Today I was invited to talk about Bread for the World, an organization I have been involved with for about two years, at a potluck for seniors at my church. Yes, all the essential ingredients of a church potluck were there. Casseroles – check. Jello salad with chopped up fruit – check. 10:1 dessert to other edible item ratio – check. But that aside, I was there to talk about renewing policies to help hungry and poor people in the United States.
I like Bread for the World because they are about more than addressing the immediate needs of hungry and poor people – like soup kitchens, food pantries and the like. The are about changing policies that address the root causes of poverty and hunger – policies that, if implemented, will help people to become self-sufficient rather than dependent on welfare programs.
Each year Bread for the World does an Offering of Letters, encouraging people to write handwritten letters to members of Congress on an issue that helps to address ending hunger and poverty in the United States and abroad. This year’s issue: as part of the 2009 American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, certain tax codes were put in place to expand the Earned Income Tax Credit and Child Tax Credit to help lift working families above the poverty level. These credits are due to expire this year unless further action is taken.
Coincidentally, my presentation to the potluck coincided with Tax Day, and a major week of advocacy for Bread for the World. There are 2 quick ways you can make a difference.
1. This week, by 5 pm EST on April 16th, call your Senators and Representatives and urge them to protect and strengthen the Earned Income Tax Credit and Child Tax Credit. You can be connected to your members of Congress by calling the Capitol switchboard at 1-800-826-3688.
2. Beyond this week, you can write a handwritten letter to your members of Congress to address this issue. Sample letters and key talking points may be found at www.offeringofletters.org.
If these tax credits are not renewed, 7 million low-income people could lose the Earned Income Tax Credit and 6 million children could lose the Child Tax Credit. This would force more than 1.5 million people, including nearly 800,000 children, back into poverty. It only takes a few minutes to make a phone call or write a letter, but it could make a huge difference!