July 2017 U.S. Poverty Action
Generate Letters to Hand-Deliver at the RESULTS International Conference
Anti-poverty advocates have been busy and effective in 2017. Pushing back against attempts to gut Medicaid and SNAP has so far proven successful, but the fight is far from over. While most of America (and RESULTS) has focused on health care the last few months, Congress has been quietly laying the groundwork to make deeper cuts to anti-poverty programs. In June, House budget leaders have been working to include $200 billion in “fast-track” cuts (reconciliation) to entitlement programs, including the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, formerly food stamps).
RESULTS volunteers will be meeting with congressional offices in Washington, DC at the RESULTS International Conference (July 22-25). Amplify their voices by generating letters from group members and others in your community urging lawmakers to protect SNAP in the 2018 Budget. Here are some key steps to generate letters:
Create a list of 10 or more people you’ll ask to take action. Make a list of people in your local action network, friends and colleagues at work, online contacts through Facebook and Twitter, and others you know who might be willing to take action. Remember that not everyone you ask will write a letter so your list should include twice as many as your goal.
Make it easy for people to engage. Host a letter-writing party (at the July 11 National Webinar or another time before the Conference) and go to events in your community and invite people to write letters. Many RESULTS groups table at community events, religious services, college campuses, etc. Download a PDF or Word version of this outreach action for background information and talking points for letters. Make sure to bring paper and pens as well.
Share why you care about this issue. More than any statistic alone, your friends and family will be more moved to action when they hear why you are passionate about ending poverty. Also, if you can enlist people who have directly experienced poverty, or know the importance of SNAP and anti-poverty programs, urge them to share their stories. They make a difference!
Let people know that their letters will make an impact. Tell people you would like to hand-deliver their letters to members of Congress at the RESULTS International Conference or in an upcoming lobby meeting in your state. Afterwards, share a picture of you in the Congressional office so they can see the impact!
Tell Congress to Protect Hungry Families
The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, formerly food stamps) is the first line of defense against hunger in America. Currently, about 43 million people — almost half of them children — receive SNAP benefits. In 2015, SNAP lifted nearly 5 million above the poverty line (US Census). SNAP has also been found to significantly reduce hunger and poor health in children.
Sadly, President Trump and leaders in Congress are looking to enact deep cuts and dangerous reforms of anti-poverty programs including SNAP. President Trump’s budget would cut the program by $190 billion over ten years and convert SNAP into a lump-sum “block grant” to states. This would dramatically reduce SNAP’s critical role in fighting hunger by undermining its effectiveness or forcing millions off the program. As members of Congress on both sides of the aisle take interest in addressing poverty, what they decide could make a huge difference in the lives of low-income Americans – for better or for worse.
Write a letter to your members of Congress telling them to protect Americans living in hunger to protect SNAP. Use these talking points for your calls and letters:
- Introduce yourself as a constituent who cares about poverty and also a RESULTS volunteer.
- Inform your members of Congress that in 2015, 1 in 5 children in the U.S. lived in house struggling with hunger. Studies show that children who are regularly hungry suffer from weakened immune systems, slowed and abnormal growth, and anemia.
- Remind them that SNAP is our primary defense against hunger in America and it has been critical in helping low-income families out of poverty. The U.S. Census reports that SNAP lifted 4.6 million people out of poverty in 2015.
- Explain that despite this success, you fear that Congress is paving the way for legislation to cut and/or restructure SNAP, which would undermine SNAP’s effectiveness and force millions of children and families deeper into poverty.
- Urge your member of Congress to oppose cuts to SNAP or efforts to restructure SNAP into a block grant to states.