U.S. Poverty Weekly Update March 27, 2018

March 27, 2018

U.S. Poverty Campaigns

Weekly Update | March 27, 2018

“As an elementary school teacher, I know students do better in school when they get enough to eat. Please support the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program.”

– RESULTS Austin volunteer Sarah Yanes in a March 26 letter to the editor in Austin American-Statesman

Quick Action: Generate Media during the Recess about Supporting Hungry Families

Take Action!

Got Two Minutes? Find a Town Hall (March Action)

You’ve got two minutes and you want to make the most of them. What do you do? You go to www.townhallproject.com and type in your zip code. The site will tell you if there are any town halls or public events with your members of Congress in your area. If you find one, plan to attend and ask a question about protecting SNAP (formerly food stamps). Ready, set… go!

TAKE ACTION: Take two minutes to find a town hall in your area during the current congressional spring recess (now through April 6). Go to www.townhallproject.com and look for an event in your area. If you find one, please contact Meredith Dodson ASAP for coaching and materials. The March Action also has resources to help you, including a SNAP Laser Talk you can use for your town hall question (see below for additional context about SNAP). After the event, please fill out the RESULTS Lobby Report form afterward to let us know what happened.

If there is no town hall listed, find eight more minutes and read the next section.

Got Ten Minutes? Town Halls are Great, But Meetings are Better (March Action)

Congress is on recess for the next two weeks. This is an important time. Just last week, House Agriculture Committee Chair Mike Conaway (R-TX-11) abandoned efforts to move a bipartisan Farm Bill and, based on media reports, is pursuing a bill that will take food away from millions who are at risk of hunger. This will be done through cuts and harmful changes to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, formerly Food Stamps), our nation’s largest and most effective anti-hunger program. Harmful cuts and changes to SNAP would jeopardize the historically bipartisan nature of the Farm Bill and make it harder for working families to put food on the table. Some of the potential changes in the House Farm Bill include:

  • Making SNAP’s current time limit worse. Under current law, SNAP participants between the ages of 18 to 49 who are not raising minor children may not receive benefits for more than three months out of every three years unless they are working or in a work training program for at least 20 hours a week. States can request waivers to exempt people from the time limit, such as those in areas with high unemployment or face other high barriers to employment. The House Farm Bill could expand this time limit by raising the maximum age from 49 to 64. Taking away food assistance from older adults makes little sense – this population often faces longer bouts of unemployment after losing jobs. There are also rumors that the bill would increase work hours, reduce the time childless adults can receive benefits, and impose new work requirements on parents of children over 12. Most SNAP recipients who can work do so, but they are often in low-paying jobs that make it hard to make ends meet. In fact, by providing food assistance, SNAP supports people who are looking for work. More than 80 percent of SNAP participants are working in the year before or after receiving SNAP, which suggests that SNAP is helping them stay afloat when they hit hard times.
  • Eliminating categorical eligibility – exacerbating the “cliff effect” and punishing those who save. More than 40 states use a state option known as “categorical eligibility,” which allows them to adjust income cutoffs and asset limits so that working families don’t abruptly lose SNAP benefits when they earn slightly more money. This reduces the “cliff effect”, which many of RESULTS Experts on Poverty and policymakers have highlighted as a key problem. Proposals to restrict or eliminate categorical eligibility would create a benefit cliff that punishes people who are trying to move above the poverty line by working more hours or getting a better-paying job. Eliminating state flexibility to adjust SNAP asset limits also creates a disincentive to save, making it harder for SNAP recipients to save money for when that unexpected bill or illness inevitably arrives. It would also make racial wealth inequality even worse.

Overall, these changes could result in millions of low-income families losing their SNAP benefits and going hungry. It’s likely that the House Agriculture Committee will mark up the Farm Bill in mid-April. That means the two-week spring recess is an especially important time to meet with your members of Congress about protecting SNAP.

TAKE ACTION: Take ten minutes to contact your House and Senate offices to schedule face-to-face lobby meetings during the spring recess (March 26-April 6). The March Action has a template for making this request (you can also use our online template). Be sure to gather your #LettersGetLOUD letters to hand-deliver in these meetings and invite new people who wrote letters to join you. When you get a meeting, please contact Meredith Dodson for coaching and materials and visit our U.S. Poverty Campaigns page for updated lobby requests. Amplify your message by also submitting a letter to the editor and urging your member of Congress by name to protect SNAP.

If you cannot get a face-to-face meeting for this recess, ask for one during the next recess (week of April 30). In the meantime, call the Agriculture aides in your House and Senate offices and urge them to protect SNAP. Use our updated SNAP Laser Talk and SNAP Lobby Request for background and messaging. If you need additional coaching for these calls, please contact Jos Linn for assistance.

Got Twenty Minutes? Register for the RESULTS International Conference

The RESULTS International Conference 2018 is July 14-17, 2018 in Washington, DC. Have you registered?  If not, don’t wait any longer. RESULTS volunteers get a special discounted rate, but it only lasts until May 15.

