Urging our nation's leaders to end hunger
 

33 posts categorized "Lobby Day"

Lobby Day: Your Voice Counts!

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Bread for the World members meeting with members of Congress during Lobby Day. Laura Elizabeth Pohl/Bread for the World.

By Ryan Quinn

It’s not uncommon to hear the question “What difference can I make?” when asked to call or write to a member of Congress.

But the answer is a lot. That’s what Bread supporter Laura Duff from Wisconsin found out when she called U.S. Rep. Mark Pocan (D-Wis.) last year to encourage him to vote for a food-aid reform amendment.

But this story starts a bit earlier than that. In the summer of 2013, the House voted down the food-aid reform amendment to the House farm bill. One of the nay votes was Rep. Pocan. Despite his history of championing on the issue of poverty and hunger, he still voted against the amendment.

Bread supporters Dan and Peg Geisler noticed this and decided to attend one of the congressman’s “listening sessions.” After thanking him sincerely for his strong support of domestic hunger programs, they spoke to him about food-aid reform. During their conversation, the couple laid out the reasons food-aid reform makes sense, impressing upon him how it would actually feed millions more people around the world faster and more efficiently.

The following June, a vote was held for another amendment focused on food-aid reform. Bread activists were called into action to support the amendment. And as part of that effort, activists contacted hundreds of congressional offices, including Rep. Pocan’s office, during Lobby Day.

Even though she was hesitant and thought her call wouldn’t make much of a difference, Laura Duff called the congressman’s office and urged him to support the amendment. What she didn’t know was that a small army of individuals was doing the same. The outcome? The amendment passed by 223-198 because the congressman and more than 20 other House members had changed their vote to support the amendment.

Bread’s Lobby Day is fast approaching – June 9. Be part of a collective voice that tells Congress to support child nutrition in the U.S. and around the world. You don’t need to be a policy expert. You just need to care. Don’t delay. Register today and make a difference.

Ryan Quinn is a senior policy analyst at Bread for the World.

 

 

 

 

Young Hunger Leaders United Through Bread for the World

By Patricia Bidar

 

Over the past decade, Bread has brought together hundreds of young leaders. Through the Hunger Justice Leadership training program, these young people are equipped to work to change the policies and conditions that allow hunger to persist. As with many Bread gatherings, these trainings in Washington, D.C., have resulted in some fruitful partnerships.

One is a serious partnership — the marriage of Terrance and Kiara Ruth, who met at the 2010 Hunger Justice Leaders training. Just over a year ago, their son, Miles, was born.

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Both Terrance and Kiara were speakers at the 2015 Bread for the World Convention in mid-April in Raleigh, N.C., where the couple lives. The gathering galvanized over 200 people from throughout North Carolina and generated 223 letters to members of Congress.

Kiara feels God brought Terrance and her together. "The Hunger Justice Training was the first time anyone in my family had ever been on a plane," she remembers. "Few from my African Methodist Episcopal church back home have ever left Arkansas."

"Terrance and I were assigned to the same work hub," Kiara continues. "Over the course of days, I saw his selflessness and his passion for justice. We were assigned to sit together at the culminating dinner the night before Lobby Day. Our tablemates all assumed we were a married couple."

At the April convention in North Carolina, Kiara spoke about her family's struggle. As a teen growing up in Arkansas, she and her family turned to a shelter to keep a roof over their heads. "Later, when we received food aid and were able to go to the grocery store — that was like Disneyland for us," she remembers.

Terrance grew up in Florida. His father was a military man; his mother, a nurse. After earning his Ph.D., Terrance became principal of AMIkids, a public high school for students who have been suspended from traditional schools. Ninety-five percent of the students qualify for free lunches. For many, that is the only meal they eat each day.

At the school, the day starts at 10:00 a.m., too late to provide free breakfast. So Terrace recruited a local donor to bring breakfasts to the school.

The school also has a garden to grow produce for students' families. At first, the students weren't taking the vegetables because they didn't know how to prepare them. Terrance and the teachers are now working with parents to ensure the vegetables are used.

Terrance writes a series of articles for EducationNC. The articles are framed as letters to Terrance and Kiara's son. The letters describe the reality of African-American students and express hope as Miles grows up. 

