Two major meat processors part of USDA’s $1.2-billion Food Box program

Two of the largest meat processors in the country, Tyson Foods and Cargill Meat Solutions, are among roughly 200 “approved suppliers” for a USDA initiative to buy surplus fresh produce, dairy products and pre-cooked chicken and pork for distribution to needy Americans. The USDA said it approved $1.2 billion in contracts for the Farmers to Families Food Box program but did not list individual awards.

The Trump administration announced last month that it would spend up to $3 billion on the Food Box initiative. Contractors will be responsible for purchasing the surplus food, assembling it into easily handled boxes, and delivering the boxes to food banks and other nonprofits for distribution. The USDA said it would spend $300 million a month on the purchases, which would run through December. “USDA will reassess funding availability and need throughout the contract period,” said a spokesperson.

Tyson Foods was among eight multi-regional suppliers approved by the USDA. Others included Rich Chicks, a food service company; the Southern Illinois cooperative Prairie Farms Dairy; and greenhouse grower Gotham Greens Co. Cargill Meat Solutions was approved as a supplier in the seven-state Southwest region, which runs from Louisiana to Arizona.

“We were pleased to see the abundance of interest from both food distributors and non-profit organizations,” said Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue. Deliveries will begin in days, he said.

Information about the food box program is available here.