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

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

Disappointing Report on China's Economy Shakes Markets

In London and New York shares lost 3 percent, while Paris and Germany dropped around 2.4 percent More

DRC Tries Mega-Farms to Feed Population

Park at Boukanga Lonzo currently has 5,000 hectares under cultivation, crops stretching as far as eye can see, and is start of ambitious large-scale agriculture plan More

Video War, Drought Threaten Iraq's Marshlands

Areas are spawning ground for Gulf fisheries, a resting place for migrating wildfowl, source of livelihood for fishermen and herders who have called the marshes home for generations 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.
Nobel Prize Winner Malala Talks to VOAi
X
August 31, 2015 2:17 AM
Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai met with VOA's Deewa service in Washington Sunday to talk about women’s rights and unveil a trailer for her new documentary. VOA's Katherine Gypson has more.
Video

Video Nobel Prize Winner Malala Talks to VOA

Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai met with VOA's Deewa service in Washington Sunday to talk about women’s rights and unveil a trailer for her new documentary. VOA's Katherine Gypson has more.
Video

Video War, Drought Threaten Iraq's Marshlands

Iraq's southern wetlands are in crisis. These areas are the spawning ground for Gulf fisheries, a resting place for migrating wildfowl, and source of livelihood for fishermen and herders. Faith Lapidus has more.
Video

Video Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalates

Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Rebuilding New Orleans' Music Scene

Ten years after Hurricane Katrina inundated New Orleans, threatening to wash away its vibrant musical heritage along with its neighborhoods, the beat goes on. As Bronwyn Benito and Faith Lapidus report, a Musicians' Village is preserving the city's unique sound.
Video

Video In Russia, Auto Industry in Tailspin

Industry insiders say country relies too heavily on imports as inflation cuts too many consumers out of the market. Daniel Schearf has more from Moscow.
Video

Video Scientist Calls Use of Fetal Tissue in Medical Research Essential

An anti-abortion group responsible for secret recordings of workers at a women's health care organization claims the workers shown are offering baby parts for sale, a charge the organization strongly denies. While the selling of fetal tissue is against the law in the United States, abortion and the use of donated fetal tissue for medical research are both legal. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video Next to Iran, Climate at Forefront of Obama Agenda

President Barack Obama this week announced new initiatives aimed at making it easier for Americans to access renewable energy sources such as solar and wind. Obama is not slowing down when it comes to pushing through climate change measures, an issue he says is the greatest threat to the country’s national security. VOA correspondent Aru Pande has more from the White House.
Video

Video Arctic Draws International Competition for Oil

A new geopolitical “Great Game” is underway in earth’s northernmost region, the Arctic, where Russia has claimed a large area for resource development and President Barack Obama recently approved Shell Oil Company’s test-drilling project in an area under U.S. control. Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Philippine Maritime Police: Chinese Fishermen a Threat to Country’s Security

China and the Philippines both claim maritime rights in the South China Sea.  That includes the right to fish in those waters. Jason Strother reports on how the Philippines is catching Chinese nationals it says are illegal poachers. He has the story from Palawan province.
Video

Video China's Spratly Island Building Said to Light Up the Night 'Like A City'

Southeast Asian countries claim China has illegally seized territory in the Spratly islands. It is especially a concern for a Philippine mayor who says Beijing is occupying parts of his municipality. Jason Strother reports from the capital of Palawan province, Puerto Princesa.
Video

Video Ages-old Ice Reveals Secrets of Climate Change

Ice caps don't just exist at the world's poles. There are also tropical ice caps, and the largest sits atop the Peruvian Andes - but it is melting, quickly, and may be gone within the next 20 years. George Putic reports scientists are now rushing to take samples to get at the valuable information about climate change locked in the ice.

VOA Blogs