By Taylor Drzewicki
Coordinator, PAC and Grassroots
Barbecues aren’t the only thing rolling out this summer – Members of Congress are also preparing to depart Washington for the August district work period to head back home and meet with constituents. With independent grocers across every congressional district throughout the country, this is a prime opportunity to put a face to the work you and your associates do every day and show lawmakers first-hand how federal policies are impacting day-to-day operations.
While NGA has a team of lobbyists on Capitol Hill, lawmakers are most eager to hear from their constituents. This face time is a key piece of building relationships with Members of Congress. By inviting lawmakers to tour your supermarket or distribution center representatives are able to better understand the economic impact the independent supermarket industry has in the towns they represent.
With numerous policies before Congress that could affect independent grocers, use these tips to set up a district meeting or store tour for this August:
1. Submit a meeting request
Many lawmakers provide an online meeting-request form or highlight their preferred method of setting up meetings. If you’re unable to find a submission form, use the contact information to email the office. Be sure to send a range of dates available, your name and contact information, and the supermarket and store address. Provide specific information, such as who will be in attendance, what will be discussed, and why you would like to meet with the lawmaker, to increase the likelihood the request will be approved.
2. Confirm the meeting
After receiving the request, the scheduler will work to find the best times available. Don’t be discouraged if an aide is the only one available for a meeting – they’re an important part of every office who help shape public policy as well. Schedulers often receive many requests, so call to confirm he or she has received it and don’t be afraid to follow up.
3. Let NGA know about the meeting
Once the meeting is confirmed, let Taylor Drzewicki, NGA’s PAC and grassroots coordinator, know via email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Taylor will provide resources to help the meeting go as smoothly as possible, including fact sheets on the top issues facing the industry, data on the independent supermarket industry in the Congressional district, earned media opportunities, and a phone call to discuss policy questions.
4. Have the meeting
This is your chance to illustrate the jobs your store creates and show the local impact your store has on the community. Do your homework, be prepared, and always make a specific request of the lawmaker, such as cosponsoring or voting in favor of specific legislation. Make sure to get some pictures of the meeting and send a thank you note afterward.
5. Let NGA know how it went
We’re waiting for lawmakers to return to Washington to follow up on your meeting and continue building that relationship even further. In many meetings, lawmakers may have requested information you were unable to provide at the time or agreed to cosponsor legislation. Email Taylor at email@example.com to help us keep track.
NGA’s government relations team is advocating across the aisle for policies that will ensure the independent supermarket industry continues to grow and create jobs in communities throughout the nation, but it’s crucial that grocers take an active role in shaping the regulations and laws that will impact the industry for years to come. Make the most of this August work period by using NGA resources to schedule a meeting and help shape the laws impacting our industry.