Rural NYS & Build Back Better

President Joe Biden tours the IBEW/NECA Electrical Training Center in Cincinnati, Wednesday, July 21, 2021, and meets with instructor Robert Guthrie at Stop 1, the motor control system training area. (Official White House Photo by Adam Schultz)

By Adrian Currie

The White House hosted an online forum for New Yorkers on Sept 17 to discuss new intiatives for rural areas in President Biden’s Build Back Better Agenda. The Rural and Faith Engagements teams at the White House hosted the event and focused on how Biden’s agenda impacts New York State’s rural communities and communities of faith.

A new child tax credit is available to parents as part of Biden’s Build Back Better initiative to decrease child poverty in the U.S. New York State’s head of the Food Bank Association, Dan Egan, said an increase in food bank initiatives was essential throughout the pandemic but that food banks would not solve the issue of child poverty in the state. He went on to say it was vital that the new child tax credit provision be made permanent for New Yorkers, as it effectively decreases child poverty. “We can’t foodbank our way out of this problem,” said Egan. “If you ask any teacher what are their biggest problems, they’re going to tell you it’s the things that happen outside the classroom. You know the kid who comes to school in the morning and didn’t get supper last night. Kids who come to school so they can get breakfast…Hungry kids cannot learn.” Egan said the pandemic EBT, child tax credit, and a big increase to The Emergency Food Assistance Program (TEFAP) will all help.

Dan Egan

The pandemic has increased the food insecurity across the state. According to the Food Bank For New York City, it distributes approximately 80 million free meals per year and it helps more than “23,000 children, teens and adults to sustain a healthy diet on a low budget.”

Other topics in the 30-minute forum included provisions in Biden’s $3.5 trillion infrastructure proposed bill aimed at lowering housing, food, transportation, childcare, and healthcare costs in New York and the rest of the country. Host Will McIntee, White House Associate Director of Public Engagement, called on members representing various organizations in New York State, along with residents, to comment or raise questions.

Some of the organizations present included Hudson Valley’s nonprofit, Rupco, in Kingston, NY, Sisters of St. Joseph of Brentwood, NY, and Hunger Solutions, NY, a statewide organization that works to maximize participation in federal nutrition programs, including SNAP, and WIC, and school meals, according to the organization’s representative, Sherry Tomasky.

American Rescue Plan

The Immigration Initiatives division of the Hispanic Federation was also present at the forum, advocating for the provisions in Biden’s agenda that target poverty amongst immigrants and in Hispanic and Latino communities.  Other concerns addressed during the forum included questions about additional funding for the prevention of diabetes in New York.

Hispanic and Latino communities

Josh Dickens, White House Senior Advisor at the office of Public Engagement, responded to questions raised by forum guests. In closing, Dickens urged forum participants to do three things after leaving the forum. First, to tell people about the Build Back Better bill. Second, to share the information in public ways that yield attention from the press. Lastly, Dickens asked attendees to share personal stories about how the bill will impact their lives and how certain pandemic provisions, such as child tax credits and the EBT program, already have.

“These are real things for real people,” said Dickens.

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