WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Bill Cassidy, M.D. (R-LA) joined U.S. Senator Deb Fischer (R-Neb.), a member of the Senate Agriculture Committee, and a bipartisan group of 26 of their colleagues in a letter calling on the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to allocate $50 million in funding from the Farmers to Families Food Box program towards addressing “last mile” needs. The “last mile” involves getting food from a food bank or other nonprofit to the people in need.
“Whether in the heartland, the south, or our coastal cities, the reality on the ground is that a serious gap exists in getting food boxes from pantries and food banks to at risk populations battling poor health, lack of mobility, or limited means. With 1 in 5 Americans now food insecure, we believe a sense of urgency exists in identifying innovative approaches to last mile delivery,” the senators wrote.
Read the full letter here.
Joining Cassidy and Fischer in sending the letter were Senators Bob Casey (D-PA.) Patty Murray (D-WA). Senate Agriculture Chairman Pat Roberts (R-KS.), Ranking Member Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), Roger Wicker (R-MS., Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Kelly Loeffler (R-GA), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), Mike Braun (R-IN), Cory Booker (D-NJ), Martha McSally (R-AZ), Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ), James Lankford (R-OK), Jacky Rosen (D-NV), Joni Ernst (R-IA), Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Michael Bennet (D-CO), Bernie Sanders (I-VT), Tammy Duckworth (D-IL), Tina Smith (D-MN), Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Patrick Leahy (D-VT), and Tammy Baldwin (D-WI).
More information on the Farmers to Families Food Box program:
As part of the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program (CFAP) Secretary Perdue announced on April 17 that USDA is exercising authority to purchase and distribute agricultural products to those in need. Through this program, USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) partners with national, regional and local suppliers, whose workforce has been significantly impacted by closures, to purchase up to $3 billion in fresh produce, dairy and meat products. Suppliers package these products into family-sized boxes, then transport them to food banks, community and faith-based organizations, and other non-profits serving Americans in need. As of June 23, 2020, the program has delivered more than 20 million food boxes.
One example of the efforts to meet “last mile” delivery needs comes from United Way’s Ride United program. Through this program, United Way has partnered with Door Dash in eight pilot cities to dispatch drivers to pick up food boxes and deliver them to at-risk callers. To date, they have delivered over 20,000 food boxes.