On Day 1 of the Republican National Convention in Charlotte, President Donald Trump traveled about two hours west to a produce packing facility in Mills River.
Masks were encouraged but not required as President Trump spoke to a few hundred at Flavor 1st Growers and Packers.
“Ladies and Gentlemen to introduce the President of the United States the co-owner of Flavor First Growers and Packers Kirby Johnson.”
Johnson’s company is part of a USDA program for families impacted by COVID-19.
“As a grower myself I can’t tell you how much it means for the produce to go to people that need it during this pandemic era,” says Johnson. The program is called Farmers to Families Food Box.
The program purchased $1.2 billion worth of produce nationally from farmers starting in May. In North Carolina, the goods were packed by companies like Flavor 1st and then shipped by the group Baptists on Missions to about 200 locations statewide. President Trump described it this way:
“Many farmers had no place to send their crops or livestock at the same time families across the country were in need of groceries, they wanted to eat well. And next year they are going to be eating better than ever before because we are going to have a tremendous year,” says Trump.
Throughout his remarks on COVID-19 he referred to the virus as the ‘plague’ or the ‘China virus,’ both names are inaccurate. Many have called his characterization of the virus as Chinese as a racist comment.
Trump’s daughter Ivanka has been a main backer of the program according to her father. As a senior advisor, she says that keeping the supply chain working during the pandemic was very important:
“So this is truly a win-win-win program – and in government, you can’t say that about a lot of government programs,” says Ivanka Trump.
President Trump mentioned his desire to fully re-open North Carolina a number of times during his remarks. Right now, the state is still in Phase 2 of its reopening from COVID-19 restrictions. Hospitalizations have slowly but steadily dropped over the last week, but the death toll has now topped 2,500 statewide. Henderson County, the site of the president’s visit, has the 2nd highest number of deaths of any county in Western North Carolina, many of which came in the opening weeks of the pandemic.