Please ensure Javascript is enabled for purposes of website accessibility

Congressional Visits: Making Advocacy Easy and Accessible

Group of people smiling for the camera with legislator in US Capitol setting

Left to right: Lauren Brockman, Regional Food Bank of Oklahoma; Michelle Brobston, Hunger Free Oklahoma; Aisosa Udoh, Hunger Free Oklahoma; Senator James Lankford; Mikayla Demaree, Food Bank of Eastern Oklahoma; Bailey Ashbaker, Hunger Free Oklahoma; Jacey Goerlitz, Regional Food Bank of Oklahoma; Amy Warne, Partnership for a Healthier America; Houa Xiong, Hunger Free Oklahoma.

On June 5, a team representing Hunger Free Oklahoma (HFO), the Food Bank of Eastern Oklahoma, and the Regional Food Bank of Oklahoma went to Washington, D.C. where they discussed the upcoming Farm Bill with our Oklahoma delegation. For several, it was their first time to make Congressional visits. Here is a glimpse into some of their experiences, proving that anyone passionate about these issues can engage with their elected officials.

Alissa Snider, HFO Hunger Outreach Program Specialist: From Intimidation to Empowerment

Alissa was nervous before her meetings, having previously only interacted with state-level representatives. However, Senator Markwayne Mullin and his staff created a casual atmosphere, asking about their motivations for entering anti-hunger work. This personalized approach made Alissa feel valued and heard, reinforcing the importance of sharing personal stories.

Alissa’s passion for advocating for policies that support Oklahomans fed her drive. She shared her own experience with food insecurity during higher education, which resonated deeply with the legislators. Alissa’s takeaway? Advocacy is about being authentic and connecting on a human level.

Aisosa Udoh, HFO Hunger Outreach Program Specialist: From Uncertainty to Accomplishment

Walking up Capitol Hill, Aisosa felt a mix of excitement and nerves. Despite thorough preparation, the uncertainty of whether the policymakers would listen to her lingered. The first meeting, bustling with staffers and advocates, quickly dispelled her fears. Legislators and their aides were approachable and eager to hear real stories and honest opinions.

Aisosa’s biggest revelation was that advocacy is just an important conversation. Her interactions with Senators Mullins and Lankford were affirming, with staffers acknowledging the significance of her points. The camaraderie with co-workers and other advocates made the experience rewarding and fun.

Houa Xiong, HFO SNAP Outreach Coordinator: From Unscripted to Compelling

Houa went to Capitol Hill with the goal of educating members of Congress about the needs and aspirations of Oklahomans striving for success. Beyond the numbers and statistics, the voices of the community and their lived experiences underscored the desire not just to survive, but to thrive. This belief in achieving more than mere survival is a core value we all share in our work and representation.

Though the discussions were unscripted, being well-versed in the subject matter and talking points helped Houa craft compelling messages with a coalition of advocates. While much of the outreach was directed toward staffers, many were receptive, taking notes, seeking additional information, and sharing insights on what resonates with their offices. It can be intimidating at first, but your voice and story matter far more than your silence.

Michelle Brobston, HFO Chief Operations Officer: From Nervous to Engaged

Though initially anxious, Michelle found Senator James Lankford to be approachable and engaging. She enjoyed collaborating with her HFO and food bank colleagues, appreciating how they seamlessly integrated personal experiences into their advocacy.

Navigating the complex congressional buildings was a challenge, but the positive interactions and the opportunity to discuss one of her current projects, Summer EBT, made it worthwhile. Michelle’s experience highlighted that staff members on Capitol Hill are eager to learn from constituents’ expertise, making the process collaborative and educational.

Join Us in Advocacy

Our staff members’ experiences show that anyone can be an advocate. The process is not as intimidating as it seems. Legislators are there to represent you, and your voice matters. We encourage everyone who cares about food security to consider reaching out to their elected officials. Your stories and perspectives can drive meaningful change. As Aisosa said, “If you care about an issue, there’s no better way to make an impact than by sharing your story directly with those in power.”

Working together for a hunger free Oklahoma.

To top