U.S. Poverty Weekly Update February 5, 2013

There are more than 50 million hungry people in this country. We cannot and we should not stand for this. It is time we end hunger now.

 —   Congressman Jim McGovern (D-MA-2) in a speech today on the House floor

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

Latest from Washington, DC

Organizational Updates


Got Two Minutes? Join RESULTS National Conference Call THIS Saturday at 12:30 pm ET with Ellen Teller of FRAC

Join us this Saturday, February 9, for the RESULTS National Conference Call. This month, RESULTS is working to generate media on protecting important anti-poverty programs including the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and Head Start. We pleased to announce that Ellen Teller of the Food Research and Action Center (FRAC) will be our featured guest. Ellen is the Director of Government Affairs at FRAC and is a wealth of knowledge not only on SNAP and other nutrition programs, but also a season advocate on hunger issues. She will share with us the latest on protecting SNAP from cuts in Congress and what messages will work best as we engage the media this month. This will be a helpful and informative call. Please plan to join us.

TAKE ACTION: Take two minutes and remind your local RESULTS group about the RESULTS monthly national conference call this Saturday, February 9 at 12:30 pm ET. Coordinate with your group where you will meet for the call. To join the call, dial (888) 409-6709 and once connected to the operator, ask for the RESULTS National Conference Call. Plan to call in no later than 12:27 pm ET to give time to the operator to connect you with the call. We will have the February 2013 Conference Call Overview slides available later this week. Go to our national conference call page on the RESULTS website to download the presentation before the call.


Got Ten Minutes? Submit a Letter to the Editor Telling Congress to Protect SNAP and Head Start (February Action)

In 2012, an average 46.6 million people received SNAP benefits each month. With nearly one in nearly seven people – half of them children – it is no wonder why SNAP is considered America’s first line of defense against hunger. Yet SNAP is also a target. In 2012, the House Agriculture Committee passed proposed $34 billion in cuts to SNAP over the next ten years. This would have impacted every person on SNAP, including the 22 million children who participate in the program.

But it doesn’t stop there. Automatic budget cuts slated to begin on March 1 (i.e. sequestration). If enacted, federal discretionary programs such as Head Start, Early Head Start, and child care assistance would see deep, devastating cuts. Head Start could lose as many as 100,000 children and 80,000 children would lose access to child care assistance.

Is this what America is about? Is denying children the food and nutrition they need to group up health and strong a value we should pursue? Is telling infant, toddler, and preschool children “No!” to an education really a priority we must support? Of course not. Yet by putting programs that primarily benefit at-risk children, that’s exactly what our leaders are doing. No more.

It is time to publicly remind our elected officials just what’s at stake. Generating media through letters to the editor, op-eds, and editorials about these grossly mistaken budget priorities is a great way to pressure leaders into undoing these mistakes. Take time today to remind leaders that our children are more than a line item in the budget.

TAKE ACTION: Take ten minutes to draft and submit a letter to the editor urging Congress to protect America’s children in upcoming budget negotiations. The February Action sheet provides talking points, background information, and a sample letter you can use when drafting your letter. Also, use these helpful fact sheets from the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities to highlight what SNAP is doing for children and families in your state. In drafting your letter, please be sure to mention your members of Congress by name when urging them to protect programs that help low-income children and once you get published, be sure to send a copy to their offices. You can also use our online letter to the editor action to send your letter today.

If you are a frequent letter writer and want to take your media advocacy to the next level, we encourage you to consider drafting an op-ed or working with your local paper to generate an editorial. If you would like help in doing this, please contact the RESULTS U.S. Poverty Staff for assistance. Also, download the RESULTS Media PowerPoint presentation with helpful tips on generating media in our community.


Got Twenty Minutes? Push for Face-to-Face Meetings

Thank you to all the groups have already had face-to-face meetings this year (we’re at nine and counting) and those of you continuing to push for meetings in the coming weeks. If you have not submitted your request yet, it’s not too late. The House and Senate will be on recess the week of February 18. If you have submitted your request, make sure to follow up on it. As some groups are experiencing, sometimes you have to push offices for these in-person meetings. Many of you are being told that you cannot meet with your congressman or senator, but a local staff person is happy to meet with you. Meetings with local staff are certainly worthwhile and help you build good relationships, but they should never serve as a substitute for the face-to-face with your members of Congress.

So how do you take it to the next step? If they are telling you “no” to a face-to-face, what can you do in response? Here are some options:

