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Farmers to Families Food Box contracts extended


SD Ag Connection - June 18, 2020

WASHINGTON, DC - The Farmers to Families Food Box Program will extend the contracts of select vendors from the first round of the USDA program.

Beyond direct support to farmers and ranchers during the coronavirus pandemic, 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 a total of $3 billion in fresh produce, dairy, and meat products. The program is purchasing $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 are packaging these products totaling $1.2 billion into family-sized boxes, then transporting them to food banks, community and faith-based organizations, and other non-profits serving Americans in need. The inditial cut-off date was through June 30, 2020. That has now been extended.

"These extensions are a testament to the great work done by these vendors in support of American agriculture and the American people. They are also 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," said U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue. "The efforts of everyone involved form the backbone of the Farmers to Families Food Box Program and its goal to help fill the hunger gap in all of our communities."

USDA is exercising the option to extend contracts for current distributors for the next performance period, July 1- Aug. 30, for up to $1.16 billion of food. The decision to extend current contractors was determined based on their performance since May 15. Some vendors were extended without any adjustment to their delivery amounts, while others' amounts or locations were adjusted based on their demonstrated abilities to perform or at the vendor's request.

The government chose not to extend some vendors' contracts either in part because of concerns brought up during audits or for performance challenges. Additionally, some contracts were not extended at the vendors' request.

In addition, USDA will begin new contracts with a few vendors whose offers were not previously accepted due to technical errors in their proposals. USDA has reviewed these proposals and found they demonstrate that these firms can meet the program's distribution and delivery requirements. These distributors will have an increased focus 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. We will also solicit additional contracts to ensure continued distribution of food boxes.

USDA is continuously evaluating how to expand access to the program in areas that are underserved and is in the final stages of determining cities and states who have been affected by the economic impacts of COVID-19 and where additional food boxes are in demand. These underserved areas will be specifically targeted with distributors who will assist in filling the gaps.

Between May 15 to June 17, distributors have delivered over 17 million food boxes to approximately 3,200 non-profit organizations across the United States including Guam and Puerto Rico.

More information about the Farmers to Families Food Box Program is available at www.usda.gov/farmers-to-families.



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