Food insecurity in Michigan is a growing problem. Photo by Shutterstock
Food insecurity in Michigan is a growing problem.

An engaging Mitten State tour by Biden included stops in Grand Rapids and Battle Creek to hear Michigander’s concerns.

GRAND RAPIDS, MI—West Michigan’s deeply-rooted values of caring about children’s health and well-being are evident in the non-profit Kids’ Food Basket, a grassroots effort to ensure that children are nourished from the inside out.

Dr. Jill Biden, a supporter of education and equitable educational opportunities, visited Grand Rapids last week, among other Michigan stops including Battle Creek to meet with military families. Biden also met with Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, a national co-chair of presidential nominee Joe Biden’s presidential campaign while in the Mitten State.

Biden said she is in Michigan because the campaign isn’t taking “one vote for granted.” She campaigned earlier in Flint and other cities on behalf of her husband, in addition to doing several virtual events, according to a press release.      

Biden said food insecurity issues are exacerbated by COVID. In this state, school districts have provided free meals to students when classes were shut down.        

 “A program like this should be national, should be in every state,” Biden said.       

“We were honored to host Dr. Biden and share our mission and critical work, Kids’ Food Basket Communications Manager Alyson Ramirez said. “Her visit was about Kids’ Food Basket making sure that every one of our kids in West Michigan have access to good, healthy food – that is our goal, that is our vision. We are a nonpartisan organization and welcoming of anyone who wants to experience the good work we’re doing.”

The food bank provides farm grown meals to Kent, Ottawa, Allegan and Muskegon counties in West Michigan, according to a press release.

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Helping The Most In Need

Kids’ Food Basket serves children who attend schools where 70% or more of the student population receive free or reduced-cost lunch, according to its website. 

A chemical-free 10-acre farm provides meals to four counties in West Michigan. Volunteers and local high school students also help manage the farm.       

During her visit, Biden met with Bridget Clark Whittney, president and founding CEO of Kids’ Food Basket. She and Farm Manager Jason Lundberg gave Biden a tour of their outdoor farm and showed off some crops grown by local high school students, according to the press release.

Biden’s visit came one day after the president’s son, Donald Trump Jr., drew hundreds of supporters to a rally in Macomb County. The rally featured a performance from Michigan-born musician Kid Rock, and though it was held outdoors Trump supporters largely ignored social distancing and did not wear masks, according to the release.

The Biden campaign’s event in Grand Rapids was closed to the public, but Michigan reporters were invited.

Will Osmun, vice president of programming at Kids’ Food Basket, said most of the organizations’ work was done inside schools. When those buildings closed due to COVID-19, Osmun said the Kids’ Food Basket had to transition distributing meals from 70 sites in Kent, Ottawa, Allegan and Muskegon counties.

“Families are still struggling to find out where they can access the food,” Osmun said in the release.

Ramirez said that the Kids’ Food Basket was “eager to share” their mission and values to anyone who is willing to listen and support. 

“We have had representatives across the political spectrum visit and tour our facilities. We are mission(-oriented) first,” she said, adding that the organization is experiencing a 66% increase in meal costs and needs the support of our community and the leaders in it now more than ever. 

“We are grateful that Dr. Biden chose to spend her time at our building and our farm to see firsthand the good work we are doing for our community,” Ramirez said.

SEE ALSO: 5 Ways to Find Food Assistance in Michigan