Warner, Kaine urge USDA to approve food assistance program

usdaU.S. Sens. Mark Warner and Tim Kaine are urging the USDA to give swift approval of Virginia’s request to operate a Disaster Household Distribution Program.

This designation by the Food and Nutrition Service would allow food banks to distribute USDA foods directly to Virginia’s neediest families while limiting the interactions between food bank staff, volunteers, and recipients during the coronavirus outbreak.

“In Virginia, many households are out of work due to the ongoing public health emergency. This has created an unprecedented increase in need for food services across the Commonwealth. With little time to prepare, many families have found themselves without the finances to maintain a healthy diet. Unfortunately, congregate food distribution is not an option at this time due to the potential spread of COVID-19. A household distribution program is required to ensure the safe and efficient distribution of food to families in need,” the senators wrote in a letter to Pam Miller, administrator of the Food and Nutrition Service.

In their letter, the senators underscore that food banks serve as a vital lifeline for families across the Commonwealth. With the designation of the Disaster Household Distribution Program, the burdensome paperwork that often accompanies a family’s application for food assistance would be removed in an effort to expeditiously distribute food to families in need.

“The Virginia Federation of Foodbanks – working in conjunction with VDACS – will operate the Disaster Household Distribution Program in the Commonwealth. Virginia foodbanks will utilize their existing inventories of USDA foods and donated foods to help supplement families’ nutritional needs. Participants in the program will not be required to complete long and burdensome application forms. The goal will be to limit interaction between staff, volunteers, and recipients to ensure the safe and expeditious delivery of food to families,” they continued.

The Commonwealth submitted a formal request to operate a Household Disaster Distribution Program on March 19.

A copy of the letter can be found here

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