Spanberger leads Virginia members pushing USDA to deliver food relief to Virginia families
In a letter sent to USDA Secretary Sonny Perdue, Spanberger and five of her Virginia colleagues demanded answers about the USDA’s food allocation decisions under the Farmers to Families Food Box Program and its disproportionate impacts on Virginia families and food banks.
The Feeding America food bank network in Virginia is only expected to receive 2.3 million pounds of food relief, which is far less than the amount that would be allocated if the program were administered under the same formula used by The Emergency Food Assistance Program (TEFAP). Had aid been allocated under the TEFAP formula, Virginia would likely receive approximately 5.3 million pounds of food products.
“We write today to express our grave concerns about the distribution of contracts under the Farmers to Families Food Box Program,” said Spanberger and her colleagues. “While we sincerely appreciate USDA’s efforts to quickly provide relief to farmers and those without adequate access to food through the creation of the program, we are concerned that the Commonwealth of Virginia has received a disproportionately small share of food through this program under the contracts awarded to date.
“The COVID-19 pandemic has created a perfect storm of economic distress and public health concerns for the thousands of families we serve,” said Eddie Oliver, executive director, Federation of Virginia Food Banks. “Demand for emergency food has doubled in some communities, and our food banks have been forced to purchase more food than ever before to keep pace with the need. We are grateful for the efforts of Congresswoman Spanberger and the USDA to ensure we have the resources we need to serve high-quality food to our hungry neighbors.”
Since the COVID-19 pandemic began, Spanberger has worked to strengthen federal efforts to respond to growing food shortages and heightened demand at food banks. In April 2020, she pressed Secretary Perdue on his Department’s strategy to respond to the urgent needs of U.S. food banks using American produce. Earlier that month, Spanberger helped lead a successful bipartisan push to fix previous USDA guidance that unnecessarily put immunocompromised students at risk during school meal pick-ups.
Spanberger’s letter was also signed by Reps. Elaine G. Luria (D-VA-02), A. Donald McEachin (D-VA-04), Gerald E. Connolly (D-VA-11), Robert C. “Bobby” Scott (D-VA-03), and Jennifer Wexton (D-VA-10).