Following President Donald Trump’s approval to include up to an additional $1 billion in the Farmers to Families Food Box Program, U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue announced the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has approved up to $1 billion in contracts to support American producers and communities in need through the USDA Farmers to Families Food Box Program. Earlier this week, USDA reached a milestone of having distributed more than 90 million food boxes in support of American farmers and families affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.
“These contract awards will go to vendors who submitted the strongest proposals in support of American agriculture and the American people. The high level of interest and quality of proposals are a testament that the program is accomplishing what we intended – supporting U.S. farmers and distributors and getting food to those who need it most. It’s a real trifecta, which is why we call it a win-win-win,” said Secretary Perdue. “Thanks to President Trump and his commitment to the program with the announcement of an additional $1 billion in funding, more farmers will be supported, and more families will receive the nutritious food they need during these difficult times.”
The International Dairy Foods Association (IDFA) has worked closely with USDA to ensure dairy remains a key part of the Farmers to Families Food Box program so that dairy companies can deliver nutritious dairy products to food insecure Americans via non-profits, food banks, and faith and community organizations. To date, USDA has purchased more than $400 million in dairy products since mid-May, including fresh fluid milk, various cheeses, yogurt, sour cream and more. IDFA engaged directly with USDA during Round 2 of the program to make changes to the program, including expanding the requested products to include hard, semi-firm or semi-soft cheeses.
“With over 90 million Farmers to Families food boxes delivered, we continue to leverage and support our great American farmers and food distributors to feed those most vulnerable. Thanks to the President’s commitment of $1 billion in additional funding, I’m proud to see that we are well on our way to the third round of USDA Farmers to Families food box program purchases which focus on boxes containing fresh and nutritious fruit, vegetables, meat and dairy,” said Advisor to the President Ivanka Trump.
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 is available on the Farmers to Families Food Box Program webpage.
In this third round of purchases, USDA announced plans to purchase combination boxes to ensure all recipient organizations have access to fresh produce, dairy products, fluid milk and meat products. These boxes will be distributed to every county in America.
USDA solicited new proposals for the third round. Proposals were required to illustrate how coverage would 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.
Entities who met the government’s requirements and specifications were issued agreements and submitted pricing through a competitive acquisition process. Agreements were awarded based on the pricing submitted for the delivery locations proposed, box content, last mile delivery plans, means testing compliance, and support of small and local/regional food systems.
In the ongoing second round of purchasing and distribution, which began July 1 and will conclude Sep. 18, 2020, USDA has purchased more than $1.113 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 occurred from May 15 through June 30, 2020 and saw more than 35.5 million boxes delivered in the first 45 days.
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.