U.S. Poverty Weekly Update November 19, 2013

The best way to reduce spending on food stamps is to work to revive the economy and put people back to work rather than chopping away at the safety net.

November 12 editorial in the Buffalo News (RESULTS Buffalo volunteer Bruce Davidson helped generate this piece)

[Cutting SNAP] is not just unfair and unrealistic, it is draconian and unwise for the future of our country.

– Marty Karnopp, RESULTS Aurora (CO) volunteer in a November 17 letter to the editor in the Denver Post

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

Latest from Washington, DC

Organizational Updates


Got Two Minutes? Tell Senators to Protect SNAP and Urge Others to Join You

As the days progress, we edge closer to a final outcome on the debate over the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, formerly food stamps). Farm Bill negotiators continue to meet and the window to influence negotiations is slowly closing. Once a deal is announced (assuming they reach one), there will be no opportunity to change the final bill. Therefore, we must weigh in now and make sure that if and when a deal is reached, SNAP and the 47 million hungry Americans it serves are protected.

TAKE ACTION: Take two minutes to send your senators an e-mail message urging them to protect SNAP. With the House pushing $40 billion in SNAP cuts, senate negotiators must remain firm in opposing these reckless and harmful cuts. Use our online e-mail alert to send your message today: http://capwiz.com/results/issues/alert/?alertid=62580726&MC_plugin=2201.

But don’t stop there. After you’ve sent your message, copy the link above and send it out to your local action network via e-mail, Facebook, and Twitter to people you know and urge them to take action too. In particular, if you know people in Arkansas, Colorado, Georgia, Iowa, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Montana, North Dakota, Ohio, and Vermont, send them the link to take action (they have senators on the Farm Bill conference committee). We need as many senators as possible standing up to protect SNAP.


Got Ten Minutes? Call or Follow Up with Agriculture Aides about Protecting SNAP (November Action)

This month, our focus has been on making calls to House and Senate agriculture aides about protecting SNAP from deep cuts in the Farm Bill. RESULTS activists from around the country have been making these important calls, urging aides to tell their bosses to weigh in with Farm Bill conference committee members about SNAP. Volunteers from Montana to Iowa to Virginia have made their calls, sending one unified message – protect SNAP! Thank you to everyone who has made calls.

If you have yet to make your calls, this is the week to do it. Although Congress is expected to be in session early next week, staff may be more difficult to get in touch with because of the Thanksgiving holiday. The longer you wait to call, the less influence you and your member of Congress will have over Farm Bill negotiations.

Once you have made your calls to agriculture aides, be sure to follow up with the aide within a few days to see if they delivered your message and what the response was. These follow up calls are important because they help ensure that your message is getting through. Follow-up is the only way to hold your members of Congress and their staff accountable for what they say they will do.

Make your call today and make a difference in the lives of hungry people across the U.S.

TAKE ACTION: Take ten minutes to contact your congressional agriculture aides about protecting SNAP. Whether you are in a RESULTS group, a RESULTS Free Agent, or a just a person wanting to take action, make sure each agriculture aide for your senators and representative gets called (you can find aide names on our Elected Officials page). Start with the Senate aides and then go to the House.

Remind them that SNAP families have already seen a cut in benefits this month (average cut of $36 per month for a family of four). Considering benefits only average about $1.40 per meal, these individuals and families literally cannot afford more cuts. Ask the aide to have his/her boss weigh in with Reps. Frank Lucas and Collin Peterson (for House members) or Sens. Debbie Stabenow and Thad Cochran (for Senators) about protecting SNAP in the Farm Bill. If your member of Congress is on the Farm Bill conference committee, ask the aide to urge his/her boss to work to protect and strengthen SNAP in Farm Bill negotiations.

The November Action has talking points and background information for your calls and our November Laser Talk provides a sample conversation with an agriculture aide (you can listen to it as well on our November conference call recording). In addition, the conference call slides have facts about SNAP as well as answers to objections you might encounter.

IMPORTANT: 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.


Got Twenty Minutes? Contact Writers Highlight Harsh “Work Requirements” in House SNAP Bill

In October, we focused on getting media published, in particular editorials and opinion-editorials (op-eds) about protecting SNAP. And it’s worked. Since October 1, RESULTS volunteers have gotten 5 op-eds and 3 editorials published (along with 16 letters to the editor); that’s almost double the number of op-eds and editorials we had for the first nine months of 2013. Let’s keep it up. The threats to SNAP are still very real. Provisions in the House SNAP bill related to work requirements are particularly harsh.

