Poverty and Hunger

Malnourishment in children, which leads to stunting, is a huge challenge for families. In fact, globally, poor nutrition stunts the growth of 1 in 4 children—causing lifelong consequences in terms of development.

In Rwanda, Baramenya and Petronille say their son, Jean Pierre, often fell sick and did not gain weight.

When community health workers, connected to a CRS project funded by the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), visited Baramenya and Petronille they realized Jean Pierre was suffering from severe malnutrition and asked his parents to bring him to the health center.

Photo by Noel Turikumwe/Faith Victory Association for CRS

They treated Jean Pierre at the health center for two weeks and his parents joined the village nutrition school. Once Baramenya and Petronille, began attending the school, Jean Pierre was enrolled in the 12-day intensive rehabilitation program. After the 12-day program, Jean Pierre had recovered from severe malnutrition, and his parents were determined to work to raise a healthy, well-nourished child, and help others do the same.

The Gikuriro program in Rwanda is designed to help vulnerable families with children under 5 years old, and nursing and pregnant mothers, learn about nutrition and water, sanitation and health, and the best practices to fight malnutrition.

Baramenya and Petronille participated in all aspects of the program, including the nutrition school, community health club, a savings and lending community to begin to build their finances, and a school to learn farming techniques that improve nutrition. In the farming school, they learned to cultivate vegetables suitable for a garden for their family.

 Photo by Emma-Claudine Ntirenganya/CRS

“We were not used to cultivating vegetables,” Baramenya says. “The market is also far away. We couldn’t go there just to buy vegetables. Today, I have adopted almost all the techniques I learned from the school. My family eats vegetables every day and our neighbors buy them from us. A few of them have started to cultivate vegetables too.”

What impressed and inspired Baramenya most is that Jean Pierre recovered from malnutrition using what they already had at home.
“I was blown away by the quick recovery of my son,” Baramenya says. He attests to how a child can recover from malnutrition with the opportunity for proper care and nutrition practices.

Within 6 months, the Gikuriro program has established 1,914 groups in five districts of Rwanda to learn how to cultivate nutritious food. Its programs like these, which are authorized in the Farm Bill, that create opportunities for people to transform their lives.

You’ve lifted your voice to prevent and end hunger. Here’s an update on our work together:

Since March, you, and other advocates like you, have been raising your voices in support of the international food security programs that are authorized in the Farm Bill. You know these programs are critical to helping people when disasters strike, supporting communities in poverty grow more resilient, conserving natural resources and promoting literacy and education through school lunches.

At the end of June, the House and Senate voted on and passed their respective versions of the Farm Bill. While the House version protects funding for and makes some improvements to international food aid programs, it would be devastating for those most vulnerable and suffering from hunger here in the United States.

The Senate version not only protects funding for international food security programs, it makes even more improvements that will help these programs become more efficient and sustainable—ultimately reaching more people experiencing hunger. It also protects critical funding for domestic hunger and nutrition programs. The USCCB, CRS, Catholic Charities, and Catholic Rural Life issued a letter of support for the Senate’s Farm Bill.

What’s next for the Farm Bill? Congress is now working to come up with a final bill that is a compromise between the Senate and House versions—and we’ll need your help to ensure the final bill protects the funding for these critical programs.

You also worked to combat hunger by reaching out to your Representatives and asking them to ensure they reauthorize the Global Food Security Act which helps ensure the U.S. has a comprehensive strategy to fight global hunger and malnutrition. Here’s the official statement from the USCCB and CRS on their support for the Global Food Security Act.

What’s next for the Global Food Security Act? The Senate passed its version before July recess, so it’s the perfect time to reach out to your Representative to adopt and pass the Senate version! Your voice helps transform the lives of millions of people who are suffering from hunger.