The Trump Administration has proposed a plan to cut access to SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, a.k.a. food stamps), which would result in HALF A MILLION hungry kids losing free school lunch. But we can make a difference and stop this cruelty!
That’s why ParentsTogether members across the country are gathering in homes, community centers, meeting rooms, and even playgrounds to save one of our country’s most important programs in the fight against hunger. If we tell others about this issue, take action together, and get our elected leaders to speak out in favor of SNAP, we can #SaveSchoolLunch and keep kids from going hungry.
Hosting a house meeting may sound intimidating—but it’s actually pretty simple. This page covers everything you’ll need to organize a great event; if you read it and still have questions, email [email protected] and someone will help you.
The purpose of the gathering is to bring together concerned folks from your community; meet each other; learn a bit about the issue; and then make a plan to visit with your elected officials sometime in the following week—October 21st to October 25th—urging these officials to speak out against these cuts to free school lunch and SNAP. (Below, we’ll tell you more about which elected officials and why.)
One of the best ways we can influence the administration, who has proposed these cuts, is to get tons of local and state officials to publicly oppose them. But time is short—we know the Department of Agriculture is reviewing comments in the coming weeks and could make a final decision on the school lunches very soon. That’s why it’s so essential that we hold these house meetings and organize these visits to elected officials all around the country right now.
Before Your Event
Here are 8 things to do before your party to make it a success:
Step 1: Post your event to Facebook (and send us the link!)
If you haven’t done so already be sure to post on Facebook. Once you’ve posted your event, you will have access to your host tools page and everything else you will need in order to organize a fun and successful house meeting. If you’ve never created a Facebook event before, don’t worry—it’s really easy! When you create your event, remember that your party should happen on either Saturday, Oct 19, or Sunday, Oct 20. Your party should take place anytime between 9:00 a.m. – 7:00 p.m., and should last about 75 minutes. Here are the simple steps for setting up your Facebook event page for the house party:
- From your News Feed, click Events in the left menu.
- Click + Create Event on the left side.
- Click Create Public Event OR Private Event. Once you’ve created a public event, you won’t be able to change it to private later. The same goes for creating a Private Event—it can’t be changed to a Public Event at a later time. PLEASE NOTE THAT WE CAN ONLY HELP RECRUIT ATTENDEES FOR PUBLIC EVENTS.
- Fill in the event name, location, date, time and description. You can write your own personalized description, or copy and paste the one below:
“Recently, the President announced plans to cut funding to SNAP (a.k.a. food stamps)—which would take away free school lunch from HALF A MILLION kids. Come be part of an important conversation about why we need to protect SNAP (a.k.a food stamps), and how we can get our elected leaders to speak out on this issue, too.
During this event, we’ll share stories and talk about how SNAP helps our city’s families, children, schools, and economies thrive. We’ll also make a plan to visit elected officials’ offices and urge them to sign on to protect SNAP.
Together, we can #SaveSchoolLunch and feed hungry kids in our own community.”
- Type and select keywords about your public event so it can be better recommended to people who are interested in that topic (example: Food festival).
- Choose who can edit and post in your event and then click Create. You’ll be taken to your event where you can invite guests, upload photos, add a cover photo or video, share posts and edit event details.
- EMAIL THAT FACEBOOK LINK TO US at [email protected] This will help us keep track of all the awesome events happening across the country, and better assist you if you reach out for host support.
Step 2: Invite your community to your house meeting
The most important step is spreading the word! Think about your family, friends, school, neighbors, religious groups, and other clubs or organizations you are in. You can send email invitations through your event management page and post the RSVP link on your Facebook, or text it to people. You can also use this as an opportunity to reach out to others you wouldn’t normally reach out to. To #SaveSchoolLunch, we need to build relationships and bring in folks from all parts of our communities. This is a chance to connect with groups or churches you’ve never worked with before, knock on a neighbor’s door you’ve never met, or put up a few flyers in a different part of town.
Step 3: Join a host prep call
Before your party, we’ll help you get ready on a national prep call. You can pick which one you’d like to join!
- Tuesday, October 15th, 9 p.m. ET/8 p.m. CT/7 p.m. MT/6 p.m. PT: REGISTER HERE
- Thursday, October 17th, 7 p.m. ET/6 p.m. CT/ 5 p.m. MT/4 p.m. PT: REGISTER HERE
On the call, ParentsTogether staff will review plans for the house meetings, provide any current updates, and answer questions from hosts around the country.
