First and foremost, I would like to thank U.S. Representative Lois Frankel for taking time out of her day to listen to us and Mrs. Florence French for organizing such a fantastic meeting. Additionally, I would like to thank Joshua’s Heart Foundation for providing me with this unique opportunity to discuss real-world issues with a member of the government.
Until about a week ago, I really did not realize the magnitude of the COVID-19 pandemic. While I was more concerned with how I’d keep myself occupied during the quarantine, it became apparent to me that millions of people across the U.S. will be financially strained and without proper nutrition. I, along with members of the Joshua’s Heart Foundation’s Junior Advisory Board and Bread for the World representatives, engaged in a collaborative online call with Congresswoman Lois Frankel from the 22nd District of Florida, whose role in the House Committee on Appropriations is key to solving global hunger.
When I received the email asking if I would like to meet with Mrs. Frankel, I could not be more interested. I knew that this incredible, once-in-a-lifetime opportunity that the JHF provided would give me an insight into the realistic applications of the advocacy I’m involved in. Mrs. Florence French, a Regional Organizer for Bread for the World, orchestrated a meeting with Congresswomen Frankel to discuss how she can play a role in the implementation of global nutrition programs and services to assist students who are not receiving daily meals during school breaks. In the days leading up to the meeting, we were provided countless resources detailing the plans for the Summer Electronic Benefits Transfer for Children (Summer EBT), which if additionally funded, would assist thousands of families in purchasing nutritious food during the summer months for their kids.
I had extensively planned my 1-hour train ride from Aventura to West Palm Beach and prepared my suit to wear when we were informed that due to the onset of the COVID-19 spread, we would be switching over to a video call. Although it was slightly disappointing that I wouldn’t be able to tell my teachers that I missed their classes to meet with a Congresswoman, I knew that participating in the call would be just as rewarding as meeting Mrs. Frankel in person.
As the date to the voice call was getting closer, the COVID-19 pandemic sparked a wave of panicked shoppers into grocery stores, cleaning the shelves of nearly every product available. This presented itself as a major issue because now the already suffering families would be unable to access proper nutrition in stores, leaving millions without food across the country. Luckily, Mrs. French had informed us that the U.S. government and its partner organization was putting their full effort to ensure that impoverished families were getting the food they need, which was very reassuring.
When the time came for the morning video call, my lack of sleep the previous night had taken a toll, and rather than actively engaging in the conversation, I merely listened in on the words Congresswoman Frankel and others had to say on the issues at hand. However, unlike me, JHF members Colin and Jack from the Boca Raton chapter were participating in the call, asking thought-provoking questions and commenting on the solutions Mrs. French proposed. Thanks to them, the Bread for the World Foundation and the staffers at Congresswomen Frankel’s office recognize the Joshua’s Heart Foundation as an organization tirelessly working to eradicate world hunger.
Personally, I found the resources and the call that Mrs. French allowed us access to as very enriching, informing me of a crisis in America that many overlook. I had never really considered what students relying on school meals had to face during the summer months when the daily meals were not able to be given to them. Knowing that this problem is affecting many of the students we see on a daily basis, we should strive to implement such programs to make sure that our peers are given the same access to proper nutrition as we are. Hopefully, the advocacy that we demonstrated to Congresswoman Frankel will have an impact on millions of families and will be a stepping stone in the fight against global hunger.