USDA is investing $ 1 billion to purchase wholesome meals for nutritionally insecure Individuals and construct capability for meals banks
The U.S. Department of Agriculture today announced an investment of up to $ 1 billion, including $ 500 million from US bailout funds, in the Emergency Food Assistance Program (TEFAP) to support and expand the emergency food network to help states , Food banks and local organizations reliably serve their communities.
Building on the lessons learned during the COVID-19 pandemic, the USDA will enter into collaboration agreements with state, indigenous and local bodies to buy food more efficiently from local producers and invest in infrastructure that enables partner organizations to more effectively reach underserved communities . USDA believes that the food system of the future should be fair, competitive, distributed and resilient; It must support health and ensure that producers get a fair share of the food dollar while promoting equity and contributing to national climate goals. This investment marks the first part of the USDA’s new Build Back Better initiative to realize that vision and begin building a better food system today.
“Hunger is falling thanks to aggressive action by the Biden Harris administration, but we need to do more to improve the partnerships and infrastructure that enable emergency food distribution to ensure that the food provided is nutritious and a better nutritional system support ”, said the Minister of Agriculture Tom Wilsack. “Now is the time to apply what food aid lessons learned at the start of the pandemic to improve how the USDA buys food and supports local organizations with TEFAP. We will place particular emphasis on reaching rural, remote and underserved communities, local and regional food systems and socially disadvantaged farmers. ”
In the coming months, the USDA will be making a number of additional investments as part of the Build Back Better initiative, focused on building a better food system.
Build Back Better efforts will improve access to nutritious food, combat racial injustice and inequality and a changing climate, provide continued support for producers and workers, and create a more resilient food system.
Today’s announcement of up to $ 1 billion will help resolve ongoing challenges directly related to the COVID-19 pandemic and address long-term challenges for our country’s pandemic-exposed food system.
Funded by the American Rescue Plan Act ($ 500 million) and the Consolidated Appropriations Act 2021 ($ 500 million), these efforts include:
US $ 500 million to support emergency food relief
The USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) will purchase nutritious, domestically produced foods for government food banking networks through TEFAP. The USDA’s Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) and AMS will work with the state to distribute the food to TEFAP providers. USDA will purchase groceries from registered retailers for distribution nationwide. Closing down small businesses, women, minorities, and veterans during the bidding process will provide USDA-registered small businesses with an enhanced opportunity to submit competitive bids. This funding will continue to support state demand for the new TEFAP Fresh product offering.
Up to $ 400 million to support local, regional and socially disadvantaged farmers
As part of this effort, AMS will enter into collaborative arrangements with state and tribal governments or other local entities to purchase food for the food banking network from local and regional producers (within the state or within a 400 mile radius) and socially disadvantaged producers. AMS will use innovative approaches to ensure that these agreements facilitate relationships between farmers, ranchers and producers, and local and regional food systems.
Up to $ 100 million in infrastructure grants to build capacity for food banks and expand reach in underserved areas
FNS will manage a new grant program to help food aid organizations meet TEFAP requirements, strengthen infrastructure and expand their reach to rural, remote and low-income communities. This grant program incorporates the lessons learned from the Farmers to Families Food Box program. It can help states, local organizations, and former grocery crate groups join the state’s emergency utility network and help pantries build storage and refrigeration capacity. These grants will help support organizations that serve underserved communities and communities of color.
The USDA will continue to make announcements through the Build Back Better initiative throughout 2021.