Senior Advisor to the President Ivanka Trump traveled to Pittsburgh, PA on Tuesday, partaking in a listening session with minority faith leaders as well as helping in distributing food boxes to families affected by the economic turmoil from the coronavirus pandemic.
Accompanied by Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue, White House’s Opportunity and Revitalization Councils Executive Director Scott Turner and Pastor Paula White, and met with members of the black spiritual community in a panel discussion at the Pentecostal Temple Church of God in Christ.
The senior adviser kept the visit private from the media to keep the distractions away as she spent the day meeting with black pastors and community members and listening to the frustrations and concerns about their experiences with law enforcement over their lifetimes.
In an exclusive interview with Washington Examiner Salena Zito, Ivanka said that listening, not talking is the key to learning.
“I have a saying, a personal saying which is that ‘I never learn anything by talking,” Ivanka said. “And I reflect on that a lot and remind myself of that a lot, including what it is to tell myself to shut up and listen. But it’s true. Nobody, nobody learns anything by talking. So you have to engage, you have to listen. And we did, we for sure did a lot of it that today.”
At the same time she was meeting with faith leaders, her father President Trump signed an executive order on police reform. Ivanka assured them that the president’s order was a coordination and collaboration not only with law enforcement agencies but with so many families who lost their loved ones in deadly interactions with the police.
“I’m proud of the president’s record,” she told a small group of religious leaders at the Pentecostal Church of God in Christ on Tuesday. “He’s more action than talk.”
The pastors responded warmly to Ivanka’s visit, according to the one invited reporter from Bloomberg News pool report.
Bishop Loran Mann, the leader of the Pentecostal Church of God in Christ, said Trump’s executive order on policing is “a start” in solving the problem of racism. He also told Ivanka to relay a message, advising him to “listen to our pain.”
Another Pastor in attendance, Pastor John Harrell of Proviso Baptist Church from Chicago stated between the two political parties, the Democrats are to be blamed for the “mass incarceration” of Black men, adding that President Trump has appointed more people of color in his administration compared to past commander in chief.
After the panel discussion, Ivanka participated in a food giveaway, part of the Farmers to Families Food Box Program. The Agriculture Department program retrieves food from struggling farmers and delivers them to food banks, religious and nonprofits organizations.
“One of the reasons we came and visited with Bishop Mann and the Pentecostal Temple Church of God in Christ is because they had been working closely with World Vision and with City Serve, two of our implementation partners and our farmers to the family for the program,” Ivanka said. “I reached out right as we were crafting the program and asked for their help and using their distribution network to scale this program and ensure that food that was going to waste, that farmers and ranchers had, that they were literally pouring out the milk and tilling under the products because they didn’t have markets to distributed or being connected with the most vulnerable communities across the nation.”
According to a White House spokesperson, Ivanka has been working with the faith-based and non-profit communities helping with distributing food boxes filled with fresh produce, eggs, meats, and cheeses from local farms to vulnerable families suffering from the economic fallout due to the coronavirus pandemic.
“So they were stocked with fresh fruits and vegetables, farm-fresh directly from locally sourced produce and locally sourced protein, and meat and dairy products,” she said. “So there was a lot of excitement about that and a lot of appreciation for that.”
The first daughter has worked specifically to get the boxes delivered to those living in the ‘last mile’ – meaning rural and underserved communities.
Ivanka shared photos of her day on her Twitter account.
“Thank you Bishop Mann for hosting us at the Pentecostal Temple Church of God in Christ in Pittsburgh, PA. Through amazing faith-based organizations such as your #FarmerstoFamilies food box program has delivered over 20 million boxes of fruit, meat, and dairy to families in need since launched just 4 weeks ago!” she wrote. “Visiting your church today allowed me to listen and learn from faith & community leaders how together we can bring about healing and holistic revitalization to underserved communities across the nation.”
In a follow-up tweet, she pointed out that she had visited a historically black church in the Pennsylvania city.
“Black churches are great forces for justice, equality, and human dignity in our nation,” Ivanka tweeted. “I was grateful to listen and learn from faith & community leaders how together we can bring about healing and holistic revitalization to underserved communities across the nation.”
The Farmers to Families Food Box program has delivered nearly 20 million boxes to date. All told, as part of the Administration’s ongoing Coronavirus relief efforts, the program will purchase $461 million in fresh fruits and vegetables, $317 million in dairy products, $258 million in meats, and $175 million in combination boxes to support both American farmers and underserved families.