What do the presidential candidates have to say about hunger and poverty?

CoP_logoEditor’s note: The Circle of Protection is a broad and diverse coalition of Christian leaders working together for help and opportunity for hungry and poor people in the United States and around the world.

Ervin Stutzman, Mennonite Church USA executive director, and J. Ron Byler, Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) U.S. executive director, are part of the group; Mennonite Church USA leaders were invited to sign on to this statement through their involvement with Christian Churches Together. Stutzman also participated in this initiative during the previous presidential election.

“I am grateful that we are able to join with a broad coalition of Christians seeking to make hunger and poverty a major issue during the coming presidential election,” says André Gingerich Stoner, director of holistic witness and interchurch relations for Mennonite Church USA. “As followers of Jesus, we are called to bring good news to the poor. This involves both serving our neighbors and urging government leaders to care for the least among us.”

Washington, D.C., (Circle of Protection) Today, a group of Christian leaders released videos in which U.S. presidential candidates explain how they would work to address poverty both in the United States and around the world as president.

The videos were made by Jeb Bush, Ben Carson, Ted Cruz, Carly Fiorina, Mike Huckabee and Bernie Sanders. The videos went live on July 21, 10 a.m. EDT at www.circleofprotection.us.

The other declared presidential candidates were contacted but have not yet provided videos.

The 100 Christian leaders, as part of the Circle of Protection coalition, sent each presidential candidate a letter asking him or her to produce a video stating how they propose to provide help and opportunity to hungry and poor people in the United States and abroad.

The videos are being disseminated among the Christian leaders’ wide networks and members in order to raise hunger and poverty as an election issue. They can also be seen at www.circleofprotection.us and on YouTube.

“We are praying for a president who will make ending hunger and poverty a top priority of his or her administration. Are you that leader?” the letter asked. The letter is available here.

The Circle of Protection represents a diverse array of Christian denominations, churches, college, and agencies across the country. They will not publicly evaluate the policy positions or endorse any candidate.

“We will be calling on people of faith to examine presidential candidates to see if they have a heart for poor and hungry people. We want to know how each candidate proposes to fulfill the mandate to those who govern to ‘give deliverance to the needy’ (Psalm 72),” the leaders added in the letter.

According to the latest U.S. Census data, 49 million Americans are at risk of hunger, while 45 million live in poverty. One in five children lives in poverty. That is 15 million children, 5 million of them under age 6.

The Christian leaders see the videos as the beginning of an active debate about how to alleviate hunger and poverty, and hope these issues will be at the center of the presidential campaign.


Chris Ford, Bread for the World, (202) 688-1077, cford@bread.org
Michael Mershon, Sojourners, (202) 745-4625, mmershon@sojo.net
Sarah Kropp, National Association of Evangelicals, skropp@nae.net