UPDATED 1:05 PM PT — Friday, May 8, 2020
The U.S. Department of Agriculture is taking new steps to make sure no food is wasted and food banks stay stocked. This week, the agency announced a $470 million plan to buy a surplus of food, which will be distributed to communities in need nationwide.
Within days, the Farmers to Families Food Box Program will begin distributing $1.2 billion in surplus food to communities across the country where it’s needed most. https://t.co/lZ0x5Cww3o pic.twitter.com/HMJaz2e9fG
— Sec. Sonny Perdue (@SecretarySonny) May 8, 2020
Food banks are being overwhelmed across the U.S. amid the pandemic, with millions of Americans out of work and going hungry.
“I know everyone was worried about not catching this respiratory virus, but I’m sitting here going, ‘Okay, a lot of people have been removed from their daily routines,’” stated one resident. “They’ve lost their paychecks, they can’t feed their families.”
The products being purchased were all grown here in the United States. The agency’s power, which it’s had since 1935, will allow it to help out farmers with an excess of food and, in turn, deliver it to those in need.
Dairy farmers in particular have been hit hard amid the coronavirus pandemic. In many cases, they’ve been forced to dump large quantities of milk down the drain. However, some have said hope may now be on the horizon.
The USDA recently confirmed it is planning to purchase nearly $5 billion worth of American-grown agricultural products for the remainder of the fiscal year.
$461M: fresh fruits & vegs
$317M: dairy products
$258M: meat products
$175M: combo boxes of the above items pic.twitter.com/kIHmnP46oO
— USDA Ag Mktg Service (@USDA_AMS) May 8, 2020
This isn’t the first time the agency has stepped in this year. Back in April, the department announced a $300 million initiative to package and ship goods off to food banks in need.
Those shipments will most likely be seen in the coming weeks. As for the latest round of purchases, deliveries are expected to begin in July.