PRESS RELEASE: Washington, D.C., June 23, 2020 – U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue announced today that the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Farmers to Families Food Box Program has distributed more than 20 million food boxes in support of American farmers and families affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Over the past few weeks, the Farmers to Families Food Box Program has continued to pick up steam, getting food in the hands of more and more Americans while providing much needed support to our agricultural sector,” said Secretary Perdue. “This milestone is 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.”
“The Farmers to Families Food Box Program has been an extraordinary success having already delivered 20 million large boxes of farm fresh food to those in need! This administration is proud of the collaborative efforts of farmers, distributors, food banks, non-profits and faith-based communities and their workforces in dispersing fresh produce, protein and dairy to those most in need across the United States,” said Advisor to the President, Ivanka Trump.
WHAT THEY ARE SAYING:
Ben Brukett, Indian Springs Farmers’ Association: “This is helping me have a market for my corn, because my main customer base was New Orleans and this is a blessing, a Godsend to farmers like me, because we had stuff in the field and we really didn’t know where we were going to sell it, because it doesn’t stay in the field when you’re ready to harvest it.”
Erin Pulling, Food Bank of the Rockies: We are receiving more food from the USDA than we ever have before and the biggest bulk of that is from Farmers to Families’ Food Box program or Coronavirus Food Assistance program.
Ted Copeland, Perfect Pact: “I can not explain in words the joy it gives to talk to the nonprofits and the tears in their voices when we say our trucks are coming. In 45 years in the produce and transportation business this is the most satisfying accomplishment I have been involved in.”
Leslie Cooperband, co-owner of Prairie Fruits: “This is government working.”
Pastor Sheridan, Garden City First Assembly of God: “Thank you to all of those who saw this as a potential for area communities to resource families in need. No one understands the need like those with boots on the ground…This has been incredible for us to receive product that’s not second class. This is product that you would purchase at any major store. It’s phenomenal product, it’s fresh and beyond what I imagined. This has been amazing. The leverage you have given the local community to meet these needs is phenomenal.”
Tal Shoshan CEO of FiveStar Gourmet Foods: “When the opportunity to work with USDA on this amazing project came about it was an easy decision to make to help bring fresh foods from our farmers to the families that desperately need them. It is a win-win that aligns perfectly with our company’s mission each and every day.”
Neil Kinny of Rich Chicks LLC: “It’s an incredible effort. It’s a well-conceived program. It’s been a huge effort for us and our company and the people working here really feel a part of something bigger than themselves.”
John Corso, CEO of Coastal Sunbelt Produce: “This program is an elegant solution…leverages our sourcing capabilities… and allows us to put our people back to work while serving our community…We’re delivering the same quality of food with the same level of service.”
Pete Olsen, White Pony Express’ School Pantry and Food Sourcing Manager: “When I learned about the Farmers to Families program, I felt this would be the supplement we’d been looking for… This has been a game-changer for us!”
Central Illinois Produce, John Rollins: “I’m just happy making boxes. It’s a great feeling. For us, it’s giving people really high quality produce … So many people were hired back and putting these boxes together. It is really, really having an impact.”
Councilman Anthony Hairston, Ohio: “This is great that local companies received the contracts and fabulous that the local community will benefit from this.”
Jennifer Mettz, food box recipient: “This is an amazing thing that the people have arranged and gotten done for everyone.”
Ora Prince, Food Box Recipient: “It’s wonderful, it’s awesome.”
Misty Apala, Executive Director of Impact Ardmore: “There’s a benefit for farmers and there’s a benefit for families… I think it’s amazing that people are willing to come in and be the hands and heart. They didn’t need a reason other than these are our neighbors and you do for your neighbors as you would want done for yourself.”
Central Illinois dairy farmer Ken Ropp: “The program has also been a workforce boost. The cheese business grew from five to 21 employees…We’re getting great exposure. It’s been huge.”
Richard Brunson from Baptists on a Mission: “We’re just so thankful this program is available. It’s helping farmers and it’s helping people who need the food because of COVID-19.”
Rich Henningsen, VP on Board of Directors of Butte Food Bank: “It’s fresh produce, and then there’s also a combination box with some meats in it like a ham and some chicken, cheese, milk — so there’s some neat boxes, and people can get a choice,” said Henningsen. “I just like to thank everybody that’s put this together and thank our farmers, especially, that aren’t throwing this produce away and getting it to people that really need it.”
Townhall: “Sec. Perdue and Ivanka Trump Deliver Results for Underserved Communities Affected By COVID-19.”
Michelle N. Hantman, United Way of Greater New Bedford: “These food boxes provide so much more than food, they provide a deeper sense of community and we couldn’t be prouder to be part of this initiative.”
Congressman Andy Harris: “Our producers win, the people who get the product win, everybody wins in this.”
Congressman Fred Keller: “Great work by @SecretarySonny and @USDA to help our farmers and families!”
