The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced this week that it would be purchasing $470 million in excess food from farmers to deliver to those in need.
The USDA’s latest program aims to combat food waste, which has become a massive problem since the coronavirus began as schools, restaurants, and even hotels have closed down to customers — leaving farmers with a surplus of food and nowhere to sell it.
It also aims to help local food banks throughout the country, which have seen a surge in demand as people have lost their jobs, and schools have shuttered.
Politico reported that the purchases will target meat, dairy, vegetables, and seafood — all markets that have plummeted since restaurants and food service businesses have closed.
The USDA said that it would spend money on fruits, vegetables, dairy, meat, and seafood products from farmers and ranchers as part of the initiative, including $120 million in dairy products, $50 million in potatoes, and $30 million in chicken.
“America’s farmers and ranchers have experienced a dislocated supply chain caused by the coronavirus. USDA is in the unique position to purchase these foods and deliver them to the hungry Americans who need it most,” said U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue in a press release.
The USDA will begin deliveries to the organizations under its Food and Nutrition Service nutrition assistance programs, including food banks, starting in July.