Session 4 Toolkit
Download this week's toolkit [PDF]
Focus: Light for the Journey
This week, we will shine the light on agents and agencies of Change.
Let’s take the next step in faith. Allowing Light to lead us to:
o Needed policy changes
o Productive programs that need to be brought to scale
o Promising ideas and plans that need to be considered
o People and connections that will make a big difference
o Cities and countries that experience less sorrow on this issue
Wondering what you can DO to shine the light on agents and agencies of Change? Learn about People, Policies, Programs in Philadelphia.
Meet Mariana Chilton: The best way to connect with an agent of change is see what they are doing. Mariana Chilton is an assistant professor of Public Health at Drexel University and the creator of the Witnesses to Hunger project. Through Mariana’s efforts, the stories of hungry women and children in Philadelphia are being heard in Washington DC, Harrisburg, and in towns and villages all over. Mariana is a person who listens deeply to and acts boldly against the issue of hunger.
- The Child Nutrition Act: Congress prepared last year to reauthorize the Child Nutrition Act, the major federal legislation that directs school food policy and resources. The Child Nutrition Act (CNA) is a United States federal law signed on October 11, 1966 by President Lyndon B. Johnson. The Act was created as a result of the "years of cumulative successful experience” under the National School Lunch Program to help meet the nutritional needs of children. The Act is reauthorized every five years, therefore this was an important time of opportunity to help shape the near-future of school food policy, particularly in light of First Lady Michelle Obama's call to end childhood obesity in a generation, and President Obama's desire to increase understanding of the role school food plays in student health and learning.
Last year, City Soup-aligned advocates signed and delivered over 5,000 postcards and letters to members of Congress, asking for support of this important legislation. This newly authorized $4.5 billion bill intends to make school food more nutritious, expand farm-to-school programs, afford free meals in high-poverty areas, improve fitness and nutrition educations, and actively fight childhood obesity.
Unfortunately, the passage of the Child Nutrition came at the expense of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (or SNAP, formerly known as the Food Stamp Program). Congress funded the legislation by cutting $2.2 billion from future SNAP benefits. This means a family of four would see their benefits reduced by $59 per month. President Barack Obama and Congress have promised to work toward restoring those cuts to SNAP, which had already been slashed by more than $12 billion to fund a bill to aid states earlier in the session. It is imperative that Congress and President Obama keep to that promise to address the cuts to SNAP and to safeguard this vital nutrition program from further cuts.
See the fact sheet on this critically important piece of legislation at:
- Witnesses to Hunger: For a list of the policy changes and issues identified and requested by “Witnesses to Hunger” mothers of hungry children in Philadelphia, click here.
- How We Can Continue to Make a Difference: We need to lend our voices and write letters to those who can influence critical social policy changes now.
Here are several programs, two local, one national, that focus specifically on direct support to food insecure people and work to change our thinking about the effects of food on all of us:
Philabundance, the region’s high impact food bank, has published a food emergency 800 telephone number supplying urgent assistance to hungry people; established a “professional choice food cupboard”, giving patrons choice over foods needed and creating sorely needed jobs for those who work in it; and is sending a traveling farmer’s market “Fresh For All “ into underserved neighborhoods. Look as well at their training program for culinary workers, Philadelphia Community Kitchen. PCK promotes the self sufficiency of low-income women and men through a 14 week career-targeted training program. Our innovative food bank is creating “food jobs” and supplying over 25 millions pounds of food annually to those in need all over the Delaware Valley. It is Philabundance that first called the region to attention with their “Food Emergency Declaration” in February 2009.
SHARE — an acronym for Self-Help and Resource Exchange – is a program where people get a break on their grocery bills by exchanging volunteer time for the opportunity to buy affordable food. For each package of food purchased, they simply ask for two (2) hours of “good deed” time, whether at SHARE, other institutions in your community, or your own neighborhood. SHARE is for everyone; “If you eat, you qualify.” Everyone in the community can participate. Because it is for everyone, it can help break down barriers that divide people – barriers like race, religion, social and economic classes, gender and age.
- Let’s Move, First Lady Michele Obama’s Obesity Prevention Program:
Although this is a national program and effort, you will note that one very important element of this program was founded in Philadelphia, and brought to national scale due to its high impact. Access to fresh food produce and better quality foods is essential for all. As part of the President’s proposed FY 2011 budget, the Administration announced a new program – the Healthy Food Financing Initiative -- a partnership between the U.S. Departments of Treasury, Agriculture and Health and Human Services which will invest $400 million a year to provide innovative financing to bring grocery stores to underserved areas and help places such as convenience stores and bodegas carry healthier food options. Grants will also help bring farmers markets and fresh foods into underserved communities, boosting both family health and local economies. Through these initiatives and private sector engagement, the Administration will work to eliminate food deserts across the country within seven years. (Check the Week 3 content, and you’ll see that the Philadelphia FFFI initiative under The Food Trust was the root for this new federal program. ”Good for all” can be achieved through faith invested in good ideas and programs now.)
And don’t forget your weekly action items:
- Keep walking, add more blocks, and keep a hunger relief prayer in mind as you pick up speed. ( The Walk Against Hunger is on April 9th!)
- Continue to make and eat your vegetable rich soups.
- Set aside your savings!
- Begin writing to those elected officials who need to be reminded of how serious our hunger crisis is. Click here for instructions and a sample letter.
Point of reflection
It is important that we know how things fit together, and how we can help with a unified effort to support the policies, programs and people who are making a difference. Bringing to scale high impact ideas/programs is the challenge. By coordinating our efforts, we can effect profound differences in the way our area and our nation view hunger. How can we make our interfaith cooperative efforts more vital, more faithful to God’s interest in social justice?
Prayer for Light for the Journey
Call To Worship – responsive reading. From Bread for the World.
Leader: Let us recall that God is our light and our hope, our refuge and our strength. Let us be attentive to God's presence with us. May we listen with open minds and hearts to the Word.
Responsive Reading (Isaiah 58:6-11)
Leader: This, says Yahweh, is the fasting that I wish: releasing those bound unjustly, untying the thongs of the yoke;
People: Setting free the oppressed, breaking every yoke;
Leader: Sharing your bread with the hungry, sheltering the oppressed and the homeless;
People: Clothing the naked when you see them, and not turning your back on your own.
Leader: Then your light shall break forth like the dawn, and your wound shall be healed quickly;
People: Your vindication shall go before you, and the glory of Yahweh shall be your rear guard.
Leader: Then you shall call, and Yahweh will answer. You shall cry for help, and the Creator will say: Here I am!
People: If you remove from your midst oppression, false accusation and malicious speech;
Leader: If you bestow your bread on the hungry and satisfy the afflicted;
People: Then light shall rise for you in the darkness, and the gloom shall become for you like midday;
Leader: The Creator will renew your strength, and you shall be like a watered garden, like a spring whose water never fails.