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Farmers to Families Food Box Program Concluded

04/19/2021

There have been five rounds of the Farmers to Families Food Box Program initiated by the previous Administration in 2020.  Since inception, 157 million boxes have been distributed benefiting farmers and recipients.  Unfortunately the program that was implemented as an emergency measure by then Secretary Sonny Perdue, was characterized by inefficient management, high cost, inequitable distribution, waste, and unexplained losses.  The program also developed a strong political direction with insertion of flyers in boxes to solicit support for the 2020 Presidential Election. 

 

In a recent hearing of the House Appropriation Subcommittee on Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration, Secretary Tom Vilsak promised to take the best of the Farmers to Families Food Box Program to be incorporated in The Emergency Food Assistance Program (TEFAP) that will run through September 30th.  The USDA will work closely with food banks and will follow their advice in providing more fresh produce.

 

Recenly 80 members of the United Fresh Produce Association who participated in the Farmers to Families Food Box Program submitted 30 recommendations to USDA to effect improvements.  It is anticipated that boxes of fresh produce will weigh from 10 to 12 pounds, will contain a variety of vegetables with limits on root vegetables, but include fruit with a shelf-life of seven to 10 days once delivered to a distribution point. It is hoped that the benefits of the early Farmers to Families Food Box program will be retained but with improvements in the subsequent version to be developed by the USDA. Given that food banks have the capability to store and distribute eggs donated by producers, could USDA include shell eggs in the new program?