Kiara and Terrance worship at St. Paul AME Church in Raleigh. Terrance's faith inspires him to note that "Bread for the World's work is important because Scripture calls for it…Again and again, the Bible connects the holiness of God and food. Scripture correlates spirituality and nourishment. How can Christians possibly ignore hungry people?"

Kiara adds, "At the time I was participating in the Hunger Justice Leader training, my mother and my grandmother were both on food stamps. Bread for the World's work is much more than talking to elected officials about the hunger issue. We are here to do more than that. We are here to make something happen."

Kiara aims to keep her activism strong. "The more who join us, the more we can accomplish. And my job is to make clear to my congregation, my aunties and cousins, my neighbors, that they can help. Then change will happen. Lives will finally improve."

Bread for the World’s annual Lobby Day is June 9. Join us to make some real changes in Washington, D.C., when it comes to feeding our children. You don’t need to be a policy expert to participate. You just need to care. 

Registration is free but space is limited. Register today to reserve your spot!

Photo: Kiara and Terrance Ruth with their son Miles. Photos courtesy of the Ruths.

Patricia Bidar is a freelance writer.

Lobby Day: A Bread Staffer Makes Her Voice Heard

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Kierra Jackson (left), a Bread for the World staffer, talks with activists while staffing a Bread literature table during Bread's Lobby Day. Rick Reinhard for Bread for the World.

Editor’s note: Bread for the World’s Lobby Day is on June 9. Ahead of Lobby Day, Bread Blog chats with Kierra Jackson, a major gifts coordinator/development officer at Bread, about her experience attending Lobby Day.

Q. Why have you attended Lobby Day in the past?

A.  I’ve always been nervous about lobbying – afraid that I didn’t know enough and that what I could contribute to a conversation around food justice wasn’t significant enough. But then I met with Bread organizers who equipped us about the issues, provided us with the facts, and encouraged us to share our stories about how hunger had touched our lives, our families, our communities. I felt a sense of strength, purpose, and a feeling that I belonged in those Hill offices when I came equipped with anecdotes about those affected by hunger.

I’ve continued to attend Lobby Day because I want to debunk the myth that the men and women in Congress are inaccessible and that our voices don’t matter. They do. I also lobby each year to be reminded that those in office are public servants. They are in office to serve the wills and the needs of the people they represent.

I want to debunk the myth that the men and women in Congress are inaccessible and that our voices don’t matter. They do.

Q. What has your previous lobby day experience been like?

A.  Last year, I lobbied with a small group of folks from Washington, D.C. We met with staffers with the office of Eleanor Holmes Norton, a congressional delegate from the District of Columbia. Many people think that, because D.C. doesn’t have a vote, visiting with Holmes Norton doesn’t matter. But it does. She is currently in her 13th term and has professional relationships and friendships with those who do have a vote. She also has access to the president. So, her buy-in—when it comes to the issues Bread cares about—really matters because she has great influence.

Q. What do you like most about participating in Lobby Day?

A. My favorite part is the reception at the end. Bread provides time and space to present awards to members of Congress who have been champions for hungry people.  I also am grateful for time when we’re encouraged to share from our experiences. There’s always a lot of positive energy at that final debrief. I leave feeling so proud to be a Bread staff member, supporter, and a lobbyist on behalf of those who experience hunger.

Q. This year’s Lobby Day is focused on ensuring Congress reauthorizes the child nutrition bill. Why is lobbying on this issue important to you?

A. I’m an aunt, a child-birth doula, and a neighbor to many children on my block. When it comes to children, you can’t use the excuse that poverty is their fault. Adults are responsible for the well-being of children. Hunger causes physical and emotional stress. I believe that it’s my personal responsibility to help those around me – especially the most innocent and vulnerable – to grow, develop, and become their best. Supporting the child nutrition bill promises positive outcomes for so many children in this country. It’s advantageous to see successive generations thrive. I feel a personal responsibility to that end.

Bread for the World’s annual Lobby Day is June 9. Join us to make some real changes in Washington, D.C., when it comes to feeding our children. You don’t need to be a policy expert to participate. You just need to care. 

Registration is free ,but space is limited. Register today to reserve your spot!

This blog post interview was conducted, edited, and condensed by Jennifer Gonzalez, associate online editor at Bread for the World.

 

 

 

Lobby Day: Use Your Voice to End Child Hunger

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Bread activists on Capitol Hill during Lobby Day. Jim Stipe for Bread for the World.

