Voices for Change

Advocacy ministries of the ELCA want to share stories and your voices about public policies and relevant advocacy issues that are of interest to you.

Nutrition Issues and Childhood Obesity

Posted on August 26, 2011 by Advocacy Ministries of the ELCA

Submitted by Virginia Interfaith Center for Public Policy

The Virginia Interfaith Center for Public Policy is working with the Virginia Foundation for Healthy Youth on an initiative to impact the issue of childhood obesity in Virginia. The Center is raising awareness and educating families in the New River Valley about childhood obesity by organizing the faith community, local childcare providers and community leaders.

Paper dolls created by local children during the Week of the Young Child

A Blacksburg art supply store displays paper dolls created by local children during the Week of the Young Child. The weeklong initiative helped raise awareness about children's health. Photo courtesy of Virginia Interfaith Center for Public Policy

The campaign kicked off in February with an event headlining a professor of pediatrics from Virginia Tech.  Then, in April the campaign partnered in hosting the Week of the Young Child. The Center initiated a paper doll project, which was used in part to educate parents about the “5210 A Day” model, which advocates for five servings of fruits and vegetables, two hours of screen time or less, one hour of activity and zero sugary drinks a day.

Additionally, the campaign is working closely with Micah’s Backpack, a ministry led by St. Michael’s Lutheran Church of Blacksburg. The program provides healthy meals and snacks on weekends and during summer vacation for children who qualify for free and reduced lunches.

As the campaign begins its second year, the Center is also continuing its efforts to improve state policies that directly impact children who are at the highest risk for obesity. In the coming General Assembly, we will continue to advocate for an increase in the physical activity requirement for Virginia’s school children and support legislation requiring nutritional content to be available for foods sold to students as part of their breakfast or lunch programs.

Ecumenical Position Lifts Up God’s Message of Love

Posted on August 8, 2011 by Advocacy Ministries of the ELCA

By Sarah Dreier, Legislative Representative for International Policy and Advocacy for the ELCA Washington Office and the Episcopal Church Office of Government Relations

I’m the new Legislative Representative for International Policy and Advocacy for the ELCA Washington Office and the Episcopal Church (TEC) Office of Government Relations. This is the first joint, integrated position shared between our two churches and represents the innovative potential of the ELCA and TEC’s call to common communion.

Both my parents are ELCA clergy and they raised me to think critically about my faith. I have taken seriously Jesus’ revolutionary call, which is as radical today as ever,  to look beyond divisions of class, race, nationality, and creed, and to celebrate diversity among God’s people.  When I was old enough to vote, I noticed with dismay that religion was far too often misappropriated by those who had cast aside this theological message of inclusion and replaced it with a message of greed and exclusion.

I challenged this misappropriation of God’s global message in both academic and public policy circles.  It motivated my study of philosophy and legal studies as an undergraduate at Northwestern University; international sociology of law at the University of the Basque Country and political science at the University of Washington at the graduate level. My research at the Center for American Progress’s Faith and Progressive Policy Initiative also influenced my passion. 

I am thrilled to now be working to reclaim this inclusive message and infuse international development and U.S. foreign policy with God’s message of love.

With this message, I will be advocating to alleviate abject global poverty through the Millennium Development Goals. Specifically I’ll be urging Congress to address those vexing issues that plague the world’s most vulnerable: HIV/AIDS, food insecurity, humanitarian atrocities, unfair trade policies, and religious persecution.

I believe the work will be strengthened by our churches’ shared ecumenical voice.  I pray it serves as a model of dialogue and faith-based partnership at a time when religious diversity too often becomes divisive.

Together, as we grapple with some of the world’s most challenging problems, we’ll educate our communities and advocate for those in most dire need around the world. Together, we’ll discern how we can heed Jesus’ radical call to look beyond state borders and religious identity by being the voice for the voiceless in our nation’s capital and in our own congregations.

Time for School and Investing in Our Children

Posted on August 3, 2011 by Advocacy Ministries of the ELCA

By Amy Johnson, director, Lutheran Office for Public Policy in Wisconsin

As students return to school, many will rely on their school meal program for a nutritious meal. Photo courtesy of Shutterstock

This month Wisconsin students will return to their classrooms and take on the challenges of the year ahead. Far too many students will also be battling hunger while they are trying to focus on their studies.

If you’ve ever taught a student who’s gone without dinner from the night before, or breakfast that morning, you know empty stomachs are distracting and make it tough to learn. If a child has trouble learning it makes it even harder to achieve success in school, and lack of achievement can be a major road block in a child’s future.

This is the cycle of poverty playing out each day in our schools. However, there is a simple way to break that cycle and give our kids the tools they need to succeed. Children of all ages need three healthy meals a day, and Wisconsin’s students count on the school breakfast, lunch and after school meal programs to stay strong and focused.

Each day over 300,000 students in Wisconsin get a healthy start with a breakfast in their classroom. Hours later, school lunch programs provide a free meal to 330,000 low income students.

These meal programs are a strong and vital partnership between our schools and our state and federal government. Schools depend on the support from our state and the USDA to fund school meals, and the future of our state depends on all children having the food they need to succeed. Invest in our kids now, support school meals!