U.S. Poverty Weekly Update October 15, 2013

Some members might decide that they can stiff a good many of their constituents, as long as they don't think there will be a political price to pay for it. We should let Mr. Shuster know we are keeping an eye on his votes.

 – RESULTS Chambersburg (PA) volunteer Bruce Kessler in an October 8 letter to the editor in the Chambersburg Public Opinion

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

Latest from Washington, DC

Organizational Updates


Got Two Minutes? Call Congress on World Food Day (Wednesday) about Ending Hunger

With many decisions to be made in Washington about the budget, the debt ceiling, and how to end the government shutdown, this Wednesday, October 16, is World Food Day, a day to bring attention to food insecurity, and nutrition here in the U.S. and around the world.

Hunger and malnutrition do not wait for a budget deal – they put our most vulnerable populations at risk now. Along with Bread for the World, RESULTS is organizing a call-in day to protect hungry people. In addition to resolving the budget impasse, Congress has many other issues on its plate, namely resolving the debt ceiling, passing a Farm Bill with the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), completing a 2014 budget which includes early learning programs, and a host of other issues. It’s easy to get lost in the fray. In any final decisions about government spending - we must prioritize programs that save lives and protect those living in poverty. Congress must protect poverty-focused programs here and abroad!

  • SNAP (formerly Food Stamps) effectively and efficiently helps more than 47 million low-income Americans put food on the table.  As unemployment and poverty have remained high, the number of families at risk of hunger has not increased since 2008.
  • 3.1 million preventable child deaths are attributed to malnutrition – that’s almost half of all child deaths each year. Simple solutions like promoting breastfeeding and providing micronutrients in the thousand days from pregnancy to a child’s second birthday have been proven to save lives.

TAKE ACTION: Take two minutes and make a call to your members of Congress to let them know you want Congress to end cuts to SNAP and to protect global poverty and global health programs that protect our most vulnerable. Here are tips on how to call and you can reach Congress toll-free at (800) 826-3688. ** Some offices have limited staff with the shutdown, so calling though to an aide that handles the Farm Bill or Foreign Affairs may not be possible, but you will likely still be able to leave a message with the front desk. ** Here is what you can say:

My name is __________ and I’m a constituent in Rep. __________’s district. As Congress debates their next steps in funding our government, it is important to remember that every night in the U.S. 1 in 5 American children is at risk of going to sleep hungry and every year 3.1 million child deaths around the world are attributed to malnutrition. Fortunately, SNAP (formerly food stamps) and global health investments are keeping hunger at bay for millions and we cannot afford to undermine these efforts. Hunger and malnutrition don’t wait for a budget deal and we can’t continue to put our most vulnerable at risk. 

  • Push for a budget deal that replaces sequestration with a balanced plan and adequately funds programs serving those in poverty.
  • Please weigh in with Farm Bill negotiators and urge them to reject the House SNAP cuts and to protect and strengthen SNAP in any final Farm Bill or other legislation, and;
  • Also weigh in with leadership on appropriations to protect global poverty-focused development assistance and global health programs in budget negotiations.

If you are unable to call or can’t get through, send an email to senators to protect SNAP and urge House members to scale up child nutrition funding around the world. And, we urge you to send along information about the call-in day to others in your network – we’ll be sending out an email you can forward tomorrow morning.


Got Ten Minutes? Call an Editorial Writer to Pitch Your Editorial; Join Media Training Call Tonight for Help (October Action)

The RESULTS U.S. Poverty October 2013 Action focuses on using the media to protect the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, formerly food stamps) from cuts in Congress. As noted on last Saturday’s RESULTS National Conference Call, SNAP is facing deep cuts as part of a new Farm Bill. H.R. 3102 would force nearly 4 million people off SNAP in 2014 alone, including unemployed adults looking for a job, working families, and children.

On Saturday’s call, we heard from Sen. Barbara Mikulski (D-MD) speak of the importance of grassroots involvement in protecting SNAP and other important services.* She noted that local charity was an important part of the fight against hunger and poverty, but that charity could never be a substitute for public policy; and the best people to take that message to Congress were constituents. Sen. Mikulski said that because of the government shutdown, where congressional offices were not answering phones or checking mail, the media was especially important in getting the message out. She’s paying attention to what people are saying in her local papers to get feedback from her constituents. This plays in perfectly with our action this month.

This month, we want to get 30 media pieces published, including 8 op-eds and 4 editorials. Editorials are particularly important because they are more widely read and have the backing of outlet publishing it. On Saturday’s call, we role-played making an editorial “pitch” to a local writer to publish a piece about protecting SNAP. It’s simply a matter of calling the writer up, making your case, and asking them to write something. A ten minute conversation that will create much greater rewards – it potentially gets a piece published AND helps you build a relationship with the writer.

