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Bipartisan Group to USDA: Fund 'Last Mile' of Food Delivery
Nebraska Ag Connection - 06/25/2020

U.S. Senator Deb Fischer, a member of the Senate Agriculture Committee, led a bipartisan group of 26 of her colleagues in a letter calling on the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to allocate $50 million in funding from the Farmers to Families Food Box program towards addressing "last mile" needs. The "last mile" involves getting food from a food bank or other nonprofit to the people in need.

"More Americans are going hungry because of the COVID-19 crisis. To help address this problem, I led this bipartisan push to ensure food not only gets to the food bank or non-profit, but that it reaches the people who need it most," said Fischer.

Fischer co-led the letter with Senators Bob Casey (D-Penn.) and Patty Murray (D-Wash.). Additional signatories include Senate Agriculture Chairman Pat Roberts (R-Kan.), Ranking Member Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.), and Senators Roger Wicker (R-Miss.), Bill Cassidy (R-La.), Jeff Merkley (D-Oreg.), Kelly Loeffler (R-Ga.), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.), Mike Braun (R-Ind.), Cory Booker (D-N.J.), Martha McSally (R-Ariz.), Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.), James Lankford (R-Okla.), Jacky Rosen (D-Nev.), Joni Ernst (R-Iowa), Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), Michael Bennet (D-Colo.), Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.), Tina Smith (D-Minn.), Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), and Tammy Baldwin (D-Wisc.).

As part of the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program (CFAP) Secretary Perdue announced on April 17 that USDA is exercising authority to purchase and distribute agricultural products to those in need. Through this program, USDA's Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) partners with national, regional and local suppliers, whose workforce has been significantly impacted by closures, to purchase up to $3 billion in fresh produce, dairy and meat products. Suppliers package these products into family-sized boxes, then transport them to food banks, community and faith-based organizations, and other non-profits serving Americans in need. As of June 23, the program has delivered more than 20 million food boxes.

One example of the efforts to meet "last mile" delivery needs comes from United Way's Ride United program. Through this program, United Way has partnered with Door Dash in eight pilot cities to dispatch drivers to pick up food boxes and deliver them to at-risk callers. To date, they have delivered over 20,000 food boxes.

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