How to Make Your Voice Heard at Your State Capitol

2017-03-01

Register for SNA's 2017 Legislative Action Conference (LAC)

The following is the second in a series of news stories exploring the exciting events at LAC.

It is no accident that Virginia First Lady Dorothy McAuliffe is a strong proponent of school nutrition and in particular, the School Breakfast Program. A frequent visitor at school cafeterias throughout the Commonwealth, McAuliffe has been a champion for eliminating childhood hunger, greater access to fresh locally grown fruits and vegetables and nutrition as a key element necessary for building educational success in students.

“One of the biggest accomplishments of our lobbying effort has been the recognition from Virginia First Lady Dorothy McAuliffe of our school nutrition program,” said Toni Hill, field manager of the School Nutrition Program at Lynchburg City (Va.) Schools and Virginia SNA Public Policy & Legislation Chair (PPL). “She has been a leader in bringing a unique awareness of the challenges that our school nutrition program face. It’s been wonderful to know somebody out there in [the state capitol of] Richmond is fighting alongside of you.

“But this would not have happened without our lobbying effort.”

As this story clearly illustrates, SNA members do have a voice and can influence state policymakers in school nutrition through successful lobbying efforts. At SNA’s Legislative Action Conference (LAC), April 2-4, Hill along with Colorado PPL Chair Mona Martinez-Brosh, RD, will hold an illuminating breakout session entitled, “Successful State Lobbying Strategies,” on how you can learn the key strategies for ensuring your school nutrition interests are heard by your state legislators.

Hill and Martinez-Brosh will discuss with attendees how they have been able to build successful relationships with representatives and legislators in their respective states, which have resulted in greater awareness, funding and adaption of school nutrition programs. They will explain how hiring a professional lobbyist, has provided State Associations with essential background materials such as voting record, committee assignments and legislative interests from individual legislators, which greatly assist in face-to-face meetings.

“We have been doing that for almost 20 years and when our members come to the Virginia General Assembly on our SNAVA Lobby Day, our legislators support school nutrition,” said Hill.

Hill will also share with attendees Lobbying 101, a handout tip sheet focusing on what to do when you meet, write or talk on the phone with your state legislator. These are effective ways to emphasize your interest in school nutrition. Among other things, they will help you to make an appointment, assist in relating the positive impacts of legislation you support, encourage conversation and questions and leave a favorable impression.

“Every SNA member can be a voice for the children that you serve,” concludes Hill. “You can be that spokesperson for that child that needs someone to support them every day with their nutrition.”

Sound interesting? Registration for LAC is open. For a complete schedule, special event and general session information, hotel and travel information, and more, visit www.schoolnutrition.org/lac.

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