U.S. Poverty Weekly Update January 28, 2014

Children who experience hunger do poorly in school. The alleged misuse of food stamps is a myth and occurs in a very low percentage of cases. The majority of U.S. citizens support the federal nutrition program. Cuts can be made in the fossil fuel industry, not SNAP.

It seems to me that Congress is intent on changing the War on Poverty to the War Against the Poor.

— RESULTS Santa Fe volunteers Marion Seymour and Judith Beery in January 20 letters to the editor both in the Albuquerque Journal

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

Latest from Washington, DC

Organizational Updates


Got Two Minutes? Call your House and Senate Offices and Tell Them to Oppose SNAP Cuts in the Farm Bill

It seems that Congress has a deal on the Farm Bill, including the future of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, formerly food stamps). Yesterday, the Farm Bill Conference Committee released its draft Farm Bill, which includes an $8.6 billion cut to SNAP. As expected, the cut would curb state “Heat and Eat” programs, which currently allow states to give households as little as $1 in Low-Income Heating Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) benefits and thus significantly increase the amount of SNAP they get (households receiving any LIHEAP benefit are presumed to get the maximum deduction for utility costs when calculating SNAP benefits). The bill would require states to pay at least $20 in LIHEAP benefits before they could get the maximum utility allowance.* For an overview of the SNAP provisions in the bill, see this detailed overview from the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities (CBPP). The House is expected to vote on the bill as early as tomorrow and the Senate will vote early next week.

The silver lining is that the more egregious provisions passed by the House last fall were dropped from the bill, including the cuts to categorical eligibility, imposing harsh work requirements, and arbitrarily cutting off benefits for 18-50 year olds without children. While we oppose the SNAP cuts in the bill, it is important to remember that it is a major victory that these provisions are excluded. Your tireless work over the last year – including 80 face-to-face meetings with members of Congress and generating 155 media pieces -- will result in millions of low-income Americans continuing to receive SNAP. Thank you!

But a cut to SNAP is still a cut. If Congress was really concerned about closing “loopholes”, they would reinvest those savings back into SNAP to increase benefits or expand outreach. They are not doing this; they are cutting SNAP for cutting’s sake. As an organization committed to ending poverty, we cannot support the bill.

TAKE ACTION: Take two minutes to call the receptionists in your House and Senate offices to voice your opposition to the SNAP cuts in the Farm Bill. You can contact information on the Elected Officials page of the RESULTS website. When contacting the receptionist, say this:

My name is ______________ and I am a constituent from ____________________. I am calling to voice my strong opposition to SNAP cuts included in the new Farm Bill. With nearly 50 million people needing help to put food on the table, I am frustrated that Congress would cut SNAP, our most effective tool in reducing hunger in America. Please let Rep./Sen. __________________ that many of his/her constituents oppose cuts to SNAP and I urge him/her to vote NO on the Farm Bill for this reason.

If you are the group point person for your House and Senate members, also please call the agriculture aide one more time as well. Here are some talking points you can use in addition to the statement above:

  • Highlight that SNAP is working – the U.S. Census reports that SNAP lifted 5 million people out of poverty in 2012.
  • Remind them that all SNAP recipients are already dealing with a benefit cut in November 2013, which amounted to $36 per month for a family of four.
  • Tell them you are pleased that the Farm Bill includes none of the harsh cuts passed by the House but the proposed $8.6 billion cut would reduce SNAP benefits by an average of $90 per month for 850,000 low-income households.
  • A new study shows that low-income Americans with diabetes are more likely to visit the hospital for hypoglycemia at the end of the month (when there is less money for food) than their wealthier counterparts.
  • If Congress sees this cut as “closing a loophole”, they should then reinvest the savings back into SNAP to increase the modest SNAP benefit (about $1.40 per person per meal) or expand outreach (Note: the bill does reinvest a small amount of the SNAP cut – an estimated $600 million or about 7 percent of the cut – into other food programs).

*According to the CBPP, a household can still get the utility deduction if they provide proof of utility expenses.


Got Ten Minutes? Contact Tax Aides about Capitol EITC Briefing on Thursday

RESULTS is sponsoring a briefing with the National Community Tax Coalition (NCTC) and others about the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) as a proven anti-poverty tool, in order to celebrate national EITC Awareness Day. We will be focusing specifically on its benefits to women and children, and will highlight the county EITC in Montgomery County, MD.

The event will be taking place this Thursday, January 30, 10:00 – 11:00 am ET in the Capitol Visitors Center (SVC 200), and will be featuring the following speakers: An EITC recipient (read her story here) and Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) provider from Montgomery County, MD; Hans Riemer, At-large member, Montgomery County Council, MD; Shawn McMahon, Wider Opportunities for Women; Amy Matsui, National Women's Law Center; and Tracy Fischman, NCTC Board member and Executive Director of AccountAbility Minnesota. The event is being co-sponsored by 15 national organizations, including United Way, Goodwill, and Community Action Partnership. This is a great opportunity to educate lawmakers and their staff about the importance and effectiveness of the tax code in reducing poverty via the EITC.

