August 18, 2011

Feeding America applauds USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack's announcement this week that the USDA will purchase up to $40 million of chicken products for the nation's food banks and federal nutrition assistance programs.

The majority of the chicken will help food banks nationwide through 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.

"Secretary Vilsack's help in securing this food source couldn't come at a better time," said Vicki Escarra, President and CEO of Feeding America."Unprecedented demand for food assistance, driven by the recent recession and continued high rates of unemployment, has caused food shortages across our nationwide network of food banks. Our food banks and their Members of Congress communicated this message to Secretary Vilsack and he responded. Thanks to this announcement, 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 our food banks remaining high and with food banks still facing the very real possibility that federal funding for food commodities could be cut in the FY2012 appropriations bill, more help is still needed.

"With the holiday season approaching and with food banks still facing the very real possibility that federal funding for food programs could be cut in FY2012, more help is still needed," said Escarra."We urge Congress and Secretary Vilsack 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."

With this latest announcement, USDA has now purchased approximately $100 million worth of commodities for distribution through TEFAP since June 30, 2011. In total, this brings FY2011 spending on TEFAP to approximately $410 million, approximately $245 million -- or nearly 37% -- below the FY10 spending level.


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