If you tuned into Lunch Agenda today, I hope you came away with this message: local government NEEDS to hear from you--about food policy ideas or whatever's on your mind.
Today I recorded the first Food Policy Class, aimed at leaving you with hard skills after you tune in. Our teacher was my bright and helpful friend Ona Balkus, legislative council to DC Councilmember Mary Cheh. Ona guided us on how to effectively advocate with DC government, including a primer on the budget cycle just in time for you to get involved this spring. Here's how:
Share your perspective at one of DC Council's budget hearings this spring! The schedule is here--don't we all have an opinion on our city's roads, parks, water system, trash pickup, schools, and so many other topics?
Ona promises us that local government is LISTENING: "See if there's a food policy council in your area and engage with them. Go talk to your elected official...Very quickly you can become the person they call when they have a food policy question."
- Speak up! I testified for the first time last week at the OSSE oversight hearing (here's my testimony in case you're curious); Councilmember and Committee Chair David Grosso was definitely listening. I was also the only person to talk about the Healthy Students Amendment Act and Good Food Purchasing Program--so in the very least, I reminded him that we food advocates are paying attention!
- OR, you can start hyper-local: figure out who your Advisory Neighborhood Commissioner (ANC) is, talk to them about something in your neighborhood.
Now that you're ready to testify, what other tips did Ona share on today's show?
Ona's sound bite: Is it worth testifying?
A: "You know more than you think you do. If you're listening to this podcast, and you've already listened to previous of Kirsten's podcast, you already know more about food policy than many of the Councilmembers....These agencies have a LOT going on, they're working on a lot that's not food, and food can often get lost in that conversation."
Also, re: DC statehood: "We just crossed the 700,000 mark for residents in the district, which makes us more populous than two states: Vermont and Wyoming. Yet they have two senators and at least one member in the house, and we have no voting members in congress."
Ona's action item:
"Wherever you are, take one step further in being active with local government. In this time and age, local government is a place where we can make real change, and move forward on progressive change."
Kiko's Food News headlines:
Other links we discussed:
DC Greens Budget Advocacy Workshop on March 19--Sign up!