Advocating for Global Nutrition on Capitol Hill

June 14, 2019 | Joliet, Ill.

Who’s for hunger?

Hopefully no one. Ending hunger is a real possibility and a good place to start for bipartisan support. It’s pretty easy to reach agreement that food is a basic human need and a human right and that increasing food security is one of the cheapest and most sensible ways to address a number of other issues we see in our world, from migration to healthcare to decreasing criminal activity. These facts made it pretty easy and exciting to go on legislative visits on Capitol Hill to advocate for global nutrition with Bread for the World.

Bread for the World is a national Christian collective that urges our nation’s decision makers to end hunger at home and abroad. This year, USF participated for the first time with Bread for the World’s largest campaign, the Offering of Letters. Student leaders developed a campus campaign to encourage their peers, professors, and others in the USF community to write and sign letters to our US Congress that would strengthen our commitment to global nutrition. This year, Bread for the World’s Offering of Letters campaign focused on the concerns of maternal and child malnutrition as science has shown that the first 1,000 days in a child’s life are the most important for their development and that malnutrition can have lifelong consequences of stunting.

After a week of tabling and advocacy, the University collected 288 letters for Senators Duckworth and Durbin. These letters will be collected with other letters from the Diocese of Joliet’s collection of almost 6,000 total letters and delivered at in-district congressional visits later this summer. This campaign provided students with the opportunity to see how important their voices are in changing national policies that can have far-reaching effects in our communities and around the world.

In continuing to put pressure on national leaders to commit themselves to this cause, Bread for the World hosted its annual Advocacy Summit in Washington, DC on June 10-11, 2019. I was blessed to be invited to join the Diocese of Joliet’s delegation and live out our commitment to Catholic Social Teaching by recognizing our call to family, community, and participation in serving the common good and speaking up for the poor and the vulnerable.

For anyone who might be afraid about the idea of speaking with your representatives, my advice: do not be afraid! Our congress members are people too and their job is to work on our behalf in making policies that serving our needs and values. We must make our needs and voices heard so that they can best work for us. Moreover, you might well be meeting with their staff, who are often young college graduates. Students, these are your peers! If you are worried that you won’t sound intelligent, remember you are talking with your peer who is learning about the issues just like you are.

This lobby day was my first congressional visit and it has empowered me to do even more political advocacy. It’s amazing how an honest and passionate conversation about important issues can move one person who has the power to take action. And this one person could be a catalyst for legislative policies that could save millions of lives. This should empower all of us to know that our choices and our voices do have an impact! And not every one might be able to go to Washington, DC for a face-to-face visit, but we can all make a call, send a letter, or sign an online campaign.

In my [social] actions, I am St. Francis.

Author: Jessica Peek, University of St. Francis Director of University Ministry

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The University of St. Francis, in Joliet, Ill., serves over 4,000 students nationwide, offering undergraduate, graduate, doctoral and certificate programs in the arts and sciences, business, education, nursing and social work. There are over 49,000 USF alumni across the globe. For information, call 800-735-7500 or visit

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