There is no “off-season” for the nearly 15% of people in this country facing hunger. Although demand remains high all year round, many of the nation’s food banks experience a major decline in donations during the summer months. USDA programs, however, work year-round to help those affected by hunger.
Through The Emergency Food Assistance Program (TEFAP), USDA helps those in need by purchasing items for food banks and community service organizations. The Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) Commodity Procurement staff coordinates with the Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) to send quality, wholesome foods to these establishments. In FY 2013, AMS purchased more than 212 million pounds of food for TEFAP.
In addition to our regular TEFAP purchases, AMS purchased more than 116 million pounds of domestically-produced items this fiscal year via surplus removal efforts. Like the TEFAP purchases, these “bonus buy” products stock the shelves of food banks, pantries, and soup kitchens. As an agency, it means a lot that our mission of facilitating the marketing of agricultural products also allows us to support low-income and food-insecure families.
While the summer temperatures have started to cool down, USDA is still fired up about our leading role in an event designed to fight hunger. Over the last three months, USDA employees donated nearly 1.6 million pounds of food and other items for the Feds Feed Families Campaign, which asks federal employees to donate items to help fill food banks all over the country. Since it started in 2009, the campaign has raised more than 15 million pounds of food from agencies across the federal government.
Whether it’s food provided through TEFAP, bonus buys, or campaigns like Feds Feed Families, USDA will continue our fight against hunger and food insecurity while creating more opportunities for our nation’s farmers and ranchers.