  • Be a polite pest. Congressional offices get thousands of meeting requests a year and not all them can be granted. What makes the difference is those who are persistent. If you keep following up – in a polite way – your request can break through all the chatter. If the scheduler tells you that nothing is available, tell him/her that you will call again next week to see if a time has freed up. In advocacy, the squeaky wheel does indeed get the grease.
  • Be creative with your schedule. Think outside the box about when and where you can do a meeting. If you cannot get a formal sit down meeting at their local office, ask the scheduler if your group could get some time before or after an event they are planning. Perhaps your senator is doing a press conference at a local hospital about health care, could your group meet with him for 20 minutes before or afterward? Or, invite then to lunch. Tell the scheduler you know how busy your representative so would she or he be willing to meet with your group over lunch or coffee in between appointments. The more options you give them, the harder it is for them to say “no”.
  • Be flexible with your schedule. Ideally, you would like to meet with your member of Congress at the earliest possible time. However, that is not always possible. When they can’t meet with you this month, ask about the next month or the next or the next. The farther out they go, the less likely they have a completely booked schedule (e.g. it would sound absurd if they say the having nothing available for the next year).
  • Ask about town hall appearances. If you cannot get a sit down face-to-face meeting anytime soon, ask if you member of Congress will be holding any town halls or public events anytime soon. If so, plan to attend and ask a question.
  • Request a video conference call. If you cannot get a sit down face-to-face meeting anytime soon, many congressional offices have video feeds between their DC and local offices. Ask if your local office has this capability and if so, may your group do a face-to-face meeting this way.
  • Request a phone conference call. If you cannot get a sit down face-to-face meeting anytime soon, some offices will schedule phone conference calls with constituents. Inquire to see if this is an option.

TAKE ACTION: Take twenty minutes to submit and/or follow up on your face-to-face meeting requests, per the January Action. The House and Senate will be on the President’s Day recess the week of February. Review our January 2013 Laser Talk for a sample conversation between a volunteer and scheduler. In addition, review Activist Milestone: Meet Face-to-Face with Your Member of Congress and our new PowerPoint for additional guidance.

Once you get a meeting scheduled, please contact the RESULTS U.S. Poverty staff to help you plan your agenda and devise the best messaging and requests to use in your meeting. Also, be sure to print off our 2013 tax credits for working families, protecting nutrition programs, and investing in Head Start and child care lobby request sheets to take to your meeting. We have requests on.

Finally, be sure join the “How to Organize a Powerful Meeting with Your Members of Congress” training call. Whether you are an experienced RESULTS advocate or working on your first lobby meeting, be sure to join this training on how to request a face-to-face meeting with members of Congress and then make the most of your lobby meetings. The conference call is Monday, February 11 at 9:00 pm ET. To participate, dial (712) 432-3100, passcode 761262.


Know Anyone in Maine? RESULTS Will Be There This Week

This week, RESULTS New England Organizer Jenny Martin heads to Maine to work on expanding RESULTS reach and impact to the Pine Tree State. With one of the highest rural poverty rates per capita in the U.S., Congress needs to hear from Mainers about the importance of reducing poverty. Do you know anyone in Maine? If so, we’d love to connect with them and tell them about RESULTS. Here is Jenny’s schedule during her trip:

  • Thurs, Feb. 7 Lewiston, ME. Available to meet 10 am – 12:30 pm, and 2:30 – 4:30 pm.
  • Friday, Feb. 8 Bristol, ME to Bangor, ME. Available to meet with you in all towns between and nearby Bristol and Bangor from 3:00 – 8:00 pm.
  • Saturday, Feb. 9 Bangor Area (Bangor, Brewer, and area towns). Open RESULTS Introduction meeting at Bagel Central (33 Central St in Bangor) from 3:00 – 4:30 pm. Available from 9:00 – 10:30 am and 5:00 – 8:00 pm for individual and group meetings.
  • Sunday, Feb.10 Bangor Area. Available from 3:00 – 5:30 pm to meet up.
  • Monday, Feb. 11. Bangor Area traveling south towards NH and MA
    Available from 8:00 am – 5:00 pm to meet up with people and groups in towns South of Bangor. (Note: Jenny may be traveling to Presque Isle, ME on the 11th as well).

TAKE ACTION: Invite people you know in Maine to meet with Jenny while she is there. Forward them Jenny’s RESULTS Blog Post, which provides a nice overview and invitation for people to get to know RESULTS. You can also contact Jenny at [email protected] if you have any questions about her trip. Help us expand our reach and impact in Maine!


New Study Shows Nearly Half of U.S. in Asset Poverty

A new report from the Corporation for Enterprise Development (CFED) highlights a startling number of Americans are just one crisis away from falling into poverty. CFED’s Assets and Opportunities Scorecard tracks data on household financial security across the nation. This year’s scorecard shows that 44 percent of Americans are “asset poor” meaning that they don’t have enough savings and assets to make it three months above the poverty line if they lost their income. The report also shows that one-third of Americans have no savings accounts whatsoever.

For years, RESULTS had pushed for more investment in asset building policies. Helping people build assets is one of the clearest ways out of poverty. By creating their own personal safety net (i.e. savings, home, education, small business), low-income individuals and families can start looking beyond the crisis of “right now” and planning for the future. It also means people will be less reliant on social safety net programs. As one way to broaden our nation’s asset development investments, RESULTS strongly support creating the Family Financial Security Credit (FFSC), which would allow low-income working folks to start savings accounts right on their tax returns (presumably using some of their EITC and CTC refunds). CFED’s scorecard is a great resource when talking to members of Congress about asset development. It provides data for all 50 states, as well as steps each state can take to improve household financial security.

