Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue solicited votes for President Trump in violation of the 1939 federal law that bars partisan activity by federal officials while on the job, said a complaint filed by a good-government group. The complaint cites Perdue's comments at a produce packing shed in North Carolina, where Trump announced a $1-billion extension of the administration's food-box giveaway program.
Four dozen House Democrats warned the USDA against using its food box donation program "to distribute a self-promoting letter from the president" ahead of the Nov. 3 election, criticizing the idea as a political use of federal resources.
The Farmers to Families Food Box giveaway program, the Trump administration's response to hunger during the coronavirus pandemic, will run through Oct. 31 to use up the last of its $3 billion in funds, said Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue.
As it announced contracts for up to $1.47 billion to carry the Farmers to Families Food Box initiative through July and August, the USDA also said the program could end on Sept. 1, or soon afterward, as funding for the food giveaway program runs out. Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue has highlighted the Food Box as a boon to hungry Americans during the coronavirus pandemic, while the White House opposed a temporary expansion of food-stamp benefits.(No paywall)
The Farmers to Families Food Box program, the $3 billion face of the Trump administration's response to US food insecurity during the pandemic, delivered 25 million boxes of food to nonprofit organization such as food banks as of Monday, said the USDA. (No paywall)
For USDA, the most important number in its food-box giveaway program is how many boxes are donated — 18.4 million as of Friday, according to a tally on the homepage of the agency that runs the program. Officials declined to provide other details, such as the average cost of the boxes or how long the $3-billion initiative will be in operation.(No paywall)
The government will spend $1.16 billion in July and August to buy surplus food at the farm level, package it, and donate it to food banks and other organizations for distribution to hungry Americans. In announcing the second round of the Farmers to Families Food Box program on Wednesday, the USDA said it was extending the contracts of "select vendors" from the first round, adding "a few" new vendors, and dropping some others. (No paywall)
One in five US households say they often or sometimes run out of food, a persistently elevated level of food insecurity as the nation faces its fourth month of the coronavirus pandemic, according to the Covid Impact Survey. "Despite some public benefits in place, this is still very high," said Nick Hart, president of the Data Foundation, which launched the survey.(No paywall)
When Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue talks about hunger relief during the pandemic, he puts the spotlight on the USDA's Farmers to Families Food Box program. He took part in three Food Box events last week and is scheduled to speak at one in Lakeland, Florida, on Monday. Meanwhile, Democrats in the House and Senate question if the donation program is a fair and efficient way to help families. (No paywall)
Concerned that "entities with little or no experience in agriculture or food distribution" were given contracts in the Farmers to Families Food Box program, the Democratic leaders of three House Agriculture subcommittees asked the USDA how it will ensure the work is performed. The USDA terminated a $40 million Food Box contract last week with a small California produce company that sells avocados on the internet, according to a published report. (No paywall)