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U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue announced today that the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Farmers to Families Food Box Program has distributed over 50 million food boxes in support of American farmers and families affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.
“The delivery of 50 Million food boxes has helped an incredible number of Americans in need,” said Secretary Perdue. “I couldn’t be prouder of the great job done by the food box program staff and the many farmers, distributors and non-profits that helped to get this program off the ground for the American people. The Farmers to Families Food Box Program got off to a strong start, delivering over 35.5 million boxes in the first 45 days, and has now reached over 50 million boxes delivered – a testament to everyone’s hard work. 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 well into the second round of deliveries and we’re working harder than ever to continue to build on the success of the program.”
“50 million Farmers to Families Food Boxes have brought fresh and nutritious food grown by great American farmers to those most in need during this pandemic. I am proud of the profound impact this program has had on strengthening our workforce and nourishing hungry families. We will continue to prioritize our Nation’s farmers, ranchers, workers and families through this robust new Farmers to Families Food Box Program,” said Advisor to the President, Ivanka Trump.
You may view the Farmers Feeding Families Food Box Program video or 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:
Flavor 1st owner Kirby Johnson: “I was actually planting green beans when this happened. A good friend called me about this program. I was going down the row real slow planting green beans. I laughed to myself that by the time this program gets in motion, (the pandemic) will be over. Let me tell you, that was a Tuesday, the following Thursday I was packing in this packing house vegetables to go to the people. I’ve done a lot of government stuff. Nothing has ever been done this quick, especially produce. People that need it need it. They don’t need it two months from now, they need it now.”
@SteelersCR: “It’s about love and about helping others.” At today’s food distribution through the Farmers to Families Program & @ConvoyofHope in New Castle, @_BigBen7 explains why it’s important to him and his family to find ways to help those in need.”
Sabrina Tumey, Sitka Salvation Army: "The produce and the fruits are beautiful. And I literally have had people being so thankful and so grateful, almost to the verge of tears."
Vince Winter, AC Lakeside: "It feels good to be able to be an active part in getting food to those in need here in Sitka, being a part of the Sitka community. There is no better feeling in the world."
Marijo Martinec, the CEO and executive director of the Food Bank of Northern Indiana: "We get some very nice emails and phone calls. I mean, they can make you cry. People are really grateful for them. The fresh products have been wonderful."
Sarah Ochoa, the community health services director for Community Action Partnership of Western Nebraska: "Definitely, there’s a need in the community. We’re not seeing the same people every week, which is a good thing, people are coming when they need it."
Annie Forrest, Recipient: "Being physically handicapped, this means a lot to me."
Feed Evansville: "This program has helped many families who never needed assistance before the pandemic."
Meredith Knopp, President and CEO for St. Louis Area Foodbank: "We are so grateful because we know food is desperately needed by so many people in the bi-state region right now and will continue to be for the foreseeable future… A big part of that poundage increase was nutritious food the St. Louis Area Foodbank received through the USDA’s Farmers to Families Food Box Program."
Chris Edmonds, branch manager with the Prairie Farms Dairy: "We’re in a position to help those in need with food. We have supported over 50 non-profit organizations through the program so far, and more are being added every day."
Dave Donaldson, CityServe: "We are pleased to partner with suppliers to bring meat, produce, and dairy products into the homes of the most food-insecure families in America. Local churches have played an extraordinary role in delivering the food boxes through the "Last Mile of Need" in ways which are unique during this challenging time."
Desiree Rodriguez, Travel Well Holdings: "It is rewarding to see the distribution of fresh nutritious foods be accomplished in the same spirit in which the food box program was designed. We are committed to bringing relief to families who have been affected during this season."
Elizabeth Gregor, Marketing Manager for Seashore Fruit & Produce Co.: "We are grateful to be in this position to do something about food insecurity during this time. We certainly do not do it alone. Our partnerships with non-profit organizations are crucial. We appreciate the outstanding job the Y has done to help get these boxes into the hands of those who need it."
Eric Cooper, president and CEO of the San Antonio Food Bank: "Food banks across the country viewed USDA’s announcement of the Farmers to Families Food Boxes as an innovative solution to the supply chain challenges many growers and producers are experiencing due to COVID-19, and a solution that would also help connect additional food with communities in need."
Representative Jefferson Van Drew (NJ-2): "This program is a vital one for our community and our farmers."
Representative Dusty Johnson (SD-AL): “When COVID-19 upended the food supply chain, USDA acted swiftly to create the Farmers to Families Food Box program. Thanks to this program, over 95,000 boxes to date have been distributed to South Dakota families in need. While USDA will continue to work to fine-tune the program, there is no denying the tremendous help this program is providing to farmers and families across the nation.”
Representative K. Michael Conaway (TX-11): "The Farmers to Families Food Box program is working as intended to benefit both farmers and communities impacted by the pandemic, and no matter the circumstance, anyone in a distribution area can receive assistance."
Stephanie Sena, Student-Run Emergency Housing Unit of Philadelphia: "It’s been really rewarding. A lot of the neighbors here stop and thank me for doing the work. Many of them volunteer to distribute the food, too. I think it’s been an incredible experience. We’ve heard from a lot of the people who sent messages who said it helped them survive through the summer by using their money to pay for rent and utilities and not worry about food."
The Outreach Center: "Since May, the USDA Farmers to Families Food Box program has allowed the center to expand its monthly food distribution to a weekly program. At the same time, the number of families showing up for help has exploded.”
Montana Representative Greg Gianforte: "This is very important work, and I'm thrilled to be here to highlight that work and the difference it's making in people's lives.”
