Originally posted on Pursue: Action for a Just World.

The U.S. Farm Bill is a piece of legislation that is reauthorized every five to seven years. It covers many food-related government programs like SNAP in addition to international food aid programs. With the failure of the Super Committee to sneak the Farm Bill in under the rug, we have an opportunity, as Congress breaks for winter, to make sure that food aid and food justice are on the minds of our congresspeople.

Yesterday afternoon AJWS president Ruth Messinger and director of advocacy Timi Gerson hosted a conference call to discuss the future of the Farm Bill and provide campaign updates. Call participants were encouraged keep the momentum going by serving as advocates for AJWS and the Farm Bill. When congress returns in January, we will prove that the Farm Bill is a piece of legislation we’re serious and committed to. You don’t have to travel to DC, but there are ways in which you can be an advocate for the 2012 Farm Bill in your community.

Help gather petition signatures. We’ve already reached several milestones in our quest to gather signatures for the Jewish Petition for a Just Farm Bill. Our next goal is to reach 15,000 signatures by the new year. Link the petition to your social media accounts and encourage friends to learn about the Farm Bill and ways they can get involved:

  • Host a house party. Many of the learning materials distributed for Global Hunger Shabbat can be tailored for a living room meeting. Text studies and talking points can also be found online. Use the materials as a guide, but find areas of the Farm Bill that are personal to you.
  • Table in your community. Request a table at your community center or synagogue to gather signatures for the petition and talk about the impact of the Farm Bill. AJWS will provide you with copies of the petition for people to read as well as materials to distribute.
  • Schedule an in-district meeting with your Congress person or attend a town hall meeting. Members of Congress often use this break as an opportunity to meet with community members in their district. Gathering thousands of signatures sends a loud message, but those that come directly from individuals in the district are equally important.

Why advocate? From the AJWS website: ”Power lies in numbers. For this reason, education and public awareness raising are essential prerequisites for effective advocacy. Yet to enact lasting social change, we need to move beyond consciousness raising to the creation and protection of just, responsible policies.”

The word ‘advocacy’ sometimes conjures up visions of mass demonstrations and public protests, or well-paid lobbyists in expensive suits. But a lot of advocacy is just a matter of seeing a need and finding a way to address it. It means literally ‘to plead the cause of another’ – which most of us do all the time on behalf of our neighbors, our families, our friends. Policy advocacy… carries that ‘pleading’ into the political arena, and does it on behalf of people we may not know personally. It is a practical way to translate basic values… into policies and laws.” –Nancy Amidei, writer, teacher and advocate

These are just four suggestions for ways that you can engage with the Farm Bill among peers. The Advocacy Toolkit gives a host of information including detailed talking points and helpful hints to help get your voice heard. After the new year, AJWS will be delivering the petitions to Congress. Help them reach their goal by spreading the word about the Farm Bill and help Reverse  Hunger.

For more information about the Farm Bill and AJWS’s Reverse Hunger Campaign, read A Closer Look at the 2012 Farm Bill and Reversing Hunger Starts with Us. Now.

Erika Davis is the Temporary Program Associate for Pursue. She also works as a freelance writer for Sh’ma, Jewcy, and Tribe Vibe while maintaining her personal blog Black, Gay and Jewish. Erika likes Syrian Jewish cooking and is convinced she makes the best hummus in Brooklyn. She is a volunteer with Be’chol Lashon and Jews for Racial and Economic Justice.