Step 4: Prepare your venue
House parties are a great opportunity to socialize with other people in your community. Your role is to help maintain this balance between the time devoted to talking about SNAP and time spent socializing. Because one of the goals of your house meeting is to plan a visit to the office of an elected leader (your mayor, local or state representative, or senator), keeping folks on track while having fun is especially important.
The best way to have a party that flows seamlessly is to think through the plan from start to finish beforehand. Some questions to consider:
- If you live in an apartment building, will people need to be buzzed in?
- If you’re holding the meeting at home, which room will be most comfortable for discussion? Do you have enough chairs?
- If you’re holding it somewhere else, scout out the location—will it serve your needs?
- Where will you sit to lead the meeting part of the agenda so that everyone can hear you?
- What will you say to transition between agenda items? Do you need a timekeeper?
- Do you have pens available for people to sign in, and scrap paper for notes?
- Do you want name tags?
- Are you providing snacks or beverages? If yes, how much time will you need to set things up so you’re ready to begin your meeting on time?
- Have you printed copies the Participant Agenda, or written and posted it up on a large piece of paper or flip chart?
- Have you tested your equipment to make sure the 3-minute YouTube video about SNAP and school lunch will play properly? And is everything set up so you can simply hit “play” when you get to this point in the agenda?
Take a few minutes to make sure you are clear. The details will make everything go smoothly on the day of the meeting.
Step 5: Make reminder calls the day before your meeting
The best way to boost attendance for your meeting is to pick up the phone and invite folks personally. We’ll send reminders to everyone who RSVP’s for your party, but a personal note and/or call from you is way more effective. You can see everyone who has RSVP’d and their phone numbers through your Action Network host page.
(In our experience, if you make reminder calls, on average, about half of the people who RSVP will actually come. If you don’t, it’s usually far less. So definitely make them—AND don’t expect everyone to show. Also, when you post your event, make sure you increase your “Maximum number of attendees” for your party to account for the drop-off rate. If you have more questions, feel free to email us at [email protected].)
Step 6: Pick the elected official for your Save School Lunch Office Visit the following week
We know that getting local and state leaders to speak out against these free lunch cuts and SNAP cuts is a huge part of how we can stop this rule—mayors have already been incredibly effective on this issue, and over 70 have already signed a national letter opposing these cuts to SNAP. (See if your mayor is one of them below.) But we need to keep the momentum going for the Department of Agriculture to listen.
You will help make this happen at your house meeting by planning Save School Lunch Office Visits to key elected officials for the following week, October 21st – October 25th.
You’ll want to have this information lined up before your house meeting so you can share as many details as possible with attendees. The more you know about which elected official you’ll visit, the more likely it will be that you’ll get your meeting attendees to commit to joining you.
Here’s the big-picture strategy:
- In most places, we’ll be calling on mayors and municipal leaders to join the growing chorus of municipal leaders speaking out about why these cuts will be so harmful to their communities.
- In a few states, we’ll be calling on key influential Senators who could have an especially big impact. That’s because we know that, given their committee seats and track record, this Republican administration is likely to listen to them.
OK — read this bit carefully for specific targeting information in YOUR location:
If you live in ARIZONA, COLORADO, GEORGIA, IOWA, or TEXAS: Focus on the Senate. We encourage you to visit these powerful Senators’ offices to urge them to oppose SNAP cuts to school lunch:
- Arizona: Sen. Martha McSally
- Colorado: Sen. Cory Gardner
- Georgia: Sen. David Perdue
- Iowa: Sen. Joni Ernst
- Texas: Sen. John Cornyn
If you live in one of the below cities: Your mayor has already signed on publicly to oppose SNAP cuts and help save school lunch, so you should focus on a school board member, state representative, or school superintendent to meet with. (Every elected official should sign on, so these are all great options!)
Augusta, GA; Austin, TX; Baltimore, MD; Beaverton, OR; Berkeley, CA; Beverly Hills, CA; Bloomfield, NJ; Boston, MA; Buffalo, NY; Butte, MT; Chapel Hill, NC; Charleston, SC; Chula Vista, CA; College Park, MD; Columbia, SC; Dallas, TX; Dayton, OH; Durham, NC; Edina, MN; Fayetteville, AK; Fremont, CA; Houston, TX; Huntington, WV; Kalamazoo, MI; Kinston, NC; Las Cruces, NM; Lima, OH; Livermore, CA; Los Angeles, CA; Louisville, KY; Macon, GA; Madison, WI; Minneapolis, MN; Muskegon, MI; Napa, CA; Nashville, TN; New York, NY; Normal, IL; North Brunswick, NJ; Philadelphia, PA; Piscataway, NJ; Plainfield, NJ; Pompano Beach, FL; Portland, OR; Providence, RI; Reno, NV; Richmond, CA; Rochester, NY; Salt Lake City, UT; San Antonio, TX; San Leandro, CA; Santa Fe, NM; Santa Monica, CA; Schenectady, NY; Seattle, WA; Somerset, MD; South Fulton, GA; Stockton, CA; Tacoma, WA; Topeka, KS; Union City, CA; Washington, DC; White Plains, NY
If you live EVERYWHERE ELSE: Focus on your mayor. Mayors nationwide have been essential leaders in opposing SNAP cuts already, and you should ask yours to join this critical fight to save school lunch by adding their voice to the sign-on letter, and publicly opposing the Department of Agriculture’s harmful proposed rule.
