Date: Tuesday, September 29, 2020 - 12:30pm
(Washington, D.C., September 29, 2020) – U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue announced today that more than 100 million food boxes have been distributed in support of American farmers and families affected by the COVID-19 pandemic through the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Farmers to Families Food Box Program. Earlier this month, the Department announced it had entered into contracts with 50 entities for the third round of food box deliveries, which include contracts to purchase up to $1 billion authorized by President Donald J. Trump.
“It is incredible to think that in a little more than five months, this food box program has gone from an idea to a reality that has provided more than 100 million boxes of nutritious foods to people in need and along the way has helped to keep farmers and ranchers in business and allowed Americans working in our nation’s food supply chain to get back to work,” said Secretary Perdue. “I have been meeting with food banks and recipients across the country and it’s been heartening to hear all the positive feedback on how the program has saved businesses and fed Americans in need. We are now into the third round of deliveries and we’re working harder than ever to continue to build on the success of the program.”
“With 100 million Farmers to Families Food Boxes delivered, we have utilized critical funding authorized by President Trump to continue connecting our great American farmers to millions of food insecure families. I am proud of this Administration’s mission to keep our most vulnerable families fed and support American family farms in the process,” said Advisor to the President, Ivanka Trump.
You may view the Farmers to Families Food Box Program video or click on the image below to watch a highlight video of USDA’s Farmers to Families Food Box Program in action across the United States:
WHAT THEY ARE SAYING:
Rep. Rodney Davis: We are going to help people today to continue this program, but let this be a lesson learned of how the government can work efficiently and should work efficiently.
Client of Pike County Ecumenical Food Pantry: Thank you very much for our delivery today. It will be gobbled up!! You are truly a Godsend! I’m not terrified anymore and knowing I can count on these delivered items has changed our life. Thank you. May God bless all your efforts!
Brian Barks, Food Bank for the Heartland CEO: It’s great product. Its premium grade A produce that we are receiving that has helped us a lot.
Lizette Alent, Executive Director of the Inland Northwest Farmers Market Association: A 3-year-old boy started “screaming and dancing” at the sight of blueberries last week. He was looking into a free, 30-pound box of food his family picked up at the Emerson-Garfield Farmers’ Market.
Karol Widmer, Fairwood Farmers Market manager: It’s a win-win…The USDA program supports local farmers, farmers markets and families.
Daniel Champagne, Vernon Mayor: It was a great opportunity to get 15 pounds of fresh apples, carrots, celery and other items to seniors and families in our community.
Michaela Kopf of Lexington Community Foundation: The boxes have been a hit within the community…The good thing is how nutritionally diverse the boxes are…They get one box of produce, a box of dairy, sometimes we get milk, and then one box of proteins…And it's different every week.
Doug Groendyke, Harvest Hope food sourcer: When you’re feeding tens of thousands of people every week, this new program from the USDA and all the farmers who’ve contributed to this program, it’s been paramount to feed the clients...People need help, and that’s what we’re here for. And to be able to provide fresh fruit, vegetables, meats, dairy, dry goods to feed their families and put it on their plate, that’s huge. That’s tremendous.
Chalmers Carr, owner of Titan Farms: Then the USDA Farmers to Families program came out, and we were able to establish new markets, save the latter half of our crop. We still lost money, but that point in time we were able to participate, harvest our crop, and that meant a lot. And there’s more stories like that all across this country, where this program has helped farmers, has helped people in need and has also helped the food banks.
Jackie King, King Crop Insurance, Inc.: The Farmers to Families Food Box Programs has included our producers right here on the great Delmarva. This helps feed hungry families with the added benefit of supporting our local agriculture economy.
Phil Ciccone, Rotary Club of Towne Lake President: Participating in this project was the ultimate service to others in our community. Produce is expensive and often something that our struggling neighbors will forgo.
Josh Murphy, Director of Sourcing at the Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank: In this program USDA is paying contractors to put together boxes of fresh healthy fruits and vegetables or of mixed dairy products or of mixed meat products and distribute them directly to food banks and distribution sites…Understanding that every time you bring in a trailer load of rice, 40 thousand families are affected. Think about 40 thousand dinner tables and people sitting down and making a meal out of that rice you brought in or those fresh fruits and vegetables you brought in
Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank workers: Healthy food can make a big difference in a person's immune system, especially during this pandemic.
