By Joyce Rothermel
In May at the SW PA Bread for the World Annual Advocacy Workshop, participants learned of the dire consequences of a lack of adequate nutrition for children in their first 1000 days. Now we have an opportunity to help ensure that children around the world get the food they need to develop and thrive. Bread members from Pittsburgh and around the country traveled to Washington, DC on June 10-11 to carry our message to our elected officials there.
Bi-partisan legislation has been introduced in the House of Representatives as a part of HR 189, seeking $250 million for the Nutrition sub-account within the Global Health Programs account at the USAID (The United States Agency for International Development). Similar legislation will soon be introduced in the Senate.
We want the U.S. to continue to be a leader in fighting undernutrition and advancing strategies that work – from education to improve maternal diets and pregnancy nutrition to promoting breastfeeding, from diversifying diet and fortifying staple foods to supplementing micronutrients. We believe It is essential for Congress to provide increased funding for the Nutrition funding account and expand proven interventions that address the leading cause of child mortality.
Our message to our members of Congress is clear: A substantial increase in the Nutrition sub-account would address the leading cause of child mortality by significantly scaling-up US investments in nutrition. Additional nutrition funding will support many specific and vital nutrition activities, such as nutrition education to improve maternal diets, nutrition during pregnancy, breastfeeding, and infant and young child feeding practices. It will further support diet quality and diversification through fortified or biofortified staple foods, specialized food products, and community gardens, as well as the delivery of nutrition services such as micronutrient supplementation and community management of acute malnutrition.
Maintaining high funding levels for USAID’s nutrition programs fits right into our nation’s security and economic interests. These programs contribute to more stable societies where individuals can reach their full potential. They encourage, create and advance positive partnerships with the US, which in turn enhances our own global and domestic security.
Providing $250 million in total funding in FY 2020 for the Nutrition sub-account will send a clear signal that the US is committed to evidence-based nutritionspecific interventions that are critical to ensuring that children not only survive, but thrive, and that their mothers will live to see it. The US has been a leader in the fields of nutrition and food security. Continuing to provide ample increases in the Nutrition sub-account for FY 2020 will demonstrate that Congress remains committed and engaged on these life-saving and lifeenhancing interventions.
The local Bread for the World Team is reaching out to regional members of Congress asking them to support this initiative. To date, Rep. Mike Doyle has enthusiastically become a co-sponsor of HR 189 and supports the increase in funding needed in the 2020 budget. Sen. Bob Casey has become an original cosponsor for a similar resolution in the Senate. People in area churches will be participating in letter writing and meetings at district offices on these critical issues. Please consider supporting this effort. Here is a sample letter:
Dear Member of Congress (two Senators and member of the House of Representative):
I ask you to help accelerate progress on global nutrition by supporting an increase in global nutrition funding to $250 million in the fiscal year 2020 appropriations bill. Almost half of all child de aths worldwide are linked to malnutrition. The children who survive remain at high risk of irreversible stunting, which affects their physical growth and brain development.
For 151 million children under the age of 5, the majority in Central America, South Asia, and Sub-Saharan Africa, stunting is a life sentence.
We are making progress, but it is far too slow. Providing $250 million for global nutrition this year could reach more than 10 million women and 7 million children with nutrition programs. Increasing access to nutritious food and vitamins, supporting breastfeeding, and ensuring safe drinking water and sanitation will enable more children to grow and reach their full potential.
My conviction calls me to have compassion and stand alongside women and children around the world. I urge you to increase our nation’s commitment to and investment in efforts to advance global nutrition.
Sincerely, Your signature, name and address
Write your letters today to your two US Senators and members in the House of Representatives. Contact me at email@example.com if you would like to join us in local meetings with our elected officials and/or conduct an offering of letters at your place of worship.
Joyce Rothermel is Co-Chair of the SW PA Bread for the World Team