Keeping It Fresh: USDA Farmers to Families Food Box

Keeping It Fresh:               USDA Farmers to Families Food Box

By Nick Rooney, Transportation Broker, ALC Orlando

As the pandemic continues to move its way through the world, we are still navigating how to get through each day. Businesses closing, hair and nail salons shutting down, gym memberships across the globe now unable to be used.

Money has become scarce for some, food being one of the most difficult supplies to have in abundance in many homes. Food insecurity in households with children under 18 has increased by about 130 percent from 2018 to May 6, 2020, leaving millions to worry about their next meal. The Farmers to Families Food Box has done an amazing job helping the millions of families in need during these times of hardship.

This program was built as a way to deliver food to families in need, not letting food go to waste, and helping farmers and ranchers stay in business. The Farmers to Families Food Box program purchases fresh produce and other goods directly from distributors of all sizes across the nation, from local to national. Distributors package these products into family-sized boxes, then they are transported to food banks, community and faith-based organizations, and other non-profits serving many families in need across the nation.

This is also helping to ensure our logistics system across America remains in a healthy balance by keeping freight moving and carriers in motion.

During the first round of obtaining produce and goods, beginning May 15 and ending on June 30, 2020, an astounding 35 million boxes were delivered in just the first 2 months. Round five started on December 21, 2020 and is scheduled to conclude at the end of April.

The Farmers to Families Food Box program has now provided over 133 million boxes to families in need so far since its inception. With round 5 in play, Farmers to Families has received over 6 billion dollars in funding, keeping companies running, employees paid, and most importantly, families fed.

The product provided is not limited to any specific commodity, for round 5, the USDA will purchase fresh produce, dairy products, fluid milk, meat, and seafood. This product assortment is just one example of why funding for boxes has been sporadic in cost throughout the year, markets are still alive and adapting causing rates for certain products to reach high dollar amounts, this isn’t stopping the millions of Americans pulling together to help each in need.

The year 2020 provided some of us with a different perspective on daily life and what it means to be in need. I suggest we take a step back and start looking at families and friends within our communities to find struggles and needs that we can try to help with. With everything going on right now, some need food, others may need a friend or someone to talk with, you can truly make a difference in someone’s life this year.

I will strive to make an impact in my community throughout this year starting with donations made to my local food bank. Farmers to Families has opened my eyes to a struggle that I truly thought was being handled here in America. Seeing that there will be more families in need within the coming year, I hope more programs like this one are put into place.

Nick Rooney began working for the Allen Lund Company in October of 2019 as a broker in training for the San Francisco office. Nick then joined the Orlando office in August of 2020, continuing his path to become a broker. As of January 2020, Nick is a transportation broker and manages produce loads for the Orlando office.