July 18, 2017

Tips for Effectively Engaging Elected Officials at Public Meetings

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Town hall meetings and other public forums offer important opportunities to ask Members of Congress questions about their position on anti-hunger policy issues and encourage their support for proposals to help end hunger in the United States.

Here are some helpful suggestions for getting your voice heard at a public meeting:

  • Arrive early to ensure you get in and get a seat.
  • Come with friends – there is strength in numbers.
  • Don’t be shy! Sit up front or near the microphone so you will be ready when questions are invited.
  • Raise your hand or line up at the microphone as soon as there is a call for questions.
  • Come with questions already written down on index cards in case questions are only taken in writing.
  • Project confidence and concern as you speak out for the millions of Americans struggling to put food on the table.
  • Don’t accept a non-answer to your question. If you don’t get a relevant answer, don’t be afraid to say, “That doesn’t answer my question,” and repeat your question.
  • Don’t let yourself be interrupted by other meeting participants. You have every right to ask your question and be heard – remain calm and continue asking your question.
  • Have some relevant information at your fingertips.
    • Quick facts about SNAP and hunger in America from MAZON
    • Information about SNAP participants and the impact of the program in your state and Congressional district from USDA
    • As a lead up to your question, consider sharing a short passage from a personal story collected by MAZON as part of our This Is Hunger traveling exhibition.
  • After the meeting, spread the word. Record the official’s response to your question by video, photo or notes and share this information on social media with your network. Please also share about your experience and the response to your question with Amanda Nesher at MAZON at anesher@mazon.org. Encourage others to go to a town hall meeting and ask a similar question.

Please click here for the Suggested questions/talking points.