Fried joins volunteers for day of service at Tallahassee food bank

Family says Fried genuine in desire to help others

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – With her niece and nephew at her side, Agriculture Commissioner-elect Nikki Fried led reporters on a tour of a Tallahassee food bank Monday.

Fried lived through Hurricane Andrew in the 1990s and said she knows first-hand how hard it is to be food insecure.

Fried started the day before officially assuming her role as commissioner by meeting with Florida food growers. She pointed out that it’s not just the homeless getting help at Second Harvest of the Big Bend, where she joined over 200 volunteers to pack fresh produce and food packages for families in need. 

“We’re serving our vets. We are serving our families living paycheck to paycheck -- or who may have had a car wreck this month and need help to maybe get back onto their feet,” Fried said.

The office of Agriculture and Consumer Services works with Second Harvest Food Bank to help secure funding for the program.

And as the incoming commissioner pitched in to help in front of the cameras, her mother and her sister said that, despite the attention, reporters were seeing the real Nikki Fried.

“That’s what we’re all about,” Fried's mother, Lori Fried, said. “That’s what we’ve done our whole lives. We really have. We used to make peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for the homeless. We’ve always given back.”

Nikki Fried has even helped save a toddler’s life.

“Nikki has a special blood type called infants blood and she went to Gainesville and did a blood transfusion and sent it down to Miami to one of my students, so, I mean, we’ve always done these things,” Lori Fried said. “It doesn’t get any better than this in a mother’s eyes.”

As for her new role in Florida's government, Nikki Fried said she expects to make progress on important issues, even though she and incoming Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis don't see eye to eye on everything.

“I think the two of us will be able to put aside partisan issues on most things,” Fried said. “Of course, I’m a Democrat, so there are things that are near and dear to my heart. If we can put aside partisan politics, we’re going to do so for the best interests of the state of Florida.”

The mission of Second Harvest of the Big Bend is to feed the hungry in the Big Bend through a network of partner agencies, and to educate and engage the community in the fight against hunger. In the past year, the food bank distributed over 6.5 million pounds of food, enough for 5.2 million meals, to its partner agencies in the Big Bend community.

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