Joy Standridge, nutrition services deputy director of the Chickasaw Nation: "This project is designed to help provide relief to the food supply chain devastated by the COVID-19 pandemic. This initiative provides relief to farmers and distributors who lost demand for their food products. It provides relief to food banks and other nonprofits by making sure the products are made available already packed in boxes, which reduces the number of volunteers needed to work at each event.”
Walter Schweitzer, Montana Farmers Union: "The coronavirus pandemic hit our farmers and ranchers hard. Our most vulnerable populations are facing unprecedented food insecurity. The Farmers to Families Food Box program is consistent with our mission of feeding hungry Montanans and supporting Montana farmers and ranchers.”
Dave Prather, general manager at Western Montana Growers Cooperative: "The USDA Farmers to Families Program provides an excellent opportunity for local farmers to sell products that might otherwise go to waste and connects Montanans in need with fresh and nutritious produce right from the farm. We are thankful to have the opportunity to participate.”
Donna Osuch, United Way: "People were very appreciative of it and I believe are looking forward to it.”
Casey Davis, food box volunteer at Venture Church: "It’s the best feeling in the world, to be able to look into somebody’s eyes and see the relief, that they’ve picked up food and groceries that are healthy for them, it just feels good.”
@TeresaCoxUS: Thank you to Harbor Light Church for providing fresh food to our community through USDA Farmers to Families and City Serve Network.”
@NBCMontana: "The Farmers to Families program has helped the Missoula Food Bank increase its output to people who come in. In the few weeks the program has been operational, it has distributed over 35,000 meals in Montana.”
@RCPS_SchoolNutr: "Thanks so much to our volunteers, to RCA, to the RCSO, and to our community for making today’s Farmers to Families food giveaway a huge success! This is what community looks like.”
@KendricD_Jones: "Another great event with Mayor David Allen and Mr. Hodge partnership with USDA Farmers to Families food box give away. Shout out to the City Staff, Council Woman Williams, and all the families/friends that came out to help.”
@judylovesfishi1: "@IvankaTrump Thank you so much from the bottom of our hearts! Porterville loves you and we love this program!! First daughter Ivanka Trump and Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue launched the Farmers to Families program and it's coming to Porterville, Lindsay and Tulare on July 25.”
@OperationBlessing: "Thanks to YOUR generosity, a team from Operation Blessing was able to deliver thousands of pounds of product in support of the U.S. Department of Agriculture's (USDA) Farmers to Families program. Thank you for making deliveries like this possible!”
@SenBillCassidy: "This program supports American agriculture and will help distribute food boxes to families in need who were especially hit hard by #COVID19.”
@CommonMkt: "Our #FarmerstoFamilies illustrated impact reflects 6 weeks of collective effort - and we’re honored to kick off another cycle.”
North Dakota Women’s Basketball: "It felt great to give back to our community this afternoon. Thanks to the USDA’s Farmers to Families pandemic relief initiative for allowing us to get back out as a team!”
@CommFoodBankFW: "We are thankful to the @USDA's Farmers to Families Food Box program! Today, we are giving away 25-pound boxes of seasoned grilled chicken breasts to each client, and that's in addition to a gallon of milk and our normal food box.”
@CoxEnterprises: "@BrightFarms has teamed up with the USDA's Farmers to Families Food Box Program, which serves as a lifeline for vulnerable, low-income communities impacted by the recent economic downturn. So far, BrightFarms has shipped more than 200,000 clamshells of lettuce in the boxes.”
@mrbryanlcarter: "Our Harmony CDC team partnered with Farmers to Families Food Box Program to serve our Seniors with 150 boxes of fresh fruit, vegetables, and/or dairy products today!”
@FoodGatherers: "Through the @USDA's Farmers to Families Food Box Program, Food Gatherers receives produce boxes from Michigan food suppliers. Each box is filled with fresh fruits & veggies and is distributed to our hunger-relief network!”
@WorldWideProduce: "We want to extend our gratitude and appreciation to the #USDA, our farmers and suppliers, our exceptional charitable partners and of course our hardworking team bringing this project to life!”
@CommonMarketse: "The Common Market Farmers to Families program, funded by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, has connected us to so many incredible regional organizations all rooted in community, and dedicated to helping nourish their neighbors.”
@hamproduceseafood: "We are so thankful that through the USDA Family Food Box Program we are able to reach people in these areas.”
BACKGROUND:
On April 17, 2020, Secretary Perdue announced the program as part of the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program developed to help farmers, ranchers, distributors and consumers in response to the COVID-19 national emergency.
From May 15 through June 30, the first period of performance, the program successfully delivered 35 million boxes, valued at $947 million in support of American farmers and families.
To build on that success, USDA extended some well performing distributors to continue food deliveries for purchases up to $1.27 billion and also awarded $202 million to new distributors to continue increasing capacity in underserved areas, for the second performance period of July 1 through Aug. 31, 2020.
Additionally, last week, USDA announced it would launch a third round of Farmers to Families Food Box Program purchases with distributions to occur beginning by September 1 with completion by October 31, 2020. The purchases will spend the balance of $3 billion authorized for the program. In this third round of purchases, USDA plans to purchase combination boxes to ensure all recipient organizations have access to fresh produce, dairy products, fluid milk, and meat products.
Eligibility in the third round will be open to entities who can meet the government’s requirements and specifications. Proposals will be expected to illustrate how coverage will be provided to areas identified as opportunity zones, detail subcontracting agreements, and address the “last mile” delivery of product into the hands of the food insecure population.
In line with our commitment to oversight, both extended and new contracts continue to require audits to ensure food safety plans are being followed, 100% U.S. grown and raised food is being procured and delivered, and food products meet all of USDA’s high-quality standards. Payments to distributors under the Farmers to Families Food Box Program are only made upon the submission of an invoice documenting evidence of delivery and adherence to contractual requirements.
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.