February 2017 U.S. Poverty Action
Let’s Get Face-to-Face with the New Congress to Shape the First 100 Days
RESULTS volunteers know, and many others are learning, that the best way to shape Congress’s priorities is to make sure they hear from us face-to-face. With huge changes in play that will gut core anti-poverty policies such as SNAP (formerly Food Stamps) and Medicaid, we need to make sure they hear from us. This is what RESULTS volunteers do best – they highlight the important issues no one else is talking about, or make sure that conversation is heard in a powerful way by decision-makers. Congress is on recess the week of February 20 (and again in April), and this is the time to push for meet with members of Congress about poverty in America.
Schedule Face-to-Face Meetings to Discuss Strategies to End Poverty in America
Hi, my name is _________________, and I am a constituent of Rep./Sen. ______________ from ______________. I am also a volunteer with RESULTS, a grassroots volunteer group working to end hunger and poverty. I know that Rep./Sen. __________ values input from constituents on the issues that matter to us. With that in mind, our local RESULTS group would like to schedule meeting with Rep./Sen.__________ while he/she is still home for the February recess. Would it be possible to set that up today? There will be at least ____ of us at the meeting and we would like to discuss key anti-poverty policies and strategies to support economic mobility. What times would he/she be available to meet?
The key to a successful lobby meeting or town hall experience (below) is making sure we present specific information powerfully. Use your personal stories and local data, adapting this sample Laser Talk on protecting nutrition programs:
Engage: Nearly 1 in 5 children in the U.S. live in households that are struggling against hunger. Studies show that children who are regularly hungry struggle in school, suffer from slowed and abnormal growth, and can develop anemia.
Problem: Yet leaders in the new Congress want to drastically change the structure of food assistance which could lead to millions falling deeper into poverty.
Illustrate or Inform: SNAP (formerly Food Stamps) is the first line of defense against hunger in America. The U.S. Census reports that SNAP lifted 4.6 million people above the poverty line in 2015. As we saw during the Great Recession, SNAP is an effective response to hunger in times of economic crisis or natural disasters. But Congress wants to undo SNAP’s success by converting it to a block grant, which will eliminate its flexibility in times of need, increase costs to states, and force people deeper into poverty. [If you have a personal story, definitely share it!]
Call to Action: Will you tell congressional leaders safeguard SNAP from cuts or structural changes that undermine its effectiveness and increase hunger in America?
Look for Recess Town Halls or Other Public Events
Getting face-to-face meetings with members of Congress is THE key strategy to move policymakers up the Champion Scale. But those meetings can sometimes be hard to come by. Attending a town halls to ask a question is the next best thing. Here are some tips to help you: