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What is

21 Mar Posted by in Featured | 22 comments
What is

In 1993, Congress eliminated the House Select Committee on Hunger, a bi-partisan committee created to address the needs of poor and hungry people at home and around the world. Congressman Tony P. Hall, often called the “conscience of the Congress,” responded by fasting for 22 days, calling on the nation to reflect upon the condition of poor and hungry people.

Thousands of people across the country responded to Hall’s call to action and participated in the fast, some by fasting themselves, and others by organizing events, raising awareness or voicing their support. As a result of the fast the World Bank pledged increased support for hunger programs and the non-profit Congressional Hunger Center was established to train the next generation of leaders in the hunger movement, a legacy that continues to this day.

Today, almost twenty years later — with the stakes even higher and the proposed cuts even more harmful to vulnerable people today than they were before — Tony Hall is fasting again, starting on March 28, 2011, calling for those who share his concern to join him. Here are his goals:

1) Reminding people about the status of vulnerable people in the United States and around the world.

Here in America over 45 million people live poverty, including 15 million children: the highest poverty rate since 1960. 50 million people live in food insecure households. Meanwhile, Americans face high unemployment alongside skyrocketing food and energy prices. Around the world, 25,000 people die from hunger-related causes every day, 925 million people suffer from severe hunger and malnutrition and 2.1 billion live on less than $2 a day.

2) Focusing public attention on the devastating effects that Congress’ proposed cuts would have on vulnerable people.

There is no doubt that America must address its long-term fiscal challenges. No nation can spend without limit, indefinitely, without eventually facing the consequences. However, in the name of deficit reduction, some in Congress have called for irresponsible cuts to vital domestic and international anti-poverty and hunger programs. As Americans, such cuts not only run counter to our sense of compassion and the common good; they distract us from the real problem.

Suggesting that the budget can be balanced on the backs of poor people not only ignores the two largest slices of America’s budget — entitlements and military spending — it betrays a fundamental lack of conscience. Poor people did not cause America’s financial problems, and hurting them is not the right solution. In fact, cutting programs for low-income people actually hurts the economy; every dollar spent on food stamps yields $1.73 in stimulus benefit.

Congress’ proposed cuts — including a 30% cut to development assistance, 14% reductions to child survival programs, 8% cuts in HIV/AIDS treatments and 40% cuts to the Global Fund — put the lives of millions of children at risk, will harm seniors and people with disabilities, and unnecessarily plunge tens of millions around the world deeper into an already desperate struggle with severe malnutrition and hunger. Bottom line: these cuts are an offense to conscience.

3) Forming a CIRCLE OF PROTECTION around programs benefitting the most vulnerable people here in America and around the world.

Beginning on March 28, 2011 we invite you to join Tony Hall in fasting, prayer and personal sacrifice to form a circle of protection around programs that, if cut, would most severely hurt vulnerable people. The circle means participation. This is not a one person effort; we need you!


  1. Andy04-22-11

    You folks are all damn fools. Nobody gives a crap if you dont bother eating today. You can fast all dang month and nobody gives a crap. ask those who go hungry if you fasting helps them out or if they care. They probably think you’re damn fool and rightfully so. Stupidity knows no bounds apparently. SJL and Tony Hall are idiots and apprently seem to think that this is the way to draw attention to themselves mroe so than making a difference where it counts. Plus depending on the government to make sure the poor, homeless and hungry are taken care of is like assuming that you can put a fire out with gasoline. Get of the Governments teat!

  2. lee04-22-11

    It’s not about caring for the poor and needy anymore, it’s about supporting the lazy and making sure they have everything the working class has. If you want a steak, get a job. I’m sick of welfare.

  3. Sarah04-19-11

    Laurel, you might be speaking of assets - the wealthiest in the US have assets of well over $40 trillion, I should imagine (there’s a Wikipedia entry on this subject, The total household income of the whole country was only $12.5 trillion in 2007 (, so obviously the top 10 earners (households?) can’t make more than all households in the whole country combined. There doesn’t exist the amount of money in the country to pay off the $14 trillion debt you speak of, even if everyone contributed 100% of our incomes towards it.

