U.S. Poverty Weekly Update September 24, 2013
New and Urgent in This Week's Update (Two-Ten-Twenty Actions)
Latest from Washington, DC
Last week, the House voted 217-210 to cut the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, formerly food stamps) by $40 billion over ten years. This cut would force nearly 4 million people off SNAP and reduce benefits for 850,000 low-income households (see more details about the vote below). While this is a setback, it is by no means the end. The House and Senate must now negotiate a compromise and Senate leaders have already said they will not pass the House SNAP cuts. It’s important that we continue to put pressure on Congress to protect and strengthen SNAP during these negotiations and using the media is an excellent way to do so.
TAKE ACTION: Take two minutes to send a letter to the editor to your local paper about your disappointment in the passage of the House SNAP bill and calling on your members of Congress to protect and strengthen SNAP in any final Farm Bill. Use our online LTE action to send your letter today. Be sure to mention your members of Congress by name and how they voted on the bill; you can find the vote breakdown on the RESULTS website.
Got Ten Minutes? Thank Your Network for Taking Action and to Be Ready for More (September Action)
Last Thursday, the House of Representatives voted to cut the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, formerly food stamps) by $40 billion by a vote of 217-210. This bill would force 3.8 million people off SNAP in 2014, deny 210,000 low-income children free meals at school, and cut benefits for 850,000 households by an average of $90 per month.
All Democrats and 15 Republicans opposed the bill and we came one vote away from defeat. While this was a certainly a setback, you and the people you got to take action last week sent a clear signal that attacks on hungry families will not go unanswered. Feeding America, who provided us the toll-free number to use last week, reported that as of last Wednesday, 5,000 calls had been made about protecting SNAP. Many more contacts were made through direct calls, calls to local offices, and e-mails. Thank you for all the wonderful work you did the last few weeks to protect and strengthen SNAP. House leadership was working very hard to pass this bill and to come one vote away from defeat was a testament to your energy and action.
Fortunately, the debate is far from over. House and Senate negotiators must now come up with a compromise Farm Bill. We know that the final bill will not include the $40 billion in cuts; before last week’s vote, Senate Agriculture Committee Chairperson Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) said that the Senate would not take up the House SNAP bill if it passed. However, with only a week to go before the current Farm Bill expires, there will be tremendous pressure to cut SNAP deeper than the Senate’s $4.1 billion in cuts. We must work to make sure that doesn’t happen.
TAKE ACTION: Take ten minutes to contact your networks and thank them for all their hard work over the last week to protect SNAP. Update them on what happened and how to find out how there representative voted (find the vote on the RESULTS website or at: tinyurl.com/HouseSNAP). Remind them that the debate is not over and to be ready to jump into action as the process moves forward. Until then, you and your networks can influence the process right now. Here are some actions you can take (and urge your local networks to do the same):
Poverty in America is not getting better. Last week, U.S. Census released poverty data for 2012, which showed that the national poverty rate remained the same – 15 percent – for the second straight year. This means that 46.5 million Americans, including 16.5 million children, lived below the poverty line in 2012 or about $23,000 for a family of four. In addition, the Census reported that SNAP lifted 4 million out of poverty that year (when new Census data is analyzed, this number is likely to go up).
When the poverty rate is still too high and not decreasing, why would Congress make it worse by cutting millions off SNAP? What an excellent question to ask members of Congress publicly. In light of the House vote last week to cut SNAP by $40 billion, members of Congress should be held accountable for how they voted. A strong media piece – letter to the editor, op-ed, or editorial – is a great way to hold them to account. Already RESULTS volunteers have been doing amazing work educating readers and policymakers about SNAP through the media. Since June 1, RESULTS volunteers have gotten 54 media pieces published almost exclusively about SNAP (you’ve had a total 81 media pieces on U.S. poverty issues published so far in 2013). Let’s keep the pressure on.
To make your case about the importance of protecting services such as SNAP, use the new Census data to bolster your point. In particular, the U.S. Census’ American Community Survey has a wealth of data not only at the national level, but also at the state and local level. For example, if your representative voted in favor of the House SNAP bill, you can search by congressional district to find out how many people were living in poverty in his/her district in 2012. This state and local data is important in not only showing lawmakers the local impacts of their decision, those local impacts are what newspaper editors like to see in pieces they publish. Our friends at Half in Ten also have an interactive map to find 2012 poverty data by state.
TAKE ACTION: Take twenty minutes to draft and submit a letter to the editor or op-ed to your local paper about the recent poverty data release and how it highlights the importance of protecting SNAP and other poverty-reduction services. Here are some resources to help you:
Welcome to New RESULTS Groups in Waterloo, Kansas City, and Albuquerque; Outreach in New Hampshire, Maine, Chicago, Chapel Hill, Lexington, Baltimore, and Memphis in the Coming Weeks
Welcome to our new RESULTS groups Waterloo, IA, Kansas City, MO, and Albuquerque, NM! We are starting the training process with these new groups, along with new groups in Boston, MA, Burlington, VT, Orange County, CA, and West Los Angeles, CA. We are well on track to have more than 10 new RESULTS U.S. poverty groups started in 2013!
