U.S. Reps. TJ Cox, D-Fresno, and Ted Lieu, D-Torrance, are calling for an expansion of the Farm to Food Bank program to alleviate food insecurity exacerbated by the pandemic. The program, known as Farm to Family in California, reimburses farmers who donate surplus agricultural products to food banks.
The HEROES Act, a coronavirus relief bill recently passed by the U.S. House of Representatives, currently includes a provision that would increase funding for the program by $25 million. That funding could be used to cover the costs of harvesting, processing, packaging and transporting farm commodities donated to food banks. The representatives are urging their Senate colleagues to keep this increased funding in the final version of the relief bill.
A recent study by the Brookings Institution found that by the end of April, more than one in five households in America was food insecure. The rate was higher among families with children 12 and younger, according to the report.
During a press call on Thursday, Lieu pointed to farmers who reported plowing over crops and dumping millions of gallons of milk per day after restaurants closed or cut back on operations due to shelter-in-place orders.
“It seems completely unreasonable that you have farmers having destroyed crops, and families going food insecure, when you could fix much of that problem by giving this food to food banks,” Lieu said.