USDA food box distribution successful in Shenandoah

by | Oct 23, 2020 | 5 Ag Stories, News

Hundreds of people had their cars filled with large boxes of food at a special event in Shenandoah Friday morning.

The Shenandoah Community Food Pantry sponsored a USDA Farmers to Families Food Box distribution event in the Shenandoah Walmart parking lot. The food distribution was contactless for those receiving the boxes as the large number of volunteers on hand helped put boxes in vehicles while wearing masks. Judy Dittmar is the healthy food access specialist with West Pottawattamie County Extension and Outreach. She says there were no requirements or signups necessary for the event.

?This is one of many that are going on in western Iowa over the next two weeks,? Dittmar said. ?Eight different counties are partnering with USDA Farmers to Families Food Box Program. So far, it?s been a great event here (Friday). We?ve had a lot of people eager and willing to get boxes that are free from USDA. It?s all part of the coronavirus recovery program that USDA is supporting.?

Dittmar praised the Farmers to Families Food Box Program for its purpose, and for how much food each box contains.

?The boxes contain dairy products, protein, fruits and vegetables, as well as a gallon milk,? Dittmar said. ?It?s a total of about 31 pounds that goes to each car that pulls up. There are people here that are picking up for other families and that is allowable. So far, it?s been such a great day. We?re really pleased with the turnout and the opportunity for families who are food insecure right now to pick up these boxes.?

The USDA Farmers to Families Food Box Program got underway back in the spring when US Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue exercised authority under the Families First Coronavirus Response Act to purchase and distribute agricultural products to those in need.

?Right now with the pandemic there are even more people looking for ways to access food because perhaps of job loss, reduction in hours, or various circumstances,? Dittmar said. ?Lots of people who may not normally be looking for this kind of offering are able to access the food boxes from USDA.?

USDA announced Friday that it has authorized $500 million for a fourth round of purchases for the Farmers to Families Food Box Program. USDA is issuing solicitations for the fourth round to existing Basic Ordering Agreement (BOA) holders and expects to award contracts by October 30th for deliveries of food boxes from November 1st through December 31st.

Video coverage from Friday’s event can be viewed below.