Zahara Heckscher, our New England Organizer, is working to start new RESULTS groups in Maine and New Hampshire. She’ll be in New Hampshire on September 30 for an event with Nobel Prize winner Muhammad Yunus (register for the event at: https://www.events.unh.edu/RegistrationForm.pm?event_id=15159), and she’ll be hosting an informational event on campus after Prof. Yunus speaks. Here is a rundown of some of the NH events next week:
Keynote Address featuring RESULTS board member Nobel Prize winner and RESULTS Board Member Mohammed Yunus
10:00 a.m. – 12:15 p.m.
Granite State Room, Memorial Union Building, University of New Hampshire, Durham
The event is part of the The New Hampshire Social Business and Microfinance Forum and the finals of the Social Business Innovation Challenge
The Power to End Poverty: An Introduction to RESULTS
2:00 -3:00 pm
Workshop with Zahara Heckscher, RESULTS
UNH, Location TBA, contact [email protected] for details
Volunteering Overseas: Finding a Volunteer Experience that Matches Your Interests, Timeline and Budget
Workshop with Zahara Heckscher, RESULTS
4:00 - 5:30 pm UNH, MUB @ Room 302
Zahara needs your help – she’d love names and e-mail or phone number for any contacts you have in New England who might be interested in helping RESULTS. If you know people in New England, contact Zahara at [email protected] or (202) 489-8908.
Here are some other events coming up. Invite people you know to attend:
Keep Requesting Face-to-Face Lobby Meetings: Congratulations to our RESULTS volunteers in Greensboro, San Diego, and Charlottesville for getting district lobby meetings this week. Want in on the action? Call the schedulers for your members of Congress to start or follow up on your meeting requests. See if there are any last minute events you can attend this week and if not, ask to have a meeting with them the next time they are home. For your meetings, see our Sample Town Hall Questions and please remember to download and copy our 2013 SNAP, Tax Policy, and Early Childhood Lobby Meeting Requests Sheets to give to members of Congress or their staff. If you confirm a lobby meeting, please contact Meredith Dodson ([email protected]) for help in preparing for the meeting. Once you talk with your policymakers, please fill out our Lobby Meeting Report Form to let us know how it went.
Advocates Play “Chutes and Ladders” for Early Learning. Last Wednesday, early childhood advocates including RESULTS Director of US Poverty Campaigns Meredith Dodson and her four-month-old daughter Iris played a giant game of Chutes and Ladders on Capitol Hill. The Strong Start for Children Campaign and MomsRising invited members of Congress to join kids and families in the game, with several senators and representatives stopping by to play (and try some hula hooping). You can reinforce their message with our e-mail alert.
We're excited to have started working with groups in Minneapolis, Olympia, and Bernardsville on fundraising events this year. Do you have an idea for an event before the end of the year? Please contact Cindy at [email protected] for support.
Looking ahead, we are looking for free agents and groups to participate in a on-line fundraising idea to spread the word about our domestic work on SNAP and our global work on child nutrition. For the month of November, we will be creating a webpage for a "Virtual Thanksgiving Feast." You can invite your friends to donate online in to help those who suffer from hunger during this time of feasting and plenty. You can hold an actual feast with your friends or just treat it as an online way for people to engage with us. Contact Cindy Levin at [email protected] or look for more info here in the coming weeks.
(See a complete calendar on the RESULTS website)
Upcoming Congressional Recesses: Senate: October 14-18. Request face-to-face meetings.
Tuesday, September 24: Deadline to submit nominations for the RESULTS/RESULTS Educational Fund (REF) Grassroots Board Member position. This is an important position and we are seeking nominations of RESULTS activists who would be strong candidates for this role. You can e-mail your nomination to [email protected] or fax to (202) 466-1397.
Tuesday, September 24: RESULTS Chicago Outreach Meeting, 6:00 pm CT. Independence Park Library, 3548 W. Irving Park Road, Chicago, IL. For more details, contact Jos Linn at (515) 288-3622, [email protected]. See more on Facebook.
Friday, September 27: RESULTS Intro Call, 1:00 pm ET. Register for this or another upcoming call at www.tinyurl.com/RESULTSMeetandGreet/.
Saturday, September 28 – Tuesday, October 1: RESULTS New England Organizer in New Hampshire and Maine. Contact her at [email protected] to connect with her while she is there.
Saturday, October 5. RESULTS Lexington (KY) Outreach Meeting. Contact Myrdin Thompson ([email protected]) for details.
Saturday, October 12: 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.