Gillibrand’s legislation would create supply chain between farms and food banks

Posted 5 May 2020 at 6:20 pm

Press Release, U.S. Kirsten Gillibrand

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Today, U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, member of the Senate Agriculture Committee, introduced legislation to address disruptions in the food supply chain caused by the coronavirus pandemic and directly connect farms to food banks.

As restaurants, hotels, schools, and other food service entities cease operations to combat the COVID-19 pandemic, reports have emerged that millions of pounds of produce have been left to rot. Meanwhile, food banks across the country are facing unprecedented demand, as millions of newly unemployed Americans now face food insecurity. The Food Bank Access to Farm Fresh Produce Act would provide needed support to food banks as they continue to serve the surge of jobless Americans, while also supporting struggling farmers who lack buyers for their produce.

“Like many Americans dealing with the economic fallout from the COVID-19 outbreak, farmers in New York and across the country are struggling to make ends meet,” said Senator Gillibrand. “The Food Bank Access to Farm Fresh Produce Act will not only provide them with a new chain of potential buyers, but it will put money directly in their pockets by cutting out middlemen and will deliver fresh, nutritious fruits and vegetables to millions of Americans facing food insecurity. This important bill will stimulate the farm economy and strengthen the health of Americans. I’m proud to introduce this legislation and will fight for its inclusion in the next relief package.”

More than 30 million Americans are currently jobless due to the coronavirus pandemic and many are struggling to put food on the table. According to Feeding America, a leading hunger relief organization, demand at food banks has surged by 70 percent. Today, with food banks facing mile-long lines, the need for resources to feed hungry Americans is greater than ever. The Food Bank Access to Farm Fresh Produce Act would meet this demand by giving food banks the power to purchase excess specialty crops — including fruits, vegetables, tree nuts, and dried fruits, which are easily stored and processed by food banks — directly from farmers.

Gillibrand’s proposed Food Bank Access to Farm Fresh Produce Act would provide $8 billion in block grants to food banks in the top vegetable and fruit producing states. Food banks will be able to use the funds to purchase fresh produce directly from farmers in New York, which is the 15th largest vegetable and fruit producing state, and other states. They will also be able to use the funding to pay for distribution, processing, and additional staff needed to meet increased demand.

“We’re grateful to Senator Gillibrand for her tireless advocacy to ensure that our friends and neighbors in need have food on the table,” said Karen Belcher, interim executive director of Food Bank of Central New York.

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