By SAMANTHA SMITH, Staff Writer | Published June 21, 2022
ATLANTA—Catholics are invited to learn legislative advocacy techniques in an online training session sponsored by Catholic Relief Services (CRS).
In the July 16 training session, participants will pick up useful advocacy techniques, resources and talking points to use for discussions with their congressional representatives to support migration and hunger aspects of this year’s farm bill.
When members of Congress are not working in Washington, D.C., they return to their districts to engage with constituents, which makes them more accessible to voters, said Clare Pressimone, southeast region community engagement manager for CRS.
“It’s a really great opportunity to go and talk to them about the issues that matter the most to you,” she said.
“Advocacy is part of our call to participation, which is one of the themes of Catholic social teaching,” said Jayna Hoffacker, associate director of Justice and Peace Ministries for the Archdiocese of Atlanta.
“If you’re nervous about it or have never done it before, this is probably the time to do it because you’re [going to] have so much support,” she said.
The farm bill governs policies in many areas related to agriculture, such as trade, supporting farmers and food assistance. It is renewed on a regular basis, about every five years. The U.S. has passed 18 farm bills, with the last one being the Agricultural Improvement Act of 2018.
In the upcoming farm bill, there are five programs CRS is focusing on to help address food insecurity and hunger for marginalized and vulnerable people. These programs are:
- Bill Emerson Humanitarian Trust (BEHT), a special authority that allows the Bureau for Humanitarian Assistance to respond to an unanticipated food crisis abroad when other resources are not available.
- Food for Peace (FFP), the oldest food assistance program in the U.S. that has provided emergency and developmental support to more than 4 billion people around the world since 1954. It also funds long term sustainable development projects.
- McGovern-Dole Food for Education works with existing school meal programs in food-insecure communities globally to increase child literacy rates, improve nutrition and enhance dietary practices.
- Food for Progress (FFPr) assists low- and middle-income nations with strengthening their agricultural sectors. These projects train farmers in animal and plant health, improve farm methods and establish cooperatives for farmers, among other practices.
- Farmer to Farmer Program (F2F) provides direct technical learning, support and expertise from U.S. volunteers to farmers, farm groups and agricultural businesses and sector institutions in low- and middle-income countries.
CRS works to assist impoverished and disadvantaged people overseas in the spirit of Catholic social teaching to promote the sacredness of human life and dignity of every person.
“We are motivated by the plight of our global family to try and make an impact by being global leaders,” said Pressimone.
Online registration for the CRS virtual advocacy training is open until Wednesday, July 13.