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USDA Invests in Feeding Kids and Families

KSAL StaffSeptember 19, 2022

The U.S. Department of Agriculture will provide close to $2 billion in additional funding to food banks and school meal programs for purchasing American-grown foods. The additional support will help these organizations endure supply chain challenges and elevated food costs as they continue to fulfill their mission of providing nutritious foods to kids and families in need.

The funds, provided through USDA’s Commodity Credit Corporation, or CCC, will be used in three ways:

  • Nearly $1 billion to purchase food for emergency food providers like food banks
  • Nearly $500 million to expand the Local Food Purchase Assistance, or LFPA, cooperative agreement program, through which 49 states, 33 tribes, and four territories are already working to purchase local foods for their emergency food systems; and
  • Nearly $500 million for schools across the country to purchase food for their lunch and breakfast programs, bringing the total CCC investment in school food since December 2021 to close to $2.5 billion, benefiting the roughly 30 million students who participate in school lunch and 15 million who participate in school breakfast each day.

“Funding these initiatives is paramount in the fight against hunger, and further demonstrates the Biden-Harris Administration and USDA’s commitment to strengthen food and nutrition security,” said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. “We must ensure Americans have access to safe, healthy, affordable food for longevity and optimal health.”

The investment is part of the Department’s broader commitment to strengthening the supply chain and making nutritious food more accessible for families.

“Food banks and schools are the backbone of our nutrition safety net, serving tens of millions of children and families,” said Stacy Dean, Deputy Under Secretary for Food, Nutrition, and Consumer Services. “The Biden Administration understands that supply chain disruptions and high food costs have created uncertainties for these crucial partners, and we are committed to equipping them with the resources they need to keep communities fed, strong, and healthy.”

“These programs directly connect American producers with food banks and schools, strengthening our rural economies while helping those most in need,” said Under Secretary of Marketing and Regulatory Programs, Jenny Lester Moffitt. “As part of the Biden Administration’s commitment to transforming our nation’s food system, USDA is dedicated to fostering partnerships between producers and food assistance programs. Working together, farmers, food banks, and schools, can improve our nation’s food and nutrition security.”

The Biden Administration has taken bold, broad-reaching actions to help mitigate the effects of inflation on American families and ensure they can keep healthy food on the table. Other recent USDA efforts to help families cope with high food costs and other challenges include:

  • Purchasing up to $50 million in domestically produced rice: Earlier this week, USDA announced plans to purchase rice for distribution to a variety of domestic food assistance programs, including charitable institutions, to help address the worsened risk of hunger and food insecurity caused by disruptions in the domestic food supply chain resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • Providing summertime child food benefits: USDA is providing the families of nearly 32 million children with approximately $391 per child for summer 2022, with higher amounts in Alaska, Hawaii, and U.S. territories. These benefits through the Summer P-EBT program are helping families cover food costs.
  • Offering broad support for school meals: In addition to providing schools with additional funds to purchase food, USDA launched a school meals webpage for families with information about applying for free and reduced-price school meals; encouraged states to maximize their resources for serving more kids through school meals; provided schools and child care centers with additional temporary reimbursements and other flexibilities; and more.
  • Increasing WIC purchasing power: USDA extended the WIC cash-value benefit increase through the end of this fiscal year so WIC families can buy and consume more fruits and vegetables to support their overall health.
  • Bolstering food banks: On top of the CCC funds announced today, USDA continues to provide significant funding for food banks and pantries to help them meet increasing needs.
  • Strengthening connections and food access across local and regional food systems: In addition to the funds announced today, USDA has provided $400 million for local purchasing through LFPA and $200 million to help schools procure local products through the Local Food for Schools cooperative agreement program.
  • Supporting a food system that is equitable, resilient, and fair. These efforts build on USDA’s generational investment to transform our food system in support of more and better markets for both consumers and producers. Additional details on this broader effort are available at www.usda.gov/build-back-better.

Background on the nearly $1 billion purchase of food for emergency food providers:

USDA will use $943 million to procure USDA Foods for use by emergency feeding organizations facing increased need. USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service and Food and Nutrition Service will work jointly to identify products most likely to be available for purchase, and offer those products based on a formula to The Emergency Food Assistance Program, or TEFAP, State agencies for further distribution to local agencies, primarily food banks. USDA will open orders in Fiscal Year 2023, with deliveries occurring on an ongoing basis throughout Fiscal Years 2023 and 2024.

A percentage of the $943 million will support incidental costs incurred by local agencies for the storage and transportation of the USDA Foods, as provided for under the authority at section 5(c) of the Charter Act. Funds will be allocated to State agencies in proportion to the amount of food ordered for local distribution, with all funds passed through to the local agencies.

USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service and its Commodity Procurement Program annually buy more than $3 billion of domestically produced and processed meat, poultry, fruit, vegetables, dairy, grains and oilseed. These purchases of wholesome, high-quality products, collectively called USDA Foods, support American agriculture by encouraging the consumption of domestic foods and provide safe, nutritious food for a variety of federal, state and international nutrition assistance programs. They are delivered to schools, food banks and households in communities across the country and are a vital component of our nation’s food safety net.

Background on the nearly $500 million for Local Food Purchase Assistance Cooperative Agreement Program:

LFPA supports states, territories and tribes to purchase food from historically underserved producers as well as local and regional producers to support emergency food assistance efforts. An allocation of $471.5 million will be used for cooperative agreements with states, tribes, and territories to purchase locally available food grown within each state or within 400 miles of the delivery destination that will be distributed to meet the unique local needs of each community through emergency nutrition programs, including food banks, schools and organizations that reach underserved communities.

Background on the nearly $500 million for schools across the country to purchase food for their lunch and breakfast programs:

An investment of another $471.5 million will be used for the third round of Supply Chain Assistance funds provided to States to support the purchase of American-grown foods for their meal programs. Supply Chain Assistance funding can be used by school districts to purchase unprocessed and minimally processed domestic food such as fresh fruit, milk, cheese, frozen vegetables and ground meat. Each state will allocate the funds to schools based on student enrollment, with a minimum amount per district to ensure that small schools are not left behind.

This assistance builds on the two rounds of Supply Chain Assistance funds that totaled nearly $2 billion that USDA previously allocated in December 2021 and June 2022. These funds deliver direct relief from ongoing supply chain issues and improve the quality and consistency of school meals for children in communities experiencing disruptions, making it easier for schools to operate successful meal programs.

USDA touches the lives of all Americans each day in so many positive ways. In the Biden Administration, USDA is transforming America’s food system with a greater focus on more resilient local and regional food production, ensuring access to healthy and nutritious food in all communities, building new markets and streams of income for farmers and producers using climate smart food and forestry practices, making historic investments in infrastructure and clean energy capabilities in rural America, and committing to equity across the Department by removing systemic barriers and building a workforce more representative of America. To learn more, visit www.usda.gov.

More information about these new commodity purchases is available on the AMS Commodity Procurement Program webpage.

Copyright © Meridian Media, 2022. All Rights Reserved. No part of this story may be reproduced without Meridian Media’s express consent.

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