The USDA today laid out its plan to award contracts to the private sector to purchase meat, dairy and produce for distribution to the nation’s food banks and other nonprofits addressing hunger. The USDA is authorized to spend $3 billion on hunger relief during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The American Farm Bureau Federation and Feeding America, the country’s largest hunger relief organization, sent a letter to the USDA requesting a nimble approach to quickly and effectively get food from America’s farms to the nation’s food banks.
The following statement may be attributed to American Farm Bureau President Zippy Duvall:
“We applaud the USDA for empowering the private sector to help solve the challenges associated with harvesting, packaging and transporting millions of pounds of food from farms to food banks and other nonprofits working to ensure no one goes hungry.
“Every day that passes, fresh produce is being plowed under and milk is being disposed of while long lines form at many food banks. USDA is demonstrating a willingness to try a new approach to find solutions to these challenges. We stand ready to help in any way we can.
“Meanwhile, Farm Bureau is working at every level – county, state and national – to help in this crisis, building on long-standing relationships with food banks. We are determined to make good use of the food waiting on farms to be harvested or packaged.”
- The pandemic forced the closing of restaurants, schools and college cafeterias, causing a drop in demand for fresh food, which led to stockpiles of food on farms. At the same time, food banks are seeing record need, but lack the supplies and supply chains required to meet the need. The letter urged USDA to leverage existing systems to assist in connecting the supply with the need, creating a win-win for farmers and food banks.
- The USDA will contract with organizations wishing to purchase fresh produce, dairy, chicken and pork for delivery to nonprofits.
- Deliveries to food banks are expected to begin by mid-May.