By David Lee, Executive Director, Feeding Wisconsin
There are many ways that you can fight hunger. You can donate your time by volunteering, which helps to do provide the direct service to our friends and neighbors. You can also donate food and money, which helps to keep our shelves and warehouses stocked with fresh, nutritious food. One of the most high impact ways to get involved in the fight against hunger is by giving your voice – or to advocate.
Some folks might think that advocacy is scary. But to me, advocacy is simply talking to your friends, neighbors, family, local elected officials, and other members of your community about commonly shared values. And what value is more commonly shared than the fact that we all need to eat?
Giving your voice is one of the most important ways to fight hunger because by telling the story of hunger in your community or telling your story about volunteering or giving money or food and asking them to get involved, you are helping to raise awareness for the issue.
And since our elected officials and policymakers determine how many important hunger fighting programs are implemented and operated, they need to hear from you about why fighting hunger is important to you and role these vital nutrition programs play.
According to a 10-year Congressional Management Foundation study, direct constituent contact is the most effective in shaping the views of legislators. And do you know how many calls on an issue qualify it as a high priority issue? Five or six.
I often hear that our friends and neighbors with low-incomes don’t have high paid lobbyists. I say that’s OK because they have you. Here’s what you can do to become a good advocate:
First, you can get educated on the issue. Visit Feeding Wisconsin’s policy and advocacy page to learn about and stay abreast on many of the key issues we are facing and sign up to be a Feeding Wisconsin Hunger Fighter. You can also utilize our advocacy tool to look up the contact information for your state and federal legislators if you would like to contact them on your own.
Over the next few months, there will be many opportunities for you to fight hunger by giving your voice and advocating for better nutrition policies. Be sure to sign up for our newsletter. It will notify you on important advocacy opportunities as they arise. When they do, we urge you to give your voice and take action by calling, writing, and forwarding the alert to your friends and family. I bet you if we can all get five or six of them to do the same and then five or six more, we’ll really start making some headway toward a healthy and hunger-free Wisconsin.
David Lee is the Executive Director of Feeding Wisconsin, the state association of food banks. Feeding American Eastern Wisconsin is a partner and key stakeholder in this organization.