For example, under currently law, adults 18-50 years old without children can only get SNAP for three months our of every three years. For many of these people – who earn an average of $2,500 per year – this menial SNAP benefit is the only help they get. However, in times of high unemployment, this restriction can be waived and these adults can get benefits for a longer period of time. This has literally proven to be a lifeline for these Americans. Unfortunately, the House bill would forbid these waivers, regardless of the local employment situation, cutting people off when they are at their most vulnerable. Furthermore, the so-called “Southerland Amendment” (for Rep. Steve Southerland (R-FL-2) who proposed it) would also let states cut off SNAP benefits for entire families, even ones with children as young as one year old, if the parents are not working or enrolled in job training for at least 20 hours per week. If the parents cannot find work or participate in a job training program (which have been slashed over the last few years), tough luck. They’re off SNAP. The House bill also provides no resources to expand job training or child care for these families. Instead, the Southerland amendment would allow states to keep half the money they save from cutting off SNAP benefits.

While many media outlets have been covering the recent SNAP cut that began on November 1, many are glossing over or not even delving into these SNAP cut-offs. Despite the rhetoric heard from some, these provisions are not about getting people back to work; they are about kicking people off SNAP. Telling people who cannot find work or job training or child care that they can no longer feed their children is not motivation; it is cruelty. More media outlets need to be talking about this. Help make sure they do.

TAKE ACTION: Take twenty minutes to contact your local editorial writer and urge him/her to write about these draconian SNAP cut-offs. Urge them to highlight that these provisions disguised as work requirements are really about saving money. The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities has a comprehensive analysis of all the provisions of the House bill, including the cut-offs. If you made an editorial pitch recently and the paper did not write about SNAP, highlighting these faux work requirements with writers is a good way to put a new angle on the issue. If your paper did write a recent SNAP editorial, thank the paper/writer and urge them to do a follow-up editorial talking about the cut-offs.

Also if you have contacts in your community who can provide a local angle to the hunger/SNAP issues, please contact them to get more information or include them in a call/meeting with an editorial writer. These could be local food banks or pantries, organizations that serve low-income families, job training administrators, faith communities doing hunger alleviation, and others. Local stories are very important to writers and will increase the chances of getting something published.

Download our SNAP editorial memo to help you prepare for your editorial pitch. In addition, the October Action has talking points about SNAP and tips for editorial pitches, as does our October 8 Weekly Update. Our October Laser Talk is a sample conversation with an editorial writer. Please contact RESULTS staff if you need help with your media outreach.

In addition to editorial outreach, send in your own letter to the editor (LTE) highlighting how the House bill promotes kicking people off SNAP. Use our online LTE alert to send your letter today.


Join RESULTS Free Agents Call Tonight; Helps Us Expand into New States

The RESULTS Free Agents group will be meeting for their monthly call tonight. If you are a lone activist in an area with no active RESULTS U.S. Poverty group and would like support from RESULTS in taking action, please join us. We had our first daytime Free Agents call yesterday, providing supports to activists in Connecticut and Nebraska. Join them in taking action to protect SNAP from reckless cuts in the Farm Bill by calling into tonight’s call. The call is tonight, November 19 at 9:00 pm ET. The call-in number is (267) 507-0370, passcode RESULTS (7378587, plus #).

Help RESULTS magnify our voice by expanding into new states. The RESULTS U.S. Poverty Team has a goal of expanding our presence into 31 states in 2013. Right now, we sit at 26 states. With a dedicated push, we can still reach our goal by the end of the year. If you know people in Maine, New Hampshire, Tennessee, Vermont, Arizona, or Oregon who might be interested in taking meaningful action on U.S. poverty issues, please let us know. It only takes one person to get things stared. Look through your e-mail contact list, rolodex, Facebook, or other lists for people you think might be interested. Once you find someone, you can send that information to RESULTS Director of U.S. Poverty Campaigns Meredith Dodson ([email protected]) and she will connect him/her with one of our organizers. You can also invite them to attend our next RESULTS Introductory Call this Friday, November 22 at 1:00pm ET. Simply send them the link to our Intro Call registration form: http://www.results.org/take_action/become_a_results_activist/ and invite them to register the call.

Thank you for all of you who have helped us expand our presence this year. Help us keep the momentum going by enlisting new activists in this important work.


