New census data is out. It’s time to make headlines.
New data out today shows that 3.4 million people moved above the poverty line in the United States last year thanks to support from SNAP (the program we used to call “food stamps”).
But just as the Census Bureau was releasing those figures, leaders on Capitol Hill were negotiating SNAP’s fate.
If negotiations go the wrong way, families could lose access to SNAP – and with it, their ability to buy groceries and put food on the table.
Earlier this summer, the House passed a farm bill that would take away SNAP benefits from two million Americans. Fortunately, the Senate rejected the bad House bill and passed bipartisan legislation that protects SNAP. Now both chambers are debating over a final farm bill, and it’s up to us to remind them what’s at stake.
Here’s the thing — the Census Bureau also released another alarming statistic this morning: more than 1 in 8 people in this country live are living in poverty. 1 in 8.
A statistic like that should spur discussions about smart new policies to actually tackle the issues driving poverty in this country: the racial wealth divide, income inequality, the affordable housing crisis, and more. Instead we’re having to fight just to hold onto a program that already works.
When lawmakers pick up their local paper, let’s make sure they get the message that making any cuts or harmful changes to SNAP is unacceptable. The more letters we can get published, the louder that message will be.
- Make it personal. Members of Congress aren’t looking for form letters — they’re looking to really hear from their constituents. That’s you! Make sure you tell them why you care. If you have personal experience with SNAP, make sure to include that.
- Make it local. Remind Congress that SNAP matters to the people who voted them into office. Include local data. And don’t forget to mention your member of Congress by name.
- Make it timely. Show the newspaper editor that this is urgent: reference a recent story on the census data or call out that Congress is making decisions on the farm bill right now. This can’t wait around.
And, most importantly:
- Make sure you submit it. The #1 reason someone’s letter to the editor doesn’t get published? They never submit it. Hitting “send” is the scariest part of publishing a letter – but it’s by far the most important.
Tools for getting started:
- Tailor our template letter to the editor below, or try drafting a longer op-ed with this template.
- New to media work? Here are guides to get started: Letters to the Editor | Op-eds | Editorials
- Add local data on SNAP in your state.
- Learn all the details about this year’s farm bill would take food away from people who are struggling.
- Check out what you’ve already accomplished: coast-to-coast media standing up for anti-poverty programs.
Letter to the editor template:
Remember, the best letters are the ones that come straight from the heart. But you can use our template to get you started. Not sure where to submit? Check the “opinion” section of your local paper’s website — most have a form or an email address like “[email protected]”
To the editor:
The U.S. Census Bureau just released new data showing that 1 in 8 Americans live in poverty. These numbers should shock all of us, especially since just a few months ago the House of Representatives took a vote that would make it harder for more than a million low-income families to put food on the table. They proposed draconian new requirements for SNAP (what we used to call “food stamps”) in their version of the farm bill, even though the new census data shows that SNAP helped 3.4 million people move above the poverty line in 2017.
Fortunately, the Senate seems to understand what’s at stake and passed a bipartisan farm bill that protects SNAP. Now, though, both chambers are negotiating a final version of the legislation. I hope I can count on them to do the right thing and stand up for a program that helps over 40 million people put food on the table. Making cuts or changes to SNAP won’t help anyone find work or move out of poverty – it will just make people hungry.
Have a few more minutes?
Take a deeper dive and write an op-ed. You can find a template here. Just remember to personalize it!