U.S. Poverty Weekly Update December 3, 2013

"Hunger Games" is playing on the big screen. Unfortunately, hunger is only too real for too many families. Food stamp benefits are now averaging about $1.40 per meal. Families literally cannot afford more cuts.

– RESULTS San Jose (CA) Free Agent Georgia Platts December 1 letter to the editor in the San Jose Mercury News

New and Urgent in This Week's Update (Two-Ten-Twenty Actions)

Latest from Washington, DC

Organizational Updates


Got Two Minutes? Today is Giving Tuesday – Take Time to Give to RESULTS

Today is Giving Tuesday. Non-profits from around the global are working today to encourage giving to important causes and organizations. Read this message from RESULTS Baltimore volunteer Jami-Lin Williams on why she supports RESULTS.

Growing up in rural Maine, I experienced the hard blows of economic inequality. I was raised by a young, single mother who worked tirelessly to make ends meet for our family, but it was never enough. Like 48 million Americans do today, we received federal food assistance for the first few months of my life, but, in a cruel twist that reflects the hardships faced by millions of low-income families — the working poor — my mom then always made too much money to qualify for continued help.

My mom was often forced to make impossible financial decisions, worrying constantly about bills and groceries. We would drive 30 minutes out of town to visit a food pantry where no one would recognize us. Our hot water and electricity would be cut off, and I remember times she boiled water over the stove to make a hot bath for my little brother and me. Growing up, I was ashamed of my family’s financial struggles. Now, thanks to my involvement with RESULTS, I have begun to see my personal experience with poverty as a unique asset in the fight for economic equality for all Americans.

In July, I was invited to the 2013 RESULTS/REF International Conference by my friends at Feminine Power. I was immediately accepted and inspired by this wonderful community, and I felt called to use my voice on behalf of the 46.5 million Americans who are now living in poverty.

Though I had no previous lobbying experience, I met with the offices of three members of Congress, including a personal meeting with Senator Angus King (I-ME). In August, I moved to Baltimore and with another conference attendee began laying the groundwork for a new domestic poverty group. Within weeks of my arrival, I had an op-ed on my experience with food assistance published in the Baltimore Sun and a group of passionate volunteers ready to take action!

Without the federal nutrition and education programs that supported me and my family through our toughest times, I may not have had the foundation to become a successful first-generation college student. Without RESULTS, I may not have had the tools or courage to speak up as an advocate for Americans living in hunger and poverty.

Thank you, from the bottom of my heart, for your continued support of this powerful organization.

During this time of unprecedented attacks on federal nutritional assistance programs, I hope you will consider donating or increasing your donation to RESULTS and RESULTS Education Fund by helping us raise $33,000 by the end of 2013.

With most sincere thanks,

Jami-Lin Williams, RESULTS Baltimore

TAKE ACTION: Take two minutes to celebrate GivingTuesday TODAY by giving to RESULTS or RESULTS Educational Fund. Go to https://donate.towercare.com/donate_to_results and make your secure online donation. After giving, encourage others to give as well by:

  1. Taking a picture of yourself with your camera phone holding a sign saying you gave to RESULTS for Giving Tuesday (call it an “un-selfie”).
  2. Post your un-selfie on Facebook or Twitter and invite others to donate as well. Be sure to use the hashtags "#unselfie" and "#GivingTuesday" in your tweets!

Got Ten Minutes? National Call-in Day Tomorrow – Tell Congress to Protect SNAP!

Over the next few days, Congress will decide whether or not to cut hunger-relief programs in the Farm Bill. Programs like the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, formerly food stamps) provide much needed nutrition assistance to vulnerable kids, seniors, and low-income families. We need your help to mobilize thousands of phone calls to Congress this week to make sure they protect SNAP in the Farm Bill. With only a few weeks left to finalize a new Farm Bill and key negotiators perhaps coming to DC tomorrow to work on the final details (see this National Journal piece for more), pressure is building to get something done… and fast. This increases the likelihood that lawmakers could accept deeper cuts to SNAP. Help us and our anti-hunger allies generate calls to ensure hungry American families can still get help. This means not only calling yourself, but also urging people in your local action network to call as well. You can copy and paste the message below in an e-mail to them or send them our online call-in alert for calls. We also have a downloadable half-page call-in alert on our Outreach Actions page that you can print off or send to others.

TAKE ACTION: Join advocates from around the country by taking ten minutes to call your members of Congress TOMORROW December 4 to ensure that struggling Americans keep putting food on the table. Call toll free (888) 398-8702 and follow the instructions to be connected to your members of Congress (plan to call three times: one for each senator and one for your representative). Once connected, leave this message with the receptionist:

My name is ______________ and I am a constituent calling from ________________. I am very concerned that Congress will cut SNAP or food stamps in the Farm Bill. SNAP helps millions of children, families, seniors, and Americans with disabilities put food on the table. Yet some lawmakers want deep cuts to SNAP, which would throw millions off the program. Unlike the movies, hunger is not a game. Please tell Sen./Rep.______________ to tell Farm Bill negotiators to protect SNAP in the final Farm Bill.

