Updated: April 08, 2021 06:31 PM
Created: April 08, 2021 05:28 PM
(ABC 6 News) - Minnesota U.S. Senator Tina Smith made two stops in Rochester Thursday morning.
Sen. Tina Smith wanted to see how federal COVID relief money has been used to address hunger problems in the area and how a Rochester clinic used federal dollars to retain its workforce and give out vaccines.
Sen. Smith says she is really proud of what has been done at the federal level to help support the work done at Channel One Food Bank and Community Health Services in Rochester.
"Today, we've seen the impact of Cares Act dollars, that was the legislation we passed about a year ago, to build out that fantastic shopping experience so the people can really have access to good, healthy food," Sen. Tina Smith said.
One of the most important things Sen. Smith did was extend snap benefits until the fall.
"Snap is so important to our clients. For every one meal that a food bank serves, there are 11 snap meals," Virginia Merritt, executive director at Channel One Food Bank, said.
Because of the pandemic, Channel One is doing better than ever before, and that's thanks to Cares Act funding.
Food insecurity levels went up during the pandemic, resulting in a 55% increase in the amount of Minnesotans who went to a food shelf of a food bank over the past year.
"But there is still so much more work to do and I think that's where the American Rescue Plan, which we just passed about a month ago, is going to have a big impact on helping families survive," Sen. Smith said.
Sen. Smith says places like Channel One are infrastructure for family health and well-being. They play such an important role in the community, as well as Community Health Services, providing healthcare to underserved communities.
"This kind of health center is so important to our community and it's great to be able to see the work that you all are doing to make health care affordable and accessible for everyone," Sen. Smith said.
However, positives have come out of the pandemic, such as the convenience and safety of telehealth services and Sen. Smith hopes to make those innovations permanent as she is working hard in Washington to support the work that is being done in communities across Minnesota.
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