Vice President Kamala Harris visited Jacksonville Monday as part of a national tour touting the achievements of the recently passed American Rescue Plan.
For many Americans, the most obvious piece of the stimulus bill is the $1,400 checks being sent to each person. But the vice president said she and President Joe Biden wanted Americans to know that there was more help coming as well.
The bill will offer Floridians over a billion dollars in rental assistance and lift hundreds of thousands of children out of poverty, according to a statement released Monday afternoon by the Duval County Democratic Party. It will also provide more food aid to the 3.5 million Floridians who get SNAP benefits.
Speaking at the Jacksonville food bank Feeding Northeast Florida Monday afternoon, Harris said she is particularly concerned about hunger among children.
“The idea that there are children in America who are going to sleep at night hungry.” Harris said. “What it means for families in terms of the suffering and also what we are talking about in terms of the impact on our children and their ability to develop and to reach their God-given capacity.”
During her visit, Harris spoke with state and local leaders including Feeding Northeast Florida CEO Susan King, Florida Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried, and Duval County Superintendent of Schools Diana L. Greene.
“What we’ve seen here in our city is the faces of food insecurity have changed,” said Jacksonville City Councilman Garrett Dennis, who also spoke with Harris at the event. “You have working families that now have to reach out to food agencies like this to help supplement their food needs.”
According to Feeding Northeast Florida, 1 in 6 seniors and 1 in 4 children in Northeast Florida don’t have enough to eat. Among the issues facing food-insecure Floridians, according to the left-leaning think tank Center for Budget and Policy Priorities, is that roughly $1.40 per person, per meal provided by SNAP benefits - sometimes called food stamps - doesn’t realistically reflect the cost of food in 2021.
Superintendent Greene told the vice president about the school system’s efforts to help students get enough to eat during the pandemic, including sending home backpacks of canned goods on Fridays so children would have food over the weekend.
“I remember when our greatest president said ‘People will never notice and not long remember what we say here, but they will never forget what we did here,’” said U.S. representative Al Lawson, who represents part of Northeast Florida, referencing the words of Abraham Lincoln in the Gettysburg Address. “And I know that we will never forget that our vice president and president are doing here to help bail out America.”
Feeding Northeast Florida distributed 53 million pounds of food during the pandemic, an increase of 82 percent compared to the previous year.
Contact Sydney Boles at firstname.lastname@example.org, or on Twitter at @sydneyboles.