Second Gentleman Pool Reports of March 22, 2021

March 22, 2021

Pool Reports by Erin Murphy, Lee Enterprises

Sent: Reports:
March 22, 2021

SGOTUS pool report #1

Hey, gang. This should actually be all from us, unless a correction or clarification is needed. David Pitt and I just teamed up on this to streamline it for everyone involved. Let us know if you need anything else.

Good afternoon. Your print poolers are Erin Murphy, Des Moines Bureau Chief for Lee Enterprises; and David Pitt, of The Associated Press.

Douglas Emhoff, husband of Vice President Kamala Harris, arrived at the Food Bank of Iowa in Des Moines, Iowa, for a tour and listening session with food bank leadership and community partners. He was accompanied by U.S. Department of Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, a former two-term Iowa governor, and U.S. Rep. Cindy Axne, D-Iowa. The event began at 12:30 p.m. local time.

White House officials said the event was to "highlight how the American Rescue Plan delivers immediate financial relief to families, extends increased access to nutritional benefits, and ramps up efforts to curb the pandemic."

Also joining the roundtable discussion were Food Bank of Iowa CEO Michelle Book; Carla Peterman, a volunteer with Food Bank of Iowa; Izaah Knox, executive director of Urban Dreams; and Diane Daniels, founder of SALUD: Multicultural Coalition of Storm Lake. Urban Dreams and SALUD are charity organizations that serve underserved and underrepresented populations.

Book guided Emhoff, Vilsack and Axne on a tour of the facility. They walked among food boxes stacked ceiling-high in a warehouse with 20-foot high ceilings and about the length of a football field. During the tour, Book told Emhoff that on one day in April of 2020 the Food Bank of Iowa had 9,000 people come to the site for food assistance. Book said at one point the U.S Army National Guard helped the food bank with distribution efforts. "The need immediately doubled and we had to do that to get food to people," Book said.

The group also observed four volunteers packing food bags that will be distributed to schools and given to students to take home. The volunteers filled plastic grocery bags with fruit, juice, cereal, microwaveable pasta, and other food. Emhoff asked each volunteer how he or she decided to get involved.

Book said the food bank kept its volunteer program open during the pandemic, and said volunteer participation "skyrocketed." She also showed the guests note cards that are placed into each of the food bags with written messages of encouragement from the volunteers.

During the roundtable discussion, Emhoff announced a 15% increase in benefits in the SNAP program, once known as the food stamp program, through September 2021. The USDA said that will provide an estimated $3.5 billion to households with food insecurity. The funding is in the recently passed bill.

Sec. Vilsack said it will provide about $28 more per person, per month, or more than $100 more per month for a household of four, in additional SNAP benefits. He called the benefits increase "a significant step forward."

Emhoff said the benefits increase "is a massive victory for Americans all over the country." He said hunger is a real issue that he saw during the campaign.

Rep. Axne said there is a lot of need in the area of the country that grows a significant amount of the nation's food. She said 20% to 25% of children are food insecure. She said former President Barack Obama was hesitant to approve a stimulus package that reached $1 trillion, and praised President Joe Biden, VP Harris and Congress for being willing to pass a $1.9 trillion pandemic relief package. "It had to be big and it had to be bold. That's why the president and vice president went forward with this."

The event concluded at 1:30 p.m. local time. This was the only such event scheduled for today. Emhoff will participate in similar events in Omaha, Nebraska, tomorrow and St. Louis on Wednesday.

March 22, 2021

SGOTUS pool report #2

A correction should be noted: The pool reporters followed up on the number of people who visited Food Bank of Iowa for a drive-through event on April 30, 2020, and the actual number was roughly 5,000. (Not 9,000, as the pool reporters heard CEO Book say.) The pool reporters confirmed the 5,000 figure with Food Bank of Iowa staff.

Doug Emhoff, Second Gentleman Pool Reports of March 22, 2021 Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

Filed Under


Simple Search of Our Archives