Step 7: Review scheduling for your Save School Lunch Office Visits (for the week of October 21st – 25th)
We know that time is of the essence here; the Department of Agriculture is reviewing comments right now, and they could make the decision very soon. That’s why these Save School Lunch Office Visits to elected officials need to happen sometime during the week after your house meeting, October 21st – 25th.
For mayors and local officials: It’s a good idea to call the office and ask for the best time that week to meet briefly (10-25 minute meetings are typical) with your elected official to discuss SNAP cuts and the importance of free school lunch. You can do this in advance of your House Meeting, if you’d like, or you can do it afterwards, once your team has coordinated their schedules. Here’s a sample script you can use as a guide; you can also send an email version to their office:
“Hi! I’m [NAME], a constituent and [briefly identify a bit more about yourself: a parent, teacher, small business owner] with a group called ParentsTogether. Half a million kids are about to get kicked off free school because of SNAP cuts, and we’d like to drop by the office this week to talk with [ELECTED OFFICIAL] about what they can do to join this nationwide effort and make sure kids in our community—and around the country—don’t go hungry. Is there a time [ELECTED OFFICIAL] can briefly meet with us?”
For Senators: Because Senators travel schedules and itineraries are often planned far in advance, with more regular staffed office hours, you should set the time based on your team’s availability during business hours the week of October 21st – 25th. The best times for media will be Tuesday, Wednesday, or Thursday, between 9 and 5 local times. You can—but do not need to—call the afternoon before or the morning of to let them know you’ll be dropping by and to ask the name of the staffer who will be meeting with you. To find your Senator’s closest office, call the Capitol Switchboard at (202) 224-2131, ask to speak to your Senator’s office, and then ask them which of the Senator’s district offices is closest to your city.
Step 8: Review and print these helpful materials
- House Meeting Host Agenda
- House Meeting Participant Agenda
- House Meeting Sign In Sheet
- Elected Official Office Visit Guide (updated regularly)
- Media Guide
During Your Event
To help you pull off a great house meeting, we’ve put together a detailed House Meeting Host Agenda for you. Please study this agenda thoroughly and carefully well in advance of your event. It contains everything you need to know, from how to prepare your space and welcome your guests to how to put wheels on your action plan so your visit to your public official goes off without a hitch.
Be sure to print out a copy of the House Meeting Host Agenda for your party! It will be an invaluable tool for you to have during your meeting—it’s basically the map for your house meeting journey!
NOTE: If you want to do a little extra prep before your house meeting, you can check out these resources:
- USA Today: 500,000 kids could lose free school lunch under Trump administration proposal
- Food Research and Action Center: Trump Administration’s Latest Proposal Would Increase Hunger for Children at Home and at School
- Food Research and Action Center: Benefits of School Lunch
After Your Event
Step 1: Fill out a post-party survey
You will receive a survey in an email the night of the house meeting. This is critical—both to share your experience hosting the event, and to gather information about how many came and committed to visiting your elected official after the house meeting. Please watch out for the survey email, and fill it out completely. Thanks!
Step 2: Send in photos from your event
You can post your photos on Facebook and add #SaveSchoolLunch—make sure the photos are set to public so we can see them! You can also send digital photos to [email protected].
Step 3: Coordinate the next steps for your Save School Lunch office visit to your elected official—and let us know how it goes!
Now that your house meeting is over, it’s time to turn all that energy into action! Use the checklists from the #SaveSchoolLunch Office Visit Guide to make sure you’re on pace with everything you decided at the meeting: preparing attendees, printing packets based on which elected official you’re meeting with, connecting with the elected official in advance (for mayors/local elected offiicals), deciding who will say what, and reaching out to media (using the handy media guide and advisories here).
If you need help or have questions, you can always send a message to [email protected].