After making your calls, urge people you know to call in as well. Use our online call-in alert or our half-page SNAP alert sheet, or copy and paste this section, and send it to your local action networks. Use e-mail, Facebook, Twitter, and other means to urge as many people as you can to call Congress about protecting SNAP!

Thanks to Feeding America for providing the toll-free number. Calls are best but if you are pressed for time, e-mail your Senate and House members telling them to protect SNAP.


Got Twenty Minutes? Follow Up with Aides about Your SNAP Request (November Action and December Action preview)

Now that we’re less than one month before the end of the year, pressure is mounting to finish a new Farm Bill. The House is back in Washington this week, while senators are still in recess. However, lead negotiators over the Farm Bill are still talking. After weeks of silence, news broke last week about the status of negotiations on the Farm Bill. What to do with the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) is a key sticking point. While some reports indicate that House Republicans may be willing to give up on very deep cuts to SNAP, they are still insisting on some cuts beyond the $4 billion SNAP cut in the Senate bill, as well as some provision about work requirements.

In addition, reports this morning say that Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA) and Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI-1) may be close to a budget deal that deals with sequestration cuts. This is important because a budget bill could be the legislative vehicle to pass a new Farm Bill (attach them together so as to streamline the process). That budget deal could also include use savings from Farm Bill cuts to undo sequestration. What this means is that there is growing pressure to get a Farm Bill done; this could result in more cuts to SNAP just to get something passed.

Last month, many of you did a great job contacting agriculture aides in the House and Senate about protecting SNAP in the Farm Bill. This month, we want to continue that work. These conversations are very important and not only making the request of aides to have their bosses talk to Farm Bill negotiators about SNAP, but following up with them to see if they did. Those aides need to know that you are paying close attention to this issue and will continue to contact them until a deal is reached.

TAKE ACTION: Take twenty minutes to follow up with your congressional agriculture aides about protecting SNAP. Remind them that food banks are feeling completely strapped, especially with the recent SNAP cut that began on November 1. Tell them that cutting SNAP will do nothing to help people find work and feed their families. It will only force them deeper into poverty. The November Action (we will have the December Action sheet available later this week), November Laser Talk, and our November Conference Call Resources can help you. Here are some questions you can ask in your follow-up communications:

  1. Were you able to speak to the senator/representative about protecting SNAP in the Farm Bill?
  2. If so, what did he/she say? If not, when will you?
  3. Did you get a chance to read the new report from the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities (http://www.cbpp.org/cms/index.cfm?fa=view&id=4054) demonstrating that SNAP spending is starting to decline? Did you share it with your boss?
  4.  Urge them to give the report to your representative or senators.

Once you have made your calls, please let your Regional Coordinator or RESULTS staff person know how the call went and what the aide said. This provides us important feedback we can use to help mobilize more strategic actions.


The Holidays Provide a Great Opportunity to Grow RESULTS – Invite Someone to Tomorrow’s RESULTS Intro Call

As we enter the last month of the year, your work is more important than ever. In 2013, you have done a masterful job at pushing Congress to protect hungry Americans by opposing cuts to SNAP. This is just one of many impressive successes RESULTS volunteers have accomplished over the years.

But many threats remain. Programs designed to address poverty are under constant attack. To oppose these efforts and create a new vision of America where ending poverty is a top priority, we need more people to get involved. Think of a RESULTS group in every state, a RESULTS group or Free Agent in two-thirds of all congressional districts. What kind of change could we create then?

All it takes is someone like you encouraging a friend to learn about RESULTS. We know you’re busy, especially this time of year, but the holidays is also a great opportunity to expand our network. During the holidays, you reconnect with friends old and new that perhaps you don’t necessarily see that often. They want to hear what you’ve been doing, what you’ve been up to. This is a great opening to mention your work with RESULTS. If you are proud of something you did this year with RESULTS – wrote letters, got a media piece published, met with a member of Congress – share it. Tell them how you felt about it, how empowering it was, and that they can do these things too.

Many people are looking to take on new challenges, new opportunities in the new year. RESULTS can be one of those new adventures. Share your gift of RESULTS by encouraging people you know to learn more about us.

TAKE ACTION: Help us grow RESULTS by inviting people you know to a RESULTS Introductory Call. As you connect with people this holiday season, tell them about your work with RESULTS. Share your experiences and urge them to learn more. The Intro Call is the perfect way to get them connected. If you’re grateful someone introduced you to RESULTS at some point in the past, pay it forward to someone else. The next RESULTS Introductory Call is tomorrow, December 4 at 9:00 pm ET. Copy this link: http://www.results.org/take_action/become_a_results_activist/ and invite someone to register for tomorrow’s call or another one (we do them twice per month). Thank you.


