In Review by Ann Coder

The Reference Center, Hamilton Library, University of Hawai’i at Manoa

Hunger 1994: Transforming the Politics of Hunger: Fourth Annual Report on the State of World Hunger. Marc J. Cohen, editor. Silver Spring, MD: Bread for the World Institute, 1993. 189 pages. $14.95 plus $3 postage. ISBN: 0–9628058–9–0.

According to the Encyclopedia of Associations, Bread for the World Institute on Hunger and Development is a Christian organization united against hunger and poverty with 43,000 members and 400 local groups. Its members lobby government officials on policies affecting hunger, including issues related to financial assistance to poor countries.

In his introduction to part one, Bread for the World Institute President David Beckmann explains that government programs often affect hungry people much more than agencies offering private assistance. He suggests priority areas for transforming the politics of hunger, including urging agencies and individuals who assist hungry people, low income people’s organizations, and religious communities to become aware of their larger social role and expand their actions to influence government policies and the media.

Part one includes political action oriented chapters by Bread for the World Institute members Richard A. Hoehn, Douglas Siglin, Rick Tingling–Clemmons, Medea Benjamin, Kraig Klaudt, Patricia L. Kutzner, and Marc J. Cohen on relief efforts, organizing low–income people to end hunger, encouraging media coverage of hunger to deal with the problem in a larger social context, and the impact of United States government policies and programs on hunger in the United States and the world.

Part two updates the status of hunger in seven regions of the world. It includes chapters on Africa by Masimba Tafirenyika and John Prendergast. They conclude that conflict in a number of countries has aggravated problems of poverty and that although there have been reform efforts, “instability and economic deterioration” characterize the continent. Marc J. Cohen’s chapter, “Asia–Pacific,” concludes that progress in reducing poverty has been made over the last two decades in that region. The political changes in the former Soviet Union and Central and Eastern Europe have constricted food supply, Sharon Wolchik observes. “Latin America–Caribbean” concentrates on drought in Brasil and political problems in Guatemala that impact hunger. The “Middle East” by Daniel U. B. P. Chelliah observes the effects of the Persian Gulf War. In “North America” Patricia Ann James notes that poverty is not well documented, but has been rising since 1973. In “Western Europe” Cecilia Snyder explains that poverty is not as severe as elsewhere in the world.

The book concludes with statistical tables based on information from the United Nations and United States government reports. These give country by country information about health, nutrition, welfare, poverty, and hunger. Tables also give United States poverty trends from 1970 through 1991 and state by state poverty indicators, such as infant mortality rates and food stamps.

Institute President Beckmann states that the discussions that led up to Hunger 1994 have already influenced a number of organizations, including Second Harvest, Catholic Charities, World Vision, InterAction, and the Food Research and Action Center. It is to this audience that the political action and policy book is addressed.