Ag products are helping Americans impacted by COVID-19

Through the USDA Food Box Program, the Agricultural Marketing Service has partnered with national, regional, and also local suppliers whose workforce has been significantly impacted by the pandemic.

The closure of restaurants, hotels, and other food service businesses has put many in a hard place when trying to access fresh food. The USDA set out to purchase up to $3 billion dollars in fresh produce, dairy and meat products.

From the start of the pandemic, Ted Katsiroubas with Katsiroubas Produce and his team have given thousands of food boxes to people in need.

“To date we’ve made over 50,000 deliveries of these boxes to families and its been 1.1 million pounds that has been for free to the people of Boston,” he said.

The Farmers Food Box Program has also helped producers. The program plans to purchase $461 million dollars in fresh fruits and vegetables, $317 million dollars in dairy products, $258 million dollars in meat products, and $175 million dollars in a combination of fresh produce, dairy, or meat products.

“The box programs have been a huge success, either direct-to-consumer or in the USDA,” said Melissa Ackerman of United Fresh.

By the end of the program, suppliers will package these products totaling $1.2 billion dollars into family-sized boxes, then transport them to food banks and other non-profits serving Americans in need.