Will Obama mention hunger in major agenda-setting speech?

(Photo: Reuters / Jason Reed)U.S. President Barack Obama fills a bag with food on Thansgiving Day during visit to Martha's Table, a community-improvement organization for the underprivileged in Washington, November 25, 2009.

As U.S. President Barack Obama prepares to address the nation and the full on his agenda for the coming year in his annual State of the Union message, Christian anti-hunger advocate wonders whether the president will call for an end to hunger.

The address is Obama's first since being re-elected for a second term. Among other topics the President is expected to mention in the speech are the withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan, limits on guns, new government investments, and an overhaul of the nation's immigration system.

The Rev. David Beckmann, president of the Bread for the World advocacy group, is using tonight's address as a point of departure for the organization's primary legislative campaign of the year, which involves individuals petitioning the president and lawmakers to take action against hunger.

"Tonight, the president of the United States will outline a vision for our country in his State of the Union address. Will he mention ending hunger?" Beckmann asked.

Hunger has been mentioned specifically only once in the four years President Obama has given the annual address to convened lawmakers in the capital. The speech is often analyzed to see what the president will place as priorities for the year ahead.

During last year's address, President Obama mentioned hunger once in a speech that went just longer than one hour. He mentioned the word in the context of discussing the United States' leadership around the world.

"From the coalitions we've built to secure nuclear materials, to the missions we've led against hunger and disease; from the blows we've dealt to our enemies, to the enduring power of our moral example, America is back," Obama said.

In 2011, 2010, and 2009, the president did not mention hunger directly.

However in 2011, he said the U.S. was "helping farmers grow more food" around the world. In 2010, he said that as a result of his tax cutting policies, millions of Americans had more to spend on gas, food and other necessities. In 2009, the speech focused on the nation's struggling economy.

Beckmann said the group's "Offering of Letters" campaign includes petitioning the President to work with Congress on a plan to end hunger, urging Congress to adequately fund programs to help hungry and poor people.

The campaign also includes a call to watch a new documentary being released in theaters on March 1. The film, called "Place at the Table," examines the issue of hunger facing the nation. The group says watching the film can help make ending hunger part of the national conversation.

Copyright © 2013 Ecumenical News