The U.S. Department of Agriculture said it will extend the contracts of selected vendors from the first round of the Farmers to Families Food Box Program. USDA is exercising this option to extend contracts for current distributors for the next performance period -- July 1 to Aug. 30 -- for up to $1.16 billion of food.
“These extensions are a testament to the great work done by these vendors in support of American agriculture and the American people. They are also a testament that the program is accomplishing what we intended: supporting U.S. farmers and distributors and getting food to those who need it most. It’s a real trifecta, which is why we call it a win-win-win,” U.S. Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue said. “The efforts of everyone involved form the backbone of the Farmers to Families Food Box Program and its goal to help fill the hunger gap in all of our communities.”
The decision to extend current contractors was determined based on their performance since May 15, USDA said. Some vendors were extended without any adjustment to their delivery amounts, while the amounts or locations of other vendors were adjusted based on their demonstrated abilities to perform or at the vendor’s request.
In line with a commitment to oversight, these extensions continue to require audits to ensure that food safety plans are being followed, that 100% U.S. grown and raised food is being procured and delivered and that food products meet all of USDA’s high quality standards. The government chose not to extend some vendors’ contracts either because of concerns brought up during audits or for performance challenges. Additionally, some contracts were not extended at the vendors' request.
Between May 15 and June 17, distributors have delivered more than 17 million food boxes to approximately 3,200 nonprofit organizations across the U.S., as well as Guam and Puerto Rico.
USDA is continuously evaluating how to expand access to the program in areas that are underserved and is in the final stages of determining the cities and states that have been affected economically by COVID-19 and where additional food boxes are in demand, the agency said in a release. These underserved areas will be targeted specifically with distributors that will assist in filling the gaps.
In addition, USDA said it will begin new contracts with a few vendors whose offers were not previously accepted due to technical errors in their proposals. USDA has reviewed these proposals and found that they demonstrate that these firms can meet the program’s distribution and delivery requirements. These distributors will have an increased focus on Opportunity Zones in order to direct food to reach underserved areas, places where no boxes have yet been delivered or places where boxes are being delivered but where there is additional need. USDA said it will also solicit additional contracts to ensure continued distribution of food boxes.
More information about the Farmers to Families Food Box Program is available at www.usda.gov/farmers-to-families.