We shouldn’t sugarcoat things: there are moments during this pandemic when we can feel overwhelmed and even helpless. Our neighbors are getting sick. Our family members are losing their jobs. Hunger, which has always been a problem in Alameda County, is more dire than ever.

Although it is healthy and okay to feel helpless at times, the truth is that we are not helpless. We have immense power at our fingertips, not just individually, but especially in community. My favorite thing about my job at ACCFB is that I get to see this power actualized every day. I see it as my colleagues and our volunteers distribute food boxes at Oakport Street, as my teammates sign families up for CalFresh, and as my policy team advocates for a strong and equitable response to hunger during this pandemic, at all levels of government.

So what does advocacy actually look like? In this job, no two days are alike. Some days are non-stop advocacy marathons, with multiple virtual meetings with our state and federal legislators or their staff. During these virtual meetings, we brief the senator or assembly member on the current state of hunger in Alameda County, and ACCFB’s response to this need. Then, we urge them to support our top policy priorities, whether it’s supporting CalFresh, funding child nutrition, or providing resources to food banks. Most importantly, we share stories that you have given us – of community members experiencing the stress of this crisis in their daily lives, and their astonishing resilience.

I won’t pretend that we haven’t felt frustrated while doing this work. We have celebrated some important wins, such as expanding tax credits for immigrant families. On the other hand, we have also felt angered at the delay in Congress’s response to COVID-19. But this is precisely the point – ACCFB and our policy team simply can’t do this alone. The power to create a hunger-free community lies not just with us, but with you.

On November 3, there will be a general election, and we know that ending hunger starts at the polls. As we observe Hunger Action Month this September, we urge you to make your election plan today. Learn your rights, volunteer, and if you are eligible to vote, make sure that you are registered.

When we are together in community, we are never powerless.

-Ezer Pamintuan, Policy Advocate