Food box misses goal of 40 million deliveries

The Farmers to Families Food Box program, the $3 billion face of the Trump administration’s response to U.S. food insecurity during the pandemic, delivered 25 million boxes of food to nonprofit organizations such as food banks as of Monday, said the USDA. At the start of June, Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue said he expected 40 million boxes would be delivered by the end of the month, which is Tuesday.

A USDA spokesperson was not immediately available to say when the remaining boxes will be delivered. The program began in May, with nearly 200 contractors awarded $1.2 billion to buy surplus food at the farm level, package it and deliver it to nonprofits for donation to hungry Americans. A second round of contracts, totaling $1.16 billion, was scheduled to begin on Wednesday and run through Aug 30.

Perdue, who has often taken part in local events to distribute the boxes, was scheduled to appear at a Detroit church on Tuesday for a food-box event. The administration wants to reduce enrollment in SNAP and opposes a temporary 15 percent increase in food stamp benefits, which is backed by anti-hunger activists and House Democrats.

The USDA has provided few details about the functioning of the food box program, which was created virtually overnight to move fresh produce, dairy and meat. Each box of food could cost $30 in the first round of contracts if 40 million boxes are delivered.