Feeding America applauds the announcement by the USDA today that they intend to purchase $126.4 million worth of fruits and vegetables, including tart cherries, processed apples, cranberries, fresh tomatoes, wild blueberries, and raisins.
Feeding America particularly welcomes this purchase as it is committed to providing an array of highly nutritious produce to the clients they serve, including more than 14 million children each year.
Highly nutritious produce is much needed by food banks to ensure that their clients, particularly the 14 million children served by the Feeding America network each year, have access to fruits and vegetables.
According to the USDA press release, the purchases are expected to be delivered through The Emergency Food Assistance Program (TEFAP), which is a federal program that helps food banks provide nutritious food to low-income Americans in need of hunger relief.
TEFAP is a critical food stream for food banks and usually comprises about 20 percent of the food distributed by Feeding America network members.
"This announcement comes at a time when many Feeding America food banks are faced with consistently high demand for food assistance. In addition, the recent cuts to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, formerly known as food stamps) have exacerbated demand," said Bob Aiken, CEO of Feeding America."Demand on food banks remains high as many low-income families continue to struggle in this tough economy and SNAP recipients try to adjust to reduced monthly benefits."
"We appreciate the Administration's timely and much-needed bonus commodity purchase," said Aiken."We ask the USDA to continue to identify commodity purchase opportunities to provide support for growers and hungry Americans. We also urge Congress to ensure that the farm bill agreement they are currently finalizing protects vital anti-hunger programs like SNAP and provides additional TEFAP resources, so that food pantry shelves do not go bare."
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