You Can Ignite Change for our Clients by Contacting Our Elected Officials
Reach out to our elected officials and tell them about your experience volunteering at the IFPO. Ask our New Jersey Senators to assist our food-insecure neighbors by extending the Child Tax Credit. Ask our federal Representatives to help reduce diaper need in low-income families and underserved communities by re-introducing H.R. 1846 - End Diaper Need Act of 2019. Telephone numbers and suggested letter templates can be found below.
Why this is important: Legislators keep track of the number of phone calls, emails and letters they receive on an issue. When they receive a lot of input on a particular issue, they have a better understanding of what matters to their constituents. Your voice can help inform their decision-making.
Issue: Extending the Child Tax Credit
As part of the American Rescue Plan, Congress passed the Child Tax Credit (CTC), providing up to $300 per month per child to help with the everyday costs associated with raising a family. By changing the benefit to a monthly check instead of just a credit and increasing the benefit amount, child hunger and poverty rates have plummeted.
Surveys from those receiving the CTC reveal that families often spend this money on food and groceries. When checks started going out, food insecurity rates in the U.S. quickly dropped by 3% (https://www.census.gov/library/stories/2021/08/economic-hardship-declined-in-households-with-children-as-child-tax-credit-payments-arrived.html) with 3.3 million families immediately impacted (https://www.cnbc.com/2021/09/01/child-tax-credit-has-cut-food-hardship-for-3point3-million-families-so-far.html).
Although the CTC’s benefits are clear to millions of families, Congress only authorized the credit through December, 2021. On November 19, 2021, the House passed the Build Back Better Act which included a one year extension of the CTC. Now, the Senate needs to act.
What you can do: Contact our New Jersey Senators, Senator Robert Menendez and Senator Cory Booker, to ask that they prioritize federal nutrition assistance and extend the Child Tax Credit. Tell them about your volunteering at the IFPO and assisting our food-insecure neighbors. Extending the CTC will allow families to continue to put food on the table for their children.
Senator Cory Booker contact information:
973-639-8700 (Newark, NJ Office)
Write to Senator Booker: https://www.booker.senate.gov/contact/write-to-cory/form
Senator Robert Menendez contact information:
(202) 224-4744 (Washington DC office)
Write to Senator Menendez: https://www.menendez.senate.gov/contact/email
Sample Letter Template Regarding Child Tax Credit
Subject: Extend the Child Tax Credit to support food-insecure NJ families
As your constituent and a volunteer at the Interfaith Food Pantry of the Oranges (IFPO), I urge you to extend the enhanced Child Tax Credit (CTC) that prevented millions of families from slipping into poverty in 2021.
The IFPO is an all-volunteer, supplemental food pantry helping to meet essential human needs of food-insecure residents of Orange and East Orange, NJ with dignity and respect. In 2020 and 2021, the IFPO saw firsthand the devastating impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and economic fallout on low-income New Jerseyans. Between 2019 and 2021, the number of people we served in an average week swelled by 67 percent, and many of our clients struggled to balance their caregiving duties, medical expenses, and children’s educational needs, all while keeping a roof over their heads and putting food on the table.
The enhanced CTC payments enacted in the American Rescue Plan Act were a lifeline for so many of the families we serve. Thanks to this legislation, eligible families received a monthly payment of $300 for every child under age 6 and $250 for every child between the ages of 6 and 17—an annual increase of $1,600 for young children and $1,000 for older children from the credit’s previous annual value. The American Rescue Plan Act also made CTC fully refundable, which enabled families with low or no earned income to receive its full value. Monthly payments, as opposed to an annual tax refund, gave families a steadier source of income that they could use to meet their households’ basic needs.
While families experienced increased food hardship during the first year of the pandemic, the CTC expansion provided much-needed resources to families facing food insecurity. Households with incomes below $35,000 were more likely to spend their CTC on food than any other expense. Seeing how the CTC expansion aligned with our food pantry’s mission, the IFPO partnered with the Community Food Bank of NJ’s onsite resource team and signed up families who were not automatically enrolled for monthly CTC payments.
Although IFPO volunteers are proud of the difference we make in our clients’ lives, we know that our all-volunteer operation is no substitute for a strong social safety net and an economic system that treats all people with dignity. The expiration of the monthly CTC payments at the end of 2021 has put further pressure on nonprofit organizations and will reverse our progress towards cutting food insecurity—all while hunger reaches its highest level in months and the latest surge of COVID-19 imposes new hardships. Our clients will be among the nearly 1.6 million New Jersey children whose families will suffer the loss of CTC benefits and the 257,000 New Jersey children at risk of slipping back into poverty or falling further below the poverty line if Congress does not reauthorize the CTC expansion.
I urge Congress to swiftly approve an extension of the enhanced Child Tax Credit, as included in the House-passed version of the Build Back Better Act, to prevent a devastating spike in food insecurity during an ongoing public health crisis.
[your name and town]
Issue: Diaper Need
On March 21, 2019, Congresswoman Barbara Lee (California) introduced the End Diaper Need Act of 2019 (H.R.1846). This bill would create a $100 million demonstration program for distributing free diapers and diapering products in states, communities, and nonprofits around the nation to help reduce the diaper need in low-income families and underserved communities. The bill died in a previous Congress, and needs to be re-introduced now.
What you can do: contact NJ co-sponsors, Representative Donald M. Payne, Jr. and Representative Tom Malinowski, to ask that they reintroduce H.R. 1846 - End Diaper Need Act of 2019.
Tell them about your experience helping the IFPO’s diaper clients. Remind them that diapers have benefits beyond keeping a baby clean and dry, including:
reducing economic hardship. With the diaper need met, funds (which would have been used to purchase diapers) can now be put towards other essentials.
enabling parents / guardians to go to work and school. Babies can only go to daycare, if parents provide the diapers babies’ need to be kept clean and dry while they are at the programs.
lowering stress which aids in improving physical and mental health of the family members.
Contact Rep. Donald M. Payne, Jr. (10th District)
Contact Rep. Tom Malinowski (7th District)
Sample Letter Template Regarding Diaper Need:
Dear Representative [fill in last name]:
Right now, 1 in 3 American families struggle to afford diapers for their babies. We need to fix this. When families can’t afford diapers, it puts a baby’s health at risk and negatively impacts the overall financial well-being of a family. As your constituent and a volunteer at the Interfaith Food Pantry of the Oranges, I urge you to reintroduce H.R. 1846 - End Diaper Need Act of 2019.
The Interfaith Food Pantry of the Oranges (IFPO) is an all-volunteer supplemental food pantry, helping to meet essential human needs of food-insecure residents of Orange & East Orange, NJ, with dignity and respect. Each week, our neighbors come to get the diapers, wipes and ointment they need for their youngest family members. In 2021, we saw a 21% increase in the number of babies we assisted.
The inability to access diapers forces parents to keep their children in soiled diapers, exposing them to health risks. Families who lack adequate diapers have increased stress on employment and finances. Parents miss work or school when they don’t have enough diapers to leave their children at childcare.
As a co-sponsor of the The Diaper Need Act, which was introduced by US Congresswoman Barbara Lee (CA), you know that it will create a $100 million program charged with distributing free diapers and diapering products (including cloth diapering supplies, diaper cream, and wipes) to neighborhoods across the nation to help reduce the diaper need among families. The bill also defines diapers as “medically necessary” so that families can purchase them through health savings accounts and HRAs.
Help put an end to this problem by reintroducing H.R. 1846 - the End Diaper Need Act of 2019, so that diapers aren’t out of reach for families in our communities and so that parents don’t need to worry about keeping their children clean and healthy.
[your name & town]