DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — As the Biden administration sets up shop, many policies initiated by its hard-right predecessor are being targeted for extinction. But agricultural groups and anti-hunger organizations are fighting to keep one they’ve come to depend on, which channels food that might otherwise be plowed under to people reeling under the coronavirus pandemic.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture began the Farmers to Families Food Box program last April after many people were shocked to see farmers destroy crops because restaurant and institutions abruptly cancelled orders due to the virus even as food banks were crushed by demand from people suddenly out of work.
The USDA hurriedly paid roughly $3 billion to contractors who within weeks worked with food banks to begin handing out boxes filled with 20 pounds of produce to motorists who queued up in lines that would snake through stadium parking lots and down suburban streets. Photos of those lines became among the most emblematic images of the suffering inflicted by the virus.
“Hunger is always with us, but it was more apparent with those photos,” said Mark Herrick, a USDA spokesman.
The food boxes proved well suited to quickly helping people who were suddenly in need, compared to …read more