Tag Archives: Fordham IPED

Recap and Response: Replicating Successful National Programs to Reduce Hunger

by: Tish Harrison ’20

Dr. Daniel Gustafson started by saying that he never thought there’d be so much progress in the reduction of global hunger between 1977 when he first started working in Brazil and the present. He then launched into his report on national programs that have been successful in reducing hunger in the world. Between 1990 and 2015, he observed, the proportion of those suffering from hunger out of the world population fell from 24% to 12%.

It’s heartening to hear that programs geared toward reducing world hunger are succeeding and that incomes are rising so that more families can feed themselves. Skeptics often say that poverty will always remain a reality in the world regardless of people’s efforts to combat it. However, these are real statistics showing that, in at least one regard, we are succeeding in improving living standards for humanity.

We’ve learned that when governments make hunger programs a priority and get the support of the people behind these programs, real change can occur. Dr. Gustafson showed us ample evidence of this in governments around the world, providing special anecdotes from Bangladesh, India, Mexico, Brazil, Ghana and China.

Prof. Gustafson provided examples of national policies that have effectively addressed food insecurity

Dr. Gustafson has been working in the fields of rural development and agriculture for a long time. He’s seen better agricultural practices (advanced by scientists in the laboratory and experts in the field) lead to not only larger food yields to be consumed, but also greater income for farming families who put in the sweat and hours of labor. Toward the end of his presentation, he asked us to think about what more can be done now and in the future.

One thing we must do is keep up the pressure on world leaders to have world hunger on their agendas as they design their foreign policies and draw their national budgets. This has worked well in the past. We must keep these issues at the forefronts of their minds until 100% of the world’s population is nourished sustainably. Every person has the right to life and everyone must eat to live. After listening to Dr. Gustafson speak at the conference and hearing about our progress, I have great faith that the world can unite and eliminate hunger in the coming decades.

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Recap and Response: The Role of SNAP

By: Shannon Bader ‘20

Professor Craig Gundersen, of the University of Illinois, passionately discussed the role of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) at the CAPP-USA and Fordham University Conference last Friday. He was enthusiastic and optimistic: he believes that it is possible to solve the problem of hunger in the US, and that we can gain many insights from SNAP and apply them elsewhere. However, he was quick to caveat that he did not want to conflate the problem of food insecurity in the US with the problem in low-income countries.

Professor Gundersen highlighted the many ways in which SNAP is in line with the Catholic perspective. As a Catholic himself, he strives to promote policies that are consistent with Catholic teaching. He noted that several important theologians, up to and including Pope Francis, have emphasized the responsibility of the more fortunate to help others.

Professor Gundersen giving his lecture on the role of SNAP in the United States

He also discussed the need to focus on positive claims for the right to food. A successful program must reach those in need. SNAP has eligibility criteria that beneficiaries must meet, and the benefit levels are a function of both income and family size. Secondly, the program must create effective mechanisms to get the benefits to those in need. SNAP successfully does this by issuing Electronic Benefit Transfer (EBT) cards to families that can then be used in retail food outlets. The administrative overhead costs for this program are negligible. Programs must also be fully funded. SNAP is an entitlement program, not a discretionary one, and helps around 42 million people. It also must provide enough to those in need. Professor Gundersen advocated the expansion of SNAP to include more people and further reduce food insecurity. Finally, programs must ensure the dignity and autonomy of recipients. In general, SNAP has no work requirements, but it also does not discourage work by eliminating benefits for those who are employed. It also allows recipients to make decisions about food choices rather than dictating what they may or may not purchase.

Professor Gundersen’s passion for this program was palpable throughout his speech and in the panel that followed. He was optimistic that an expansion of SNAP would help to eliminate food insecurity in the US, and that the merits of SNAP can be implemented in programs throughout the world. He also made sure to express that he was open to criticism and constructive feedback, as his goal is to make the program as successful as possible. Overall, his confidence in SNAP and enthusiasm for the program certainly spilled over into the audience, leaving participants hopeful that food insecurity can be reduced or eliminated.