Quick News

Center on Budget Blogs about Hardship in America. To mark the Thanksgiving holiday last week, the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities ran a series exploring the hardships that many American families face in the weak economy, the programs that help them make ends meet and promote opportunity, and the threats that these programs are encountering. The series is especially relevant in light of the ongoing negotiations on SNAP and the Farm Bill and fiscal policy. You can find the entire series on Hardship 2013 at: http://www.offthechartsblog.org/tag/hardship13/.

Pope Takes on Inequality. Last week, Pope Francis released a 50,000 word statement on the current state and future of the Catholic Church, including tackling issues of poverty and inequality. In it, he made a pointed criticism of “trickle-down economics,” which theorizes that more wealth at the top will trickle down to benefit everyone else. “Some people continue to defend trickle-down theories which assume that economic growth, encouraged by a free market, will inevitably succeed in bringing about greater justice and inclusiveness in the world,” the Pope wrote. “This opinion, which has never been confirmed by the facts, expresses a crude and naive trust in the goodness of those wielding economic power and in the sacra­lized workings of the prevailing economic system. Meanwhile, the excluded are still waiting.”

Attend Witness to Hunger Anniversary Event on December 11. If you live in the Philadelphia area, plan to attend the Witnesses to Hunger Anniversary Event on December 11. Witnesses to Hunger is a research and advocacy project partnering mothers and caregivers of young children who have experienced hunger and poverty. Kate Scully from Witnesses to Hunger was our guest speaker on the November 2013 RESULTS National Conference Call. The event is Wednesday, December 11, 2013, 6:00-9:00 pm ET at Drexel University's Bossone Research Center (First Floor Lobby and Mitchell Auditorium), 3140 Market Street, Philadelphia, PA. To learn more about and to RSVP for the event, visit the Witnesses to Hunger website.


Announcements

RESULTS Bids Farewell to Fall Intern. Today we say goodbye to our fall intern, Philipp Nell, who is a German student participating in the Washington Semester Program at American University. Philipp has been a great asset, helping map out our congressional coverage (RESULTS U.S. poverty-focused volunteers now cover 37 states and 118 House districts), revamping our congressional scorecard (look for a link to that in next week's update), updating our website, researching new leads for RESULTS expansion, and compiling new information on poverty for our state fact sheets. As we say auf Wiedersehen to Philipp, take a few minutes to read his RESULTS Blog post about hunger in America and the release of Bread for the World's Hunger Report with Witness to Hunger Barbie Izquierdo. Thank you, Philipp, and good luck!

December Conference Call Is a Joint Call at 2 pm ET. Please note that our December 14 RESULTS National Conference Call will be a joint call with RESULTS U.S. Poverty and Global Poverty volunteers joining from around the country. Because of the combined call, the call will take place at 2:00 pm ET. Mark your calendars accordingly. We will have more details about the call in next week’s Update.

Save the Dates for the RESULTS International Conference. Please mark June 21-24 in your calendars – the dates for the 2014 RESULTS International Conference. We are looking forward to an even bigger and better conference next year after a wildly successful conference in 2013. In the coming weeks, we’ll have more details for you. For now, save the dates and plan to attend!

For updates on all our U.S. Poverty Campaigns, see our U.S. Poverty Campaigns Summary on the RESULTS website.


RESULTS Activity Calendar

(See a complete calendar on the RESULTS website)

Upcoming Congressional Recesses: House: Planned adjournment on December 13; Senate: November 22 – December 8. Request face-to-face meetings.

Wednesday, December 4: RESULTS Introductory Call, 9:00 pm ET. Register for this or another Intro Call at http://www.results.org/take_action/become_a_results_activist/.

Friday, December 13: RESULTS Introductory Call, 1:00 pm ET. Register for this or another Intro Call at http://www.results.org/take_action/become_a_results_activist/.

Saturday, December 14: RESULTS U.S. Poverty National Conference Call, 2:00 pm ET. Note the different time; this will be a joint U.S. and Global Poverty call. Listen to previous conference calls online.

Monday, December 16: RESULTS U.S. Poverty Free Agents Call, 1:00 pm ET.

Tuesday, December 17: RESULTS U.S. Poverty Free Agents Call, 9:00 pm ET.

Wednesday, December 25 – Wednesday, January 1: All RESULTS offices closed for the holidays.

Saturday, June 21 - Tuesday, June 24, 2014: RESULTS International Conference in Washington, DC.


RESULTS Contact Information

Main Office: (p) (202) 783-7100, (f) (202) 466-1397, 1101 15th St NW, Suite 1200, Washington, DC 20005. If mailing a donation to our DC office, please address the envelope to the attention of Cynthia Stancil.

RESULTS U.S. Poverty Legislative and Grassroots Support Staff:

The RESULTS U.S. Poverty Update is sent out every Tuesday via email to RESULTS volunteers and allies all over the country. The purpose of these updates is to inform and activate RESULTS activists to take action on our U.S. poverty campaigns.