Chris Parks (left), farm manager for Wish Farms, helps unload pallets of strawberries during a donation to food banks in the Plant City, Fla., area in late March. ( Courtesy Wish Farms )

A new bill in the House of Representatives provides $25 million for states to streamline donations from farmers to food banks.

The Farm to Food Bank Enhancement Act would allow states to establish or expand programs making it easier to donate produce and other items to food banks to confront hunger during the pandemic, such as The Emergency Food Assistance Program, according to a news release.

“At the same time millions of hungry Americans are lining up at food banks as a result of the pandemic,  many of our nation’s farmers and agriculture producers are seeing their demand disappear and are having to destroy millions of pounds of fresh food,” Rep. Marcia Fudge, chairwoman of the Agriculture Subcommittee on Nutrition, Oversight, and Department Operations, said in the release. “Our bill will help to connect those two important parts of the emergency response, making great strides toward preventing food waste and fighting hunger that is reaching new, unprecedented highs.”  
The bill would pay for up to 100% of harvesting, processing, packaging and transportation of covered commodities.

California’s Farm to Family program provides a similar service, and has been instrumental during the pandemic.

“California farmers and foodbanks have already proven this model works,” said Rep. Jim Costa, who also introduced the legislation on May 8, said in the release. “As Chairman of the Subcommittee on Livestock and Foreign Agriculture, I know our fruit, vegetable, dairy, livestock, and poultry farmers have lost markets for their products, and this bill will help get some of what they produce to the people who need it more than ever right now.”

Stacey Plaskett, who represents the U.S. Virgin Islands, also introduced the legislation, said it’s a step in the right direction.

“As chair of the Biotechnology, Horticulture and Research Subcommittee, I am committed to ensuring that we support specialty crop farmers during this difficult time and better connect families in need more quickly with nutritious fruits and vegetables,” Plaskett said in the release.

For more coverage of the role food  banks are taking during the pandemic, see The Packer's COVID-19 webpage.

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