Advocacy Spotlight: Interview with Staff Volunteer Troy Johnson
This past spring, the Advocacy Team hosted a training and letter writing session to teach volunteers about what advocacy work is, and how they can take simple steps to get involved and make a change. Last month we heard from Ben Savin about his experience. This month, we are highlighting an interview from Second Harvest Heartland’s very own senior information technology administrator, Troy Johnson.
Troy started off the interview and the training session by sharing his long-held belief that basic nutrition should be freely available to everyone. He says, “I think the system we have built is inefficient, cumbersome, and expensive, and that it's not a matter of resources, it is a matter of how we apply those resources. That’s why there's hunger, and there's absolutely no reason for it. We could have twice the people on this planet and still feed them, I believe.”
When asked why he wanted to attend the event and get involved in advocacy, Troy explained that he feels there are very few outlets to help make his ideas a reality. Working at Second Harvest Heartland has allowed him to take those first steps.
He explained that he feels a degree of separation working in IT, but the letter writing session to local representatives allowed him to make a bigger impact. “This allows me to directly speak to somebody that has far more influence than I do. Direct action makes you feel like you’re participating a little bit more.”
Troy heard about the listening session from an all-staff email invite. He says, “I come to work, I get an email, I can walk into a place that will help me write letters to the right people. That's pretty solid.”
The training sessions inspired Troy to take advocacy into his own hands and to become a stronger advocate. He has invited his coworkers to attend the sessions and has even handed out flyers and brochures to communities that need help accessing food. He explained that he has collected handouts from the office with information about the Commodity Supplemental Food Program (CSFP), Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and where to access food and shared them with friends who work in lower-wage roles at a warehouse that are currently having a tough time feeding their families.
“Not only did I just write letters—I emailed, wrote letters and some postcards to the representatives. It inspired me to look for all those flyers and promote advocacy and bring people in. It made me think differently about how I might be able to reach out to more people.”