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Native Vote 2024.  MIDDLEVILLE, Mich. — First Lady Dr. Jill Biden made a visit to YMCA Camp Manitou-Lin on Wednesday morning as the first stop on her mini-tour of Michigan. 

Michigan is a battleground state in this year’s presidential election, but Dr. Biden came to participate in an event that highlighted the U.S. Department of Agriculture's summer nutrition programs for kids. Held at the same location, Dr. Biden also spent time with campers at Camp Corral, an overnight camp for military-connected children. 

Dr. Biden was joined with Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) for both events. Bob Peters, chairman of Match-E-Be-Nash-She-Wish Band of Pottawatomi Indians (Gun Lake Tribe), attended the first event and gave First Lady Biden a black ash basket.

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Speaking about the nutrition program adopted by the Biden administration, Sen. Stabenow expressed her belief that families should not have to be concerned with food insecurity. “We want kids to have a hunger for learning, not a hunger for food,” she said.

In her introductory remarks, Dr. Biden reflected on being a teacher for over 30 years and how summers are often care-free and meant as a vacation. Unfortunately, for too many children, their summers are stolen by hunger, she spoke on behalf of President Joe Biden. This summer, the Biden administration is giving parents whose children receive free and reduced price lunch a little extra help to buy groceries. This will be through the Sun Meals program and is $120 for each one of their kids

“Joe believes that parents shouldn't have to worry about how they'll feed their children, and we know that while grocery chains are making record profits, they're still raising their prices. That’s why the Biden-Harris administration is fighting to lower grocery bills for families,” Dr. Biden said.

After giving her remarks at the nutrition event, Dr. Biden was ushered into the facility’s cafeteria where excited Hidden Helpers campers and counselors were all singing a camp song. As part of her Joining Forces initiative she's visiting to show her support for "military-connected children of wounded, ill or injured service members or veterans," according to her office. 

Stabenow introduced the First Lady, thanking her and the president for the work they’ve done on behalf of military families. Dr. Biden talked of her father’s service in World War II, and that her son Beau had served in Iraq for a year. 

“You kids are, really, ordinary kids doing extraordinary things,” Dr. Biden said. “It’s great that you have a chance to come up here to camp and meet other kids who are in the same situation that you’re in — that you can talk about some of the challenges, some of the joys.” 

The camp is 170 acres of wooded forest located on Lake Barlow. By the time Dr. Biden arrived, camp goers were already enjoying breakfast before another big day of swimming, canoeing, and other recreational camp activities.

First Lady Jill Biden hearing from camp goer talk about his experience as an autistic camper who was welcomed in by other campers.(Photo/Neely Bardwell)

Dr. Biden then asked the children to raise their hands and tell her what they liked best about camp. She walked around with her microphone so the kids could share her answers. The first camper told her he liked the “siesta” time. “Is that when you take a nap? No, I can’t believe you kids take naps!” she replied. “That’s when the camp counselors get a break? Very smart, camp counselors!”

Before stopping to take pictures with every table group of kids, Dr. Biden heard from one more kid about his experience at the camp.

“I love this camp because it has helped me overcome the hardships of being autistic.” a teen-aged boy said.After the events in Middleville, Dr. Biden flew to Traverse City to help open a Biden Harris campaign office. She told reporters her husband was not dropping out of the presidential race.

At the campaign office opening, Dr. Biden addressed the speculation that President Biden may pull out of the race.

“Because there's a lot of talk out there, let me repeat what my husband has said plainly and clearly: Joe is the Democratic nominee and he is going to beat Donald Trump, just like he did in 2020," she said. "Are you ready to help me?" The crowd cheered.  

Wednesday’s visit was Dr. Biden’s second visit to the state of Michigan this year. in May when she visited two tribes in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, the Bay Mills Indian Community and Sault Ste. Marie Tribe of Chippewa Indians.

Levi Rickert contributed to this article.

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About The Author
Neely Bardwell
Author: Neely BardwellEmail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Neely Bardwell (descendant of the Little Traverse Bay Bands of Odawa Indian) is a staff reporter for Native News Online. Bardwell is also a student at Michigan State University where she is majoring in policy and minoring in Native American studies.