Cancel OK

California Avocados Direct says food box program on hold

Ben Holtz, owner of Ben Holtz Consulting and partner in family business California Avocados Direct, received a $40 million USDA Farmers to Families Food Box contract.

Now he says USDA sent him a stop work notice.

Holtz said late last week, USDA told him to pause, but he expects to receive a notice to proceed on May 18.

When asked if USDA has sent stop orders for any food box contracts, Ashley Garrigus, spokeswoman for USDA, said May 15 the agency didn’t have any information to share on it.

Some in the produce industry have shown concern that there are people with little produce experience who received massive USDA food box contracts.

Holtz said his company did $1-2 million a year in revenue, and now he’s gotten a government contract for $40 million for six weeks.

“I understand there are concerns, but I will meet this challenge,” he said last week.

He said his website has been updated over the weekend with new information and pages for charities to contact him for food boxes; a place for produce suppliers to enter info to supply his plan; and a place for transportation companies to submit info to provide deliveries for the plan.

Holtz said May 18 he’s gotten many orders and is in the process of fulfilling his contract.

Greg Johnson is Director of Media Development for Blue Book Services