[The following appeared earlier this week as a guest blog on #twitterforfood, a monthly event where Twitter users skip a meal to draw attention to stopping global hunger. For more information, read our thoughts here and visit TwitterForFood.com. For those fasting in observance of Tisha B'Av, we suggest acting on #twitterforfood today instead of August 1, as multiple fasts in one week may be harmful to your health.]
You Tweet for Food every month. You click The Hunger Site every day. You play Free Rice on your lunch break. You befriend national organizations like Feeding America & MAZON on Facebook and follow local groups as often as they post.
Whether you’ve done any of these things, all of them, or just followed the links for the first time, thank you for taking a stand against hunger. With over a billion people suffering from hunger worldwide, there’s never too little you can do to make an impact. Unfortunately, there’s much more that still needs to be done.
At MAZON, we ask that our grantees and partner organizations join us in anti-hunger advocacy and education. This way, we can ensure that everyone will be fed today, tomorrow AND the day after that. This year, amidst incredible need and opportunities for change, we asked our donors to heed the call, involve their communities, and inform their legislatures to support Federal Summer Food Services. That sounds like a tall order, but you can greatly increase your impact, right now, without even leaving your computer.
Why do you Twitter For Food? Take as long as you need to think of an answer. Now pop open a phone, chat window, or email and say hello to a friend. When they ask what you’ve been up to, give them that answer. Ask if they would be interested in joining in next month. Congratulations! You’re now an anti-hunger advocate.
Advocacy is easy. It looks tricky, but all it means is speaking up for what you believe in. Whether you chat with family over dinner, or address the community at a synagogue/church/City Council meeting; whether you cite sweeping studies, or offer a personal story; whether you type 140 characters or 140 pages, it’s advocacy. If your passion is real, and your words are true – it’s advocacy.
That being said, unless your relatives are Senators, you’ll need to write local or national representatives to get the ball rolling on major changes. To find your local legislator, search via Google or a website like Project Vote Smart.
- First, find a specific bill that calls to you. Saying you support ending global hunger is fantastic, but most legislators would feel just as overwhelmed by that charge as you or I.
- Keep an eye on Twitter feeds, or check our advocacy alert page & blog for action updates. You’ll want to know the bill’s name, number (H.R.__ for the House of Representatives or S.__ for the Senate) & sponsor(s).
- Don’t assume the legislator & their staff know the ins & outs of every bill – provide a brief description as you understand it.
- Imagine you’re sending the same letter to a family member – be clear, concise & respectful (particularly if your legislator disagrees with you regarding the issue).
For an example, let’s use S.934, The Child Nutrition Promotion and School Lunch Protection Act of 2009, sponsored by Sen. Tom Harkin. I might say the following…
I am writing to seek your support of S.934, The Child Nutrition Promotion and School Lunch Protection Act of 2009, sponsored by Sen. Tom Harkin. The Act amends The Child Nutrition Act of 1966 to improve the nutrition and health of schoolchildren by updating the national school nutrition standards for foods and beverages sold outside of school meals. Since the 1970’s, nutritional science has changed drastically, and obesity rates have tripled amongst schoolchildren aged 6-19. Meals provided through the School Lunch & School Breakfast Programs must meet science-based nutrition standards, but foods sold outside these programs currently do not. Updating these nutrition standards for all foods ensures that all schoolchildren who purchase food through school can eat healthy and lower their risk of obesity, type 2 diabetes, heart disease & other health conditions.
You can advocate via mail, e-mail, or even the phone. Increase your impact! Let’s stop hunger together!