The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s food box program will be winding down as restrictions ease and businesses and schools reopen.
More than 170 million boxes have been distributed throughout the country, with 30 pounds of food inside, including fresh fruits and vegetables, milk, dairy and meat for families, Fox News 5 reported. In communities with large Jewish or Muslim populations, there were kosher and halal versions of the boxes available.
The Farmers to Families Food Box program began in April 2020 as an emergency measure at the beginning of the pandemic, as schools closed and families lost access to free and fresh daily meals for their children. Between the lack of school support and the overnight disappearance of millions of jobs, many families struggled to pay for basic necessities.
Additionally, farmers and small businesses that provided food and produce found themselves with too much product and not enough buyers after restaurants and hotels shut down.
The Farmers to Families program responded to these two issues by connecting farmers with food banks and nonprofits with private distributers that would provide food to families. These program were free and open to all, so no one should be ashamed by their struggle.
It helped farmers who saw their supply chains disrupted, food banks and nonprofits struggling with surging demand, and families that were in dire straits financially, CNN reported.
The program was funded with billions from the first federal coronavirus stimulus package, and former President Donald Trump touted the food boxes success on the campaign trail. President Joe Biden continued the program when he arrived in office.
With the pandemic easing in the United States and states reopening, the USDA said it intends to wind down the program, describing it as a temporary effort to respond to “severe market disruption.”
“The environment today is much different than when this program was created at the beginning of the pandemic. The condition of our economy has continued to improve since the start of the year,” a USDA spokesperson told Fox News 5.
Separate smaller and permanent federal food aid programs, such as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program have been expanded with more funding from Congress.
Updated Wednesday, May 26, 2021 at 7:31 pm .
Updated Thursday, May 27, 2021 at 9:10 am .