The Third Course / Advocacy: Part One

third course

“Never underestimate the power of a small group of committed people to change the world. In fact, it is the only thing that ever has.” – Margaret Mead

This frequently cited quote is one of the best sources of inspiration when diving into an advocacy campaign. Some find citizen lobbying and the political process to be discouraging, but positive change has and can continue to happen, especially in the areas of food waste, food recovery, and hunger relief.

This series has already provided knowledge and background on the complexities of food insecurity, discussed several public policies working to address food insecurity, and provided several examples of volunteer opportunities to help with tackling hunger and food waste on a daily basis. Volunteer and immediate relief efforts are necessary in order to provide direct food aid to those in need. However, the overarching goal should be to end hunger and poverty permanently. Even if we have handed out food to every hungry individual each day, we still have not solved poverty and hunger. We need to help our fellow neighbors overcome their dependency on food aid, but how?

Creating permanent law to help address the issues surrounding food waste and hunger is one step toward the end of these widespread problems. There are a multiple steps that should be taken to ensure our public policies will truly help solve these problems. First, advocates should reach out to stakeholders in order to determine the best policy for all parties involved. This includes reaching out to the hungry, poor, businesses in the food industry, farmers, politicians, educators, nonprofit organizations, and other interested citizens that can provide invaluable insight on what should be included in a new policy. Several of the volunteer opportunities mentioned earlier in this series are an example of a perfect opportunity where advocates can ask questions and learn from others about these issues.

Second, educating yourself on the law, policies, and the issues is also necessary because it will be your job as an advocate to inform politicians about the issue and policy solution. As a college student, it may seem intimidating or overwhelming discussing a certain policy with a member of Congress, but your U.S. Senator and Representative can learn from you and what you have to say. As their constituent, your U.S. congressmen and congresswomen will hear what you have to say, especially if you are an active voter –so be sure to register and vote in every election. Consider reaching out to other local elected officials as well – policy change can happen at the city or state levels.

Finally, you need to decide how you will advocate for these policies. Not everyone can be near the U.S. Capitol or their state capitol on a daily basis. However, your local elected officials often have town hall meetings that you can attend in person. A phone call is also a strong way to advocate for a policy – reach out to your U.S. Senator here, or your U.S. Representative here. These links also include email and mailing addresses for these elected officials. Writing a letter or sending an email can be another way to discuss these policies with your local elected officials.

At the state level here in Iowa, join us for the Iowa Food Bank Association’s advocacy day at the State Capitol in Des Moines on March 30, 2016. For more information and to sign up email: advocacy@ifba.org.

The strides that have been made to address these problems have been duly noted –and will provide more effective relief in the future. Yet, more can be done. It has been said time and time again that hunger is a completely solvable problem –but the political will to fix the problems associated with food aid must exist in order to effectively redistribute the world’s abundant supply of food into the hands of the hungry.

written by Kelly Nuckolls

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