ROCHESTER, Minn. — The new farm bill is something that impacts many families in our area. That includes those who use local food shelves for their source of food.
Manuel Rodriguez was homeless in Memphis, Tennessee. Now he’s come to Rochester to start fresh and knows without the Channel One Food Bank, he would likely still be hungry.
“I’d probably go back to what I was, homeless, and having my family taking care of the rest of my family,” Rodriguez said.
U.S. Rep. Tim Walz, DFL-Minnesota, knows that Rodriguez is not alone. In fact, the Channel One Food Bank served more than 100,000 people last year alone.
“Strengthen our community, our children can learn better, seniors have a dignity that they can not go hungry and it’s working,” Walz said.
He said he was there for a few reasons. One of them is to check out how things are going after the farm bill passed recently in Washington. Specifically how the implementation of some of the new programs are going and what needs to be done in the future.
“There’s an awful lot of food, millions and millions of pounds of food, that’s set in fields and at processors at our producers that they can’t get out, it doesn’t make sense, there’s not an economic way to do that and as Jennifer was explaining that’s the next big frontier on this,” Walz said.
Ultimately, he wanted to see firsthand that the farm bill is being used wisely.
“The public is, they care deeply, they want their neighbors to not go hungry, they don’t believe being hungry’s a sin, but they rightfully want to know that every dollar’s being spent correctly, so I think coming here and watching it and seeing what it is and seeing the data and seeing the numbers helps us assure that the programs are being as efficient as they can be,” Walz said.
Those who use it like Rodriguez appreciate the support.
“It’s a big help for everybody. Being hungry is no good,” Rodriguez said.
Walz also applauded the backpack program that sends meals and snacks home in student’s backpacks that need it. He said with a background in teaching and family who teaches, they can see the difference on Mondays now that students are not coming in exhausted and hungry from a lack of food on the weekends.