Congressman Ross Spano: “The @USDA ‘Farmers to Families Food Box’ program is an example of the success gov & the private sector can achieve when we work together. Thank you and President @realDonaldTrump for your leadership!”
Allie Wainer, Sid Wainer & Son: “We feel so fortunate to take part in the Farmers to Families Food Box Program. During these unprecedented times, we have been able to pivot our products and resources that we typically supply restaurants with, to supporting the local community. It is important to stay connected as a community and this program helps the community rally around eating well, and being well.”
Tom Rector, Boynton Lions: “It is so amazing the response, the numbers of folks willing to make a difference in the lives of their neighbors.”
Mike Newcomb, Manzanita Outreach: “The quality of food is equivalent to what one would expect to find at a local grocery store.”
Congressman Greg Steube: “This program helps farmers move product while feeding families in need during the COVID-19 crisis. Thank you Secretary for this amazing program!”
Congressman Glenn ‘GT’ Thompson: “Incredible! Thrilled to see @USDA delivering more than 5 MILLION food boxes. This is a positive program for hunger challenged families and for our farmers!”
Michael Joyner, president of the Florida Fruit and Vegetable Association: “It’s a great way to help our growers who are still harvesting and getting fresh fruits and vegetables to those who need it. We’re grateful to the administration for providing this program and supporting our farmers.”
North Carolina Farm Bureau: “This is a great program! It gives farmers a new market for their goods AND it feeds our NC communities!”
Maryland Secretary of Agriculture Joseph Bartenfelder: “This wouldn’t have made it through that fast without you,” Bartenfelder told Perdue. “…You came up with this program that not only benefits the producers, it gets the food to where it’s needed and where those people benefit the most.”
Derstine’s President Zach Derstine: “This program is a miracle. It works for everybody.”
Bruce Day, Helena Food Share Executive Director: “It’s making sure that that food is no longer going into the dump, making sure that it is not being wasted, and at the same time it’s helping people throughout the county who could use help with food assistance…It’s great to be able to have this resource for people in our community and make sure it’s used well.”
Cathy Pope, Mid-South Food Bank President & CEO: “Farmers to Families is a great program for us right now, providing fresh produce and fresh dairy products from local producers to give a much-needed boost to our food distribution at no cost to us…We are excited about Farmers to Families and love the high-quality products in each box…It’s a program that makes sense and is really helping so many people. It comes at a great time for us and the people we serve.”
Sunrise Produce Company: “This program is providing millions and millions of fresh food boxes across the country to those in need, and we cannot be more excited to be one of the many providing them…The gratitude and appreciation we are seeing from our partners and communities is heartwarming.”
North Country Food Bank: “People have been really appreciative of the program and it has been really positive so far.”
SunTerra Produce: “With the help of our amazing growers, shippers, box assembly team, buyers, and logistics specialists, we are proud to report that today we shipped our 100,000th Farmers to Families food box in just 2 weeks….All delivered to communities in need in partnership with the United States Department of Agriculture!”
The Mission at Kern County: “It is incredible how responsive USDA has been during this entire process considering how much your office has to manage.”
Philadelphia Wholesale Produce Market: “None of us could have envisioned the chaos the world brought this year, but we choose to focus on healing through feeding our communities fresh and healthy food. The Philadelphia Wholesale Produce Market is proud to be a part of the Farmers to Families Food Box Program.”
Community Food Warehouse of Mercer County: “The recipients were thrilled with the amount and quality of the produce and mixed dairy.”
Brighter Bites NYC: “We wish you could see the smiles behind these masks but trust us when we say we are grinning from ear to ear! Today we received our first load of #farmerstofamilies @usdagov boxes from @luckysrealtomatoes and we couldn’t be happier!”
Jerry Haag, President & CEO of FBCH + @One_MoreChild: “Farmers to Families is a great help to farmers and to hungry families.”
More on what they are saying can be found HERE.
Regular updates to the number of food boxes distributed will be posted on USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) website.
On April 17, 2020, Secretary 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.
In response, AMS developed the Farmers to Families Food Box Program and partnered with national, regional and local suppliers, whose workforce has been significantly impacted by the closure of restaurants, hotels and other food service businesses. Suppliers package food products into family-sized boxes and then transport them to food banks, community and faith-based organizations, and other non-profits serving Americans in need.
In under 30 days, the program contracted for $1.2 billion in food products including $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, and began distribution of the food boxes across the United States on May 15, 2020.
Since then, over 20 million food boxes have been distributed to families in need while providing much needed support to critically impacted agricultural sectors.
The initial round of Farmers to Families Food Box Program contracts worth $1.2 billion will be completed June 30. USDA is continuing its commitment to support of American agriculture and families by extending some well performing contractors through the next performance period, July 1-Aug. 31, for up to $1.16 billion of food. USDA will use this next performance period to continue providing great service in areas that are well represented and focus improvement efforts on increasing access to the program in underserved areas up to the program’s $3 billion authorization.