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USDA announces $2B in funding for food banks, school meal programs to fight hunger

The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced Wednesday that it will provide nearly $2 billion for food banks and school meal programs to purchase American-grown foods. 

The breakdown will mean about $1 billion for emergency food providers and almost a half-billion for school lunch and breakfast programs, according to a release from the department. Another approximate half-billion will go to expand the existing Local Food Purchase Assistance program. 

The program is aimed at combatting hunger and boosting American producers as they deal with supply chain issues and high food costs.  

U.S. Census data from last month found that about 23 million Americans reported they sometimes or often did not have enough to eat. USDA reported that a little over 10 percent of American households were food insecure in 2021.  

“Funding these initiatives is paramount in the fight against hunger, and further demonstrates the Biden-Harris Administration and USDA’s commitment to strengthen food and nutrition security,” Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said in a statement from the department. 

The funding, provided though the USDA’S Commodity Credit Corporation funding mechanism, allocates $943 million to provide emergency feeding organizations with American-grown foods. 

An additional $471.5 million will be the third round of Supply Chain Assistance funds, aimed at helping states buy American-grown foods for their school meal programs. States will allocate the funding to their individual schools based on enrollment, and the money can be used to purchase “unprocessed and minimally processed domestic food.”  

Another $471.5 million will go to the Local Food Purchase Assistance cooperative agreement program, “for cooperative agreements with states, tribes, and territories to purchase locally available food grown within each state or within 400 miles of the delivery destination that will be distributed to meet the unique local needs of each community.” 

The White House is set to host a Conference on Hunger, Nutrition and Health later this month, the first in more than 50 years, as part of the Biden-Harris Administration’s goal to end hunger in the U.S. by 2030.

A national strategy to guide the federal government in combating these issues is slated to be unveiled at the Sept. 28 event. 

Source: The Hill

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