TAKE ACTION: Take ten minutes to contact tax aides in your House and Senate offices and invite them to attend this event. This is a great way to reconnect with them since you probably haven’t talked to these aides in a while. You can look up the tax aides in the Elected Officials section of our website, download the agenda for the event, and forward it to them. If attending, they should RSVP to NCTC’s Jennifer Thall at [email protected].

Once you’ve invited your tax aides to the event, take action using our online e-mail alert to tell Congress to protect and expand the EITC and tax credits for low-income Americans in tax reform. For a refresher on the EITC, Child Tax Credit, and Financial Security Credit, see our 2013 Economic Opportunity PowerPoint.


Got Twenty Minutes? Finish Your 2014 Group Planning and Put in Meeting Requests (January Action)

We are on our way there. We’re closing in on the 50 percent mark for group plans this year. Thank you to all the groups who have done their group planning submitted copies of their plan to RESULTS. We have just a few days left in January so let’s do our best to get in as many plans as possible this week. If your group has not met to do planning yet, please schedule your meeting ASAP. Once you’ve done your planning, please submit a copy of your 2014 Group Planning Summary to Jos Linn at [email protected]. We will share them with our Regional Coordinators so they can begin supporting you in reaching your 2014 goals immediately. You can find all the Group Planning materials on our Group Resources page. Also, listen to the recording of our January 2014 National Conference Call for a run-through and tips for doing Group Planning. Please send in your plans today!

Once your plan is done, your first action under your new Plan should be to request a face-to-face meeting with each of your members of Congress. RESULTS volunteers have already had five face-to-face encounters this month. By the end of February last year, you – the volunteers – had had 14 face-to-face encounters (meetings, town halls, etc.). Let’s do our best to meet and exceed that number this year and go for 20 face-to-faces by the end of February. If you have not done so already, submit your request today. If you have, follow up with the scheduler to check on the status of your request.

TAKE ACTION: Please twenty minutes to complete and send in your 2014 Group Plans. Send copies to Jos Linn at [email protected]. If your group has not met for Group Planning, please schedule a meeting in January so you can complete your Group Planning before the end of the month. You can find all our 2014 Group Planning resources on our Group Resources page, including the 2014 Individual Planning Form, the 2014 Group Planning Summary, and the 2014 Group Planning Guide. Please contact Jos if you have any questions about Group Planning.

In addition, make sure your first action under your new Plan is to submit a face-to-face meeting request to all your members of Congress. Congress will be on recess in mid-February so ask to get a meeting with them during this time or at the earliest possible date. Once you get a meeting, please contact Meredith Dodson ([email protected]) to get coaching, updates, and tailored requests for your particular members of Congress.


Watch Tonight’s State of the Union Speech

Tonight at 9:00 pm ET, President Obama will deliver the annual State of the Union speech before a joint session of Congress. This could be a pivotal speech in the effort to end poverty because the president is expected to focus a portion of his speech on income inequality and economic mobility. This could include a push for increasing the minimum wage, extending unemployment benefits for the long-term unemployed, and making college more affordable. He is also expected to ask for Congress’ help in taking on these and other priorities but will also use his executive power to implement changes when Congress does not at. Along that vein, the White House announced today that the president will use his executive power to raise the minimum wage to $10.10 per hour for all new government contract workers. We’re thrilled that Sabrina Simone Jenkins, a woman “living on the brink” profiled in the Shriver Report, has been invited by the White House to sit alongside First Lady Michelle Obama and Dr. Jill Biden during the State of the Union Address.

TAKE ACTION: Watch the State of the Union tonight to see what the president says about poverty, inequality, and economic mobility. While our 2014 campaigns are not final, RESULTS is likely to focus on increasing economic mobility this year (details to come next month), so this is a welcomed bonus to have the president talking about it as well.

After the speech, use what the president says to raise awareness of poverty and mobility by sending a letter to the editor (LTE) to your local paper. In February, RESULTS will focus on generating LTEs and op-eds on poverty and mobility, so this gives you a head start. You can use our online LTE action about the War on Poverty to get started.


Join Women Succeed Town Hall Tomorrow

Tomorrow, there will be a national “Tele-Town Hall” to talk about the Women Succeed agenda. Speakers for the event will include House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA-12), Rosa DeLauro (D-CT-3), and others. The event is Wednesday, January 29 at 8:30 pm ET. If you would like to participate, please e-mail Meredith Dodson ([email protected]) with your name, location, and contact information.

