WASHINGTON — U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue has announced that the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Farmers to Families Food Box Program has distributed more than five million food boxes in support of American farmers and families affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.
“The Farmers to Families Food Box Program was designed to put American farmers and distributors of all sizes back to work while supporting over-burdened food banks, community and faith-based organizations, and other non-profits serving Americans in need, and the program is doing just that,” said Secretary Perdue. “It’s encouraging to see the passion with which farmers, distributors and non-profits have gone above and beyond to make this program work in support of the American people. Although a momentous milestone, this is only the beginning for the program, and with continued support we expect up to 40 million boxes will be delivered throughout the country by June 30th.”
“Since our launch of the Farmers to Families Food Box, 5 million boxes have been successfully delivered to Americans most in need all across the country. Through this innovative program small and regional distributors are bringing back their workforce to procure food directly from our American farmers and ranchers. Fresh food is getting to those in need, even in the hardest to reach places, through partnerships with food banks, non-profits and faith-based communities,” said Advisor to the President, Ivanka Trump.
Watch a highlight video of USDA’s Farmers to Families Food Box Program in action across the United States below:
WHAT THEY ARE SAYING:
Prairie Fruits Farm: “This program is literally saving our farm.”
Newsmax: “For its fast-acting, innovation, generosity and efficiency in regards to responding to the potential of Americans’ food insecurity during this crisis, you have to give Team Trump and the USDA an A plus on this one.”
Lead Pastor Jerry Lawson: “It’s really one of the best things to come out of the CARES Act.”
Nick Weaver of West Group Holdings: “Anytime you can step in and fill a gap and provide a service that is going to be helping farmers and families – that’s the American way.”
Michael Lane, CEO of Galapagos Rockford Charter School: “It’s a great program because not only does it get free food to people who need it, but it pays farmers. We’ve all heard that farmers are destroying their food. Right now, the USDA is buying this food and giving it to us to distribute. It’s a win-win situation.”
Senator Cindy Hyde-Smith: “Great to see the @USDA Farmers to Families Food Box Program is getting food to people in need during the #COVID19 outbreak.
Representative Robert Aderholt: We are seeing great results from @realDonaldTrump’s Farmers to Families Food Box program.
Representative Guy Reschenthaler: “Thanks to the @USDA and @realDonaldTrump’s leadership, hungry Pennsylvanians are able to get the meals & supplies they need to get through the #COVID19 crisis.”
International Dairy Foods Association President and CEO Michael Dykes: “It is so gratifying to see the Farmers to Families Food Boxes delivered to so many families and to know the incredible job @USDA_AMS did to turn an idea into reality in such a short time! People in food and agriculture always come together to help each other!… So proud of @turnerspgh Dairy and all the dairy industry and the efforts of @SecretarySonny and the USDA for initiating the Farmers to Families Food Boxes! It is a win-win-win. Win for dairy farmers, dairy processors and all our fellow citizens that need food during the pandemic!”
Jana Nairn, spokesperson for Ag Link: “We are blessed to be a part of this program that will benefit so many during these challenging times for everyone… The way that USDA put this program together to use distributors as the leads was genius. It really will provide a ripple effect boost to the local economy with benefits to so many in the food supply chain while meeting the needs of the local food insecure population.”
VP for Pacific Unlimited Inc. Michael Limtiaco: “This program is incredible in how it found an immediate solution to help two specific groups in need – the producers such as the American farmers, ranchers, and food chain suppliers and the people in our community through food banks and nonprofit organizations. So many people have been greatly affected by this pandemic and need help feeding their families.”
Joe Cockrell of Cockrell Banana Co.: “The USDA has really helped us because we worked a lot of restaurants and of course we worked schools and they shut completely down so needless to say we were off thousands of dollars a week so this has just been a Godsend to us and our local farmers.”
Lisa Scales, president and CEO at the Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank: “We couldn’t be more thrilled that the Farmers to Families Food Box Program is creating opportunity and providing stability to our region in so many ways.”
GoFresh, CA: “…We have been able to put about 100 people back to work because of this program…The thankful recipients of the boxes and their reactions to the program are truly humbling and make us proud to be a part of it… Thank you for the opportunity to participate in it.”
Great Plains Food Bank, ND: “A huge thanks to USDA for pulling this together in a remarkable time frame. It is definitely providing a major boost to our COVID-19 response efforts.”
The SF Market: Arcadio’s Produce, a merchant on the SF Market, was approved as a participant in the USDA Farmers to Families Food Box Program, and will now be able to continue to operate at full capacity and employment. Yet the positive impact doesn’t stop there. Arcadio’s will also purchase product for the food boxes from other merchants on the SF Market, which will provide opportunities for those businesses, as well. This demonstrates how the beneficial influence of the Farmers to Families program radiates beyond a single business to embrace the surrounding business environment and community.
Regular updates to the number of food boxes distributed will be posted on USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) website.
On April 17, 2020, Secretary Perdue announced the program as part of the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program developed to help farmers, ranchers and consumers in response to the COVID-19 national emergency.
In under 30 days, the program contracted for $1.2 billion in food products including $461 million in fresh fruits and vegetables, $317 million in a variety of dairy products, $258 million in meat products and $175 million in a combination box of fresh produce, dairy or meat products, and began distribution of the food boxes across the United States on May 15, 2020.
Less than three weeks later, over five million food boxes have been distributed to families in need while providing much needed support to critically impacted agricultural sectors.
AMS partnered with national, regional and local suppliers, whose workforce has been significantly impacted by the closure of restaurants, hotels and other food service businesses. Suppliers package food products into family-sized boxes and then transport them to food banks, community and faith-based organizations, and other non-profits serving Americans in need.
As we approach the end of the initial round of Farmers to Families Food Box Program contracts worth $1.2 billion, USDA is exploring options to continue serving American farmers and families up to the program’s $3 billion authorization. USDA may extend current contracts or award additional contracts to ensure underserved areas are provided an opportunity to participate in the program. As the program prepares to enter the next phase, evaluations are ongoing to determine how to extend the program’s service in underserved communities.
For more articles concerning food access, click here.