Weekly report: USDA’s current version of Harvest Boxes (“Farmers to Families”)
U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue announced today that the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Farmers to Families Food Box Program has distributed more than five million food boxes in support of American farmers and families affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.
In case you have any doubts, the USDA has a video of the program in action: USDA Farmers Feed Families Food Box Program video
Or, you can listen to the USDA’s podcast interviews. Have a Listen.
Not everyone thinks the program is going swimmingly.
- Food Bank News reports that the program is indeed underway, but it is turning out to be expensive for food banks; they were not prepared for the “substantial additional costs” of storage space or distribution.
- Chuck Abbott reports “holes in USDA’s Food Box.” Congressional Democrats are raising questions about whether this program “is a fair and efficient way to help families.”
Although some areas have reported positive experiences, we are concerned that the Food Box program has a number of gaps that will affect its ability to provide food to families in an efficient and equitable way,” said Senate Democrats in a letter to Perdue on Friday. Their letter followed a May 22 letter by the Democratic leaders of three House Agriculture subcommittees who said contracts “were awarded to entities with little to no experience in agriculture or food distribution and with little capacity to meet the obligations of their award.
The program got off to a bad start, but may yet end up doing some good.
But really, these resources ought to be going into SNAP, which already works and could work much better if given adequate resources.