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

Lesotho Faces New Round of Violence, Political Crisis

Brutal killing of military officer has sent former leaders back into S. Africa where they're watching anxiously as regional officials head in to try to restore peace More

Video US Diplomat Expects Adoption of Bosnian Massacre Anniversary Resolution

Samantha Power says there's broad consensus about killings in Bosnia's war, but Russia calls resolution 'divisive,' backs UN countermeasure More

UN Report Exposes Widespread Boko Haram Atrocities

Damning report graphically details pattern of vicious, widespread atrocities committed by Islamist militants 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.
Olympics Construction Scars Sacred Korean Mountaini
X
July 02, 2015 4:10 AM
Environmentalists in South Korea are protesting a Winter Olympics construction project to build a ski slope through a 500-year-old protected forest. Brian Padden reports that although there is strong national support for hosting the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, there are growing public concerns over the costs and possible ecological damage at the revered mountain.
Video

Video Olympics Construction Scars Sacred Korean Mountain

Environmentalists in South Korea are protesting a Winter Olympics construction project to build a ski slope through a 500-year-old protected forest. Brian Padden reports that although there is strong national support for hosting the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, there are growing public concerns over the costs and possible ecological damage at the revered mountain.
Video

Video Xenophobia Victims in South Africa Flee Violence, Then Return

Many Malawians fled South Africa early this year after xenophobic attacks on African immigrants. But many quickly found life was no better at home and have returned to South Africa – often illegally and without jobs, and facing the tough task of having to start over. Lameck Masina and Anita Powell file from Johannesburg.
Video

Video Family of American Marine Calls for Release From Iranian Prison

As the crowd of journalists covering the Iran talks swells, so too do the opportunities for media coverage.  Hoping to catch the attention of high-level diplomats, the family of American-Iranian marine Amir Hekmati is in Vienna, pleading for his release from an Iranian prison after nearly 4 years.  VOA’s Heather Murdock reports from Vienna.
Video

Video UK Holds Terror Drill as MPs Mull Tunisia Response

After pledging a tough response to last Friday’s terror attack in Tunisia, which came just days before the 10th anniversary of the bomb attacks on London’s transport network, British security services are shifting their focus to overseas counter-terror operations. VOA's Henry Ridgwell has more.
Video

Video Obama on Cuba: This is What Change Looks Like

President Barack Obama says the United States will soon reopen its embassy in Cuba for the first time since 1961, ending a half-century of isolation. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video Hate Groups Spread Influence Via Internet

Hate groups of various kinds are using the Internet for propaganda and recruitment, and a Jewish human rights organization that monitors these groups, the Simon Wiesenthal Center, says their influence is growing. The messages are different, but the calls to hatred or violence are similar. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video US Silica Sand Mining Surge Worries Illinois Residents, Businesses

Increased domestic U.S. oil and gas production, thanks to advances known as “fracking,” has created a boom for other industries supporting that extraction. Demand for silica sand, used in fracking, could triple over the next five years. In the Midwest state of Illinois, people living near the mines are worried about how increased silica sand mining will affect their businesses and their health. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh has more in this first of a series of reports.
Video

Video Blind Somali Journalist Defies Odds in Mogadishu

Despite improving security in the last few years, Somalia remains one of the most dangerous countries to be a journalist – even more so for someone who cannot see. Abdulaziz Billow has the story of journalist Abdifatah Hassan Kalgacal, who has been reporting from the Somali capital for the last decade despite being blind.
Video

Video Texas Defies Same-Sex Marriage Ruling

Texas state officials have criticized the US Supreme Court decision giving same-sex couples the right to marry nationwide. The attorney general of Texas says last week's decision did not overrule constitutional "rights of religious liberty," and therefore officials performing wedding services can refuse to perform them for same-sex couples if it is against their religious beliefs. Zlatica Hoke reports on the controversy.
Video

Video Rabbi Hits Road to Heal Jewish-Muslim Relations in France

France is on high alert after last week's terrorist attack near the city Lyon, just six months after deadly Paris shootings. The attack have added new tensions to relations between French Jews and Muslims. France’s Jewish and Muslim communities also share a common heritage, though, and as far as one French rabbi is concerned, they are destined to be friends. From the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, Lisa Bryant reports about Rabbi Michel Serfaty and his friendship bus.
Video

Video Saudi Leaks Expose ‘Checkbook Diplomacy’ In Battle With Iran

Saudi Arabia’s willingness to wield its oil money on the global diplomatic stage appears to have been laid bare, after the website WikiLeaks published tens of thousands of leaked cables from Riyadh’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video In Kenya, Police Said to Shoot First, Ask Questions Later

An organization that documents torture and extrajudicial killings says Kenyan police were responsible for 1,252 shooting deaths in five cities, including Nairobi, between 2009 and 2014, representing 67 percent of all gun deaths in the areas reviewed. Gabe Joselow has more from Nairobi.

VOA Blogs