Anti-hunger campaign seeks to influence 2016 presidential race

What does hunger look like on World Food Day in 2015? 

Globally, the number of chronically malnourished has decreased by more than 100 million over the past 10 years. But millions continue to suffer. 

In the U.S., one out of every seven households struggles to put food on the table -- that's more than 48 million Americans, including 5.4 million seniors, and 15 million children. Worldwide, 795 million people experience hunger on a daily basis. 

These troubling stats prompted a group of top nonprofits to launch a new national campaign: Vote to End Hunger. 

Vote to End Hunger “will mobilize grassroots supporters and leaders to urge the 2016 presidential candidates to focus on ending hunger, alleviating poverty, and creating opportunity in the United States and around the world,” stated a press release issued the day of the campaign's launch. 

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“We think its possible to fix hunger in our country and the world by 2030,” said Rev. David Beckmann of the Bread for the World, one of the campaigns’ chief nonprofit supporters, speaking at an Oct. 13 press event in Des Moines, Iowa, during World Food Prize week at the Iowa Hunger Summit. “But to make that happen -- to make any serious progress against hunger and poverty in our country and around the world -- it is crucial to win a shift in U.S. national priorities.”

“We have an extraordinary opportunity with the election of 2016 to see a shift in our nation’s heart and our national priorities,” Beckmann said. “Our goal is to make hunger, poverty, opportunity for all a national priority for the president and Congress who take office in 2017.”

The Vote to End Hunger campaign press release said that hunger leads to “lost productivity and increased, avoidable healthcare costs.” It also has a “devastating impact on the lives of children -- our nation’s future. Hunger affects their brain development, making it harder for them to learn in school, and also puts them at risk of chronic health issues."

Speaking at the Oct. 13 press event, Bishop Richard Pates, Diocese of Des Moines, remarked on the fact that there is no lack for food at the global level.

“Forty percent of the world’s food today is wasted,” he said. “… There is more than an abundance of food available to everybody. What we have to recognize is that the ‘other person’ is somebody to whom we should accord the dignity and honor that they’re entitled to as a human person. Who wouldn’t want to help their sister? Who wouldn’t want to help their brother?"

In addition to Bread for the World, the alliance of nonprofits forming the Vote to End Hunger campaign includes: Alliance to End Hunger, Feeding America, Meals on Wheels America, RESULTS Educational Fund, and Share Our Strength/No Kid Hungry. 

On Nov. 8, Vote to End Hunger will hold a rally in Des Moines. The rally will be sponsored by the Iowa Catholic Conference and Bread for the World. 

[Vinnie Rotondaro is NCR national correspondent. His email address is vrotondaro@ncronline.org.]


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