The Politics of Hunger @UrbanFaith

Ambivalent about exercising your patriotic duty on Tuesday? I was too, until I interviewed the winner of the World Food Prize and learned why this election is so important to hungry Americans. Here’s the intro:

Hunger is a devastating problem in third-world countries, but according to Bread for the World president David Beckmann, one-quarter of all African Americans live in poverty right here in the U.S. That’s why he believes vanquishing poverty should be at the top of our “Christian” political agendas — and why he’s urging people to vote on Tuesday.

David Beckmann is president of Bread for the World and the recent winner of the 2010 World Food Prize. In addition to being an anti-hunger activist, he is a Lutheran minister and an economist who formerly worked at the World Bank. His latest book is Exodus from Hunger: We Are Called to Change the Politics of Hunger. UrbanFaith columnist Christine Scheller interviewed Rev. Beckmann about his work, hunger in the African American community, and why we should be aware of the federal policies that influence issues of poverty in America. …

And a compelling exchange from our conversation:

I tend to think that living in the United States, hunger is more invisible. How has it changed you working for the World Bank and Bread for the World?

What’s most striking is that the world as a whole has made remarkable progress against hunger, poverty and disease. I believe in God and I see that hundreds of millions of people have escaped from poverty in places like Ethiopia, Bangladesh, Brazil and Britain. That’s why, for me, it makes sense that this is God moving in our history. And then I come back to the U.S.A. where we haven’t made any progress against hunger and poverty since about 1973 and it informs, I think, the U.S. situation. If Brazil and Bangladesh can reduce poverty, it’s clear that we could do it in the U.S. We just haven’t tried for a while. But we did try as a nation. In the ’60s and the early ’70s, we had economic growth and we had a concerted effort under both Johnson and Nixon to reduce hunger and poverty and we cut poverty in half. So it’s doable here too. … I think the fact that we work on world poverty and domestic poverty together makes it all much clearer that our problem in this country is lack of commitment.

Read the whole thing here, and don’t forget to vote.

This interview was reprinted with permission at The Huffington Post on November 2, 2010.

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