Produce Union Unhappy with USDA’s Cancellation of Food Box Program

A trade group in the fruit and vegetable industry is unhappy with the USDA’s decision to cancel the Farmers to Families Food Box Distribution Program. United Fresh says millions of Americans gained access to healthy, fresh produce throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, calling the decision by Ag Secretary Tom Vilsack “shortsighted.” The group says comments disparaging the program were a slap in the face to the thousands of volunteers, non-profits, regional food distributors, and farmers who worked together in communities across the country to deliver healthy foods to people in their time of great need.

“For a major new program put together rapidly in a time of crisis, the food box program certainly included challenges,” United Fresh says in a news release. “Yet, hundreds of community non-profits and nutrition advocates have found delivering fresh produce directly to those in need has great potential to truly make a difference in the health of millions of Americans.” The trade group says the sudden decision seems more like a political statement against a program started by a former administration than an objective evaluation of the program’s ability to improve Americans’ health. “USDA bears a tremendous responsibility to develop new programs to get fresh, healthy foods to people in need,” they say.