Urging our nation's leaders to end hunger
 

28 posts categorized "Lobby Day"

Wanted: Singers to Join the Anti-Hunger Chorus

Singing
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.

Let Your Light Shine and Change the World

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Margaret Edmondson, an Idaho constituent, talks to Senator Mike Crapo (R-Idaho) during Bread for the World's 2012 Lobby Day in Washington, D.C. (Rick Reinhard).

By Amelia Kegan

What does it mean to live out the Lord’s Prayer and seek to build heaven on earth? How can we be the light that can transform a broken world? I believe, especially for Americans, the answer lies in using our gifts of citizenship. When we live out our faith in the public arena, the world can change.

I’m fortunate that I have a job that allows me to live out my faith. I’m a domestic policy analyst for a faith-based anti-hunger organization. My job is to understand public policy moving through Congress and analyze how it affects hunger.

I spend a lot of time on Capitol Hill urging members of Congress to vote for legislation that can end hunger and poverty. I know the impact the faith community has in the nation’s capital. When I lift up the needs of those struggling with hunger and poverty to members of Congress, I feel that I am living out my faith. When I hear from congressional staff that they received a pack of letters from a church back home in their state or district, so they already know about the issue I’m bringing up, I see God moving in our time and through our work to end hunger.

I meet many Christian leaders on Capitol Hill, and they, too, can be moved by your faith. There's a power in the Christian voice that the special interests just can't compete with. When we testify to God’s love for all in the public arena, we build a better world.

In Deuteronomy 6, Moses preaches: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates.” The city gates! You don't get more public than that.

Talking with people of influence – our elected leaders, as well as our friends, family, and fellow church congregants – about a world without hunger is part of living out our faith. Advocating about issues of hunger opens the gates for those left on the margins of society.

Our love of God should show up in everything we do. It is tempting to act out of that love when it's easy and convenient, but God's love is a love we cannot contain — it shines. It must be present and visible in all the public spaces of our lives — including in our role as citizens.

Each June, Bread for the World members gather in Washington, D.C., for our annual Lobby Day. If you cannot join us in person in Washington, consider taking the pledge to join our virtual Lobby Day. Our whole community must come together in order to really make an impact, so we hope you’ll join us.

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

Deliver Your Influence to Congress in Person

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By Eric Mitchell

Will you join us in making a difference for hungry people on Capitol Hill?

Bread for the World's 2014 Lobby Day will take place on Tuesday, June 10. The day is a unique opportunity for you to communicate personally with your members of Congress and their staffers in Washington, D.C. This year we will be focusing on two critical issues impacting hungry people in the United States and around the world: U.S. food aid programs and immigration reform.

Lobby Day will begin with worship, followed by an issues briefing, and then visits with congressional offices on Capitol Hill. We will be urging Congress to reform U.S. food aid programs and to pass comprehensive immigration reform.

In the evening, we will be hosting a reception honoring members of Congress who have worked to end hunger and poverty through their work in Congress. Reps. Ed Royce (Calif.-39), Eliot Engel (N.Y.-16), Spencer Bachus (Ala.-06), Frank Wolf (Va.-10), and Sen. Tom Harkin (Iowa) will be recognized for their efforts.

Registering is easy and free! Don’t miss out on the opportunity to be a part of another successful Lobby Day. I look forward to seeing you here in Washington, D.C., on June 10.

Eric Mitchell is Bread for the World's director of government relations.

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To attend the full 2014 National Gathering June 9-10, register online today. The full rate for registration is $80. Lobby Day is free, but registration is required.

Social Media and Bread for the World’s Lobby Day

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Today, June 11, is Lobby Day! If you're not joining us in person, you can still participate virtually. Making calls is a great way to support the advocates from your state who will be in Washington, D.C., today, as is using social media. 

Share the social media updates from Lobby Day participants, and send your own messages to your members of Congress, too. Your virtual participation helps spread the message that everyone deserves a place at the table.

Are you on Facebook?

1. Search for your member of Congress and “like” their page (this allows you to tag them).
2. Write a status update that tags your member(s) of Congress and includes the two key messages of Lobby Day: 1) Protect SNAP and improve international food aid in the farm bill, and 2) Replace sequestration with a balanced plan that includes both revenues and sensible cuts.
  • Example: “Sen.@RonWyden, my fellow Oregonians are visiting you this afternoon during @Bread for the World Lobby Day. They will ask you to please protect programs for hungry and poor people--and I am asking you, too!

Are you on Twitter?

