Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack today announced that nearly 200 million pounds of nonfat dry milk will be transferred from the USDA's (Commodity Credit Corporation (CCC) to the Food and Nutrition Service to help feed hungry Americans through federal nutrition programs.
"The action that USDA has taken, under the leadership of Secretary Vilsack, could not have come at a more important time for millions of Americans struggling to put food on the table," said Vicki Escarra, president and chief executive officer for Feeding America."I extend my sincere thanks to Secretary Vilsack and his staff at USDA for developing this innovative strategy that simultaneously helps people in need and dairy producers during these difficult times."
The nonfat dry milk will be converted into products such as instantized nonfat dry milk, shelf stable fluid milk, cheese and soup. USDA's commodity program, the Emergency Food Assistance Program (TEFAP), provides approximately 25 percent of the food moved through Feeding America food banks each year. Dairy is a highly desirable and nutritious product for the nation's emergency distribution network and food banks' child feeding programs.
"President Obama understands that providing food to those in need will help many weather these tough economic times," said Secretary Vilsack."At the same time, USDA's disposal plan will benefit dairy farmers, who have seen markets disappear and prices plummet in recent months, by increasing consumption of milk and other daily products."
A recent survey conducted by Feeding America reported that the nation's food banks are seeing a 30 percent average increase in requests for emergency food assistance with the rate as high as 50 percent in some parts of the country. More than 90 percent of food banks reported that they are not currently able to meet the needs of their community without reducing the amount of food available to their agencies or clients or cutting back in other areas of their operations.
"With unemployment cited as the primary driving factor in increased requests for emergency food assistance, and unemployment rates continuing to soar, we do not anticipate that the trends we are seeing will reverse any time soon," said Escarra."We will continue to find additional ways through our public-private partnerships to ensure that we can meet the needs of the more than 25 million Americans who rely on us for food assistance each year."
USDA expects products provided through this program will being moving through the supply chain in the Spring and continue through calendar year 2009.
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