By Amelia Kegan

Do you wonder whether your letters, calls, and emails to Congress break through the gridlock and partisanship on Capitol Hill? Could you use a reminder that your voice really does make a difference in Washington?

Looking at the news reports, it’s hard not to become cynical. I sometimes feel that way. But then Lobby Day comes around, giving me new energy and new inspiration. And each year, Lobby Day brings real results in the movement to end hunger.

Join us for Bread for the World’s annual Lobby Day on Tuesday, June 9, to personally and powerfully urge your senators and representative to support child nutrition in the U.S. and around the world. Registration is free and easy.

There is no better boost than Bread’s annual Lobby Day. Renew your faith in the power of your voice. Connect with other faithful advocates doing this work around the country. Get inspired.

I invite you to join us in Washington on Tuesday, June 9 for Bread’s 2015 Lobby Day. You don’t need to be a policy expert. You just need to care.

Nothing reminds me of the power of individual advocacy to end hunger like Bread’s Lobby Day. And it will be even better if you’re there with us.

Don’t delay. Register today. Registration is free but space is limited. Register today to reserve your spot!

Amelia Kegan is deputy director of government relations at Bread for the World.

NFL's Beachum Calls Lobbying Congress 'A Powerful Experience'

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Kelvin Beachum, Jr. visiting with Congressman Glenn "GT" Thompson (Pa.-5). Joseph Molieri/Bread for the World.

By Kelvin Beachum

As an offensive lineman for the Pittsburgh Steelers, proper nutrition is essential if I want to perform well on the football field. This is true for all of us. Especially kids. We have a responsibility to provide the next generation with the opportunity to reach their full potential.

But right now, one in five kids in the U.S. is at risk of hunger, and 2.6 million children around the world die each year as a result of hunger-related causes. I understand the issue of hunger. As a child, my family and I bounced around from WIC, free and reduced lunches, and some food stamp assistance when we qualified. There were times when we had enough, but there were also times that we needed help.

Not all children have access to the nutrition they need.

But they should.

On Tuesday, June 9, we have a chance to make some real changes in Washington, D.C., when it comes to feeding our children. June 9 is Bread for the World’s annual Lobby Day, and I invite you to be there. Register today.

I was just on Capitol Hill with Bread for the World. It was my first time lobbying Congress. What a powerful experience — for both me and my members of Congress. If you’ve been to Bread’s Lobby Day before, you know. If you haven’t, I urge you to find out.

You don’t need to be a policy expert. You just need to care. Registration is easy and free!

Kelvin Beachum, Jr. is a Pittsburgh Steelers left tackle and Bread for the World member.

Wanted: Singers to Join the Anti-Hunger Chorus

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Joseph Molieri/Bread for the World

By Stephen Padre

The university I attended provided all students with a few extra academic credits every semester to take non-academic classes like music lessons or sports. In my senior year, I decided to take group singing lessons. My only experience in using my singing voice up to that point had been singing hymns with the congregation at church.

I remember how our teacher, a professional opera singer, taught us to use specific muscles in our lower torso to support our breathing. And she taught us to let the sound from our throat resonate in the cavities of our face. It was an odd feeling to use parts of my body that I didn’t even know existed. It felt awkward to be learning a skill in a new way.

In a way, I was learning something I had known all over again. I had used my voice before—speaking in my daily life and singing every Sunday at church. But to make one use of my voice more effective, I learned that I needed to support my voice and project it.

Bread for the World is an advocacy organization that encourages Christians to use their voices to influence Congress on legislation that affects people who are hungry and poor. In the same way that the singing teacher taught me to use my singing voice, Bread helps its members use their voices in advocacy. We encourage hunger advocates to support their voices and project them.

What do support and project mean for an advocate?

Supporting your voice means having some facts to share as evidence and having a story to tell that’s compelling. Both of these things are helpful in convincing someone to support something you believe in. Bread helps you find these or gives them to you. We can supply you with facts and information about hunger and its solutions. And you probably have a story about encountering hunger in your church or community. Perhaps you’ve volunteered at a soup kitchen or traveled abroad on a mission trip.

Projecting your voice means directing it toward people who can hear it. Bread also supplies this. We give you the means to communicate with your members of Congress and the times to do so. We alert you to legislation that is being considered and invite you to call, email, write to, or even visit your members of Congress.

