Sunday, March 12, 2017

More than a Dozen Churches in New Mexico to Urge Congress to Protect Vital Anti-Hunger Programs

Joy Dinaro brought her daughter Cara
The Offering of Letters resource kits had not arrived in Albuquerque by Friday, the day before our March 11 workshop. For some reason, the material was sent later than usual this year. Wouldn't you know it, most of us came home that afternoon to find the Offering of Letters booklets in our mailbox! No booklets, no problem.

A few of us printed the resource material from the Bread for the World website--and the theme of the 2017 Offering of Letters is very familiar: protecting vital domestic and international programs. Here is the bottom line: "Through this 2017 Offering of Letters, we urge Congress to make funding decisions that put our country and the world on track to ending hunger by 2030. This will be a challenging year. Programs that help families alleviate hunger and get out of poverty are threatened with deep funding cuts,"

Representatives of a dozen churches in Albuquerque were represented at the workshop, held at St. Michael and All Angels Episcopal Church. Terese Bridges and Fe Pacheco from the host church helped organize the event. This broadly ecumenical group of churches was represented at the workshop: All Saints Lutheran Church, Central United Methodist Church, First Presbyterian Church, Immaculate Conception Catholic Church, La Mesa Presbyterian Church, Our Lady of the Most Holy Rosary Catholic Community, St. Andrew Presbyterian Church, St. John XXIII Catholic Community, St. Michael and All Angels Episcopal Church, St. Paul Lutheran Church and St. Timothy's Lutheran Church. Many of these have faithfully held letter-writing Sundays for at least a decade, and a handful of congregations have already set a date to hold their letter-writing Sundays and/or weekend. Check out our local calendar, which includes one church in Las Cruces.

Fe Pacheco & Terese Bridges
The highlight of the workshop was a panel on congressional visits, featuring local Bread activists Larry and Ellen Buelow from our Lady of the Most Holy Rosary Catholic Community; Amanda Dezan, formerly of Oxfam Action Corps and currently with The ONE Campaign; and Patty Keane, former chair of Child Nutrition Reauthorization work group (Legislative and Public Policy Committee), of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. She is currently president of the New Mexico Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (NMAND).

The panelists offered very useful insights on congressional visits in Washington and at the local level, including the need to include stories that personalize the ask. Another important tip was to always provide useful background information. This year, we hope to visit our congressional local offices of Sens. Tom Udall and Martin Heinrich and Rep. Michelle Lujan Grisham (and hopefully Reps. Ben Ray Lujan and Steve Pearce) on the same week as Bread for the World's Lobby Day, which is June 13. Larry and Ellen Buelow (and maybe Art Meyer from Farmington) will be on Capitol Hill that day. Below are some photographs of our workshop and panel.

Panelists Patty Keane, Amanda Dezan, Larry Buelow, Ellen Buelow (hidden)

Panelists Amanda Dezan, Larry Buelow, Ellen Buelow
Kirsten Marr, Dodie Hawkins, Fe Pacheco, Lucretia Tippit, Marlys Lesley
Amanda Dezan chats with Dodie Hawkins

No comments: