MAKE YOUR VOICE HEARD!
Our mission is to mobilize the relocation industry to help provide meals to the more than 42 million Americans who face hunger each and every day. Donating food to individuals and families in your community is incredibly important, but it is not a solution. Hunger is a symptom of the larger problems of poverty and inequality; to truly “end hunger,” we need to reduce the need for emergency assistance that food banks and pantries provide.
Food insecurity is a systemic problem that needs to be addressed through, as the Alliance to End Hunger says, “a combination of economic and political solutions.” This includes strengthening social safety nets such as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and child nutrition programs. It will also, according to the Food Research & Action Center, require creating jobs, raising wages, strengthening the social safety net, and improving income support for struggling families, among other strategies.
Ending hunger, then, is not an issue of charity; it is an issue of justice.
Charity provides direct services, such as food, clothing, and shelter. Justice promotes social change in institutions or political structures.
Charity responds to immediate needs. Justice responds to long-term needs.
Charity is directed at the effects of injustice. Justice is directed at the root causes of social problems.
Food drives, homeless shelters, and emergency services are all forms of charity. Justice, on the other hand, is achieved through legislative advocacy, changing policies/practices, and political action.
To illustrate just how important governmental policy is, consider that just one in 20 bags of food assistance comes from a charitable organization. Federal nutrition programs provide the rest. Just a 10% reduction in SNAP benefits would be the equivalent of eliminating all private food donations in the country.
So while it’s still as important as ever to host a food drive, it’s also necessary to publicly support – to advocate for – the policies that will address the root causes of hunger and poverty, such as an inadequate social safety net, unemployment, substandard education, income inequality, the wealth gap, food access, lack of affordable housing, and insufficient health care.
Hunger is unquestionably political, but it is also a bipartisan concern. Eighty-six percent of Americans agree that no one should go hungry and 71% feel that the federal government is responsible for dealing with the problem.
Public sentiment is on our side; we just need to put it into action. Here are some of the ways you can use your voice to advocate for change.
ENCOURAGE YOUR FAMILY & FRIENDS TO GET INVOLVED
We can’t end hunger by going it alone. Odds are you already have a number of potential allies in your immediate network. Learn about the issues and then share that information with your friends and family. Try starting a conversation on social media by sharing one of our hunger resources or Visualize Hunger infographics.
Once they understand the urgency of the problem, perhaps you can work together to organize a food drive in your community, sort donations at your local Feeding America food bank, or volunteer to prepare/serve food at a food pantry near you.
CONTACT YOUR ELECTED OFFICIALS
Communicating with your elected officials is the most effective action you can take as a Move For Hunger advocate. We need to express our support for policies that will alleviate hunger, and to voice our dissent when necessary. A recent study showed that being contacted by constituents increases the probability of supporting the relevant legislation by about 12 percentage points.
Use this directory to find contact information for your elected officials on both the local and national level. Let them know that you are a constituent who is concerned about hunger and food waste and wish to speak to someone regarding these issues.
Social media is another powerful tool for communicating directly with elected officials; use this verified list of members of Congress on Twitter to instantly voice your opinion about the issues that matter to you.
ATTEND TOWN HALL/CITY COUNCIL MEETINGS
Hunger and poverty are massive national problems, and, when faced with the facts, it can appear overwhelming to the average citizen searching for a way to help. The best way to start is to try and make an impact in your own community.
Town Hall meetings are wonderful opportunities to have face-to-face conversations with elected officials about the issues that matter to you, and are a great way to familiarize yourself with broader concerns in your local community. According to the Alliance to End Hunger, “Town hall meetings stem from a deep-rooted American tradition in which elected officials and other government representatives can communicate with their constituents about pressing community issues and policy processes.”
So how do you find out when and where these meetings are happening? There are a few things you can do to stay informed:
• Check your local newspaper for announcements; fliers may also be posted on bulletin boards in your local post office or city hall.
• Visit the website of your representatives. Consider signing up for their newsletters, as they will often send e-mails to keep your apprised of their upcoming appearances.
• Follow your elected officials on social media. There’s a great chance they will announce upcoming meetings via Facebook, Twitter, etc.
• Call the office of your elected official. Staffers will be happy to share the information with you.
Far too many of our fellow Americans have been neglected for far too long. We cannot afford to stand idly by in the face of such injustice. In the words of the great Oscar Wilde, “The proper aim is to try and reconstruct society on such a basis that poverty will be impossible.”