Central PA Food Bank Teaming Up with Agriculture to Provide Fresh Food

Central Pennsylvania Food Bank Teaming Up with Agriculture to Provide Charitable Boxes of Farm Fresh Food through Coronavirus Food Assistance Program

The coronavirus pandemic has posed challenges for both farms and food banks. Farms have seen disruption in the food supply chain; and food banks have seen a 50% increase in demand for assistance. A new United States Department of Agriculture program may begin to solve both concerns at the same time.

The “Farmers to Families Food Box Program” will procure fresh produce, dairy products, and meats like chicken and pork from domestic farms and box them to distribute to families in need through regional food banks and other food assistance organizations. The USDA program will procure an estimated $100 million per month in fresh fruits and vegetables, $100 million per month in a variety of dairy products, and $100 million per month in meat products nationwide. Joe Arthur, Executive Director of the Central Pennsylvania Food Bank is excited about the news.

“This program helps farmers, other food producers, and their employees to survive the economic devastation caused by the COVID-19 crisis,” said Arthur. “And it will provide additional healthy food to millions of people who are now in need. Food banks like ours will make sure these healthy food boxes get to kitchen tables, and we will help prevent the heartbreaking loss of food grown and raised by our American farmers.”

Many farms report having to dump milk or eggs because the processing plants or packaging facilities cannot take them. The restaurants, hotels, and schools that used to buy the bulk products are closed. The funding for the food box program will compensate the farms and the food processors to package the products to distribute to families in need.

The Central Pennsylvania Food Bank is poised and ready to deliver the food boxes to its network of almost 1,000 Partner Agencies throughout 27 Central Pennsylvania counties. The existing infrastructure built through participation in the Pennsylvania Agricultural Surplus Program (PASS), the Fill A Glass With Hope fresh milk program, and the MidAtlantic Regional Produce Cooperative (MARC) means the Food Bank is well equipped to handle more fresh produce, dairy products, and meat. The USDA boxes will be a welcome addition to the food distribution offerings.

Farms or other food industry businesses that are interested in working with Central Pennsylvania Food Bank and the Farmers to Families Food Box program should contact Beth Hamilton, Director of Food Sourcing & Logistics, at: bhamilton@centralpafoodbank.org.