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2018 Summer Internship Series: Ben Boltz at the Hogar San Fransisco de Asis

by: Ben Boltz ’19

This past summer I interned at the Hogar San Fransisco de Asis in Chaclacayo, Peru.  The Hogar was founded in 1995 by Dr. Anthony Lazzara who felt a strong calling to help the impoverished wherever he could.  Dr. Lazzara, a trained pediatrician, found his calling in Peru where he has worked for the past 23 years to facilitate the treatment of the poor and needy in Peru.  The children at the Hogar have conditions that range from cleft lips to cancer and from spina bifida to brittle bone disease.  Everyone is welcome so long as they are under 18 years of age, when according to Peruvian law they can’t stay at the organization, and are poor, needy, and sick.  Dr. Lazzara has helped around 1,000 children since he arrived in Peru and his organization addresses a need that the Peruvian government does not address.

Dr. Lazzarra with the children in Hogar San Francisco de Asis

My role at the Hogar centered around monitoring and evaluation.  Dr. Lazzara, while as passionate as ever, has recently turned 76 and has been considering retirement for several years now.  However, he has not created any plans for succession and sustainability for the Hogar.  As such, I observed and helped volunteer at the Hogar while creating a needs based assessment that would help Dr. Lazzara plan for the future.  The assessment followed the SWOT format and pointed out the Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats of and to the organization.  Additionally, the assessment primarily focused on the sustainability of the organization and possibilities for improvement for the future.

The report served two purposes.  Firstly, it gave Dr. Lazzara a new perspective and outlined areas for improvement such as a streamlined website, a more informative and descriptive newsletter, and changes to the current volunteer system.  Secondly, the same report compiled Dr. Lazzara’s thoughts on his retirement and the future of his organization into a plan for the future.  This report would then serve as a reference tool for both Dr. Lazzara and his staff when his retirement becomes more of a reality.

Volunteers of Hogar San Fransisco de Asis

As someone who is interested in sustainable development and understanding how non profit organizations work this internship was very valuable in a professional sense.  Prior to this internship I had no experience and very little knowledge concerning how non profits function in both a financial and legal sense.  Thanks to this internship I can better tailor my career goals to include possibly working for a similar organization.

For anyone interested in volunteering at the Hogar San Fransisco de Asis please visit https://www.villalapazfoundation.org/ or email Dr. Lazzara at info@villalapazfoundation.org

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2018 Summer Internship Series: Brian Harper at the Americas Society and Council of the Americas

by: Brian Harper ’19

I spent the summer of 2018 working with Americas Society and Council of the Americas (AS/COA), a remarkable opportunity to research and write about some of the most fascinating contemporary topics in Latin America.

Established in the 1960s, the two organizations that make up AS/COA are designed to foster learning and debate surrounding major political, economic, and social issues and trends throughout the Americas. This mission was especially relevant in 2018, with nine Latin American countries holding elections or otherwise experiencing a transition of power (in one case unexpectedly). AS/COA members include experts in relevant fields, while top governmental ministers and even sitting and former presidents routinely speak at AS/COA events.

Brian at the AS/COA

As part of AS/COA’s Web Team, my role was to support my colleagues in research, maintaining and updating AS/COA’s website with new content, and overseeing the organizations’ social media presence (primarily via Facebook and Twitter). When AS/COA held one of its Latin American Cities Conferences—as it did in Quito, Ecuador on my first day—it was my job to assist in live Tweeting the event. This task put my Spanish skills to the test.

Brian with the team from AS/COA

My coworkers have been exceedingly generous in giving me opportunities to cover topics that are of interest to me and AS/COA members. A story I pitched on a Migration Policy Institute report led to my putting together an article with interactive graphs documenting immigration policy under U.S. President Donald Trump. I also conducted an interview with a renowned Colombian journalist, wrote detailed explainers on Brazil’s presidential candidates and Colombia’s Special Jurisdiction for Peace, and assessed Peruvian President Martín Vizcarra’s first 100 days in office. Furthermore, I joined Young Professionals of the Americas’ (YPA) internal committee to help build a community of the next generation of leaders dedicated to AS/COA’s mission.

Reading academic and policy-oriented papers in IPED classes like Econometrics and Politics of Global Economic Relations made me more comfortable in the research I did with AS/COA. Moreover, I was able to synthesize what I learned in my work into papers I wrote on Colombia and Argentina for Political Risk Analysis and Emerging Markets respectively. Finally, this internship both complemented and built upon work I am doing with the Council on Foreign Relations’ Latin America Studies program.

