Making Policy Work for You
Federal policy can affect the work you do, whether it’s through school lunch regulations, access to locally grown foods, or farm conservation that affects our clean air and water. Since policy can influence you, it’s important to stay informed and let your legislators know how you feel. Remember that you have a valuable local perspective to share! Policymakers need to hear from individuals and community groups to better understand the way federal policies affect real people and their communities.
Before the Meeting
• Call ahead to schedule a meeting with your Congressperson or a member of the legislative staff. Don’t be disappointed if you get a meeting with a staff person. They actually have a lot of power in the office as the go to experts on specific issues.
• For information on scheduling a meeting with your senators, consult www.senate.gov
• For information on scheduling a meeting with your representative, consult www.house.gov
• If scheduling a meeting for a group, make sure to keep the group small, but representative – no more than 3‐6 people.
focus, and Congressional committee membership.
understanding potential opposing views to your request, so you will be prepared to
respond with a factual counter argument if necessary.
time most effectively. Most meetings with legislators and/or staff are only 15‐30
about your issue, you should also bring information about your organization or
program in the district and your contact information.
• Dress professionally for your meeting
prepared to wait as hearings and committee meetings may run longer than
expected, delaying the availability of Senators, Representatives, and staff.
During the Meeting
are a constituent.
• Be succinct, and be clear about what you’re asking them to do (i.e. sponsor a bill, co‐
sponsor a bill, vote yes or no on a bill, etc.).
• Remember that you are an expert on how an issue or program affects your community!
Tell the legislator or legislative aid all about the issue in your state. The person you meet
with could know a lot or a little, so be prepared to educate. And, be confident!
• Answer the staff person or legislator’s questions as thoroughly as you can, but don’t be
afraid to say ”I don’t know” and follow‐up after the meeting with the answer.
• Take notes of follow‐up items and reactions the staff person or legislator has. If you are
meeting with a staff person who cannot commit to your “ask,” set a deadline as to when
you will receive an answer (i.e. ”Can I call you next week to find out if Sen. Jones will co‐
sponsor the bill?”)
• Obtain a business card from whomever you meet with so that you may contact that
person again, directly.
• And don’t forget to leave behind your materials or a fact sheet concerning your issue.
After The Meeting
• Decide who will write a thank‐you note, E‐mail or fax , Thank you notes . Include in your
email or fax an overview of main points of the meeting, and answer any questions you
• Maintain contact with your legislators by adding their names or their aids’ names to
your mailing lists and newsletter lists, by inviting them to visit a farm to school program
in your area, or by e‐mailing updates on farm to school developments in your area.
How Can I Find Out Who My Legislators Are?
• Call the Capitol Switchboard at (202) 224‐3121.
• Search by state or zip code at www.house.gov and www.senate.gov.