Bread is here to help you and equip you in using your voice. Like my singing teacher, we can help you find your own voice, to bring out what’s beautiful about your tone and expression, and to choose what you want to sing.

One thing you can use your voice for today is the Global Food Security Act (H.R. 1567), which was reintroduced in the House recently. This legislation would make Feed the Future a permanent program. Feed the Future is a global hunger and food-security initiative of our federal government that would save many more lives if it were passed into law.

Call or email your U.S. representative today. Urge him/her to co-sponsor The Global Food Security Act.

Also, please join us on June 9 in Washington, D.C., for Bread for the World's annual Lobby Day - our "choir" of voices on Capitol Hill. It’s a chance to speak to your members of Congress directly about these vital U.S. government programs that are helping to end hunger in so many ways. Visit our website to learn more and register.

Stephen Padre is the managing editor for Bread for the World.

We Need You on Lobby Day: Strength in Numbers

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Bread for the World activists walking through the Russell Senate Office Building during a Lobby Day. Laura Elizabeth Pohl/Bread for the World.

By Zerline Hughes

Most of us are familiar with that now-antiquated Schoolhouse Rock cartoon on how a bill becomes a law. You know the one, where the talking bill travels on the steps of the Capitol singing about patience and courage, sitting and waiting in committee. Though still very applicable today, what that animated lesson doesn’t explain is how people – not necessarily our congressional leaders – are needed to help make a bill into a law.

Petitions, letters, emails, and phone calls to your representatives are definitely one way to make change happen. Even social media is a way to incite change.  However, the most effective way to influence your members of Congress on an issue is to personally meet with them. And what better time than Bread for the World’s Lobby Day – when a host of advocates from all walks of life and from across the country band together to do it as a large contingency.

Bread’s Lobby Day is around the corner – June 9. This year, much is at stake. June will be an important month, and Congress will be in the middle of debating important pieces of legislation such as the reauthorization of the child nutrition bill, among others. We believe we can convince Congress to do what's right for people struggling with hunger and poverty. However, we can't do it alone. We need you!

“I'm on Capitol Hill quite a bit, and I can tell you there are many Christians in Congress. And they can be moved by Christ,” said Amelia Kegan, deputy director of government relations at Bread.  “They can be moved by faith. Moved by the gospel. There's a power there that the special interests just can't compete with.”

Lobby Day will begin with worship, followed by an issues briefing, and then visits to congressional offices on Capitol Hill. In the evening, Bread will host a reception honoring members of Congress who have championed efforts to end hunger and poverty. The day will end with a closing worship service.

Walking through the halls of Congress and meeting decision makers or their staff is exciting and easy. For legislators, a visit from a constituent is a welcome event. They want to hear about what is going on at home.

Once you make it known to your member of Congress that hunger is of dire importance to you and your family, our hope is that it becomes their priority. You also empower your legislator to act on your behalf. When officials hear directly from constituents, they get a better understanding of what you and your counterparts deem important.

And that’s why we need you.                  

Join us June 9.  Help bring us one step closer to ending hunger. Register today for Bread’s Lobby Day and join us in Washington, D.C., on Capitol Hill.

Zerline Hughes is a media relations consultant at Bread for the World.

 

 

 

Lobby Day is 'the coolest'

Libby capitol 2By Libby McDermott

As a Young Adult Volunteer [a program of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)] in Boston, I have gotten to do a lot of cool things: working with some amazing organizations, nonprofits, and farms; going to movie showings and panel discussions on a regular basis; and learning how to make things like applesauce, noodles, and chicken stock from scratch. Working with Bread for the World and getting to participate in and help with Lobby Day, aka the happiest and most chaotic day of the year for Bread staffers, was probably the coolest.

I flew into D.C. for the National Gathering and Lobby Day, June 9 and 10, along with hundreds of other Christians from all different backgrounds and denominations. I had the opportunity to meet wonderful people from all over the country and made some great connections with fellow Presbyterians.

What sets Bread apart from other nonprofit and social-justice, political-advocacy organizations is faith– it’s the source and reason for their power. There were political analysts and people from Washington who are knowledgeable and have influence, but that’s not who resonated with or moved the crowd. Speakers who shared their powerful testimony of being a young, undocumented American or being a returning citizen trying to get a job or a buy a house after being released from prison really got to the heart of why we do this work of political advocacy. Even when – especially when – the goal of ending hunger and poverty seems daunting and impossible, we are reminded that we are not alone and that we can do these things together in faith.

