Practicing newly learned advocacy skills – Honah Thompson

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It’s been a busy start to 2015 so far! After a short visit to see my family in Northern California for Christmas I am back to the grind. I am hard at work helping to plan Housing and Homelessness Advocacy Day with the Washington Low Income Housing Alliance and love every chaotic minute of it. As of today, I have made 98 phone calls and scheduled 54 meetings with Washington’s 147 legislators. With luck, I will have all 147 scheduled before the big day comes on February 17th.

Beyond my work at the Housing Alliance, I am working on coordinating advocacy action with my congregation for a piece of legislation that will be going through state house and senate this session. This bill would create a program referred to as “Breakfast After the Bell,” which would allow students to eat breakfast in the classroom after the bell has rung. It goes without saying that hungry kids can’t learn. Furthermore, hungry kids are less cooperative and are more often disciplined. Current statistics presented by United Way show that 1 in 4 kids in Washington state struggles with hunger and that 67% of students eligible for free and reduced-price breakfast at school do not receive one for a multitude of reasons. The solution is to get back toward targeted participation in the National School Breakfast Program by implementing Breakfast After the Bell.

I have met with representatives from Washington Appleseed here in Seattle to learn more about Breakfast After the Bell and have been inspired to bring this to my congregation. I am planning to share information about opportunities for advocacy at our next monthly breakfast (unfortunately we won’t be able to have school themed breakfast food like I had hoped, but it would have been cute!) and at a workshop after church at Plymouth Congregational in downtown Seattle in February. It is so easy to engage with lawmakers in the capitol, but so few people know how to do so. I am excited to apply my newly learned advocacy skills to a new project that is so user friendly (what is there to be afraid of? It’s kids and food).

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