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Then and Now, USDA Feeds the Nation

Posted by Rex A. Barnes, AMS Deputy Administrator, Poultry and Eggs Program in Food and Nutrition
Feb 21, 2017

During the holiday season, food banks across America experience a spike in demand and this year is no different. Today that seasonal demand is also bolstered by a significant rise in client numbers because of the current U.S. economy.

One of those food distributors seeing an uptick in demand is the Capital Area Food Bank, a food hub with more than 700 partners that distribute commodities to locations in the District of Columbia, northern Virginia and parts of Maryland.

Shamia Holloway, communications manager of the Capital Area Food Bank, said the hub has seen a 25 percent increase in demand since the start of the recession roughly three years ago, and the demographic of recipients has changed. “We’re seeing many more middle-class visitors, people who have never been to the food bank before. We’ve even had former donors return as clients.”

Shelves of food at the Capital Area Food Bank in Washington, DC.  The food bank has seen a 25 percent increase in demand since the start of the recession three years ago. Photo courtesy Geoff Livingston.
Shelves of food at the Capital Area Food Bank in Washington, DC. The food bank has seen a 25 percent increase in demand since the start of the recession three years ago. Photo courtesy Geoff Livingston.

USDA is proud of its support of food banks via The Emergency Food Assistance Program, which distributes commodities to supplement the diets of low-income families. In the early 1930s, USDA established a food distribution program to shore up farm prices and help American farmers suffering from the economic mayhem of the Great Depression. Millions lost their jobs and couldn’t support themselves and their families, and the danger of malnutrition among children became a national concern.

Several USDA agencies sustain the federal government’s modern-day food distribution program. The Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) manages The Emergency Food Assistance Program. The Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) purchases meat, poultry, eggs, fish, fruit and vegetable products; the Farm Service Agency (FSA) purchases dairy and peanut products, cereals, grains and vegetable oils.

FNS then coordinates distribution of the commodities to states based on unemployment numbers and residents with incomes lower than the poverty level. The states disperse the food to local agencies, usually food banks.

Every day the employees of USDA work to help support those who struggle to feed themselves. Visit the FNS website to find out more about USDA’s nutrition programs.

Category/Topic: Food and Nutrition

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Comments

Kurt Benson
Dec 22, 2011

I saw the call for new farmers in a news article and the need for a second job to pay for health insurance. why not provide a USDA run health insurance for farmers and families with a net worth less than 1 million not counting the value of their land? I am not currently a farmer by the way so no self interest here. base it on the military version.

Bill C
Dec 22, 2011

You forgot to mention USDA Employees - especially here at HQs contributing to the CAFB through the Feds Feed Families food drive earlier this year. I know i contributed over 250 pounds worth of food, plus helped collect over 2 tons from DC RMA employees.