As of 2018, food insecurity affects 11.1% (14.3 million) of U.S. households. These numbers are only expected to increase due to the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic. Access to healthful food is a social determinant of health, and food insecurity's effects on physiologic development, neuropsychologic development, and chronic disease are well-established. Food insecurity creates barriers to health, rising healthcare costs, and worsening health outcomes. We have included a template draft, as well as potential specifics at the end of this letter for you to format in the way that you wish. This letter template can (and should) be tailored and individualized to address the specifics needs of your community. Please let us know in the comments if you chose to use this template!
The Honorable [SENATOR OR REPRESENTATIVE’S FIRST NAME, LAST NAME]
U.S. Senate OR House of Representatives
Washington, DC 20515
Dear Senator OR Representative [LAST NAME]:
I am writing to urge your support for the [ANY BILLS LISTED BELOW OR MAKE A NON-PARTISAN GENERIC STATEMENT], especially given the massive hardship Covid-19 has inflicted on the U.S. population, particularly as strong predictors of food insecurity, like unemployment and poverty rates, continue to rise.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) defines food insecurity as “the limited or uncertain availability of nutritionally adequate and safe foods or limited or uncertain ability to acquire acceptable foods in socially acceptable ways” and defines food security as “households [with] access, at all times, to enough food for an active, healthy life for all household members.” The USDA further provides definitions for ranges of food security: high food security, marginal food security, low food security, and very low food security. Food insecurity affects both the physiologic and neuropsychologic development of children and is a well-established social determinant of health for people of all ages.
The most recent USDA report of food security status of U.S. households in 2018 indicated that 88.9% (114.9 million) of U.S. households were food secure throughout 2018, an increase of 0.7% from 2017. Though this is a numeric improvement, this still leaves 11.1% (14.3 million) of U.S. households who were categorized as having “low” or “very low” food security and thus had experienced food insecurity at some time during 2018. Of further concern, 13.9% of households with children under the age of 18 and 14.3% of households with children under the age of 6 were considered food insecure. In other words, the rate of food insecurity in households with children exceeds the national average.
From a [STATE AND/OR LOCAL] standpoint, [Insert state/local data here to really hit your letter home. Feeding America provides an amazing tool for finding this data here. When addressing Senators, state data is probably sufficient, but it would be advantageous to also include local (county/district) data when addressing your Representatives. Personalizing your letters is key! Please note that it is also of value to contact your state and local (county/district) government in this matter; this is not just a federal issue, and oftentimes you may see more direct action take place at the local level.]
Predictive models by Feeding America estimate that the number of people experiencing food insecurity in the U.S. could rise by 17.1 million due to the impact of Covid-19. It is more pertinent now than ever before to come together and address food insecurity at both federal and local levels. Again, I pleadingly urge you to support [ANY BILLS LISTED BELOW OR MAKE A NON-PARTISAN GENERIC STATEMENT].
If you or your staff would like additional information, please feel free to contact me directly. I am happy to talk further and look forward to hearing from you soon.
Examples of a generic, non-partisan statement:
I am writing to urge your support for the […], especially given the massive hardship Covid-19 has inflicted on the U.S. population, particularly as strong predictors of food insecurity, like unemployment and poverty rates, continue to rise.
addressing food insecurity
addressing food insecurity for school-age children and college students, particularly with the indefinite closure of school campuses
broadening access to nutritional assistance programs
List of specific proposed plans to promote in your letter: Overviews and text for the following plans are hyperlinked within the plan title. Please note that this is certainly not an all-inclusive list but provides plans that have been proposed more recently. An all-inclusive search can be done at Congress.gov.
“H.R. 6582: Food for Working Families Act of 2020” sponsored by Representative Jahana Hayes
“H.R. 7554: American Farmers, Food Banks, and Families act of 2020” sponsored by Representative Dan Newhouse
“H.R. 7535: Expanding SNAP Options Act of 2020” sponsored by Representative Robin Kelly
“H.R. 7271: SNAP PLUS Act of 2020” sponsored by Representative Bobby Rush
“H.R. 6968: Meals on Wheels for Kids Act of 2020” sponsored by Representative Rodney Davis
“H.R. 6904: Increasing Access to SNAP Delivery During Covid-19 Act of 2020” sponsored by Representative Jahana Hayes
“H.R. 6846: Equitable Nutrition Assistance for the Territories Act of 2020” sponsored by Representative Nydia Velazquez
“H.R. 6811: WIC Act of 2020” sponsored by Representative Rosa DeLauro
“H.R. 6757: Farm to Food Bank Enhancement Act of 2020” sponsored by Representative Marcia Fudge
“H.R. 6756: End Pandemic Hunger for College Students Act of 2020” sponsored by Representative Marcia Fudge
“H.R. 6722: Food for Families in Crisis Act of 2020” sponsored by Representative Joe Neguse
“S. 2760/H.R. 6536: CARE for Kids Act of 2020” sponsored by Senator Bob Casey and Representatives Kendra Horn and Don Bacon
“S. 3719: Closing the Meal Gap Act of 2020” sponsored by Senators Kamala Harris, Kristen Gillibrand, and Bernie Sanders
General tips for writing your Congressperson (source: American Psychological Association):
Direct: state your subject clearly in the e-mail subject line and/or letter introduction
Factual: personalize the issue and support your stance with facts
Helpful: offer to provide additional information and provide your contact information
Informative: identify yourself, your views, and the bill number(s) of relevant legislation
Constructive: remain positive and offer recommendations without personal attacks or blame
Appreciative: thank the policymaker for their attention
Inquiring: ask for the policymaker’s viewpoint on the legislation
Specific: provide specific facts, data, examples, and write in the first-person
Concise: do not exceed one page or 500 words
More tips, sample e-mails, sample letters, and links to your state’s Congresspersons’ contact information can be found at this page created by the American Psychological Association.