USDA approved $1.2 billion in contracts for the USDA Farmers to Families Food Box Program.
“This is a new, innovative approach to provide critical support to American farmers and families, and USDA moved as expeditiously as federal procurement rules allow to stand up the program and solicit offers,” said Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue of the program announced April 17 as part of the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program. “We were pleased to see the abundance of interest from both food distributors and non-profit organizations. Within days, the Farmers to Families Food Box Program will begin distributing surplus food, while safeguarding food safety techniques, to communities across the country where it’s needed most.”
A full list of approved suppliers is available on the Farmers to Families Food Box Program website. Approved suppliers may increase the number of non-profit organizations or government entities they will provide boxes to within their service area but must ensure the non-profit has 501(c)(3) tax exempt status.
Through this program, USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service is partnering with national, regional and local suppliers to purchase up to $3 billion in fresh produce, dairy and meat products.
The program will purchase:
- $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.
Suppliers will package these products into family-sized boxes, then transport them to food banks, community and faith-based organizations, and other non-profits serving Americans in need from May 15 through June 30, 2020. AMS may elect to extend the period of performance of the contracts, via option periods, dependent upon program success and available remaining funds, up to $3 billion.
What others are saying:
Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue finally has the money, about $300 million per month, to implement his oft-rejected “Harvest Box” idea. Perdue claims it will prop up prices received by farmers and ranchers because it will buy commodities to then box and give away to Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP, recipients. – Telegraph Herald
“We applaud the USDA for its quick action and flexibility in finding a way to get food from America’s farms to the dinner tables of those who need it most," said American Farm Bureau Federation President Zippy Duvall. "These food purchases will help the hungry while providing income to farmers and ranchers who have seen some markets for their food disappear during the COVID-19 pandemic."