A Conversation with Matt Stienstra, FoodShare Program Manager
In preparation for relaunching a Voices Against Hunger newsletter, we sat down with Matt Stienstra, FoodShare Program Manager and former Advocacy Campaign Manager at Hunger Task Force. Matt discusses the importance of FoodShare and shares advice for accepting the responsibility of taking on and leading a citizen advocacy group.
Why does Voices Against Hunger exist and what is its role?
Matt: Voices Against Hunger helps end future hunger through citizen advocacy. By empowering and elevating the voices of people with lived experience, or those who support hungry families’ access to resources, we can encourage our government officials to enact strong policies that support people who don’t have enough food.
How is Voices Against Hunger unique?
Matt: There are many anti-hunger organizations that work just on policy, and many that only work on providing emergency food to hungry people. Voices Against Hunger sets Hunger Task Force apart from most anti-hunger organizations across the country because we do both. Voices mobilizes community members to advocate in support of anti-hunger programs that feed families across the state of Wisconsin.
What would you say to those who may think their story doesn’t matter?
Matt: Your experiences are unique and the stories that you share have real power. Sharing your truth informs people in positions of authority of the real impact their decisions have and shows individuals in the same position as you that they are not alone. One person using their voice can help thousands.
Do you have any advice for taking over?
Matt: For Voices to thrive we need to listen and have conversations with people to find the opportunities to make an impact. It’s important that Voices Against Hunger is not only one-way communication. When you’re reaching out make sure to do it with intention. Focus on building relationships and always engage advocates with opportunities to make an impact.
What would you say to past participants?
Matt: Thank you! Maybe you only had the time to send a quick email to your representative, but that still matters. Any action you took made a difference to people who were hungry and Hunger Task Force is not able to do any of the work that we do without your support and advocacy.
Learn more or sign-up to advocate on the Voices Against Hunger webpage.