By Dulce Gamboa
My favorite time of the year—when I get to spend time with Bread for the World members, activists, and supporters—is our National Gathering and Lobby Day. There’s nothing more inspiring to me than seeing people praying in the halls of Congress and advocating with their senators and representatives to end hunger and poverty in the United States and abroad.
This year is very special. We are celebrating 40 years of successful advocacy efforts—side by side with churches and Christians across the country—that have translated into significant victories for hungry and poor people. Being part of Bread’s Gathering and Lobby Day is a transformational experience.
With our united voices and through our work, we have helped cut extreme global hunger in half, helped protect vital anti-hunger programs from massive cuts during uncertain economic times, and helped communities have a voice in Congress.
We are also expanding our efforts to include new issues for us, such as immigration reform with a pathway to citizenship. About one-third of unauthorized immigrants live in poverty; their lack of legal status contributes to their risk of hunger. As Christians, we cannot allow our brothers and sisters to go hungry. As the Bible tells us, we must treat the stranger who sojourns with us as the native among us and love them as ourselves.
We are taking on these new issues in order to fulfill our goal of eradicating hunger by 2030. By getting Congress to focus on job creation, with emphasis on full employment and fair deal for workers—including the marginalized, such as undocumented workers and returning citizens—and collaborating with community leaders, we can write hunger into history.
I invite you all to join us in our campaign to eradicate hunger. Hispanics need to champion the issues that affect our communities and hunger is one of those issues. As the largest minority population in United States we have a say in the decisions that Congress makes with the money that we pay in taxes, and with the policies that affect our daily lives. We work hard in our churches and food pantries to help those struggling; this is vital work, but we must attack the deep structural causes of poverty by getting our government to make the economic, social, and political decisions necessary to end hunger in our time.
As the past couple of years have shown, when young people unite, they are a force to be reckoned with. All of you are blessed with the opportunity to enact change for your loved ones. Let us become the generation that eradicates hunger. Let us respond to Pope Francis’ call to pray and act against hunger. Let our voices be heard!
Dulce Gamboa is Bread for the World’s Latino Outreach Associate. She is also a member of the Board of Directors for the Franciscan Action Network and volunteers as an English and civics teacher. Find out more about her work at www.bread.org.