Gwen Graham spends 'workday' at Second Harvest Food Bank

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XANDER PETERS
  • Xander Peters
Democratic gubernatorial candidate Gwen Graham spent what her team calls a "workday" on Monday helping prepare food boxes with Second Harvest Food Bank for displaced Puerto Rican families now living in Central Florida.

The workday was the 47th of its kind, Graham told reporters. In the past, she has visited Floridians in their work and living environments, such as spending the day with high-school students in the classroom and volunteering with a local health clinic.

The short-lived stints as a community volunteer are a product of her father's folksy political playbook. Graham says her father did the same during his days politicking across the Sunshine State. Bob Graham served as a Florida Democratic governor from 1978 to 1986, and as a U.S. Senator from 1987 to 2005.

On Monday, she scooted around her end of the conveyer belt, plopping small canned goods into cardboard boxes with other volunteers.

Speaking with reporters prior to her volunteer session, Graham addressed issues like the thousands of Puerto Ricans who have come to Florida after being displaced from their homes by Hurricane Maria and the affordable housing issues that have plagued them since landing stateside.

"We have probably over 200,000 Puerto Ricans moving from the islands here, to Florida, and I am concerned about what we are doing as a state to make sure they're supported and given the resources they need to easily acclimate into our state as much as possible," Graham says.

Graham also spoke to reporters on the #MeToo movement and how it's been a "watershed" moment for the entire country, as well as how she plans to handle major fundraising competitors in the 2018 race, like Republican Adam Putnam, the state's agriculture commissioner.

"I'm not worried about Adam Putnam, nor am I worried about Richard Corcoran, Ron DeSantis or Jack Latvala," Graham says. "My commitment is to run a race where the people of Florida know where my heart is and know what my commitment is."

She then circled back to why she was volunteering that day at Second Harvest, an organization designed to feed the needy throughout Central Florida, and how she's there to help the people of Puerto Rico settle into their new lives.

"We've got to be a compassionate state — a state that's making the right decisions to help these individuals," Graham says. "We as a state must be welcoming to them with open arms, not just pamphlets and words, but with actually following through and giving the resources that these families deserve to have here in the state of Florida."

Graham, a former Florida congresswoman, is moving her campaign headquarters to Orlando, saying it's a more convenient area to run a statewide operation.