  • Come hear top-notch speakers. Hear Kristin Rowe-Finkbeiner of MomsRising; Tishara Jones, Treasurer for the city of St. Louis; Heather Booth, civil rights activist and co-found of the Midwest Academy; Jennifer Flynn Walker of the Center for Popular Democracy, and many more at this year’s Conference. See the Conference website for more about our speakers. 
  • Read our Testimonials. Hear from people who have attended a previous RESULTS International Conference as to why you should come this year.
  • Invite Your Community. Share with others this great list of reasons why it's worth the investment to attend. Print and share our promotion flyer and circulate this terrific promo video on your social media channels. We also have new #LettersGetLOUD postcards with a Conference invitation on the back, which we’ll send directly to groups soon.
  • Need Help Getting There? Apply for 2018 Scholarship Assistance for our active volunteers in the U.S. working on our U.S. Poverty campaigns. We want to help you make it to DC. Preference is given to those who apply before April 15.
  • Consider the REAL Change Fellowship. The REAL Change Organizing and Advocacy Fellowship to Fight Poverty is taking applications now. This learning opportunity designed for emerging leaders aged 18-30 may be ideal for you or someone you know. The fellowship kicks off at the International Conference.

TAKE ACTION: Take twenty minutes to register for the 2018 RESULTS International Conference at www.resultsconference.org today!

“At the International Conference, a lot of like-minded people come together to change lives, change their environment, and change the world. That’s what is so exciting to me.”

– Tamara Bates, former REAL Change fellow and Expert on Poverty

Quick News

Remember Next Week’s National Webinar Focusing on Anti-Oppression. On Tuesday, April 3 (8:00 pm ET), RESULTS will host our monthly U.S. Poverty National Webinar. This webinar will be important, as it focuses on the serious issue of oppression and why and how RESULTS is working to address it. Oppression, be it based on race, gender, sexuality, class, age, or ability, is inextricably tied to poverty. We cannot solve these issues separately. RESULTS wants to play an active role in calling out and dismantling systemic forms of oppression. On the webinar, you will have the opportunity to learn to recognize when oppression is occurring, understanding the experiences of those affected, and work to undo the structures that perpetuate it. Please join us (see login info for the webinar below).

Congress Passes Funding Bill with Good News for Kids. Last week, Congress passed and the President signed the FY2018 omnibus appropriations bill. This will fund federal discretionary programs through September. Included in the funding are some significant investments in early childhood programs, such as a $2.37 billion increase for the Child Care and Development Block Grant (essentially doubling the CCDBG budget), a $610 million increase for Head Start ($115 million of that for Early Head Start), a $35 million increase for CCAMPIS that funds child care for mothers in college, and a $20 million increase for 21st Century Community Learning Centers which supports after school programs. Considering the President has proposed eliminating some of these very programs, it is a welcomed outcome to see Congress recognize the importance of investing in our children.

New Report Highlights Income Inequality. A new report from the Congressional Budget Office demonstrates that (surprise, surprise) the U.S. has a serious income inequality problem. In 2014, the top 20 percent of American households had an average income ten times that of the lowest 20 percent. While federal anti-poverty programs do mitigate the effects, we must do more. Read the report here.

Upcoming Events

Go to the RESULTS Events Calendar to see a full list of RESULTS events. Also, find a list of the RESULTS U.S. Poverty staff with contact information on the RESULTS website.

Upcoming U.S. Poverty staff time out of the office: Meredith Dodson, March 29 and April 20.

House and Senate Recess, March 26 – April 6. After any lobby meeting, please complete the RESULTS Lobby Report Form to let us know how it went.

RESULTS U.S. Poverty National Webinar, Tuesday, April 3 at 8:00 pm ET. Participate at http://fuze.me/32255914 or (201) 479-4595, Meeting ID: 32255914#.

RESULTS Introductory Call, Wednesday, April 4 at 8:30 pm ET. To participate, call (712) 775-8972, passcode: 761262. Register here.

U.S. Poverty Free Agents Calls, Tuesday, April 17 at 1:00pm and 8:00pm ET. Login at http://fuze.me/32256018 or dial in by phone at (201) 479-4595, Meeting ID: 32256018#.

RESULTS Introductory Call, Friday, April 20 at 1:00 pm ET. To participate, call (712) 775-8972, passcode: 761262. Register here.

House and Senate Recess, April 30 – May 4. After any lobby meeting, please complete the RESULTS Lobby Report Form to let us know how it went.

2018 RESULTS International Conference, July 14-17, 2018, Grand Hyatt Hotel in Washington, D.C. Registration is now open – register today. Watch our new 2018 Conference video and share it (along with our flyer) with others you know!

Other Resources

Get Your RESULTS Promo Materials. If you need banners, pens, stickers, or business cards for your local RESULTS work, fill out our Materials Order Form and we’ll send them to you.

Got a Question for the RESULTS Board? If you have a question, comment, or suggestion for the RESULTS/RESULTS Educational Fund Board, please e-mail them to RESULTS Grassroots Board Member Steven McGee at [email protected]. View the most recently published Board minutes on the RESULTS website, as well as RESULTS’ most recent Annual Report.

2018 U.S. Poverty Campaigns Success Grid      
  Total to Date (2017) 2018 Goal Details
Face-to-Face Mtgs 16 (36) 200 6 Senators, 10 Representatives
Media 47 (126) 500 43 LTEs and 4 Op-Eds in 20 states
# of people reached through outreach 147 500 Monthly #LettersGetLOUD meetings and 8 other outreach events
# of new U.S. Poverty volunteers from existing groups 5 100  

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