US government’s boxed food initiative falls short of target
CHICAGO (US) – According to US food bank managers and data from the agriculture department, the government delivered far less food aid than it had promised by the end of June. This was because it employed inexperienced firms to pack food during the pandemic.
The initiative named Farmers to Families Food Box is one of the ambitious programmes of the government to help struggling Americans during the crisis. It was aimed at collecting food from farmers, usually produced for restaurants, and delivering it to millions of citizens who have lost their jobs during the lockdown.
But the initiative drew flak from food banks and some senators as it gave the contracts to inexperienced firms that were unable to source the food and deliver it on time.
Data reveals the programme fell short of its target – deliver $1.2 billion (961.85 million pounds) worth of food to food banks, churches, and other organisations by June 30. The contracts were awarded to private parties on May 8.
According to a USDA representative, the agency is slated to examine a total of 27.5 million food boxes delivered during the first round. It is equivalent to $755.5 million or 63% of the $1.2 billion pledged.
The initiative was the brainchild of President Donald Trump’s daughter Ivanka Trump as the way to build a bridge between struggling people and and farmers who were dumping hundreds of litres of milk, culling pigs and destroying lettuce patches as demand from restaurants came to a halt during the lockdown.
“We’re getting about 60% of what we were told we would get,” said Brian Greene, CEO of the Houston Food Bank. “Some of it was vendors couldn’t do what they said they would do.”
The USDA is continuing to continuing to review food deliveries to make sure that quality and safety standards are met. It cancelled two contracts during the first few weeks of the programme and refused to renew the contract of 16 others.
Last week, the USDA announced it would renew $1.2 billion in food box contracts from more than 185 food distributors and they are to be delivered by the end of August. The agency is also offering new contracts to 16 new food distributors totalling $180 million.
(Photos syndicated via Reuters)
This story has been edited by BH staff and is published from a syndicated field