Barack Obama and Mitt Romney Explain Their Views on Hunger

Woman and child in Burundi Care Group

Pastors and Christian leaders are circling up to ask the presidential candidates to protect impoverished people like this woman and her child

As America’s debate about our spiraling deficit and global recession boils on the front burner, a group of pastors and leaders of faith-based organizations have circled up to protect “the least of these.”

These Christians are referring to Matthew 25:45, in which Jesus declares that not helping the world’s most impoverished and vulnerable people is the same as refusing to help the Lord. These Christians have formed an alliance called Circle of Protection, and they state their mission thusly:

“As Christian leaders, we are committed to fiscal responsibility and shared sacrifice. We are also committed to resist budget cuts that undermine the lives, dignity, and rights of poor and vulnerable people. Therefore, we join with others to form a Circle of Protection around programs that meet the essential needs of hungry and poor people at home and abroad.”

Food for the Hungry (FH) is a signatory of this and other initiatives that, together, resulted in Wednesday’s unveiling of short videos by the presidential candidates. In their individual videos, Barack Obama and Mitt Romney each explain how they propose dealing with extreme economic poverty.

A Sample Tool For Fighting Extreme Economic Poverty

The generally-accepted definition of extreme economic poverty is that you’re living on less than $1.25 per day. That’s the plight of 1.4 billion people worldwide. Most of those people live in developing nations, and those are the people FH serves.

Volunteer teaches handwashing for good health in Burundi
Bdirarika Regine is a community volunteer teaching handwashing as a tool for staying healthy in Burundi, Africa

Ndirarika Regine is one of them. She’s a mother of six who lives in a small village in Burundi, Africa, where the average annual income is $600 and less than two percent of the population has electricity, much less health care, educational opportunities or access to clean water.

Regine has experienced first-hand the generosity of FH donors, who help FH partner with her country’s Ministry of Health to deworm all of the nation’s children – more than 3 million of them. Regine volunteers as a community health worker.

FH taught Regine, and she teaches other women, how to keep their children healthy. We’re helping her educate herself and other mothers about nutrition and healthy hygiene practices. We’ve empowered them to grow and cook nutritious food. But another important aspect of their children’s nutrition is the twice-a-year deworming program.

Intestinal worms no longer hijack up to 25 percent of the nutrition that mothers in Regine’s village labor to provide their children. The children no longer experience the stunted growth, stomach problems and lethargy associated with intestinal worms. They are better able to go to school regularly.

In a study by two professors from Berkley and Harvard, Edward Miguel and Michael Kremer concluded deworming school children cut absenteeism by 25 percent. One decade later, they found that the young adults who had been dewormed earned 20 percent more annually and worked more hours weekly than those who had not been dewormed.

Realizing that deworming directly impacts a nation’s economy, the government of Burundi partnered with FH to deworm its children.

How You Can Help

The Circle of Protection are Christian leaders who have said, “As Christian leaders, we urge Congress and the administration to give moral priority to programs that protect the life and dignity of poor and vulnerable people in these difficult times, our broken economy, and our wounded world.”

There is much you can do to contribute to this call.

  1. Get informed about poverty so you can articulate why ending poverty and hunger is important to you.
  2. Vote. Whatever your political persuasion, look beyond the party to which the candidates belong as you vote. Dig deeper than what the news media will show you (all the way to page 10 of Google if you have to) to learn about real issues and their real solutions.
  3. Write a letter to your local newspaper explaining why ending poverty is important. Attend candidates’ town hall meetings, and ask them how they would work against poverty.
  4. Speak out wherever you can – with your friends and family, at church and at work.
  5. Pray for an end to poverty and pray for the people caught in its grip.
  6. Give financially to your favorite poverty-fighting charity – both here and abroad.


About Karen Randau

A native of the southwestern U.S., Karen uses her blog posts to put into action her passion for helping people be all that God intended them to be. She is able to do this through her role in the Food for the Hungry communications department of the Global Service Center in Phoenix in two ways. First, she helps people understand the plight faced by impoverished people in developing nations. Second, she brings light to the successful ways Food for the Hungry is helping people.