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NEWS STORY: Bread for the World hits global gap between rich and poor

c. 1997 Religion News Service WASHINGTON _ The global economy has benefited countless people _ many have better jobs, higher standards of living and, sometimes, the ability to buy low-cost products. At the same time, however, the globalization of the economy is leaving many people behind and, in its wake, casting a worldwide web of […]

c. 1997 Religion News Service

WASHINGTON _ The global economy has benefited countless people _ many have better jobs, higher standards of living and, sometimes, the ability to buy low-cost products.

At the same time, however, the globalization of the economy is leaving many people behind and, in its wake, casting a worldwide web of hunger, Bread for the World, the Silver Spring, Md.-based Christian anti-hunger group, said in a new report released Thursday (Oct. 16).”The Bread report is a call to action, providing solid recommendations on how to improve the world economy for the approximately 840 million people on our planet afflicted by hunger,”said Christine Vladimiroff, president and CEO of Second Harvest, the nation’s largest domestic hunger-relief charity and one of the report’s co-sponsors.

According to the report, even as the new global economy widens the gap between the rich and the poor, it also holds the key to ending hunger even though”we are not taking full advantage of the opportunities it presents.” The assessment of global economic trends was contained in the Bread for the World Institute’s annual survey,”Hunger in a Global Economy: Hunger 1998.” Because of these global trends, the study said, more than 1 billion people _ nearly a quarter of humanity _ live in grinding poverty, surviving on less than $1 a day. About one in seven _ 841 million people _ are”chronically undernourished.” The United States is among the countries and world economies analyzed in the report. Despite a flourishing economy, it said, the U.S. has the highest wage gap of any industrial country.

Today, a 13-year-old boy in a low-income community in the United States faces similar obstacles to well-being as someone his age growing up in South Asia _ besieged by poverty, attending an under-funded school, spending endless hours on his own, unsupervised while his mother is off earning a living to support the family.”Issues of poverty are not restricted to foreign places,”said Peggy Connolly, a spokeswoman for the Boston-based Oxfam America, another anti-hunger group. She noted the report’s stress on a widening wage gap in the United States and in other countries as one of the causes of poverty and hunger, adding that fighting hunger is”an international responsibility.” Richard Hoehn, director of the Bread for the World Institute, said the 130-page report is not just about mapping trends in the global economy.

Rather, he said, it is about”the search for a responsible global economy, responsible trade practices, responsible investment policies … responsibility toward generations to come; and, finally, our responsibility to act.” The report offers 10″feasible policy changes”to make the global economy work better for hungry people, including:

_Governments, corporations and individuals need to think more seriously about the needs of the poor and hungry when making decisions.

_Businesses should pay employees”living wages.” _Economic markets should be supplemented with government and civic action to help create jobs and decent wages.

_The work of the World Bank and other international financial institutions to reduce poverty needs to be monitored and they must be held accountable to the low-income communities they affect.

_Debt relief should be given to poor nations committed to reducing poverty and expanding foreign aid programs that help hungry and poor people.

_There should be more investments in nutrition, health and education so people can compete in the global economy.

END HAWKINS