Lobbying for the Hungry: The Value of Advocacy

Yesterday, I shared some exciting news: Our community of travelers has now raised one million dollars to help empower Bread for the World, an advocacy organization that speaks up for hungry people in the halls of government.

We did it! Rick Steves’ Europe travelers have met our goal of raising one million dollars to help empower Bread for the…

Posted by Rick Steves on Wednesday, December 12, 2018


Many of you understand the value of advocacy. But a few questioned why we would fundraise for “lobbyists in Washington D.C.” and not for groups that directly feed the poor. As one commenter, Rolf, said, “Man, I’m sure the Salvation Army would have done a whole lot more with that money.” Tim agreed, saying, “I would prefer that my donations go to organizations that actually feed people.” And Alan wrote, “This 1.078 Million can just be flushed into the riches of those unneedy while the truly wanting go unfulfilled.”

Then, just last night, I received a briefing from Bread for the World president David Beckmann about the impact of their advocacy (or “lobbying”). In his note, he explained vividly how huge the stakes are when it comes to US government budgeting decisions — and why the $1 million that we raised together will have a far more powerful impact than more traditional charity giving. Here is what he said:

This afternoon, Congress passed a Farm Bill with no cuts to SNAP (a.k.a. ‘food stamps’), and improvements to international food aid. Bread for the World has been a significant player on that issue. The House of Representatives had passed a version of the Farm Bill that would have taken $20 billion in groceries away from struggling American families. Thankfully, this version of the bill failed.

Bread for the World and its members have also done a lot of work on criminal justice reform and this year’s appropriations. A compromise criminal-justice reform bill seems likely to pass Congress during this lame-duck month.  The bill is not as good as we wanted, but it will definitely improve conditions in federal prisons and reduce sentences for some people who shouldn’t be in prison any longer and fund prison programs that prepare prisoners to make a living when they get out. The big appropriations package that we’re hoping will pass this month includes increased funding for international and domestic anti-poverty programs. (That’s being held up by President Trump’s demand for $5 billion for the border wall. No one knows how that stand-off will be resolved.)

It’s important to remember that with every dollar Bread for the World raises, it leverages $100 in terms of assistance and funding that is vital to hungry and poor people in our country and abroad. (That’s the great thing about advocacy — our government wants to do the right thing, when properly encouraged.) Assuming that ratio holds, our $1,000,000 donation will generate $100 million in life-giving, hope-instilling funding.

Together, we are giving struggling people a voice in Congress. Again, thank you for your generous partnership. I find it both loving and patriotic.

You can still elevate your holiday season by joining in with a $100 donation at www.ricksteves.com/bread. (And when you do, I’ll send you my European Christmas gift pack or my Complete Collection DVD Box Set as a thank you gift!)