Sign your RESULTS Group onto Strong Start for America’s Children Act

Last week, Sen. Tom Harkin (D-IA), Rep. George Miller (D-CA-11), and Rep. Richard Hanna (D-NY-22) made a move to expand preschool education across the United States. The Strong Start for America’s Children Act (S. 1697, H.R. 3491) significantly expands preschool investments by:

  • Giving Early Head Start programs the ability to reach more eligible children through innovative partnerships with child care programs to improve quality
  • Allowing states to use 15 percent of their Pre-K funding to provide high-quality child care settings for infants and toddlers to help minimize the learning gap among low-income children well before they enter preschool
  • Endorsing the expansion of evidence-based home visiting programs that have been shown to have a range of positive impacts on parenting and early development

This is a significant investment which paves the road for pre-school for all children, particularly low-income children. RESULTS and other early childhood groups strongly support this bill, have endorsed it, and urge Congress to pass it. To help build support for these investments advocates are urging state and local organizations to support the bill as well.

TAKE ACTION: Show your support for expanding preschool to all American children by signing your local RESULTS group on as a supporter of the Strong Start for America’s Children bill. Use the National Women’s Law Center sign-on form to sign your group on as a supporter. Simply list your group as “RESULTS Des Moines” or “RESULTS Orange County” and list your role in your local group as the “position” when filling out the form.


Announcements

Keep Pushing for Face-to-Face Meetings. The Senate is scheduled to go on recess November 28 through December 6. Many House members are likely to be home over weekends and then again in late December through early January. With many budget issues still unresolved, including the Farm Bill and SNAP, these meetings can be critical in garnering support for anti-poverty programs. Use our Lobby Meeting Request Letter to submit your request today (note: you will have adjust the language as it was written for August recess meeting requests). If you have already submitted a request, contact your Senate and House schedulers to check on the status. Once you do get a meetings scheduled, please contact Meredith Dodson or Jos Linn to help you prepare.

Welcome RESULTS Kansas City! Last night, RESULTS volunteers in the new Kansas City, MO group met for the final "new group training" session with Grassroots Manager Jos Linn. The group is eager to move forward in their advocacy work, starting with contacting House and Senate aides about protecting SNAP over the next week. We officially welcome the group to RESULTS and look forward to working with you in western Missouri. Congratulations, Kansas City!

RESULTS Volunteer Leaders Meet to Better Support You. This past weekend, RESULTS "Regional Coordinators" (RCs) and staff gathered in Washington, DC. On Saturday and Sunday, these volunteer leaders, who support RESULTS groups and Free Agents around the country, met to discuss how they can better support you in growing our volunteer network, strengthening your groups, helping you secure more face-to-face meetings with members of Congress (particularly senators), and helping you create more media success. In the coming months, they will be working to articulate specific strategies designed to help you accomplish these objectives. We'll have more details in the coming weeks and months. In the meantime, we thank our RCs for taking the time to help plan for the next year and we thank you - the volunteer - for inspiring them to do so.

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


RESULTS Fundraising Update

"Virtually" eating is not the same as having a delicious meal and a full stomach, but the RESULTS/REF Virtual Thanksgiving Feast fundraising campaign will help end starvation in our country and around the world! Six of our groups have already raised over $1,000 from their friends in this online mini-campaign to give during a season of sharing. Register your own fundraising page to ask your loved ones to support our domestic and global nutrition campaigns this month and help children who don't know when their next meal will be. Contact Cindy at [email protected] if you need assistance.

As we count our blessings at RESULTS, we are thankful for Columbus and Santa Fe for their recent fundraising events. Santa Fe hosted RESULTS/RESULTS Educational Fund Executive Director Dr. Joanne Carter for 90 donors – their biggest event ever – and even asked attendees to take action, too. Partners in Columbus, OH collected over $4,000 and are already planning their next event. Wow!


RESULTS Activity Calendar

(See a complete calendar on the RESULTS website)

Upcoming Congressional Recesses: Senate: November 28 – December 8. Request face-to-face meetings.

Tuesday, November 19: RESULTS U.S. Poverty Free Agents Call, 9:00 pm ET. (267) 507-0370, passcode RESULTS (7378587, plus #).

Friday, November 22: RESULTS Introductory Call, 1:00 pm ET. Register for this or another Intro Call at www.tinyurl.com/RESULTSMeetandGreet/.

Thursday, November 28 – Friday, November 29: All RESULTS offices closed for the Thanksgiving holiday. Happy Thanksgiving!

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.


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.