I would encourage anyone interested in Latin America to consider applying to work with AS/COA or attending a YPA event. In addition to the Web Team, other departments offer internships, such as Communications and Strategic Engagement. You can learn more by visiting www.as-coa.org or following on these  organizations on social media (@ASCOA and @ascoaYPA).

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Reduce Hunger: Pope Francis’ Call for New Approaches

Last Friday, September 28, Fordham IPED and Centesimus Annus Pro Pontifice (CAPP) hosted a conference entitled “Reduce Hunger: Pope Francis’ Call for New Approaches” which tackled on the issue of global food security. The conference featured numerous scholars who talked about the different challenges, and innovation in ensuring food security for the world.

The conference started with a remark from Archbishop Bernardito Auza, Permanent Observer of the Holy See to the United Nations, who gave an overview of the perspective of Pope Francis with regards to food security. Archbp. Auza also drew from his own experience living in poverty in rural Philippines, as well as on his experience working for various Apostolic Nunciatures around the world. He most especially highlighted what Pope Francis thinks to be the causes of food insecurity, and the various principles that the Pope is suggesting in approaching the problem. Among the causes according to Pope Francis, he says, are: conflict, the throw-away culture, land-grabbing, and structures of poverty and exclusion; and among Pope Francis’ principles in approaching food insecurity includes: moral imperative to not eliminate the hungry in eliminating hunger, the necessity for a long-term plan and not just humanitarian intervention, and a conversion of people towards love. The Archbishop also made a point that the problem on food is not a resource issue – that the Earth can provide. Rather, the archbishop remarked, that the problem is a human issue – that as a society we don’t provide and distribute our resources.

Prof. Christopher Barrett then talked about the various challenges of global food security for the 21st century. According to him, we have accomplished so much but there are also a lot of challenges to be worried about – we are in the best of times and in the worst of times. He started by highlighting humanity’s accomplishments such as the dramatic decline in the stunting of children, and in the number of those living in poverty. However, new problems have also arisen such as the increasing number of people who are undernourished. He highlighted that the areas of challenges are in: lack of supply in vitamin-rich foods, climate change, conflict zones, poverty traps, and distribution networks.

As part of the panel discussion, Prof. Craig Gundersen gave an overview about food security at the local level particularly in the United States. He explained how the SNAP program help reach those who are in need by having eligibility requirements that are realistic, benefits levels that have real impact, effective mechanisms that limit corruption, and the autonomy and freedom of the beneficiaries.

Prof. Sarah Davidson Evanega highlighted her research and work on the impact of GMOs. She featured different interviews of different people from different parts of the world whose lives were changed for the better because of access to GMOs. She proposed that this is a justice issue – there’s an urgency to use science and technology to better the lives of people most especially the poor. She explained how many problems faced by farmers like climate change and pests can be addressed by using genetically modified crops.

Mr. Bill O’Keefe of Catholic Relief Services (CRS) also gave his insights on food security drawing from on-the-ground perspectives. He suggested the integrated approach of CRS that focuses on the vulnerable by targeting systems and structures rather than relying on individual problems. He also proposes the use of technology and of partnerships with the public and private sectors to really make an impact in communities and countries.

Mr. O’Keefe giving on-the-ground perspectives in approaching the problem of food insecurity

Dr. Daniel Gustafson gave a national policy perspective on food security by giving examples of successful programs in various countries. He used these examples to demonstrate that through transparent and effective programs, food security for the world can be achieved. He suggested that we learn from our previous experiences in order to have more efficient and effective programs most especially for the poor.

Prof. Gustafson provided examples of national policies that have effectively addressed food insecurity

A lively panel discussion moderated by Rev. Richard Ryscavage, SJ then followed. The discussion questions ranged from private sector participation to utilization of technology; from market volatility to addressing the movements against GMOs. Overall, the discussions gave a sense that there is a lot to be optimistic about. Yet, there are still a lot of challenges to address. We cannot be satisfied by what we have accomplished but rather push forward and face the challenges to really attain food security for the world.

The conference ended with a wonderful rapporteur report from Mr. Brian Strassburger, SJ, who encapsulated the call to action of the whole conference into one word – magis. He said that after hearing from everyone in the conference, it is clear that we should not be content to what we have achieved but we need to go further, deeper, and more, into the challenges of food security. The day ended with some light refreshments and entertainment from the Creative Leaps International.

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