To help you, the RESULTS Grassroots Media Team is having their monthly support call tonight at 8:00 pm ET. These calls, which are run by volunteers, for anyone wanting support in getting media published. We are pleased to have Jove Oliver, Senior Communications Adviser with RESULTS, as our guest speaker on tonight’s call. He will talk about the importance of editorials and how to get them published. The call is TONIGHT, October 15 at 8:00 pm ET. The call-in number is (218) 862-1300, passcode 682494.

TAKE ACTION: Take ten minutes to call an editorial writer to ask him/her to write a piece about protecting and strengthening SNAP in Farm Bill negotiations. One person in your group should take the lead for making the pitch to a particular paper (no need to make multiple pitches to the same paper). The October Action has talking points about SNAP and tips for editorial pitches (also see last week’s RESULTS Update for helpful information on how to prepare). Also, use our October Laser Talk (the sample pitch from Saturday’s call) for your call or to help you write your own. Our Media Guide provides contact information for media outlets by state. Remember to join the RESULTS Media Training Call tonight if you want help in pitching your editorial idea. And as always, please contact RESULTS staff if you need help.

Listen to a recording of our October National Conference Call, download the slides for the call, and download a summary of the call from our National Conference Call page.

*This was a recording of Sen. Mikulski, who had appeared on a webinar last week sponsored by the Coalition on Human Needs talking about these issues.


Got Twenty Minutes? Write Your Powerful Op-ed or Letter to the Editor about Protecting SNAP (October Action)

Media advocacy is vital in creating political will. It not only informs elected officials about the issues and what constituents are thinking, it also educates your community and builds political will.   

Imagine opening your local paper one day and finding an editorial about importance of protecting hungry families on SNAP. Letters to editor from your group and others roll in praising the paper for taking a stand against the SNAP cuts. Then a few days later, your group’s op-ed appears making the case for SNAP. Again letters to the editor appear in response to the piece. Pretty soon, your local editorial page is becoming a public discussion about SNAP. That is creating political will.

In addition, generating media can also be good for strengthening your local group. For example, the RESULTS Des Moines groups recruited one of its most dedicated and informed members because of a media piece the group got published five years ago. The more people we involve in this process, they louder our voices become. That is building political will.

Finally, imagine getting your first letter or op-ed or editorial published? Imagine how good you’ll feel about it. Not just for bringing much-needed attention to an important issue, but for your own personal accomplishment. The vast majority of people don’t know they have this power. But you do. Once you discover that, it’s hard not to do it again… and again… and again. That is exercising political will.

TAKE ACTION: Take twenty minutes to draft an op-ed or letter to the editor to your local paper about protecting SNAP. Check in with your group to make the most of your media outreach. One person should handle working on an editorial, while others in the group divide up op-ed and letters to the editor responsibilities. If the paper receives multiple requests for pieces about SNAP, the better chance it will publish one or more of them. Use the October Action for talking points and for tips to help with the action. As always, if you are pressed for time, you can send a letter to the editor about SNAP using our online LTE alert. Please contact Meredith Dodson ([email protected]) or Jos Linn ([email protected]) if you need help.

In addition, the RESULTS Grassroots Media Team is having their monthly support call tonight at 8:00 pm ET. Jove Oliver, Communications Adviser with RESULTS, will be our guest speaker on the call, talking about the importance of editorials and how to get them published. Anyone is welcomed to participate. The call is TONIGHT, October 15 at 8:00 pm ET, (218) 862-1300, passcode 682494.


Shutdown Nation

We are in the third week of the federal government shutdown and the stakes just got a whole lot higher. In addition to growing impact of the shutdown on services across the country, the United States is expected to hit our debt limit or debt “ceiling” on Thursday. If the debt ceiling – the maximum amount the U.S. Treasury is authorized to borrow to pay the country’s bills – is not raised, most analysts say it would wreak havoc on markets around the world and could trigger another recession.

Talks to resolve the impasse with House leaders have stalled so attention has turned to the Senate. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), in communication with the White House, have been negotiating all weekend. Rumors of a possible deal have been leaked. It would include reopening the government under a continuing resolution at sequestration funding levels until January 15 to give Congress time to negotiate a final 2014 budget. It would also raise the debt ceiling until February 2014. There could be some small changes to the Affordable Care Act included but no details are known yet. Meanwhile, in response to the Senate negotiations, House leaders tried to rush out a counter-proposal but evidently it has fallen apart and no one knows – not even House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH-8) – what the House will do. Some kind of resolution must pass by Thursday, October 17, the day the Treasury says we will hit the current debt ceiling.

