On Saturday, President Donald Trump took to Twitter to announce that he directed the federal government to purchase food from farmers, ranchers, and growers of specialty crops to buy billions in food to help feed hungry people in the United States.
“Starting early next week, at my order, the USA will be purchasing, from our Farmers, Ranchers & Specialty Crop Growers, 3 Billion Dollars worth of Dairy, Meat & Produce for Food Lines & Kitchens. ‘FARMERS TO FAMILY FOOD BOX’ Great news for all!” tweeted Trump.
The president tagged USDA Secretary Sonny Perdue and President of Farm Bureau Zippy Duvall in the text.
Over the past several weeks, headlines featuring slaughtered animals, rotting vegetables, and poured out milk from farmers unable to sell them left people surprised when millions in the U.S. are out of work. The reason so much food waste happened is that meatpacking plants shut down due to COVID-19 illness, and many farms that usually provided food to restaurants and other food service companies were unable to deliver because those places closed to help prevent the spread of the virus.
According to the USDA, the Farmers to Family Food Box is part of the Coronavirus Farmers Assistance Program. The program will distribute as much as $3 billion in food to people in need. With the new partnership, the USDA will work with regional and local food distributors that were affected by restaurants and other closures during the pandemic shutdowns.
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In honor of the frontline COVID-19 responders and essential workers, The @usnavyblueangels and @AFThunderbirds did a flyover in Washington, DC today. Thank you to all our #HealthcareHeroes and essential workers! ???? _ ???? Thomas Witham / USDA #AmericaStrong #inthistogether
Secretary Perdue spoke about the new initiative, according to a Dairy Foods report.
“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 Perdue. “We were pleased to see the abundance of interest from both food distributors and nonprofit organizations.”
These new partnerships will help bring food to people who need it the most while cutting down on the waste and allowing farmers and ranchers to make money for the products they were unable to deliver via their typical supply chains during the crisis. Ultimately, those who experience food insecurity will have access to healthy food to help feed themselves and their families through this new program. Each box will contain fresh produce, dairy, or meat products packaged in family sizes, and they will go to food banks, community and faith-based organizations, and other nonprofits throughout the U.S. that help distribute food to those in need. It runs from May 15 through June 30, 2020, and the initiative could be extended depending on the program’s success and available funds.