HAMPTON ROADS, Va. – For Kathy Blanchard and her family, the free meal program at her daughter Alanna’s school helped to ease the financial burden brought on by the pandemic.
“It takes the stress off the budget and feeding the child and everything,” Blanchard said. “I know that they get a healthy meal at school, where some parents aren't even able to provide that much for the child. It's nice knowing that they're getting a healthy meal.”
Many families across Hampton Roads are struggling to put food on the table. The COVID-19 pandemic has only made the problem worse.
President Joe Biden believes his $1.8 trillion American Families Plan will help level the playing field for struggling families.
The president and the First Lady Jill Biden visited a fifth-grade class at Yorktown Elementary School during a stop in Hampton Roads Monday.
“For too long, we’ve had an economy that gives every break in the world to the folks who need it the least,” President Biden said.
Biden’s plan would invest billions of dollars in nutrition assistance for children.
“They’re all our children,” said Biden. “They are the kite strings that literally lift our national ambitions along, so we got to invest in them, invest in our children to invest in the future.”
The proposal includes expanding and improving school meal programs and offers food benefits to children during the summer.
If passed, it could have a big impact on children who are food insecure. At Isle of Wight County Schools, a spokesperson said 40% of students qualify for and are using the free or reduced meal program.
“With paying bills and everything having to reduce the grocery bill by X amount because kids eat, their legs are hollow, and naturally, a free meal is going to be less groceries that you would have to buy,” Blanchard said.
For families like the Blanchard’s, the proposal is more than a free meal.
“There is a lot of families out there that really, truly need the help and every little bit helps,” said Blanchard. “One free meal, two free meals, and it's not really…people look at it as a free meal or a free ticket. It’s not. To those kids and public kids that really, really need it, it’s everything.”
This is just one part of Biden’s plan; it includes several other proposals to help families. The plan will be hard to pass Congress. Republicans argue it includes more spending and taxing.
Biden also spoke about his $2 trillion infrastructure plan during his visit to Virginia.