Interview with Bread for the World

As a 2019 Climate Smart Commitment grant recipient, Bread for the World is working to raise awareness in Congress about climate change and protecting programs that help the low-income countries most impacted by it. We asked Bread to talk more about their mission, why the issue of climate change is important to them, and how the average person can help…

What is Bread for the World's mission?

Bread for the World is a faith-based advocacy movement to end hunger at home and abroad. The world has made unprecedented progress against hunger and poverty in recent decades, so we know it's possible to dramatically reduce — and perhaps virtually end — hunger in our generation. Rick Steves' forthcoming documentary, Hunger and Hope: Lessons from Ethiopia and Guatemala, shows us this great liberation underway in the lives of families in two of the poorest countries in the world.

But to continue the progress against hunger, we need to get the US government to do its part. Bread for the World seeks long-term solutions to hunger by changing the policies and conditions that allow hunger to persist. Our network of concerned and committed people across the country lobby their members of Congress for legislation to address the root causes of hunger — such as climate change.

Why did Bread decide to address climate change?

Climate change is one of the primary reasons that progress against world hunger has stagnated over the last five years. Climate change is also contributing to conflict and forced migration in poor countries. People all over the world are experiencing extreme climate events and other effects of climate change, but people in poverty are the most vulnerable, and the effects of climate change are most severe in some of the world's poorest nations.

Bread for the World has been making the connections between climate change and hunger for more than a decade. We travel to low-income countries and meet with people who are coping with climate change. Our report, Fragile Environments, Resilient Communities, shares what we have learned and what needs to be done.

How is the Climate Smart Commitment grant being used to impact people directly?

Bread is using our Climate Smart Commitment grant to show members of Congress and people in the United States how climate change is contributing to hunger around the world. We are advocating for US aid programs that help low-income countries cope with climate change and reduce their contribution to climate change — through climate-smart agriculture, for example. We will also join with others to urge that the US return to the Paris Climate Change Accord, and we are organizing young adults to help lead advocacy on climate change and hunger.

Why is raising awareness in Congress about climate change important?

The US government is crucial to progress against climate change and the harm it is doing to hungry and poor people. We need Congress to curtail our nation's climate change impact, direct our government to support international efforts to reduce climate change, and fund aid programs that help low-income countries do their part. Members of Congress pay attention to what their constituents want, and active citizens back home can often sway what their representatives in Congress do.

What impact have you seen from your advocacy efforts?

Bread for the World and its network have repeatedly been able to win big changes that benefit millions — sometimes tens of millions — of people struggling with hunger. Bread has helped get the US government to provide leadership in promoting evidence-based programs to reduce child malnutrition, for example. As a result, millions of children have escaped malnutrition and the permanent damage it does to growing bodies and brains. Even in today's toxic political environment, Bread for the World members have been able to build broad, bipartisan congressional support to sustain and strengthen US leadership against child malnutrition. Rick's Climate Smart Commitment is now strengthening Bread for the World's advocacy to address the vicious cycle of climate change and hunger.

What can the average person do to help?

Anyone can contact their members of Congress and urge them to get serious about climate change and its impact on hunger. Becoming a member of Bread for the World is a good place to start.