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United Fresh: USDA Food Box program to continue into fall

The United Fresh Produce Association BB #:145458 sent out this member alert July 8, 2020:

As previously reported, USDA announced last week the list of contractors extended through August 30 as part of the Farmers to Families program. This group includes contractors that were found to have fulfilled their obligations from the base period as well as 16 new contractors from the original bids submitted.

Upon review, USDA determined these bids could meet contract terms and were able deliver to under-served areas. A detailed list of contract awardees and award amounts by region can be found on the following USDA webpage.

With continuing questions about whether a new round of bids would be solicited, United Fresh now believes USDA will announce a Request for Proposal (RFP) for a third round of contracts in mid-July.

During this round, USDA will make available an additional $750 – $800 million worth of contracts for companies which would cover September 1 through October 31. It is unclear at this time if a fourth round will be announced.

For companies that previously bid but were not awarded contracts, we advise that you begin to get your bids in order and specifically address any questions that USDA might have advised you, assuming that you continue to want to pursue a contract.

Of course, please pay close attention to the RFP when released in the event there are changes. We understand that new companies that have not previously bid will also be considered in the new round.

As of this week, the Farmers to Families program has delivered 31.7 million boxes of fresh produce, meat, and dairy products. By the end of August, USDA estimates that almost $1 billion in fresh fruit and vegetable purchases will have been made over a 5-month period.

This is the largest concentrated purchase of fresh produce in USDA history, bringing a boost to participating growers, distributors, and others in the supply chain. Most importantly, our healthy and nutritious products are getting to those most in need through food banks, schools programs, and other emergency feeding sites.

More information on the program can be found on the Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) Farmers to Families website. 

If you have additional questions or need assistance, please contact Mollie Van Lieu, United Fresh’s Senior Director, Nutrition Policy, at mvanlieu@unitedfresh.org