October 2013 US Poverty Laser Talk: Sample Script to “Pitch” a SNAP Editorial

To use in conjunction with our October 2013 Action: Generate Editorials and Op-Eds about Protecting SNAP (Food Stamps). To find contact information for media outlets in your area, including telephone numbers and addresses, visit our Media Guide at http://capwiz.com/results/dbq/media/. In addition, see our Activist Toolkit pieces on generating an editorial in your local paper  If others in your RESULTS group are taking the lead in generating editorials or op-eds, we urge you to write a letter to the editor to your local papers. Be sure to send your published piece to your members of Congress!

Sample Call Script

Hello, my name is Meredith Dodson and I’m calling from the local DC area RESULTS chapter. We are a volunteer anti-poverty advocacy group and I wanted to bring a really important issue to your attention. Do you have a few minutes to talk about a possible angle for an editorial on hunger?

Every day seems to bring a new story about folks in Congress misrepresenting facts to the American public. In what might be a new low, some in the House of Representatives are attempting to gut the SNAP program (formerly food stamps) by penalizing those who cannot find jobs because of the weak economy.

One of five of American children are at risk of going to bed hungry. As a parent of two young children, I find this heartbreaking – and it doesn’t make sense, since I can tell you firsthand that hungry kids can’t focus whether in school or on basic household tasks. And I see every day how much they are learning, but kids at risk of hunger are more likely to get sick and have slowed growth.

SNAP (formerly Food Stamps) is our first line of defense against hunger in America. I’ve appreciated the coverage you’ve had about the House legislation that cuts 4 million low-income people off SNAP and denies 210,000 children meals at school.

Now, as you may know, since 1996, SNAP has had a “work requirement” for adults.  Now, led by Rep. Eric Cantor, a number of folks in Congress are trying to fundamentally change the definition of the “work requirement” and how without being open and honest about it. Their idea is to alter the definition so that if you have failed to find a job after three months of looking, you are cut off from SNAP. This guts the ability of governors to grant “work requirement” waivers to particularly hard hit areas of their state with weak job markets. It doesn’t matter how bad your local economy is, it doesn’t matter how hard you are looking, and it doesn’t matter how hungry you are. Simply put, it would be three months and out.  We’re talking about 1.7 million unemployed Americans getting kicked off the program who live in high unemployment areas and want to work but cannot find a job or a slot in a job training program.

An additional provision gives states incentive to cut people off millions more – including those with children -- from nutrition assistance by offering them half the savings.

This is bad policy, recklessly packaged as responsibility, and it is totally unfair. SNAP is an incredibly effective program. In 2012, it lifted more than 4 million Americans out of poverty. We need to take steps to address our deficit, but we cannot do so by taking food off the tables of hungry American kids whose parents are trying their hardest to find work. And we certainly shouldn’t do it by trying to pull the wool over American’s eyes by changing definitions in midstream.

I hope you can write an editorial on this important, but currently obscured, issue. Can I send you some additional background information on this?