The U.S. Department of Agriculture today announced it has authorized $500 million for a fourth round of purchases for the USDA Farmers to Families Food Box Program. USDA is issuing solicitations for the fourth round to existing Basic Ordering Agreement (BOA) holders and expects to award contracts by Oct. 30 for deliveries of food boxes from Nov. 1 through Dec. 31, 2020.
In the fourth round, as in the third round, states have been allocated boxes based on the internal need of the state. The program will continue the purchase of combination boxes to include fresh produce, dairy products, fluid milk and meat products. The program also will continue to require that proposals illustrate how coverage would be provided to areas identified as opportunity zones, detail subcontracting agreements, and address the “last mile” delivery of product into the hands of the food insecure population. Entities who meet the government’s requirements and specifications will be issued agreements and submit pricing through a competitive acquisition process.
“I’m gratified by the overwhelmingly positive response to the Farmers to Families Food Box program from families, distributors, food banks, faith-based organizations and non-profits in communities across the country. We recently surpassed 110 million boxes delivered, and millions more are headed to Americans in need,” U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue said. “I’m very pleased that we are able to extend this program and continue our relief efforts for American farmers and families.”
“Across the country, I have seen firsthand how the Trump Administration is fueling millions of American families through the Farmers to Families Food Box Program,” said Advisor to the President Ivanka Trump. “President Trump’s commitment to extend this impactful program is ensuring healthy and nutritious produce, dairy and meat will continue to reach our Nation’s most vulnerable communities while supporting our farmers!”
The third round of Farmers to Families Food Box program was announced July 24, 2020, and the President announced on Aug. 24, 2020, that up to an additional $1 billion was being made available for deliveries through Oct. 31, 2020. USDA announced contracts for the third round on Sept. 17, 2020, and has purchased more than $2.981 billion worth of food, to date.
In the second round of purchasing and distribution, which began July 1 and ended on Sep. 18, 2020, USDA purchased more than $1.763 billion of food through extended contracts of select vendors from the first round of the program. It also issued new contracts focused on Opportunity Zones in order to direct food to reach underserved areas, places where either no boxes have yet been delivered, or where boxes are being delivered, but where there is additional need.
The first round of purchases occurred from May 15 through June 30, 2020, and saw more than 35.5 million boxes delivered in the first 45 days.
Updates to the number of food boxes verified as delivered will continue to be displayed on the USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) website, with breakdowns by performance period on the Farmers to Families Food Box Program page.
This additional funding for the food box program is one of many recent efforts by the USDA to continue providing critical support to the American people. USDA’s Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) also has taken steps to ensure Americans in need are able to feed themselves and their families.
Earlier this month, USDA extended flexibilities to allow free meals to continue to be available to all children throughout the entire 2020-2021 school year. This unprecedented move is part of USDA’s unwavering commitment to ensuring all children across America have access to nutritious food as the nation recovers from the COVID-19 pandemic. USDA previously extended child nutrition waivers through December 2020 based upon available funding at the time. The flexibilities extended allow schools and other local program operators to continue to leverage the Summer Food Service Program (SFSP) and the Seamless Summer Option (SSO) to provide meals to all children, at no cost, at over 90,000 sites across the country through June 30, 2021.
In April, USDA increased Monthly SNAP Benefits across all 50 states and three territories to increase food security during the coronavirus national emergency. These emergency benefits represent a 40 percent increase in overall monthly SNAP benefits, significantly increasing food purchasing power for American families. In addition, USDA announced in May that 90 percent of participants would soon be able to use SNAP benefits to purchase food from authorized retailers online.
USDA has also provided over $3 billion (PDF, 539 KB) in food and administrative funds to food banks through The Emergency Food Assistance Program (TEFAP), which provides 100 percent domestic USDA Food to families in need.