Jo Luck and the Rev. David Beckmann, winners of the 2010 World Food Prize, have made immeasurable contributions in the fight against hunger. In nearly 20 years as the president of Heifer International, Jo Luck has grown the organization’s budget from 7 million to more than 130 million, increasing food availability for millions of families along the way.

Beckmann, as president of Bread for the World, has worked tirelessly to build grassroots support in churches and Congress, resulting in tripled government funding for aid programs in developing countries and doubled funding for U.S. nutrition programs.

Distinct leaders

Jo Luck, a kind and energetic speaker, found her success by listening, using those around her to guide her risks and decisions. The most important characteristic in a leader, she says, is faith. “It’s faith in yourself, it’s faith in the mission of the organization, it’s faith in your volunteers and board members, and it’s faith in the beneficiaries themselves—that they would utilize those resources and pass them on to others.”

"Even if the evidence wasn’t so strong for optimism, I’d still be hopeful because I believe ending hunger is something God wants to get done."

Beckmann, despite his dramatic progress against hunger, sees his faith in God as his primary motivation. “Even if the evidence wasn’t so strong for optimism, I’d still be hopeful because I believe ending hunger is something God wants to get done,” he says.

A new battle

Beckmann and Jo Luck’s respective faiths are facing a new challenge. United with other humanitarian and religious leaders, they both have recently taken a bold stand against proposed budget cuts that would hinder the global mobilization on ending hunger. “The first bill that the House of Representatives passed this year, HR-1, would cut food aid in half, so 18 million people who now rely on food aid would have that aid cut off this year,” warned Beckmann.

Shortly after beginning a one-week, water-only fast, Beckmann says, “We are calling on people of faith and conscience all over the country to join us in prayer and fasting and in contacting senators, urging them to form a circle of protection around programs that help poor and hungry people all over the world. We should reduce the deficit, but not at the expense of hungry and poor people. It wouldn’t be necessary and it wouldn’t be right.”