This summer I’ve had the opportunity to work on a campaign as an intern at a consulting firm. Our work was not typical for a consulting firm, and our clients were equally atypical, because the firm specializes in working with non-profit and advocacy organizations. Our campaign was also a new experience, as it was not an electoral campaign, but rather a legislative, advocacy campaign. Consulting is a business in which I’d had very little experience, and I’d had just as little experience in the area of advocacy as well.
My biggest project this summer was working for a large health advocacy organization, with local, state, and federal policy goals. The organization is working to pass legislation throughout Texas, in both the state legislature and city councils, to promote and build healthier communities. Much of my work revolved around a healthy food financing policy at the state level, which aimed to bring money to supermarkets and communities to expand healthy grocery access and eliminate food deserts. My job involved researching state politicians, finding people within their personal connections and networks, and learning about food advocacy organizations within a politician’s district. Ultimately I produced reports detailing politicians, where they have worked, where they have connections, and how the advocacy organization could go about pressuring the politician to stand in favor of the healthy food financing legislation.
While I had never completely understood what a food desert is, I have come to understand the complexities of how a food desert exists, how extensive its issues can be, and how those issues can be addressed and resolved. I have also never understood how an advocacy organization can get the needed support to bring change to communities, political spheres, and ultimately pass key legislation. As a Wake the Voter I have gained crucial experience and understanding of how an organization or campaign may garner support, address a significant issue, and even push ideas and suggestions into a law. I have a new understanding of how to support movements and organize campaigns to bring about improvements to communities in our country. I’ve come to understand just how politicized even the most selfless efforts, like ensuring everyone’s access to healthy food, can be. After spending months observing and working with political campaigns, it was a great opportunity to jump on a campaign for advocacy and legislation.