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Senator Casey Encourages Participation in USDA ‘Farmers to Families Food Box’ Initiative

Casey Encourages Participation in USDA ‘Farmers to Families Food Box’ Initiative in Order to Benefit Pennsylvania’s Farmers and Families

USDA Allocates $3 Billion for Food Distribution Initiative as COVID-19 Pandemic Increases Need for Nutrition Assistance, Applications Due By May 1

SCRANTON, PA — U.S. Senator Bob Casey (D-PA) is encouraging Pennsylvania food distributors, including food hubs, farmers markets and other entities, to apply for the United States Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Farmers to Families Food Box initiative. This initiative, funded by assistance included in the CARES Act, is designed to connect regional and local food distributors capable of sourcing, assembling and delivering food boxes with non-profit organizations, food banks and food pantries serving families in need of assistance.

As the COVID-19 pandemic impacts farmers with the widespread market and supply chain disruption and increases the need for financial and nutritional assistance for many Americans, this program serves to stimulate the industry and provide much-needed emergency food relief.

“Agriculture is the Commonwealth’s top industry and farmers and agricultural businesses are essential to our economy. This initiative needs to support our farmers and local food distributors while delivering immediate critical food assistance to families whose burdens have become exponentially heavier during this pandemic. I strongly encourage any Pennsylvania food distributor who is able to source, assemble and deliver food boxes to apply,” said Senator Casey.

Senator Casey’s previous efforts to support both farmers and non-profits include his introduction of the Farm to Food Bank Act, provisions from which were included in the 2018 Farm Bill.

The Farm Bill established Farm to Food Bank Projects to support farmers in donating their product directly to food banks to be distributed to those in need.

Farm to Foodbank can now be included in States’ emergency feeding distribution plans to support farmers by reimbursing them for the costs to produce, harvest, pack, process, store or transport to foodbanks food that is safe for consumption but does not have access to a retail market or supply chain.

This structure serves as a model upon which to continue to strengthen the connection between farmers and families in need.

Senator Casey recently sent letters to USDA Secretary Sonny Perdue requesting that USDA deliver direct assistance to dairy farmers and specialty crop producers to account for losses suffered during the COVID-19 pandemic, and tailor USDA relief efforts to farmers in various local markets.

Senator Casey also led a Pennsylvania delegation letter to the Small Business Administration to ensure that loans and programs are available and work for farmers and agricultural businesses.

More information on the USDA Farmers to Families Food Box initiative is available here and here.

More information on resources to help farmers during COVID-19 is available here. Read the letter to Secretary Perdue on farmers’ loss of sales here.

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