All but a couple of our members of Congress are on Twitter--it's a great way to connect with your senators and representative. Tweets are short and sweet--tag your member of Congress,  include one of the key messages. Don’t forget to use the hashtag #BreadRising! We will retweet you from @bread4theworld, so that both members of Congress and the advocates on Capitol Hill will be able to see your support.
  • Sen. @RonWyden: Pls protect funding for #SNAP and #foodaid in the #farmbill. #breadrising

If you have questions or need additional help,message Sarah Godfrey or Robin Stephenson—the members of Bread’s social media team—on Twitter or Facebook.

Join Bread's Annual Lobby Day from Wherever You Are

Bread OH 2 Cinti Wenstrup

Photo: Bread for the World members in Ohio recently had an in-district meeting with Rep. Brad Wenstrup (R-OH02). (l-r) Ceal Bellman, Laura Hovland, Nick Yoda, Rep. Wenstrup, Mary-Cabrini Durkin, Sydney Prochazka, and Cindy Browne.

Tomorrow, June 11, is Bread for the World’s annual Lobby Day. Each year, Bread for the World’s National Gathering culminates in a day dedicated to putting our faith into action by taking a message to Congress. You can join the chorus of voices urging our lawmakers to create policies that ensure everyone has a place at the table,

Your voice could not be more important right now, and just because you aren’t in Washington D.C., doesn’t mean you can’t participate. Sequestration is chipping away at critical and effective anti-hunger initiatives. There are efforts to cut SNAP (formerly food stamps) and international food aid in the farm bill.

Lobby Day participants will meet with members of Congress or their legislative staff in D.C. Imagine if they walk into a congressional office that has already received hundreds of calls preparing the member of Congress for the message they will deliver. When a Bread member says, “I am just one of the many Christians from your state/district who believes that the choices we make today will make a difference for poor and hungry people tomorrow,” your call will add impact to that statement.

Last week, Ohioans held an in-district meeting in Cincinnati (see photo), which will amplify Tuesday's Lobby Day visit for participants from that state. You can similarly add your voice and support with a simple phone call that will only take a few minutes of your time. 

Call or email your senators and representative today.  Use our special toll-free number (1-800-826-3688) and make sure to let them know you are a Bread for the World member.  Leave a message with the receptionist and ask your member of Congress to:

1.  Protect SNAP and improve international food aid in the farm bill.

2.  Replace sequestration with a balanced plan that has both revenues and sensible cuts.

Get the same resources that in-person participants will be using on our Lobby Day web page.  You can include additional facts from our Lobby Day talking points or share your personal story.

Even one voice has the power, but many voices in unison calling for a world where all God’s children have enough is a testament to the power of God’s love and grace--and just might move Congress, too.

Join Us for the National Gathering--On Social Media

BreadrisingFINAL1By Robin Stephenson

The plane tickets have been bought, bags are being packed, and in just two days, Bread members will gather in Washington, D.C. Just like the title of Art Simon’s book says, "Bread will Rise" beginning this Saturday and culminating in Lobby Day (Tuesday, June 11), when our members will take the outcry to end hunger to the offices of our legislators. We hope you will join us as well.

If you can’t physically come to this year’s Gathering, you can still participate virtually. Follow our social networks—this blog, Facebook, and our Twitter feed—and we'll keep you informed of what is happening with recaps, pictures, and more. The social media team and National Gathering participants will be live tweeting the workshops using the hashtag #BreadRising

Workshops will cover such diverse, yet interconnected, topics as immigration, foreign assistance, tax reform, malnutrition, and agriculture. Skills workshops designed to enhance the power of our advocacy will cover everything from how to create public dialogue to telling your story.  And you won’t want to miss inspiring words from keynote speakers like renowned preacher Rev. Dr. James Forbes, Esperanza President Rev. Luis Cortes, and USAID administrator Raj Shah. 

On Tuesday, as we head to Capitol Hill for Lobby Day, you can support Bread members from your home state as they tell our lawmakers that everyone deserves a place at the table. Participants will be tweeting about their meetings and posting pictures on their Facebook pages. We encourage remote participants to call their members of Congress, and use your social networks to amplify the message that polices in the farm bill must protect the most vulnerable and that it is time to put an end to sequestration and agree on a balanced, long-term plan for the nation's fiscal sustainability. 

You can follow each day's events by downloading the National Gathering event program. Pack your virtual bag and join the conversation on social media as we gather in our nation’s capital this weekend. There is more than enough food in the world to feed all people, yet millions still go hungry. Now is the time to gather the political will to follow Jesus' teaching and ensure a place at the table for the least of these. 

Robin Stephenson is national social media lead and senior regional organizer, western hub, at Bread for the World.

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