Congressman Chris Jacobs: A testament to USDA program’s success and the ability for local businesses to adapt. They took advantage of the Farmers to Families Food Box USDA program developed to aid growers and processors affected by COVID-19. This allowed them to keep their staff employed and supply families in need with nutritious food all around the country. These programs are vital to the restoration of our agriculture industry and seeing the benefits first-hand will make me that much stronger of an advocate for their continuation as we defeat COVID-19.
Brett Baker, United Apple Sales Executive Vice President: The program took advance of some of the apples that due to COVID, we didn’t have a home for… They are going to different food pantries, different food banks, outreach-type organizations. The apples are sold into that food box program rather than being destroyed or only sold for apple cider.
American Agri-Women: AAW is grateful to its members and the USDA for continuing to provide a variety of safe and nutritious foods while additionally supporting our farms and ranches amid the complex situation we are all in.
Journey Community Church: Thanks to the USDA Farmers to Families Food Box Program, the church finished off the night by giving away a grand total of 6,258 of meat and dairy products to over 100 franklin families.
Bethany Conkel, Journey Community Church volunteer: We love seeing people receive food, it’s just something everyone needs and it’s always a huge blessing to receive something unexpected…We’ve seen so many families especially in this pandemic need a little extra and is such a huge blessing.
U.S. Rep. Jim Hagedorn, R-Minn.: The people here at the food bank and food shelves are passionate folks looking out for members of our community most in need…Our producers are who makes this food possible in order to be distributed to those in need.
Virginia Merritt, Channel One Executive Director: When the USDA makes purchases from farmers, not only is it putting food on the table for our clients that need it, but it's also supporting those farm economies…We know that hunger in rural communities is real, and their economies depend on agriculture.
Chris Gilbert, head of Tioga Friends of the Food Pantry: The recent U.S. Department of Agriculture “Farmers to Families Food Box Program” makes it possible for local farmers to provide the Friends of the Food Pantry with quality local produce.
Pike County Ecumenical Food Pantry: We benefited from the special Farmers to Families Food Box Program that Dave Cool coordinated along with the traditional USDA and Pennsylvania sponsored programs. All this is possible because of the dedication and effort of the folks at Second Harvest.
Andy Gipson, Mississippi Agriculture and Commerce Commissioner: I’m glad the Mississippi Department of Agriculture and Commerce can assist with the Farmers to Families Food Box Program. It benefits not only our farmers and distributors but also our citizens who may be struggling as a result of COVID-19’s impact on society. Our department has distributed over 2,800 produce boxes, 3,600 dozen eggs, and 3,600 gallons of milk to the public in the past two months.
Amy Harvey, Open Door Mission’s Chief Community Relations Officer: With this program they’ve been able to help more people than their outreach centers have allowed during COVID.
William Knudsen, Open Door Mission: They’re very thankful and they’re blessed to be able to come here and receive this and it’s a blessing to serve them and so we’re getting blessed on both sides.
Laura Santa Maria from Fellowship Church: We are grateful to be part of this opportunity to distribute fresh produce to people in need. It’s a tangible way to show love to our neighbors.
Bob Ona, lead pastor of Northview Church in the Fargo/Moorhead area: We have distributed 75,000 pounds of food to those in need in our community, all because of the food provided by the USDA Farmers to Families Food Box Program… We deeply appreciate how the food box program gave us a mechanism to build goodwill and we hope to repeat the experience.
Calbrina Ward Woods, organizer of Empowered by Faith: It shows the community is pulling together, and it’s pulling together as one…I’m ecstatic. It’s a new feeling every time we do it. We’ve developed relationships with people. The prayer line is always packed, it’s just an amazing feeling.
Honda Smith, alder of Ward 30: It’s been a complete blessing to the residents here to receive fresh produce.
Shelly Holiness: These are all low-income residents who otherwise would have no access to healthy food, and even if they did, they’re priced out.
