ARLINGTON, Va. — The National Association of State Departments of Agriculture sent a letter to U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack this week to support the U.S. Department of Agriculture Farmers to Families Food Box program and recommend adjustments to improve the program’s effectiveness, according to a news release.
“The Farmers to Families Food Box program has been a critical tool during the COVID-19 pandemic for reaching families in need and alleviating the effects of supply chain disruptions on farmers,” NASDA CEO Dr. Barb Glenn said. “With some enhancements, we can extraordinarily expand the benefits of the program by allowing more producers to contribute and increasing the amount of food we can share with families in need.”
In the letter, Glenn outlined recommendations to promote equity in farmers’ access to the program and remove unnecessary barriers of entry. Recommendations included considering the adverse impact on smaller farms when awarding contracts based on price, enabling vendors to curate boxes based on local preference and availability of food, and encouraging the participation of socially disadvantaged farmers. NASDA members voted during the NASDA 2021 Winter Policy Conference to advocate for changes to the Farmers to Families Food Box program based on feedback from their relationships with farmers, ranchers, vendors and food box recipients.
“Above all, NASDA members wish to see the program stay true to its mission of delivering local farmers’ products to local communities who need it most,” Glenn said. “We’re grateful for USDA’s leadership on this vital program, and we look forward to doing more to benefit farmers and communities as we overcome the pandemic together.”