Bread Advocates Visit Congress
More than 300 Bread advocates from around the country headed to Congress last week to talk with their senators and representatives about issues that affect hungry and poor people. They had one request in mind: To ask their legislators to protect and strengthen tax credits—the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) and the Child Tax Credit—that help low-income working families.
Each person who visited their members of Congress represented numerous family, church, and community members back home.
For some, such as the Goerners of Longmont, CA, Bread’s Lobby Day is a family affair. Phil, his wife, Sibyl, and their 17-year-old son, Alex, have made the trip to Washington, DC, for the last 15 years.
“Bread has such strong, vibrant members, people who are faithful,” said Phil. Several of the Goerners’ representatives are facing re-election, he added. “I’m hoping they’ll get behind these issues and come out and be leaders.”
For others, walking the halls of Congress was a new experience—initially intimidating but exhilarating overall.
“I never, ever would have imagined myself lobbying,” said Johanna Johnson, a seminary student from Gettysburg, PA. “As I lobbied, I felt my voice go into the same place it does when I preach. I didn’t have scripture, but I felt I was sharing the word of God.”
Johnson is also a member of Bread’s 2010 class of Hunger Justice Leaders, who attended three days of advocacy training prior to Lobby Day. The 75 leaders participated in workshops on everything from “Hunger 101” to “Speaking Biblically” to learn to lead hunger advocacy efforts in their home communities.
The day culminated in a reception on Capitol Hill, during which several legislators were recognized by Bread for their efforts to help hungry and poor people. One was Rep. Jo Ann Emerson (R-MO), who cited the bipartisan spirit needed to end hunger. “Republicans and Democrats agree on the politics of hunger, which is that there should be no hunger,” she said. In addition to Rep. Emerson, Bread honored Rep. Howard Berman (D-CA), Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. (D-IL), Sen. John Kerry (D-MA), and Sen. Bob Corker (R-TN).
During a closing service in the Rayburn House Office Building, which sits just north of the U.S. Capitol, Bread members, Hunger Justice Leaders, staff, and others shared some of the most meaningful moments of their experience.
“To live in a country where I can walk into my representative’s office, sit on a couch next to him and tell him what I think is important—and what my community thinks is important—is amazing,” said Nicole Schmidt, a Hunger Justice Leader from Ohio.
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