- How You Can Help
- Write to Congress
- Become a Member
- Engage Your Church
- Organize Your Community
- Join an Event in Your Area
Town Hall Meetings
Town hall meetings with your members of Congress are excellent venues to ask them questions about creating a circle of protection around programs vital for hungry and poor people in the U.S. and abroad.
This could happen any time your member of Congress is back at home or when Congress is in recess.
Tips for effectively making your voice heard at town meetings:
- Get there early. Sometimes members of Congress try and pack their town meetings with supporters and prevent those who have differing views from getting in. If you’re worried this may be the case, plan to be there at least an hour early.
- Sit by the microphone. If a microphone is set up, plant yourself near it so you don’t end up on the back of the question line. If other people start lining up to ask questions before they are invited to, you should as well.
- If you come with friends, don’t all sit together in a clump. There is strength in numbers, even perceived numbers.
- Come with questions written down on index cards. Some members will try to control the questions by taking them in writing. If you have yours all ready to go when you get there, you have a far better chance of getting it read.
- Refuse to take a non-answer for an answer. Ask your question, then wait for the response. If you don’t get an actual answer to the question, say so, while standing up. Don’t be afraid to say “Congressman, that doesn’t answer my question,” then repeat it. Remember, these people work for you!
- Wear brightly-colored clothes. That will further draw attention to you when raise your hand to ask your question. Raise your hands high.
- Don’t let yourself be interrupted. Sometimes other town meeting participants can interrupt people who are asking questions. Depending upon how contentious the meeting is, some audience members could start booing and hissing over the sound of your voice. Don’t be surprised if they start yelling at you mid-question, but don’t stop asking your question. Keep talking. You have every right to ask your question and be heard. If you still have something to say, by all means, keep talking.
- Have a few facts at your fingertips.
– One in five children is at risk of hunger in the United States.
– In 2011, over 46 million people were in poverty; this is the largest number in the 51 years for which poverty estimates have been published. 11.5 million people are unemployed, and 8.2 million people are working part-time but want to work full-time. They are working part time because their hours have been cut back or because they cannot find a full-time job.
– For the last three years, while poverty and unemployment in the United States reached record rates, the rate of food-insecure households did not rise.
– WIC prenatal care benefits reduce the rate of low birth-weight babies by 25 percent and very low birth-weight babies by 44 percent, saving the nation huge sums in healthcare costs.
- If there is no chance to ask questions, ask them anyway. A new tactic by members of Congress who don’t want to answer tough questions is to essentially filibuster with a PowerPoint presentation that offers a slanted picture of the issues rather than taking questions from the audience. Raise your hand if there is an appropriate place for a question. Go ahead and question the information being presented.
Additional Town Hall Resources
- August Town Hall Talking Points
- Biblical Basis for Advocacy
- Food Aid Reform Fact Sheet
- Immigration Principles (en español: Principios de Migratoria)
- Principles for a Faithful Farm Bill
- Questions & Answers About Domestic Nutrition Programs
- Sequestration Fact Sheet
- SNAP Fact Sheet (formerly food stamps)
- SNAP: Myths & Facts
- Voting scorecard
- Write to your members of Congress. Tell him or her to ensure a place at the table for all people by protecting and strengthening the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, formerly food stamps) and international food aid in the farm bill.
- Contact your regional organizer. Get involved with Bread for the World in your community.