TAKE ACTION: In addition to your media work around SNAP, you send a letter to the editor today telling lawmakers to stop the games and get our government working again. Our Media Guide has contact information for your local newspapers. Here is a draft LTE you can use:

The House of Representatives is at it again. After passing a proposal to kick 4 million people off SNAP (formerly food stamps), they are again punishing America’s low-income families by forcing us into a government shutdown. Because of their actions, 8 million infants, children, and young mothers needing food assistance will no longer be able to buy food or formula at the end of this month. 19,000 Head Start kids who were lucky enough to survive sequestration cuts will see their classrooms close because of the shutdown. Now we are flirting with a default on paying our bills and a global economic catastrophe. It is time to stop this ridiculous and harmful charade. Actions have consequences and real people are hurting. I urge Rep. _______________ to tell House leaders end this political hostage-taking and work with the Senate and President Obama to strengthen services that help children and families rise out of poverty.


RESULTS Outreach Update; Join RESULTS Free Agents Call Tonight

The RESULTS U.S. Poverty Free Agents will be meeting for their monthly support call tonight Tuesday, October 15 at 9:00 pm ET. If you are an advocate in an area with no existing RESULTS U.S. Poverty group, join us for the call. On these calls, we celebrate actions people have taken over the last month, discuss the latest going on in DC, and review actions you can take to make an impact on poverty. On this month’s call, we also discuss the possibility of adding a daytime Free Agents call during the month to allow more people to participate; we welcome your input. To join the call, dial (267) 507-0370, passcode RESULTS (7378587 plus #). 

RESULTS also continues to do outreach to new people around the country. RESULTS Senior Associate Jos Linn just returned from a visit with our great volunteers in the Whitefish, MT area. He will be visiting groups in Creston, IA this week and Waterloo, IA next week. Jos is also continuing the new group training with our new Kansas City group this Thursday at 6:45pm CT. If you know people in these areas, please contact Jos at [email protected] to help them connected to these groups.

Myrdin Thompson continues her work with new volunteers in Albuquerque, NM, Lexington, KY, Louisville, KY, and Indianapolis, IN. This weekend Myrdin will be leading workshops for students at the Bonner Congress with former RESULTS intern and consultant Katja Kleine at Rhodes College in Memphis. If you know anyone in these or other areas, please contact Myrdin at [email protected].

Finally, our newest organizer, Zahara Heckscher, continues her outreach to people in New England, in particular New Hampshire and Maine. She will be heading to New Hampshire again at the end of October to work on starting a group there. If you know people in NH or ME who might be interested in RESULTS, please contact Zahara at [email protected] or (202) 489-8908.


Announcements

Join RESULTS Intro Call on October 25. If you know someone who would make a good advocate for the end of poverty, please invite him/her to one of our bi-monthly RESULTS Introductory Calls. These 30-45 minute calls give a nice overview of RESULTS and inspire new people to get involved. The next RESULTS Intro Call is tomorrow, October 25 at 1:00 pm ET. Register for this or another upcoming call at www.tinyurl.com/RESULTSMeetandGreet.


RESULTS Fundraising Update

Join RESULTS for a Virtual Thanksgiving Feast! For the month of November, we will run an online fundraising campaign highlighting RESULTS' work to combat hunger in both of our domestic and global campaigns. Invite your friends to give online and help those suffering from hunger during a time of plenty. Hold an actual fundraising feast or just do an easy online campaign! We'll even give you a handy resource of Facebook and Twitter posts to use. Visit www.tinyurl.com/2013RESULTSThanks to register. Contact Cindy at [email protected] for help setting up a personal fundraising page. 

Upcoming RESULTS fundraising events for October and November:

If you know people in these areas, please invite them to attend. Also, contact Cindy if you’re interested in hosting a fundraiser in your area.


RESULTS Activity Calendar

(See a complete calendar on the RESULTS website)

Upcoming Congressional Recesses: House: October 31 – November 11; Senate: November 28 – December 1. Request face-to-face meetings.

Tuesday, October 15: RESULTS Media Training Call, 8:00 pm ET. (218) 862-1300, passcode 682494.

Tuesday, October 15: RESULTS U.S. Poverty Free Agents Call, 9:00 pm ET. (267) 507-0370, passcode RESULTS (7378587, plus #).

Friday, October 25: RESULTS Introductory Call, 1:00 pm ET. Register for this or another Intro Call at www.tinyurl.com/RESULTSMeetandGreet/.

Saturday, November 9: RESULTS U.S. Poverty National Conference Call, 12:30 pm ET.. 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.