Former Vice President Joe Biden on Tuesday said that America has “a leadership problem,” about food and nutrition in the face of the pandemic that has crippled the food distribution network.
“We don’t have a food shortage problem, we have a leadership problem,” Biden said during a Yahoo News virtual town hall on food security issues that also featured chef and food activist José Andrés.
Biden, the presumptive Democratic nominee for president who will face Trump in the general election in November, blasted his Republican rival for proposing cuts to food stamps in his 2021 budget.
“First of all, the president should stop trying to cut the SNAP program, which is essentially the food stamp program. In the middle of this crisis he is, in fact, cutting food stamps. He wants to cut access to food stamps, or SNAP, as it’s known as.”
Under fire from Democratic critics, the Trump administration announced last month that it would delay imposing strict work requirements for those seeking food stamps.
Andrés is a native of Spain who lives in the United States who besides running restaurants in several cities has become an activist for food stamps and nutrition. He said food was an integral part of America’s national security. “We need to begin taking food seriously,” he said. “Food needs to be treated as a national security issue. We need a national director of food and nutrition … part of the National Security Council.”
As for the federal government’s stimulus efforts thus far to help those who most need it, Biden said he was not impressed.
“All the money that the Congress has passed to help people in this dire need is not going to the right people,” Biden said. “It’s not getting to those mom-and-pop stores. It’s not getting to people who need to be able to pay workers to stay on the payroll. It’s not getting to people who need relief and so it’s just not being done very well at all.”
Biden faulted the administration for not taking aggressive action to move food from farms to consumers. "We have plenty of food, it’s being plowed under,” he said. “The president could have ordered the government to buy food from farmers and send it to food banks.”
Biden lauded food service workers who were “taking chances on their lives to make sure that we ... have the ability to eat, the ability to be able to continue to survive.”
“They are the soul of America,” Biden said.
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