    I agree with some of your arguments, but some of your numbers are off.


  4. Wendy Brown04-18-11

    Jesus did say to care for the poor & hungry. You suggest that charities & not the government should do this work. I really hope that one day we create a just society where neither government help or charities would be necessary. However, in these economic times charities cannot do it alone. I also don’t believe that Jesus specified who should do this work. In my opinion, Jesus would be pleased if the poor & hungry were taken care of. Not only should the government assist those in need, they need to mandate a living wage so more Americans can be self-reliant.

  5. Laurrel Chute04-15-11

    We have done nothing to fight the Rich when they are being allowed to do whatever they want including do NOTHING to help the Economy!
    EX: I remember when teachers, public employees, Planned Parenthood, NPR, and PBS crashed the stock market, wiped out half of our 401Ks, took trillions in TARP money, spilled oil in the Gulf of Mexico, gave themselves billions in bonuses, and paid no taxes? Yeah, me neither. Who were the ones who did those things that caused our whole country to tumble into this Maddness? THE RICH!!! and who has been forced to pay for those CRIMES? The POOR! How is that Fair?
    JP: Go Troll around your house convincing your kids they are not worthy of a job or FOOD because they are not Wealthy!

  6. Laurrel Chute04-15-11

    Yes, The “NET INCOME” of those Crooks is criminally lower than the “GROSS INCOME” after the tax breaks, loopholes, incentives and other nonsence they are allowed to claim. Therein lies the problem WE “Non Trolls” like you are Fighting. Please go troll around another site! You have been ousted for what you are, a TROLL!

  7. JP Venuti04-14-11

    I got my figures from U.S. individuals reported 8.9 trillion dollars in AGI in 2008 (the last year statistics are available). Where did you get your figures from?

    This is my problem, it seems like we are more interested in attacking rich people or politicians than we are interested in attacking the problem of hunger in the United States.

  8. Laurrel Chute04-13-11

    Where do you get your figures from? The top 10 not 10% make more than 40Trillion Dollars combined in ONE year. That is before their accountants reduce that amount with tax loopholes and other Federally allowed tactics so they can claim they make far less than they do. If those 10 were taxed 50%= 20Trillion Dollars that could go towards the 14+Trillion in Debt. These are FACTS and it is CRIMINAL that they be allowed to hide away income, be given tax breaks and benefits when the POOR Suffer. The Rich will always continue to make money and take from the poor… PERIOD. They will never put jobs back into the economy and they will always take everything they are allowed to. It will be the Middle Class, what few there are left of them, that will start small businesses and make jobs available for the poor. It is the laborors that produce the products that make our Economy great. It is the Rich that suck the life out of the rest of us and it is about time we do something drastic to force this War on the Poor to STOP!

  9. JP04-13-11

    Laurrel, please understand that I am 100% for helping people suffering from hunger in this country. I just think that attacking political parties and not offering real solutions is unproductive and can cause larger problems.

    The top 10% of income earners which incluces households making $150,000+ only reported 13.9 trillion in income in 2008. That means that there is no way possible for them to pay off the 14+ trillion debt in 1 year (even if they paid 100% of their income).

    Our budget deficit in 2010 was 1.29 trillion dollars. The top 1% paid about 390 billion dollars of the 899 billion (45%) in total income taxes collected. The top 1% had about 1.6 trillion in total income. So if we went ahead and taxed them at 100% that would close the budget deficit and create a surplus of only 100 billion dollars. This would only erase 1 trillion dollars from our 14+ trillion debt in 10 years. Keep in mind that this assumes zero increase in any interest rates or interest payments. Not to mention billionaires would have zero incentive to keep making money.

