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USDA approves $1.2 billion in contracts for Farmers to Families Food Box Program

UPDATE: The list of contract awards can be accessed here. 

Here are the the contracts related to fresh produce and combination boxes valued above $10 million:

Caribbean Produce Exchange $107,040,000
GA Foodservice of Pinellas County, Inc $72,758,874
Tulsa Fruit, DBA: GoFresh $53,928,880
Ben Holtz Consulting, Inc DBA California Avocadoes Direct $40,000,000
CRE8AD8 LLC $39,125,000
Gordon Food Service $35,144,691
Five Star $29,250,000
Heeren LLC $28,042,812
Gourmet Gorilla, Inc $27,584,894
Pacific Coast Fruit Co. $24,840,000
DiMare Fresh $24,363,660
C & C Produce $21,756,000
Perfect Pact, LLC $20,072,400
Rich Chicks, LLC $17,774,480
Marjon Specialty Food $14,700,000
Stanley Marvel Inc $14,427,840
Premier Catering & Events, Inc. $13,650,980
Travel Well Holdings, LLC. $12,220,000
Tasty Brands, LLC $11,072,800
Merchants Foodservice $10,354,004

The United Fresh Produce Association and the Produce Marketing Association issued statements on Friday addressing “bumps in the road” expected from the fast implementation of the program.

From United Fresh:

Given the speed in which this program was awarded and implemented, we anticipate there will be bumps in the road. But we also know that the industry and our communities have proven their abilities to rise to solve challenges and this will be no different.

From PMA:

While PMA applauds the quick implementation of this new program, we would like to see additional funding be made available by USDA to expand the number of distributors and citizens the initiative is able to reach. Food insecurity did not begin with the global pandemic and will not end with it, either.

The full announcement from USDA is here:
WASHINGTON, May 8, 2020 – The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) today 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,” said 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 will be posted on the Farmers to Families Food Box Program website at 5 p.m. ET, Friday, May 8, 2020. 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.

Background:

On April 17, 2020, U.S. Secretary of Agriculture 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 (AMS) 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.

Additional information on the Farmers to Families Food Box Program, including webinars and an FAQs, is available on the AMS website at www.ams.usda.gov/selling-food-to-usda/farmers-to-families-food-box.