Making Connections with Your Senator or U.S. Representative on Capitol Hill

2017-03-15

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

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

One of the things Judy White and the rest of the Massachusetts delegation attending SNA’s Legislative Action Conference (LAC) look forward to every year is a visit to Capitol Hill and meeting with Representative Jim McGovern [D-Mass.] from the 2nd District.

“I have been going to LAC for probably about 15 years,” recalls White, food service director at Wrentham Public School. “And every year [McGovern] sets aside an entire hour for the entire Massachusetts delegation and it is just amazing that a Congressman of his stature gives one complete hour of his time and attention to any one group.”

Knowing White and many other members of the Massachusetts delegation on a first-name basis, McGovern has become a champion and advocate of child nutrition programs, as evidenced by serving as co-chair of the House Hunger Caucus and co-chairman of the Congressional Hunger Center.

“One of the things that we do with him, is go over and present the SNA Position Paper and then, he will give us his thoughts and suggestions on the paper,” says White, who serves as the SNA Northeast Region Representative. “He listens to us. He will then call in his senior staff and start the wheels turning and make connections to start to get things done, he’s brilliant.”

Through the relationship White has made with McGovern via the LAC Capitol Hill visits, he has made it a point to make frequent visits to the cafeterias at the Bellingham, Oxbridge and Wrentham Public Schools in White’s district.

“He knows what brown box commodities means, he knows what a summer feeding truck can do and he was on a food stamp budget for one month, so he knows what $1.30 a-day of food that is going to give him,” stresses White. “He doesn’t do this for a photo opt but because he truly cares about feeding children.”

SNA Legislative Action Conference Charge to the Hill

Each year, dozens of SNA members like White bring their expertise, passion and stories to Capitol Hill and take advantage of the opportunity to speak with and/or get to know their state Senators and federal U.S. Representative. The Charge to the Hill Day to Capitol Hill at LAC on April 4, is the perfect way to make your voice heard on school nutrition.

“Meeting with your [Senator or Congressman] is important because when they are voting for child nutrition reauthorization and all the different parts of the language and the law, they will really understand what our mission is,” said White.

What is her advice to first-time SNA members visiting their legislator?

“Try and make a personal connection with your Congressman or Senator and his or her staff,” advises White. “I think foodservice professionals know how to make those personal connections by telling their story and inviting them back to your school(s) for lunch so they really understand what we are doing. And, don’t be intimidated to invite them to breakfast or lunch, our programs speak for themselves.”

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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