As we discussed yesterday, the demand for food bank assistance has increased dramatically due to COVID-19. Now, the American Farm Bureau and Feeding America are trying to meet demands by collaborating with farmers who have lost demand for their agricultural goods.
Food banks are reporting a 40 percent increase in demand while many farmers are being forced to destroy their crops due to lack of commercial buyers. One example is dairy farmers who are dumping gallons of milk that would otherwise go to school cafeterias. Claire Babineaux-Fontenot, the CEO of Feeding America, and Zippy Duval, President of the American Farm Bureau asked why not reroute this product to feed individuals in need?
The two organizations wrote to Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue requesting the creation of a USDA voucher program that would help food banks stock shelves and help farmers make up some of their lost income. For farmers throwing away their produce, any income is better than none. As an added bonus, the program would eliminate unnecessary food waste and the environmental degradation that comes with it.
It remains to be seen if the program will get off the ground, but connecting food banks to farmers is a win-win for both parties and a solution to food insecurity, forgone agricultural income, and waste.