On Lobby Day, we heard great speeches about the day’s topics – immigration reform and food-aid reform – and why as Christians it’s important to be a voice for the voiceless. I couldn’t decide if it was a political briefing with a lot of Scripture or a sermon with a lot of specific numbers. Then it was game time. We split into regions, then states, then districts to plan the visits with our senators and representatives. I was in charge of the Massachusetts delegation, about ten in total. We planned who was going to say what, grabbed lunch, and got on the shuttle to Capitol Hill. The energy in the room and on the shuttle bus was pretty palpable; everyone was excited, nervous, and ready to go.

As we were riding on the van, it hit me – on streets full of charter buses and tourists, here we are, a group of Christians, all different kinds, from all over the country, coming together because our faith demands that we act when we see injustice, poverty, and hunger in the world, and that’s exactly what we were doing. It felt empowering, exciting, and important. One of or mottoes of the day was, “If you have the faith of a mustard seed, you can move Congress,” and that’s exactly what we were going to do.

We met with aides from Sen. Ed Markey's, Sen. Elizabeth Warren's, and Rep. Katherine Clark’s offices. We had great conversations with them all explaining why food aid and immigration reform are so necessary and why we care so much about the oppressed and the hungry. We even got to speak with Rep. Clark and take a picture with her.

At the end of the long day there was a reception to honor retiring members of Congress who have championed issues of ending hunger and poverty, usually because their faith, rather than political party, demands that they do so. Lobby Day ended with a worship service where people shared where they experienced God during the day and in their lobby visits. People raised up all of the hard work of the staff, the community among the members, the feeling of accomplishment and civic responsibility after meeting with Congresspeople and advocating for people who can’t pay for lobbyists.

I left feeling exhausted but inspired and committed to this work of fighting injustice, and encouraged and grateful to be working with such a wonderful staff and to join my voice with this great cloud of witnesses on Capitol Hill.

Libby McDermott is an intern in the organizing department at Bread for the World and a participant in the Presbyterian young adult volunteer program.  This blog post originally appeared in Food and Faith, a blog of the Presbyterian Hunger Program.

Photo:  Libby McDermott in front of the Capitol in Washington, D.C., June 10, 2014. (Courtesy of Libby McDermott).

Bread for the World's Lobby Day: A Great Day for Advocacy

Support Faithful Advocates on Capitol Hill Today

BreadrisingProverbs 31:8-9 tells us to “speak out for those who cannot speak, for the rights of all the destitute. Speak out, judge righteously, defend the rights of the poor and needy.”

Today, faithful advocates gathered in Washington, D.C., for Bread for the World's Lobby Day will go to Capitol Hill and take a stand against hunger.

Two issues moving through Congress right now could have a huge impact on hungry people both in the United States and abroad. The Bread members gathered today will be talking to their legislators about both immigration reform and reforming U.S. food aid.

  • Pass immigration reform without delay! Immigration reform will reduce hunger by ensuring immigrants receive fairer wages and work in better conditions. Our Christian faith calls on us to welcome the stranger, and with Congress’ attention already turning to the November elections, the window for a vote on major legislation is closing quickly. Congress must act now to provide a path to legalization and citizenship for undocumented immigrants.
  • Reject changes to food aid that hurt the hungry! An obscure provision before Congress would change the transportation requirements for U.S. food aid in a way that would make the process of getting food to people in need slower and more expensive. Two million people would go without lifesaving food aid just to pad the bottom lines of a few powerful shipping companies, and that’s not right. Congress must reject any action that increases transportation costs for food aid and support common sense food-aid reforms.  A new piece of legislation introduced in the Senate, the Food for Peace Reform Act (S.2421), would increase the flexibility of the program and prevent inefficiencies from harming those it was meant to help. We are asking senators to cosponsor S.2421.

With hundreds of Bread members coming to Washington just as these issues are being debated in Congress, we have a huge opportunity to effect change. But we need our entire Bread community — including you — to really have an impact. We need to make sure Congress hears a loud chorus of Christian voices. You don't have to be here in person to join us! Participate virtually by calling 877-250-7533. You'll receive special instructions from Bread for the World President David Beckmann, and then you'll be connected to your members of Congress.

Dial 877-250-7533 now to be automatically connected to your federal officials to advocate for food aid and immigration reform.

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