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While 2016 was a tumultuous year marked by partisanship and intense disagreements, the 2016 Offering of Letters achieved victory despite the congressional gridlock. In July 2016, Congress passed the Global Food Security Act with overwhelming bipartisan support. This world hunger bill ensured that the Feed the Future initiative would continue to support smallholder farmers and improve the nutrition of women and children around the world. It authorized more than $3.7 billion for programs that help feed hungry people. And, while we did not achieve our goal of $250 million for nutrition in global health programs through congressional appropriations, Congress did maintain strong funding for nutrition at $125 million in both their appropriations bills and continuing resolutions. Finally, the 2016 Offering of Letters brought to the forefront strong bipartisan support for global maternal and child nutrition in Congress—more than 180 members of Congress signed letters in support of robust funding for maternal and child nutrition programs in 2016.
The 2015 Offering of Letters resulted in strong, bipartisan support in Congress for strengthening children’s access to important nutrition programs, especially those for summer meals. Numerous bills were introduced to give more children the meals they needed, such as the Summer Meals Act and the Stop Child Summer Hunger Act. At publication time, the House and Senate were committed to passing bipartisan language to reauthorize the child nutrition act by early 2016. Finally, the advocacy efforts of Bread activists were instrumental in passing a two-year budget deal that lifted deep sequestration cuts and protected critical funding for programs such as the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC).
Despite another year of deep partisanship and gridlock in Congress, we secured $35 million in fiscal year 2014 to reduce the need to monetize food aid — selling food-aid commodities to fund development projects — reaching 200,000 more people. The farm bill authorized $80 million to purchase food locally where it is needed and included provisions that give the government more flexibility in providing food aid, helping 600,000 more people annually. The House and Senate passed amendments increasing funding to food-aid reform provisions. And Bread helped halt passage of a provision that would have taken away $75 million of food-aid funds to increase subsidies to the world’s shipping companies. If passed, it would have reduced the reach of food-aid programs by 2 million people annually.
In a hostile budget climate and with continued threats of deep cuts to anti-hunger and anti-poverty programs, our 2013 Offering of Letters targeted both Congress and the White House for the first time. We urged Congress to protect critical programs and petitioned the president to set a goal to end hunger. Bread for the World prevented harmful cuts to SNAP, successfully blocking $135 billion in SNAP cuts in the federal budget, and a House of Representatives proposal to cut the program by $40 billion. During October's government shutdown and near default on the debt ceiling, we worked with our faith partners to re-open the government and prevent service disruptions that would have disproportionately affected struggling families.