News / USA

Anti-Hunger Advocates Fast to Protest US Budget Cuts

30 organizations, 4,000 activists participate

David Beckmann announcing a fast to protest proposed cuts in programs aimed at alleviating hunger and poverty in the US and abroad.
David Beckmann announcing a fast to protest proposed cuts in programs aimed at alleviating hunger and poverty in the US and abroad.

Multimedia

Audio
TEXT SIZE - +

Leading anti-hunger advocates are fasting to protest U.S. budget-cutting proposals that could threaten some of the world's most vulnerable people.

The budget passed by the House of Representatives includes deep cuts to programs aimed at alleviating hunger and poverty in the United States and around the world. These reductions follow an extension of the Bush-era tax cuts which benefit the nation's wealthiest people.

"We just think that's wrong," says World Food Prize winner David Beckmann, president of the anti-hunger group Bread for the World. He vows to only drink water for a week to protest the proposed cuts.

Deep Cuts

Beckmann is especially concerned about a 40 percent reduction in emergency food aid for disaster victims and refugees - from $1.7 billion last year to $1 billion in the house budget.

"If that would actually happen, we think it would mean cutting off something like 18 million people around the world who depend on food aid," he says. "These are some of the most desperate people in the world."

The protest has been joined by more than 30 organizations, including Christian, Muslim, Jewish and secular groups. Organizers say about 4,000 people are fasting for varying periods of time.

Former Congressman Tony Hall is leading the effort. In 1993, Hall fasted for 22 days to call attention to what he called Congress's lack of conscience toward poor and hungry people.

School meals, small farmers targeted

This year, the house proposed cutting in half a $200-million school meal program for children in developing countries.

"If you picture yourself in a classroom of 20 kids - often times this is the only meal they receive in the day - in essence we would walk into that classroom and pick out 10 kids we would no longer feed," says Rick Leach, president of the World Food Program USA, one of the groups supporting the protest.

And at a time of rising food prices, U.S. development aid aimed at helping improve small farmers' productivity is slated for a 30 percent cut. Nutrition programs targeting the critical first 1,000 days of a child's life would be cut 16 percent.

Leach says Congress can choose one of two paths: "One leads to a comprehensive approach to address hunger. The other leads to historic cuts that have never been seen, never ever been proposed like this by an administration, by a Congress. The effort to address global hunger has always had strong bipartisan support."

Campaign promise

Republicans took control of the House of Representatives this year, promising to make deep budget cuts. Republicans contacted for this story were not available for comment.

But many have said that the United States simply cannot afford to spend the money on foreign aid at a time when the nation is $14 trillion in debt. Some have complained about waste and corruption in countries receiving U.S. aid.

Bread for the World's David Beckmann agrees the United States needs to reduce its deficit. But he says there are ways to do that without cutting programs for the poor and vulnerable.

Raise taxes?

"Right now there seems to be this taboo on raising anybody's taxes," he says. "But it's crazy not to raise taxes for millionaires but to throw kids out of preschool or to cut off the supply of food aid to refugee camps."

There is currently little appetite in Congress for raising taxes. But the Democrat-controlled Senate rejected the deep cuts in the Republican-controlled House budget.

Negotiations are under way to reach a compromise. Observers say cuts to many programs are likely, but the depth and scope are very much under debate.

You May Like

Multimedia Relatives of South Korean Ferry Victims Fire at Authorities

46 people are confirmed dead, but some 250 remain trapped inside sunken ferry More

War Legacy Haunts Vietnam, US Relations

$84 million project aims to clean up soil contaminated by Agent Orange More

Wikipedia Proves Useful for Tracking Flu

Technique gave better results than Center for Disease Control (CDC) and Google’s Flu Trends More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Ukraine, Russia, United in Faith, Divided in Politicsi
X
Michael Eckels
April 19, 2014
There is a strong historical religious connection between Russia and Ukraine. But what role is religion playing in the current conflict? In the run-up to Easter, Michael Eckels in Moscow reports for VOA.
Video

Video Ukraine, Russia, United in Faith, Divided in Politics

There is a strong historical religious connection between Russia and Ukraine. But what role is religion playing in the current conflict? In the run-up to Easter, Michael Eckels in Moscow reports for VOA.
Video

Video Face of American Farmer is Changing

The average American farmer is now 58 years old, and farmers 65 and older are the fastest growing segment of the population. It’s a troubling trend signaling big changes ahead for American agriculture as aging farmers retire. Reporter Mike Osborne says a new report from the U.S. Census Bureau is suggesting what some of those changes might look like... and why they might not be so troubling.
Video

Video Donetsk Governor: Ukraine Military Assault 'Delicate But Necessary'

Around a dozen state buildings in eastern Ukraine remain in the hands of pro-Russian protesters who are demanding a referendum on self-rule. The governor of the whole Donetsk region is among those forced out by the protesters. He spoke to VOA's Henry Ridgwell from his temporary new office in Donetsk city.
Video

Video Drones May Soon Send Data From High Seas

Drones are usually associated with unmanned flying vehicles, but autonomous watercraft are also becoming useful tools for jobs ranging from scientific exploration to law enforcement to searching for a missing airliner in the Indian Ocean. VOA’s George Putic reports on sea-faring drones.
Video

Video New Earth-Size Planet Found

Not too big, not too small. Not too hot, not too cold. A newly discovered planet looks just right for life as we know it, according to an international group of astronomers. VOA’s Steve Baragona has more.
Video

Video Copts in Diaspora Worry About Future in Egypt

Around 10 percent of Egypt’s population belong to the Coptic faith, making them the largest Christian minority in the Middle East. But they have become targets of violence since the revolution three years ago. With elections scheduled for May and the struggle between the Egyptian military and Islamists continuing, many Copts abroad are deeply worried about the future of their ancient church. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky visited a Coptic church outside Washington DC.
Video

Video Critics Say Venezuelan Protests Test Limits of Military's Support

During the two months of deadly anti-government protests that have rocked the oil-rich nation of Venezuela, President Nicolas Maduro has accused the opposition of trying to initiate a coup. Though a small number of military officers have been arrested for allegedly plotting against the government, VOA’s Brian Padden reports the leadership of the armed forces continues to support the president, at least for now.
Video

Video More Millenials Unplug to Embrace Board Games

A big new trend in the U.S. toy industry has more consumers switching off their high-tech gadgets to play with classic toys, like board games. This is especially true among the so-called millenial generation - those born in the 1980's and 90's. Elizabeth Lee has more from an unusual café in Los Angeles, where the new trend is popular and business is booming.
Video

Video Google Buys Drone Company

In its latest purchase of high-tech companies, Google has acquired a manufacturer of solar-powered drones that can stay in the air almost indefinitely, relaying broadband Internet connection to remote areas. It is seen as yet another step in the U.S. based Web giant’s bid to bring Internet to the whole world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
AppleAndroid