But when people suffer and die from hunger, our response tends to be one of resignation. The number of children who die of hunger and related causes averages 15,000 per day. Globally, approximately one person in seven is chronically hungry.
We must recognize our responsibility in alleviating hunger. Developed nations regularly make aid commitments, and much suffering has been relieved by our aid. But our aid routinely falls short of our commitments. We rationalize, “We are knee deep in budget problems, and ‘charity’ is more the responsibility of religious organizations anyway,” and, “We cannot raise taxes, because our wealthy people need to keep their tax breaks so that they can create jobs.” Never mind that the wealthy have an increasing share of the wealth already. Never mind that our military budget is approximately 20 percent of our federal budget while foreign assistance directed to helping poor people is less than 1 percent.
Ironically, Congress is considering foreign assistance directed to the poor as a prime candidate for budget cuts. But such cuts are unconscionable. We instead need to resist cuts and strengthen our aid programs by enacting reforms to improve their effectiveness.
Have you ever received “help” that you didn’t want? Recipients of U.S. aid have. We need to reform our aid by making greater efforts to meet the wants and needs of aid recipients.
Have you ever been promised help only to have it arrive too late? Recipients of U.S. emergency food aid have. Restrictions on such aid makes it much slower and more expensive than necessary. (The restrictions do, however, serve U.S. economic and military interests.)
Bread for the World, a Christian movement advocating for the hungry, is urging Congress to maintain funding of important aid programs and strengthen our aid by enacting needed reforms. Please join this urgent effort.