USDA Invests Nearly $2 Billion, Leverages American Agriculture to Feed Kids and Families

WASHINGTON, DC – The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced it will provide nearly $2 billion in additional funding to food banks and school lunch programs to purchase American-grown food. The support will help these organizations navigate supply chain challenges and increased food costs while continuing to fulfill their mission of bringing nutritious food to children and families in need.

Funds provided by the USDA’s Commodity Credit Corporation (CCC) are used in three ways:

  • Nearly $1 billion buying groceries for emergency providers like food banks
  • Nearly $500 million to expand the Local Food Purchase Assistance (LFPA) collaborative program through which 49 states, 33 tribes and four territories are already working to purchase local food for their emergency systems
  • Nearly $500 million for schools across the country to purchase food for their lunch and breakfast programs, bringing CCC’s total investment in school lunches to nearly $2.5 billion as of December 2021, serving approximately 30 million students benefiting who attend school lunches and 15 million who attend school breakfasts each day.

“Funding for these initiatives is paramount in the fight against hunger and demonstrates the commitment of the Biden-Harris administration and the USDA to strengthening food and nutrition security,” said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. “We must ensure Americans have access to safe, wholesome, and affordable food for longevity and optimal health.”

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The investment is part of the department’s broader commitment to strengthening the supply chain and making nutritious food more accessible to families.

“Food banks and schools are the backbone of our food security web serving millions of children and families,” said Stacy Dean, Assistant Secretary of State for Food, Nutrition and Consumer Services. “The Biden administration understands that supply chain disruptions and high food costs have created uncertainties for these key partners, and we are committed to arming them with the resources they need to keep communities fed, strong and healthy.”

“These programs connect American producers directly to food banks and schools, strengthening our rural economies while helping those most in need,” said Jenny Lester Moffitt, Under Secretary of Marketing and Regulatory Programs. “As part of the Biden administration’s commitment to transforming our nation’s food system, the USDA is committed to fostering partnerships between producers and food assistance programs. By working together, farmers, food banks and schools can improve our country’s food and nutrition security.”

EMERGENCY FOOD PROVIDERS. The USDA will use $943 million to source USDA food supplies for use by emergency food organizations facing increased needs.

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The USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service and Food and Nutrition Service will work together to identify products most likely to be available for purchase and, based on a formula, submit those products to state agencies of the Emergency Food Assistance Program (TEFAP) for onward distribution local authorities, mainly food, offer banks.

USDA will open orders in 2023, with shipments continuing throughout 2023 and 2024.

A percentage of the $943 million will cover the incidental costs local authorities incur for storing and transporting the USDA food. Funds are allocated to government agencies in proportion to the amount of food ordered for local distribution, with all funds going to local agencies.

The USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service and Commodity Procurement Program purchases more than $3 billion annually in domestically produced and processed meat, poultry, fruits, vegetables, dairy, grains and oilseeds. These product purchases, collectively referred to as USDA Groceries, support American agriculture by promoting native food consumption and providing safe, nutritious food to a variety of federal, state, and international food assistance programs. They will be delivered to schools, boards and homes in communities across the country.

LFPA. LFPA assists states, territories and tribes to purchase food from historically underserved producers as well as local and regional producers to support emergency relief efforts. An allocation of $471.5 million will be used for collaborative agreements with states, tribes and territories to purchase locally available food, grown in each state or within 400 miles of delivery location, and distributed to meet unique local needs to cover every community through emergency nutrition programs, including food banks, schools and organizations that reach underserved communities.

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SCHOOL MEAL PROGRAMS. An investment of an additional $471.5 million will be used for the third round of supply chain aid, which will be made available to states to support the purchase of American-grown food for their meal programs.

Supply Chain Aid funding can be used by school districts to purchase unprocessed and minimally processed homegrown foods such as fresh fruit, milk, cheese, frozen vegetables and ground beef. Each state will allocate funds to schools based on student enrollment, with a minimum amount per district to ensure small schools are not left behind.

This aid builds on the two rounds of supply chain aid funds previously provided by USDA in December 2021 and June 2022 totaling nearly $2 billion. These funds provide relief from ongoing supply chain issues and improve the quality and consistency of school meals for children in communities experiencing disruptions.

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