On a related note, at the Shriver Report/Atlantic event in Washington earlier this month, Representative Pelosi praised the work of RESULTS volunteers. You can watch the videos online, including the mention of RESULTS at minutes 25 and 27.


RESULTS Outreach: Who Do YOU Know?

RESULTS continues our push to invite new people to get involved with our work and help bring an end to poverty in America. RESULTS Grassroots Organizer Myrdin Thompson met with advocates in Evansville, IN last week and also did an advocacy training in Louisville, KY last night. We expect Myrdin’s efforts in Evansville and Louisville, along with outreach in Indianapolis, IN, Lexington, KY and other places will result in new U.S. Poverty groups in the coming months. Myrdin will also be traveling to Valparaiso, IN at the end of February to present at the annual IMPACT Conference on February 28 and March 1. IMPACT is a great opportunity to reach out to college students and engage them in social action. If you know people in any of these areas Myrdin is working, please contact Myrdin at [email protected] to get them connected to her work.

Meanwhile, RESULTS National Grassroots Manager Jos Linn is working to expand our presence in Iowa. He met with a person in Iowa City, IA last week who is interested in getting a new RESULTS group started. He will be doing a conference call with her and others interested in getting things going in Iowa City on February 5 at 2:00 pm CT. If you know people in the Iowa City area, please contact Jos for more details ([email protected]). And, RESULTS Director of US Poverty Campaigns Meredith Dodson is working with contacts in Durham, New Hampshire, with a series of advocacy meetings and possibly a group start in late March, with possible meetings with others in Maine and Vermont – please contact Meredith with any suggestions you have ([email protected]). Meredith is also interviewing candidates for a U.S. Poverty Expansion Consultant that will add to our outreach capacity.

As always, we welcome your referrals and contacts in our outreach efforts. As in all our other work, it’s about relationships. People you know are more likely to try out RESULTS because you asked them to. If you know anyone in the areas listed above, in your community, or in other parts of the U.S., reach out to them. Invite them to a RESULTS Intro Call or contact the Meredith Dodson ([email protected]). She is happy to work with you. We thank you for all your help.


Quick News

Join Assets & Opportunity Webinar on January 30. From the Corporation for Enterprise Development: Join CFED at noon EST on Thursday, January 30 for the launch of the 2014 Assets & Opportunity Scorecard – the leading source of state-level data on financial security and policy solutions. During this webinar, CFED experts will discuss data on asset poverty and 65 other measures of household financial security and will share trends on 67 state policies that help families achieve financial security and climb the economic ladder. The webinar is Thursday, January 30, 2014 at Noon ET. To register for the webinar, go to https://www1.gotomeeting.com/register/264110424

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


Fundraising Update – Make RESULTS Your Valentine

Our "Valentine's Date Night IN!" online fundraising site is ready for anyone who prefers to participate in a seasonal virtual campaign in the first quarter. Invite your social networks to spend the same amount they would spend on an evening out on a gift of love to RESULTS for the children of the world! Set your own goal and send out silly Facebook and Twitter updates about why people should stay in and donate to RESULTS (ex. It's freaky cold outside... donations have less calories then chocolates...) Visit www.tinyurl.com/2014RESULTSLOVE to create your personal fundraising page. Contact Cindy Levin if you have questions.


Announcements

Join and/or Invite Others to February Intro Calls. If you or someone you know wants to learn more about RESULTS and how you can get involved, we invite you to join on of our bi-monthly Intro Calls. These 30-45 minutes calls provide an overview of RESULTS’ work and how you can join our effort to end poverty. All are welcome. Our calls in February are Wednesday, February 12 at 9:00 pm ET and Friday, February 28 at 1:00 pm ET. To register for an upcoming call, go to http://www.results.org/take_action/become_a_results_activist/.

Give Feedback to Grassroots Board Members. The four RESULTS Grassroots Board Members (Heide Craig, Lydia Pendley, Ginnie Vogts, and Beth Wilson) would like to hear from you if you have questions or ideas about RESULTS and our work. Send your questions or suggestions to Heide at: [email protected].


RESULTS Activity Calendar

(See a complete calendar on the RESULTS website)

Upcoming Congressional Recesses: House and Senate: February 17-21. Request face-to-face meetings.

Tuesday, January 28: Annual State of the Union speech, 9:00 pm ET. All major networks.

Saturday, February 8: RESULTS U.S. Poverty National Conference Call, 12:30 pm ET. Listen to previous conference calls online.

Wednesday, February 12: 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/.

Monday, February 17: Happy Presidents’ Day! All RESULTS office closed.

Tuesday, February 18: RESULTS U.S. Poverty Free Agents Calls, 1:00pm ET and 9:00 pm ET. (443) 453-0034, passcode 703096.

Saturday, June 21 - Tuesday, June 24: RESULTS International Conference, Washington, DC. More details soon.


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.