Town Hall Meetings with Lawmakers
Lawmakers hold town meetings to provide a public forum for discussing timely issues or to listen to their constituents’ concerns. These meetings provide an excellent opportunity to begin to build a relationship with your elected representative and to bring attention to FARE public policy issues. Here are some suggestions to guide your participation:
- Find out when town hall meetings are scheduled. Contact your legislator’s district office and request that you be notified when any town hall meetings with the legislator are scheduled. This will likely involve placing yourself on an e-mail list. Check the community announcements in the local section of your newspaper for scheduled town hall meetings. Periodically check your legislator’s website, especially just before congressional recesses, because many elected officials post a district schedule for when they are home from Washington, DC. And in election year, contact your legislator’s campaign offices. The campaign generally organizes and schedules town hall forums and will be a good source of scheduling information.
- Introduce yourself and identify yourself and your role within the community (e.g., your position, your professional training, and the fact that you interact with many constituents).
- Thank them, if appropriate, for any support they’ve given in the past.
- Describe the FARE mission and good works (e.g., fundraising efforts, research grants, or education programs)
- Mention that FARE and food allergy advocates also work to ensure that patient and family concerns are incorporated into the public policymaking process.
- Relate some of the statistics about food allergies (e.g., how many Americans suffer from food allergies, how many children, etc.). Specific statistics are most helpful.
- Discuss, generally, some of the issues that concern food allergy patients and parents (e.g., school policies and restaurant accessibility). Provide copies of your organization’s position papers.
- Share anecdotal, personal stories about patients; they resonate with lawmakers.
- Tell them about FARE events and extend invitations to attend.
- Offer to make yourself and other advocates available to legislators and staff should they have any questions about food allergies or other health-related matters, or education programs. Be sure to leave your business card.