Feeding America applauds the Administration's announcement today that the USDA will purchase up to $170 million worth of pork, lamb, chicken, and catfish for federal food assistance programs, including food banks. The purchase is intended to include up to $100 million of pork products, up to $10 million of catfish products, up to $50 million in chicken products, and up to $10 million of lamb products.
The purchases designated for The Emergency Food Assistance Program (TEFAP), a federal program that helps food banks provide nutritious food to low-income Americans in need of short-term hunger relief, will help food banks nationwide better meet the sustained high demand they are experiencing as families across the country continue to struggle to get back on their feet. TEFAP commodities currently comprise about 20 percent of the food distributed by Feeding America food banks.
"We are greatly appreciative of the Administration's decision that most of the purchase will come to food banks within our network," said Vicki Escarra, President and CEO of Feeding America."Our food banks are experiencing unprecedented demand for food assistance, driven by slow economic recovery and continued high rates of unemployment. Thanks to this purchase decision, our food banks can soon expect a much needed influx of healthy and nutritious low-fat protein that will help to feed millions of families."
However, with demand on food banks remaining high and with the drought expected to cause an increase in food prices nationwide over the next year, food banks are still facing challenges. High food prices not only impact the ability of struggling Americans to put food on the table, but also the ability of food banks to purchase enough food for clients in need of assistance.
"We urge Congress and USDA to work together to ensure that sufficient levels of food and funds are available for the purchase and distribution of federal commodities so that emergency food assistance remains available to those in need and that food pantry shelves do not go bare," said Escarra.
With this latest announcement, USDA has now purchased approximately $352 million worth of bonus commodities for distribution through TEFAP in Federal FY 2012. In total, this brings FY2012 spending on TEFAP to approximately $610 million. While this is an increase of $128 million over TEFAP spending in FY2011 of $482 million, it is still $43 million below the FY2010 spending level.
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