Get the conversation going about reducing asset poverty. Download our Tax Credit and Asset Development Lobby Request Sheet. This sheet not only contacting information about assets and FFSC, it also includes a letter members of Congress can use to help make the FFSC a reality. Use these documents in your lobby meetings as well as to write letters or e-mails to your members of Congress about the importance of asset development in ending poverty.

Also, contact your tax aides and invite them to attend an upcoming asset development briefing.  CFED is hosting the briefing, Can America Save Itself? Tax Reform, Savings and Financial Security. At the event, some of the nation’s top experts on savings and financial security offer their ideas on the current critical role of tax policy in savings and what tax policy can do to help all Americans build bigger nest eggs for their futures. The briefing is February 26, 2013, 8:30 – 10:00 am ET, 121 Cannon House Office Building in Washington, DC. You can find your tax aides’ names on the RESULTS Elected Officials page. Be sure to forward the CFED invitation, which includes RSVP instructions.


Final Days to Vote for Grassroots Board Member – Deadline Thursday

If you have not voted for our next RESULTS Grassroots Board member, these are your last few days to do so. The deadline to vote is this Thursday, February 7. We have 4 candidates for the open seat: Mary Albertson of Detroit, Frank Gilbert of Louisville, Rob Marshall of Atlanta, and Beth Wilson of Gig Harbor, WA. Those eligible to vote are volunteers in an active RESULTS group or a RESULTS Free Agent. Please take a few minutes to read their statements and biosVote today!


Quick News

Rep. McGovern Pushing to End Hunger Now. This morning, Congressman Jim McGovern made the first in a series of speeches about hunger on the floor of the House of Representatives. It is his intention to make these speeches once a week, when the House is in session. It was an excellent speech, with lots of good sound bites you can use when talking about hunger in your communities; you can watch it via C-SPAN. The theme of these speeches will be “End Hunger Now.” In order to advance that theme and continue this movement, Rep. McGovern’s office is tweeting with the hashtag #endhungernow. If you use Twitter, adopt this hashtag and start using it when you discuss hunger. Also, urge Congress to end hunger and protect nutrition assistance programs using our online alert. You can also hear more from Rep. McGovern about hunger on the RESULTS January 2013 National Conference Call.

Sign Save the Children Petition. Save the Children is urging people to call on President Obama and Congress to establish a new National Commission on Children to ensure the safety and well-being of every child. We cannot stand by and let violence, poverty and other threats become pervasive parts of childhood in America. We need everyone at the table for a national conversation to find bold, new ideas. Sign their petition to President Obama today. You can also follow them on Twitter at the hashtag #ProtectKids. Send that out to your Twitter followers along with this link to the petition:  http://bit.ly/WFSJ49. Finally, take two minutes to send an e-mail to Congress about protecting early childhood services in budget negotiations.


Announcements

RESULTS Website Training, Wednesday, February 13 at 8:00 pm ET. If you want to learn how to better navigate the RESULTS website, join us for this helpful website tour. We’ll look at areas of the website that will both inform and help improve your effectiveness as an advocate. Please plan to be in front of your computer during the call. To participate, dial (712) 432-3100, passcode 761262. RSVP or send questions to Jos Linn at [email protected].

RESULTS Intro Call, Wednesday, February 13 at 9:00 pm ET. If you are new to RESULTS or know someone who might be interested in learning more about our work, please invite them to an upcoming RESULTS Introductory Call. These bi-monthly 30 minute calls are great for learning more about RESULTS and how you can get involved. To register for an upcoming Intro call, go to www.tinyurl.com/RESULTSMeetandGreet/ and sign up today.


Fundraising Update

Please help out your fellow RESULTS partners holding March fundraisers by sharing their fundraisers with people you know in their areas. You can even link their websites with all the details and a way to donate to them online. NOTE: The date of the Salt Lake City fundraiser with Muhammad Yunus has changed from March 11 to Sunday, March 10.

If you have any questions, please contact Cindy Changyit Levin, RESULTS Grassroots Development Associate at [email protected].


RESULTS Activity Calendar

(See a complete calendar on the RESULTS website)

Congressional Recesses: House and Senate: February 18-22. Request face-to-face meetings.

Saturday, February 9: RESULTS U.S. Poverty National Conference Call, 12:30 pm ET(888) 409-6709. Listen to previous conference calls online.

Monday, February 11: How to Have a Powerful Meeting with Your Member of Congress training call, 9:00 pm ET. (712) 432-3100, passcode 761262.

Wednesday, February 13: RESULTS Website Training, 8:00 pm ET. (712) 432-3100, passcode 761262. RSVP to Jos Linn at [email protected].

Wednesday, February 13: RESULTS Introductory Call, 9:00 pm ET. (712) 432-3100, passcode 761262. RSVP for the call.

Tuesday, February 19: RESULTS Free Agents group (U.S. Poverty) call, 9:00 pm ET. (218) 486-1611, passcode 7378587# (RESULTS#). For more information, contact Jos Linn at [email protected].

Saturday, July 20 - Tuesday, July 23: 2013 RESULTS International Conference, Washington, DC.


RESULTS Contact Information

Main Office: (p) (202) 783-7100, (f) (202) 466-1397, 1730 Rhode Island Ave, NW, Suite 400, Washington, DC 20036. 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.