Summer is here! For many that means trips to the beach or sending the kids off to summer camp, but for Members of Congress it means August recess is coming.
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August recess is more than just a reason to escape the humid DC summers. It is a 4-6 week period when Representatives and Senators return to their home districts and states to do what is known as district or state work. This is a time when Members of Congress host community dinners or townhalls and spend time in their local offices meeting with constituents to learn about what issues are important to them.
August recess is an ideal time to meet with your lawmakers to promote heart healthy legislation and it is much easier to do than you think. While it may seem intimidating to call an elected officials’ office and request a meeting, know that is their job, and that they are eager to hear from you.
By meeting with lawmakers and staff outside of Washington, D.C., you will get more face-time and have more opportunities to talk about the issues you care about.
So, how can you participate? Follow these steps.
• Find your members of Congress’ local office. You can use our handy member look-up tool if you are not sure who represents you in Congress. Then go to their website to find their district office locations.
• Stop by the office and introduce yourself to the staff. Let them know you’re a proud American Heart Association You’re the Cure advocate and you hope they remember people like you when they make decisions back in Washington.
Don’t know what AHA issues to talk about in a meeting or office drop by?
Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered! This August we’re encouraging advocates to meet with their lawmakers on 2 key policy areas. Below is a brief description of the issue, and links to science-based materials that you can leave behind to really bring home your points! If you have any questions on the policy please don’t hesitate to reach out to YTC directly at David.McGoldrick@heart.org and we will get back to you ASAP.
• Tobacco 21 Legislation: The AHA is working with partners to promote legislation that would move the tobacco sales age to 21 across the country. This policy is especially important given the youth e-cigarette epidemic. Moving the sales age to 21 will help protect millions of teens from the dangers of tobacco use. Please feel free to use this Tobacco 21 Fact Sheet and Policy At a Glance 1-Pager to learn more and to leave with the office.
• Child Nutrition Reauthorization (CNR): CNR is Congress’s process of making changes, additions, and deletions to the permanent statutes that authorize child nutrition programs, like the school lunch program. This is especially important in the wake of the USDA’s recent rollback of nutrition standards for school meals. The AHA is working with partners to protect and strengthen nutrition standards for school meals because children need, healthy and nutritious food to reach their full potential. For more information on why this is important you can use this Fact Sheet and Policy At a Glance 1-Pager, they can also act as leave behind materials for your office visit!
Pro-Tip: Many lawmakers will participate in Labor Day events, like picnics and parades. Make sure you attend and try to grab their attention.
• Once you’ve left, don’t forget to follow-up with the staff. Relationships take time to grow and being in constant communication with an office is a good place to start.
Please also take just 1 minute to let us know how your meeting went by filling out this short survey. This feedback is invaluable to our advocacy efforts!
August recess is here, so let’s make the most of the opportunity. Introduce yourself to your Members of Congress and become an all-star advocate today!