NTFB Government Relations Team Concludes Congressional Lobby Week

Once again, the North Texas Food Bank has received the Highest Honor Roll for our advocacy efforts. We are proud of our work that ensures the voices of all stakeholders are shared with our decision makers. However, there is a lot that goes into effective advocacy. We’d like to share one of many ways we connect with our public officials.

Four women and one man standing for picture.
From left: Paige Flink, U.S. Congressman Colin Allred, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, NTFB CEO and President Trisha Cunningham, NTFB Director of Government Relations Dr. Valerie Hawthorne, and Joleen Bagwell meet at the Dallas County Health and Human Services building. (Mar. 21, 2022)

Each year the North Texas Food Bank attends the National Anti-Hunger Policy Conference, co-sponsored by Feeding America and the Food Research and Action Center (FRAC). Traditionally during the last day of the conference, food banks from across the nation participate in a large one-day lobby day, discussing anti-hunger policy with their members of Congress. For many food banks, they may only have three or four Congressional members. However, NTFB has a large 11-member delegation (nine Representatives and two Senators), so we spread our one-day lobby event across a week. This year, the NTFB Government Relations team met virtually with the staff of eight U.S. Congressmen and Congresswomen that represent NTFB’s service area. We also had a unique in-person opportunity visit.

To prepare for these meetings, we gather NTFB receiving and food distribution data, as well as पूरक पोषण सहायता कार्यक्रम (SNAP) participation and benefit information. We then calculate this data for each specific Congressional district. A hallmark of our advocacy program is to use specific data-driven talking points to deliver our asks for our federal policy priorities to personalize and drive home the importance of federal feeding nutrition programs.

NTFB’s federal policy priorities come from अमेरिका को खिलाना, who released its 2022 federal policy agenda ahead of the National Anti-Hunger Policy Conference. By adopting the Feeding America federal policy priorities, NTFB and the other 200+ food banks can use a unified voice to advocate for the same anti-hunger work in U.S. Congress.

Zoom screen of four people meeting
From top left: Director of Government Relations Dr. Valerie Hawthorne, Advocacy Program Manager Dan Adriansen, and Vice President of Community Impact Anne Readhimer meet with Legislative Aide for Texas’ 24वां Congressional District (represented by Congresswoman Beth Van Duyne) to discuss NTFB’s anti-hunger work in TX-24 as well as NTFB’s legislative priorities.

It’s vital for NTFB to maintain relationships with elected officials at all levels to advocate for policies that reduce underlying barriers to food security. Although the FY 2023 Congressional Budget proposal is only in its initial stages, the budget process takes the entire year, so we advocate for our priorities as early as possible.

Similarly, the 2018 Farm Bill will expire in September 2023, but the legislative process begins much earlier. The Farm Bill is a large package of legislation of which over 75% of the funding goes toward federal nutrition programs. Federal nutrition programs, like SNAP and The Emergency Food Assistance Program (TEFAP) are critical in preventing hunger in our community. Almost 1/3 of our food comes from government nutrition programs, so it is critical that we preserve and protect these vital programs.

At NTFB, we strive to reduce food insecurity by promoting and defending anti-hunger policies at all levels of government through our partnerships with public officials and community advocates. Please take a look at our 2022 Federal Legislative Agenda, which is also available on the advocacy page of the NTFB website. Advocacy is a continuous effort, and we invite you to join us in lending your voice to help us close the hunger gap in North Texas.

Dan Adriansen is the Advocacy Program Manager for the North Texas Food Bank.

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