I applaud the World Bank's intention to lift 400 million people out of poverty this decade. And I commend Hobart Rowen for illuminating this groundbreaking commitment {"World Bank Aims to Reduce Poverty Ranks of Developing Nation," July 16}.

How is it possible for anyone to yawn at a program that could 1) significantly reduce the child death toll of 40,000 per day (from hunger and poverty); 2) reduce population growth rates (economic opportunity, female literacy and healthy children are correlated with smaller families); 3) reduce environmental degradation; and 4) expand the world's work force and consumer market?

It is time for Americans to take a stand for ending hunger and poverty -- at home and abroad. That the World Bank is even considering the possibility of eliminating the crushing poverty of a billion people should jolt us out of our fashionable cynicism. We live in extraordinary times.

Ordinary citizens brought down the Berlin Wall (they said it couldn't be done). Could you and I end hunger? Can we, by speaking out, empower the World Bank to realize its vision? Can we empower President Bush to take bold action at the World Summit for Children in September and save the lives of 50 million children this decade?

The ball is in our court.

JODY GATWOOD Silver Spring