings of Letters.

Kirsten Marr & Rena Dragoo listen to presentation
Letters to Congress
We are hoping  that as many as 20 churches in New Mexico participate in Our Offering of Letters campaign this year. We are off to a good start in Albuquerque, with representatives from nine churches (Albuquerque Mennonite Church, All Saints Lutheran Church, Central United Methodist Church, First Presbyterian Church, Immaculate Conception Catholic Church, St. Andrew Presbyterian Church, St. John XXIII Catholic Church, St. Michael and All Angels Episcopal Church, and St. Paul Lutheran Church) attending the workshop. Our Lady of the Most Holy Rosary Catholic Church was not able to send a representative, but the church was the first to hold an Offering of  Letters this year.

Our next Offering of Letters workshop is scheduled for Santa Fe on March 29, at St. Bede's Episcopal Church. We are hopeful that churches that have organized letter-writing Sundays in the past will participate in this campaign (including St. Bede's Episcopal Church, First Presbyterian Church, St. John's United Methodist Church, and Westminster Presbyterian Church).