Bread, Other Groups Petition Clinton and Trump Campaigns and Debate Moderator

By Bread staff

Bread for the World was part of a group that delivered the names of more than 631,000 voters to the campaign headquarters of Hillary Clinton and Donald J. Trump Sept. 14 in New York City. The voters had signed a petition or pledge calling on the political parties, candidates, and the current Congress to make ending hunger a top priority. The names were delivered under the auspices of Vote to End Hunger, a coalition of 166 anti-hunger and -poverty groups, and its eponymous election campaign.

The Vote to End Hunger coalition also delivered the names to “NBC Nightly News” anchor Lester Holt, who moderated the first presidential debate on Sept. 26. The delivery of the names by the coalition was its way of urging Holt to ask Clinton and Trump the following question at the debate: “If elected, what will you do to end hunger, alleviate poverty, and create opportunity in the U.S. and worldwide?” (He did not. See related article.)

The group making the New York City deliveries had representatives from Bread for the World (staff and activists), Feeding America, and Why Hunger.

In addition to delivering the names, VTEH also held a coordinated social media campaign to urge Holt to ask “the hunger question.”

The presidential candidates have mostly avoided talking about hunger and poverty during the campaign (see related article).

Rev. Gary Cook, Bread’s former director of church relations who is supporting Bread’s election work as part of the Vote to End Hunger coalition, led the group that delivered the petitions to the three sites in New York.

The group first visited the Clinton campaign’s national headquarters in Brooklyn, where they “were greeted by a friendly group of staffers at the Hillary for President headquarters,” according to Cook.

“The campaign received our materials and the thumb drive with 630,000 names,” Cook reported. “They promised to share them and our concerns with the appropriate people in the campaign.”

The group then visited the Trump campaign’s national headquarters at Trump Tower in Manhattan. “We were welcomed upstairs in the campaign offices by the Coalitions Director, Alan Cobb,” reported Cook. “He listened enthusiastically to our presentation — asking real questions and affirming our cause.” Cook also noted that the Bread activists in the group made a passionate and articulate presentation to Cobb on ending hunger by 2030.

The visit to NBC’s studios at Rockefeller Center, just seven blocks south of Trump Tower, was not as fruitful, however. The group was not able to enter the building or greet Holt in person. The group was only able to deliver its materials to the mail room of the TV network with the assurance that they would be brought to Holt.

Some members of the group had been at NBC earlier that morning, appearing outside the street-level set of the “Today Show” in bright-orange Bread T-shirts and holding signs about hunger. Savannah Guthrie, one of the morning show’s hosts, stopped by to talk to the group.

Bread has planned a similar strategy for petitioning the moderators of the subsequent debates. The next presidential debates are on Oct. 9 and 19.