Harry Bell, of Color A Positive Thought: The foods are donated by Farmers to Families… The food distribution is important in these pandemic times which have made people sick, cost people their jobs and left them hungry.
Jim Craig, associate pastor at the Living Waters Assembly of God in Lamont: When we show up at a family’s doorstep with a box of produce, the entire family usually greets us at the door with huge smiles… Because of the generosity of this program, they get more than they ever expected. They get love and concern from a church family they never knew they had. It is never just a box of produce. It is a whole lot more.
@TomLackey36: Hardworking volunteers + 1,848 boxes of farm fresh produce = food for needy #AntelopeValley families. Thank you @USDA Farmers to Families Program, AG Food Link Hub & volunteers from Growing Valley Baptist Church for making our Drive-through produce pickup very successful!
@SESPride: When your school district and community cares about the whole child it shows in the smiles of our families and today was full of lots of happy faces! Thank you to everyone who helped make the @SESPride Farmers to Families food box event a success!
@OurHouseShelter: For the past 13 weeks, 28 volunteers have worked 176 hours to serve over 12,000 families with the USDA’s Farmers to Families Food Box program! We are so thankful to still be able to serve our community clients during the COVID-19 pandemic with the help of such awesome volunteers!
@Communityfoodpantry: The USDA Farmers to Families program provides fresh produce directly to the food insecure. Covid kindness at it’s finest.
@cityservehq: Thousands of churches nationwide are now compassion brokers to their hurting communities with USDA Farmers to Families food boxes.
@Ksfarmfood: The USDA Farmers to Families Food Box program has helped a tremendous amount of families with keeping their fridge full during the COVID-19 pandemic.
In this third round of purchases, USDA is purchasing combination boxes to ensure all recipient organizations have access to fresh produce, dairy products, fluid milk and meat products. USDA has issued contracts to 50 entities for the third round of the USDA Farmers to Families Food Box Program in order to continue supplying nutritious foods to Americans in need and supporting farmers, ranchers and distributors in the food supply chain.
These contract awards are a result of the third round of Farmers to Families Food Box program announced on July 24, 2020, and President Trump’s announcement on August 24 that up to an additional $1 billion was being made available for deliveries through October 31, 2020. A full list of approved suppliers will be posted on the Farmers to Families Food Box Program webpage.
Coverage in this round of the program allocates food boxes to states based on the internal need of the state with the goal of providing coverage to entities in every county in the country. Eligibility for the third round was open to entities who could meet the government’s requirements and specifications and whose proposals illustrated coverage of opportunity zones and addressed costs incurred delivering product into the hands of recipients, among other factors. Fewer boxes will be delivered under this round due to the shift in combination boxes; however, the number of pounds of food being delivered is on par with previous rounds.
USDA initially used basic ordering agreements (BOA) for this round to have greater flexibility to ensure contracted entities provide adequate coverage throughout the states and territories. A BOA is not a contract but is a written understanding, negotiated between USDA and a company establishing terms for future contracts during a specific period, and described what will be provided and how future orders will be priced, issued and delivered under the contract. The BOA did not authorize companies to ship products and did not guarantee future work.
In the second round of purchasing and distribution, which began July 1 and concluded September 18, USDA purchased more than $1.7 billion of food through extended contracts of select vendors from the first round of the program as well as new contracts focused on Opportunity Zones in order to direct food to reach underserved areas, places where either no boxes have yet been delivered, or where boxes are being delivered but where there is additional need.
The first round of purchases totaling $945 million occurred from May 15 through June 30, 2020.
Updates to the number of food boxes verified as delivered will continue to be displayed on the USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) website, with breakdowns by performance period on the Farmers to Families Food Box Program page.
USDA is also continuing its plans to purchase $1.4 billion in agricultural products produced by farmers, ranchers and producers suffering from damage due to unjustified trade retaliation by foreign nations through the Food Purchase and Distribution Program. The trade mitigation program has surpassed $1.1 billion in purchases this fiscal year, and more than $2 billion on purchases overall during FY19 and FY20, which were provided to states for distribution to the network of food banks and food pantries that participate in the Emergency Food Assistance Program (TEFAP).