CLEVELAND – When the Greater Cleveland Food Bank invited all elected Republicans in Congress to its Summer Feeding awareness event at an inner city youth center Wednesday, they hoped for a good response.
Only two attending the Republican National Convention – Rep. Tom Reed of Corning and Rep. Tom Emmer of Minnesota – showed up. But officials of the Food Bank, the Feeding America program and the Boys & Girls Club King Kennedy Center could not have been more thrilled.
“We have an opportunity to improve children’s health outcomes,” said Kristin Warzocha, president of the Greater Cleveland Food Bank. “A program like Summer Feeding is absolutely critical. We are averaging 7,000 meals a day to our summer feeding programs alone.”
Reed found himself dispensing ketchup and barbecue sauce to about 50 hungry kids who during the summer do not have school, and he said he was happy to call attention to an anti-poverty plank in the House GOP’s Better Way platform.
“We managed to get a tax credit bill signed for food donations,” he said, “so we thought we’d come out here on the front lines.”
Reed acknowledged his district of vast rural stretches hardly resembles the tough neighborhood he visited Wednesday, but said rural poverty remains a problem in the Southern Tier, too.
“We wanted to see it on an urban basis,” he said.