  10. Laurrel Chute04-13-11

    First, I am IN! My last meal was a PB&J sandwich and I will be part of the $2 a day fasting group.
    JP: You have no clue what you are talking about! If Americans making $250,000-$1,000,000 a year were taxed 38% and those making $1,000,000+ a year were taxed 50% our National debt would be wiped out in ONE YEAR. If we taxed the top 10 American earners 65% a year we would pay off the National Debt in 5 years or less. By making your statement you look like Senator John Kyl’s rediculously incorrect statement that 90% of Family Planning funding goes towards abortions…
    We need to force a stop on the War on American Poor & Middle Class NOW. I will also be bringing my fight to our State House~

  11. JP04-13-11

    I appreciate the awareness that is bringing to people about those that can’t afford to feed themselves or their children, but we need to find a solution to the problem together. One day the U.S. governments interest payments on its debt will exceed the revenue that it brings in. This will destroy the economy so that millions more will go hungry. Even if we taxed billionaires 100% every year for a decade it may raise 1 trillion dollars in 10 years. Our yearly deficit is 1.27 trillion dollars. That is still not enough money to continue our current spending. Instead of attacking Democrats or Republicans and making sensational statements we all need to get serious and figure out a real solution or we will have much larger hunger problem.

  12. Jess Bart-Williams04-13-11

    The Red Cross, of all organizations, were the leaders in feeding and advocating for the poor during the depression of the 1930s. Your argument fought the good fight then, and lost. There were tent cities all over the country as people lost their homes and fought to get food for themselves and their children. Hubert Humphrey argued that it was the job of charitable organizations, not government, to care for the poor. The country decided then that charitable organizations, which are hit hardest during hard times, are not stable enough economically to support severe downturns in the economy, therefore they cannot be relied upon during the greatest times of need.

    Since then, we have banded together, in the form of government, to assist the poor. In other words, we as a country have generally believed that feeding the poor was as important, or at least as in our best interest as workable roads and running water.

    If we look at government as our coming together to get something done, rather than an outside entity trying to take over our lives (though we do need to guard against that as well to an extent), it is easy to see that entitlement programs are actually a great vehicle to serve the public (when administered effectively, like Medicare).

    If we truly believe that charitable organizations are the only way to go, then we need to be prepared for help to dry up when their funding dries up with a tough economy.

  13. Brittany04-13-11

    I’m in, too! Hopefully Congress can see: we’re not going to stand for this!

  14. Brian04-12-11

    “Why can’t we focus on charities that don’t get government funding?” Because, in a recession and other times of fiscal insecurity, individuals decrease their donations to the poor and needy. People get concerned about their own financial stability, so they stop giving to those who need it more. And while Jesus might never have told us to go to the government for money, the government, the US government, especially, represents the people. By saying “the government should provide a safety net for those of us in crisis,” we are saying “the people of the US want to make sure that those of us in crisis do not go hungry.” I didn’t want to make this post about you, Karen, but if you seriously believe that our society would care for the poor and needy to the extent that it is necessary without any intervention, you are particularly naive.

  15. Mark Seymour04-05-11

    I’m in.

  16. Eva Clayton04-02-11

    I joined Tony in fasting and in prayer for the hungry and poor in our country, and around the world. I also pray that our Congress will have the heart and leadership to support the survival and development of our people especially the poor and vulnerable.
    Cutting for food stamps, WIC, and other nutritional programs is cruel, inhumane and unthinking at worst. It is penny wise and pound foolish at best.
    The consequences of not feeding children are serious and the cost to American People is staggering. Hopefully the majority of my former colleagues will see the light.

    Eva Clayton
    Congresswoman (retired)

  17. Karen04-02-11

    Jesus did tell us to care for the poor and needy. He never told us to go to the government for that money they. Why can’t we focus on charities that don’t get government funding? After all, if the people take care of each other, rather than the government, won’t are economy get better so that those poor people could get jobs?

  18. Edward Kim03-29-11

    Keeping this in prayer

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