Advocacy Capacity Building Project
The Advocacy Capacity Building Project (ACBP), begun in 2011, is made possible through the generous support of the MAC AIDS Fund, which is committed to building grassroots support for food and nutrition services (FNS) for the critically ill in communities across the entire country.
The ACBP is a comprehensive advocacy capacity training program designed to develop the advocacy skill of local FNS organizations serving people living with life-altering illnesses, such as HIV/AIDS, cancer and cardiovascular disease, and to establish a firm foundation for FNS agencies to have a voice in national advocacy for services for our vulnerable clients.
An ongoing barrier to feeding people who are food insecure and chronically and/or critically-ill is that there is no dedicated stream of public funding for meals for this population, unless a client has HIV. That funding source, the Ryan White Treatment and Modernization Act, does not support all of those with HIV that come to us for help. If a person has any other debilitating illness, from kidney disease to cardiovascular disease to cancer, there are only agencies in the Food Is Medicine Coalition (FIMC) to help them. This fact is particularly critical for persons between the ages of 18 and 60 who are ineligible for existing, though not medically tailored, food and meal program assistance designed for seniors and children. FIMC agencies raise the majority of their funds privately.
Despite the sweeping healthcare reform that many states enacted through the Affordable Care Act (ACA), access to comprehensive food and nutrition remains largely uncovered by Medicaid and most insurance programs. Through the ACBP, God’s Love has guided FIMC agencies to seize innovation opportunities in the ACA to incorporate FNS into the medical care continuum. As a results, across the country, FIMC agencies have successful partnerships with Medicaid, Medicare, Dual Eligible and PACE programs, Private insurance and other demonstration projects, like the Delivery System Reform Incentive Payment (DSRIP) model that endeavors to reduce avoidable hospitalizations statewide.
It remains to be seen how the intersection of these two major funding streams for FNS will be handled by the new administration. FNS providers must together mobilize an effective advocacy effort at local, state and federal levels to ensure that vulnerable clients maintain access to medically necessary FNS, which contributes to the achievement of the goals of national healthcare reform.
There are two elements to the ACBP:
1.) Technical Assistance Program: We have broadened the focus of the technical assistance (TA) portion of the ACBP to benefit all organizations in FIMC by offering the ACBP TA as a set of web-based advocacy learning sessions. Topics may include: An Overview on How the Federal Policy Making Structure Works, Medicare Meal Provision; and the Farm Bill. In addition to this new TA structure, we will mobilize the field by using monthly advocacy calls, webinars and dissemination of e-alerts and sign-on letters.
2.) The National Symposium: In September of each year, FIMC agencies gather at a 3-day symposium in Washington D.C., which includes further staff development and a Hill Day. Each year, there are stipends available by application for additional agencies to attend.
Registration for the 2018 Annual Advocacy Capacity Building Symposium is forthcoming.