Beyond Food Drives: Advocacy in African-American Community

6/5/2012, 5:16 p.m.

The dictionary defines advocacy as "pleading the cause of another, siding with, vindicating, recommending publicly." Are you advocating for the African-American community?

Many in the African-American community already give generously to food pantries or share their meals with those who have none. But we need to go beyond giving a can of food--we need to call, write a letter, or even visit our members of Congress.

The reality is that all the food distributed by church pantries, food banks, and other charities amounts to just 6 cents for every dollar the government spends on national nutrition programs, such as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, formerly food stamps).

African-Americans need to advocate, especially since hunger and poverty disproportionately affect our community. Thirty-three percent of African-American households with children struggle to put food on the table, compared to about 20 percent of all U.S. households with children. Of this number, a devastating 40 percent of all African-American children live in poverty, compared to 22 percent of U.S. children overall.

Bread for the World's 2012 Lobby Day is a unique opportunity to use your voice to communicate personally with members of Congress and their staff. Join us, members of Bread for the World, on Tuesday, June 12, to make a real difference in the lives of hungry and poor African-Americans.

Last year, more than 320 Bread for the World members and friends from 37 states came to Washington, DC, to participate in Bread's annual Lobby Day. They met with members and staff in 230 congressional offices.

In these meetings, they urged their senators and representatives to create a circle of protection around funding for programs vital to hungry and poor people in the United States and abroad. We will come with the same message this year in order to stop the budget cuts being proposed in Congress.

Two programs that are especially vital to our community are still vulnerable to budget cuts: SNAP and the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC). International poverty-focused development assistance, which allows our African brethren to lift themselves out of poverty, is also under threat from budget cuts.

Lobbying members of Congress is easy--we will teach you how to go about it. We will begin the day with worship and the opportunity to reflect on God's call to justice and compassion for hungry people.

Next, we will brief you on the status of the proposed budget cuts and what is happening in Congress, and train you on the most effective ways to communicate with lawmakers.

In the afternoon, you will have the opportunity to join others from your region and speak to your own member of Congress or his or her staff on current legislation impacting hungry and poor people. A Bread staff member will accompany your group.

We will close the day with a reception and evening worship. To learn more about Bread's Lobby Day, visit www.bread.org/event/lobby-day/2012/.