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A worker moves a pallet of food onto a rack at the San Francisco Food Bank . Justin Sullivan/GettyImages

USDA approves $1.2 billion in contracts for 'Food Box' program

Farmers to Families Food Box Program will begin distributing surplus food, while safeguarding food safety techniques, to communities across the country.

The USDA has approved $1.2 billion in contracts to support American producers and communities in need through the USDA Farmers to Families Food Box Program.

"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," says U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue. "We were pleased to see the abundance of interest from both food distributors and non-profit organizations. Within days, the Farmers to Families Food Box Program will begin distributing surplus food, while safeguarding food safety techniques, to communities across the country where it's needed most."

A full list of approved suppliers was posted on the Farmers to Families Food Box Program website Friday. Approved suppliers may increase the number of non-profit organizations or government entities (e.g., school food authority, Indian tribe) they will provide boxes to within their service area but must ensure the non-profit has 501(c)(3) tax exempt status.

On April 17, Sonny Perdue announced the program as part of the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program developed to help farmers, ranchers and consumers in response to the COVID-19 national emergency.

Through this program, USDA's Agricultural Marketing Service is partnering with national, regional and local suppliers, whose workforce has been significantly impacted by the closure of restaurants, hotels and other food service businesses, to purchase up to $3 billion in fresh produce, dairy and meat products. The program will purchase $461 million in fresh fruits and vegetables, $317 million in a variety of dairy products, $258 million in meat products and $175 million in a combination box of fresh produce, dairy or meat products. Suppliers will package these products into family-sized boxes, then transport them to food banks, community and faith-based organizations, and other non-profits serving Americans in need from May 15 through June 30, 2020. AMS may elect to extend the period of performance of the contracts, via option periods, dependent upon program success and available remaining funds, up to $3 billion.

Source: USDA Agricultural Marketing Service, which is solely responsible for the information provided, and wholly owns the information. Informa Business Media and all its subsidiaries are not responsible for any of the content contained in this information asset.
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