House Lawmakers Press USDA Over Food Box Contracts

House Agriculture Committee members want questions answered regarding the Department of Agriculture’s Families Food Box Program. Led by Democrat Marcia Fudge of Ohio, the group sent a letter to Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue. They say the letter comes amid reports of contracts under the program awarded to companies with little to no experience in agriculture and food distribution and may have little or no capacity to meet the obligations set by USDA. The lawmakers are seeking information on what criteria were used to determine which applicants would be awarded contracts. They also want to know how USDA considered applicants’ financial standings, along with consideration of minority-owned businesses, and how USDA will ensure the contracts are fulfilled. How USDA evaluated applicants, and food safety concerns are also on the list. Representative Stacey Plaskett of the U.S. Virgin Islands and Representative Jim Costa of California joined Fudge in the letter. The three lawmakers chair separate House Agriculture subcommittees.