‘We lifted our voices and lawmakers were listening’
|Advocates gather in front of the Illinois State Capitol on Lobby Day in Springfield.
The morning sun glinted off the Illinois State Capitol dome in Springfield as a growing sea of anti-hunger advocates in blue shirts gathered below. Busload after busload, their numbers swelled to more than 250. Packed beneath the bronze statue of Abraham Lincoln on the Capitol’s steps, a chant began.
That was the start of Lobby Day, an annual event that gathers advocates from the Greater Chicago Food Depository and other organizations from across Illinois in Springfield to discuss the issue of hunger with lawmakers.
This year, advocates encouraged legislators to improve children’s access to School Breakfast by co-sponsoring and supporting the 2015 School Breakfast resolution, which promotes alternative breakfast models. They also asked lawmakers to support SB 1847, which would increase SNAP eligibility by raising income limits. And, advocates suggested elected officials promote summer meals and visit a child nutrition site.
“The energy was great at Hunger Summit and Lobby Day,” said Sarah Greenberg, the program and community outreach manager at a Food Depository member agency in Uptown. “I felt like we lifted our voices and lawmakers were listening.”
Scott Best, the coordinator at Common Pantry in the North Center neighborhood, called the conference “motivating and inspiring.”
“Any time we can make a big splash with a large group of people, I feel like that will stick in lawmakers’ heads. It will make the issue more memorable for them,” he said.
In total, the group met with more than 90 lawmakers in less than two hours. In addition to the Hunger Summit and Lobby Day, Food Depository advocates annually attend the National Anti-Hunger Policy Conference in Washington, D.C.
Check out photos from the trips to Springfield and Washington, D.C., learn more about the Food Depository’s advocacy agenda and watch a video recap of the trips at chicagosfoodbank.org/advocacy