Tuesday, June 20, 2017

If You Can't Attend Lobby Day in Washington...Visit the Local Offices

Back: Gilbert Gallegos (staff), Harvey Sternheim, Carlos Navarro, Larry Buelow, Ellen Buelow:  Front: Rachel Sternheim, Terri Christiansen, Terese Rand Bridges, Brenda Sinfield, Joy DInaro
By Joy E.C. Dinaro
On Friday, June 16, 2017, several Albuquerque residents involved with Bread for the World met with representatives of Senator Tom Udall, Senator Martin Heinrich, and Albuquerque area’s Representative Michelle Lujan Grisham.

Carlos Navarro, Bread’s volunteer state coordinator for New Mexico, organized the visits to be in conjunction with Bread for the World’s Lobby Day which took place in Washington, D.C. on Tuesday, June 13, 2017. Ellen and Larry Buelow, parishioners at Our Lady of the Most Holy Rosary Catholic Community, even arrived back in time from Capitol Hill to join us on Friday for our Albuquerque lobby visits. (Thank you, Ellen and Larry for representing New Mexico Bread for the World in D.C.!)

Samuel Chu, synagogue organizer for MAZON: A Jewish Response to Hunger, also arrived directly from the airport to be with us that afternoon. He flew in from Southern California to work with Congregation Albert this weekend in their local efforts to end hunger at the Erev Shabbat later that evening and again on Saturday for a strategy session.

Meeting at Sen. Martin Heinrich's office
Two members of Congregation Albert, Rachel and Harvey Sternheim, joined local Bread members Terese Bridges, of St. Michael and All Angels Episcopal Church, Terri Christiansen of St. Timothy’s Lutheran Church, Brenda Sinfield of First Presbyterian Church, and Joy Dinaro of Immaculate Conception Catholic Church. The group met with Bill Woldman at Senator Udall’s office, Miguel Negrete at Senator Heinrich’s office, and Gilbert Gallegos at Representative Lujan Grisham’s office.

The group’s talking points at each office included expressing gratitude because each of the three politicians, including Udall, Heinrich, and Lujan Grisham, has a strong track record of supporting initiatives to help those who are hungry here in New Mexico and in the U.S. as well as abroad.

Samuel Chu joined us for our meeting with Sen. Tom Udall's staff
First and foremost, the local Bread members asked that each continue to oppose any budget cuts that would increase hunger and poverty in the United States and around the world, especially when the 2018 federal budget comes up for a vote. They also asked that both domestic safety-net programs as well as international development programs that end hunger and poverty be fully funded. Domestic safety-net programs includes everything from SNAP (formally called food stamps) to Medicaid, refundable tax credits,WIC (Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children) and others. During the discussion on preserving funding for foreign aid, the group alluded to statements from the head of the Joint Chiefs of Staff advocating for continued U.S. funding of international development programs because those programs have a direct and positive impact on safety and security worldwide.

Lastly, the group stressed that no structural changes should be made (such as addition of block grants) that would change the amount and manner in which federal aid is given to those who are hungry across the country. On the international front, we talked about how international food aid should come from within the country in need whenever possible (as shipping food from the U.S. across the world is both more costly and less nutritious from utilizing local food sources).

The high temperature for the day approached 100 degrees, which made us glad that all three congressional offices were in the same building!

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