Every four years the nation becomes myopic in its view of politics.
With 88% of Congress up for re-election this year, the sole concentration this election cycle has been on a Presidential candidate with constitutionally less power over the legislation that affects every day Americans, than their respective congressional representative.
The Real “Who” of Who Funds Nutrition Programs in America
As we grew older, any act of rebellion against a parent in most households was swiftly met with a quip from our mom or dad about us paying our own way- or who really paid the bills in the house. Some of us may be using that line on our children now.
In one way or another while growing up, we learned that money was power; whoever held the coin purse (or pocketbook) was the one with the real say in our lives. So why have we forgotten this as adults?
Constitutionally, it is the Congress that appropriates funds for beloved or detested programs and legislation we personally advocate for, or against.
Yet on cycles when we don’t get to conveniently vote for our federal representatives the same year as our President, voter turnout in the United States should give us something to really cry about.
Being legislatively involved at all levels must be considered as part of a holistic approach to taking control of the future of your career, funding, and program.
Executing Your Nutritional and Financial Vision
Even in the context of school nutrition, most of our programs would not be able to function, let alone be funded, without the proper legislation in place to set aside money for our school districts, state agencies, or cities.
Despite knowing this, when we seek change, we always resort to a very micro level of seeking it out by just petitioning our immediate next on the food pyramid- that one person or committee that has just a bit more power than you over the financial reigns.
In this sense, those within our programs or districts become almost our enemies. We become combatant to have our budgetary goals and see our vision carried out- or we become apathetic when our efforts yield no results.
Neither of these are acceptable options. Our goal- the goal of every single reader, contributor, professional, or parent here- is always to ensure the best nutrition possible for their student(s).
So why do we see one another as blocks on that road, when most of us can only stretch our vision as far as those with the pocketbook let us?
Do you want to know the best way to secure your job, your students’ nutritional standards, and even your ambitious vision of what school nutrition looks like in the United States?
Read up and vote.
School Nutrition And The Legislative And Electoral Process
Read from non-partisan websites and journalists, from those with integrity, not those who write columns that agree with your political leanings. Reignite the habit of coffee with your local paper in the morning and learn about what’s really going on in your city, what city officials and state senators are really doing when they get your vote.
And most importantly of all, don’t become apathetic, don’t become cynical. It’s easy to let ineffective government and the disappointment of false political promises get to us all.
So don’t take the easy road. Take the tough one.
Take the one that makes you have to work harder and continues to light that fire in you to change things- and don’t listen to those who say you can’t.
Do I have you fired up? I mean, I pointed out the problem, but now I want to put the solution in your hands. All of our readers who are eligible to vote will be going out to the polls by November 8th, if they haven’t already done so.
But what should they do thereafter? Throw their hands in the air and say “Well I did my part!”? Far from it.
Before you step into that booth, learn who is really up for re-election.
Remember to vote your values, not your party. As a former legislative aide in the United States House of Representatives, as someone who has met more politicians than can seem palatable to most, I can say this: know that the line of “voting straight ticket” is a ploy of a political machine from all parties.
When you step into that booth on November 8th, and from every election forward, remember to know just what your options are and what they stand for, and what their track record is, what results they’ve had in their careers.
A user-friendly approach that can cover some of that can also be found at BallotPedia. Though there are many more tools out there for you to use, I’ve found this one to be bi-partisan, reputable, and comprehensive. On this site you’ll be able to check anything from local, state, and federal elections- along with a list of the people with real political pull in your state, or even within agencies that control your nutrition program’s funding.
After November 8th, when all our ballots are cast and counted, we won’t hear about elections on such a major scale for another four years. But in the mean time, our congressional representatives, those on local committees, councils, and courts may come up for re-election in the midterms, or see challengers arise. And we better be paying attention then, too.
If you’re feeling especially democratically-inclined, try implementing SchoolCafé in your schools’ nutrition programs and give students a choice in what they eat; it may help to clue you into what sells and what produces waste for your program.
You can also join me on part 2 of this series to learn the basics of writing and understanding legislation and regulations that impact your program, and on part 3 to learn just how you can lobby for the interests of your nutritional program.
In our podcast, you can hear more from our guest speaker Chris Kamradt, Director of Child Nutrition Services for Spring Branch ISD, on this week’s podcast about his experience lobbying and maneuvering in the interest of his nutrition program.