- Pat Libby
Food = love | Advocacy = absent
Updated: May 10
Where have all the voices gone?
Why are people – especially some of the 16 million who work for nonprofits in this country – staying silent on the epidemic of hunger in the U.S.?
A few weeks ago at the end of March, Congress ended the additional Food Stamp (SNAP) benefits that were provided to people during the pandemic. In real dollars that meant that as of April 1st, the average person who received food stamps now has $90 a month less to pay for food.
That’s just an astounding amount when you think about what it costs to buy groceries. If you live in an alternate universe or otherwise haven’t noticed, from January 2022 to January 2023, grocery prices increased more than 11% and there’s no sign they’re going down any time soon.
When I’m in the checkout line, the high cost of food makes me grumble but I’m lucky that it doesn’t cause me to panic.
A study by The Urban Institute estimated that expanded Food Stamp/SNAP benefits (known as “emergency allotments”) kept as many as 4.2 million people above the poverty line in the last quarter of 2021, reducing poverty by 10 percent ― and child poverty by 14 percent.
So why isn’t persistent hunger classified an ongoing “emergency”?
(Adding insult to injury, most states that offered it, stopped providing free in-school breakfast and lunch this year. I’m proud to say that California, Colorado, and Maine passed laws to make the free school meals program permanent while Massachusetts, Nevada, and Vermont are continuing the program this school year as they consider more permanent fixes).
At the same time, KFF (the health news outlet formerly known as the Kaiser Family Foundation) estimates that between 5 and 15 million people will lose Medicaid coverage during the unwinding of the continuous enrollment period (the U.S. Dept. of Health and Human Services agrees with this assessment).
It all makes me soooooooooooo angry I want to scream – WHY IS AMERICA AT WAR WITH THE POOR?
And why aren’t nonprofits coming to the rescue?
I want to hear your thoughts on this question.
Why do YOU THINK only 2.5% of all 501 (c) (3) organizations exercise their right to actively engage in lobbying and advocacy?
Please take a minute to share your thoughts with me.
Unless we crack open the code about why nonprofits are sticking their collective heads in the sand in the face of real time catastrophes, we’ll remain bystanders to disasters that might have been adverted simply by using our voices.
As always, if you want to learn about how your nonprofit – or how you as an individual – can use your voice for advocacy, check out the free resources on my website.
Pat Libby is a change management consultant working principally with nonprofit corporations. She is author of The Empowered Citizens Guide: 10 Steps to Passing a Law that Matters to You, Oxford University Press, The Lobbying Strategy Handbook, second edition, Oxford University Press, and Cases in Nonprofit Management, SAGE. She has served as an academic, senior executive, board member, and consultant to innumerable nonprofit organizations and foundations for more than three decades.
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