Farmers to Families Food Boxes to resume; no word on when in Upper Valley

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Thanks to President Trump’s daughter and advisor Ivanka Trump, the Farmers to Families Food Box program will continue, but how soon that food will be available in the Upper Valley this year is another question.

The program suffered from a lack of funding in December, and as a result, the Rexburg Mobile Food Pantry wasn’t able to provide the food on Tuesday as it had the first Tuesday of nearly every month for much of 2020.

“It’s always been a month-to-month contract with the federal government,” RMFP official Jess Goudy said. “Until further notice, we won’t be doing the Farmers to Families Food Box program.”

Ivanka Trump stepped in earlier this month and urged the government to continue funding the program.

“I am proud to share that thanks to the Trump administration’s efforts, the Farmers to Families Food Box Program has an additional $1.5 billion to continue to feed families in need, provide employment and support our small farmers. During these unprecedented times, this administration will continue to fight for American families and will always put them first!” Ivanka Trump said in a Jan. 4 press release.

U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue confirmed that the USDA would continue the Farmers to Families Food Box program.

“This new round of Farmers to Families Food Boxes will go a long way in helping American families access nutritious and healthy meals as we recover from the COVID-19 pandemic. Thanks to President Trump’s leadership, we have helped tens of millions of families and countless farmers with this program,” said Perdue. “President Trump has committed to helping the American people recover and rebuild, and this program helps American families get back on solid ground by ensuring they receive the nutritious food they need during these difficult times.”

The Farmers to Families Food Box program is part of the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program (CFAP), created in 2020 to help families impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. The program has provided millions of food boxes to families throughout the country.

Goudy says she’s looking forward to seeing how the continued Farmers to Families Food Boxes program will work via RMFP.

“I’m curious to see how it looks state by state, but it is getting money out. A lot of the (food) programs weren’t able to see their families through the holidays. Idaho had a tiny bit of surplus of boxes and was able to see everybody through the holiday season through that program, fortunately,” she said.

Goudy expects to hear from the Farmers to Family Food Box officials in the ensuing future.

“We’ll reach out. We should know here pretty soon. The funds were just released this week. It takes a little bit to figure out who’s getting what, and what that’s going to look like. I imagine here in the next week or so we’ll know if that affects our pantry to continue doing that emergency distribution,” she said.

Goudy didn’t hear any complaining about the lack of the January Farmers to Family Food Boxes program, but did say that many families had come to depend on the program.

“There have been lots of questions, but they trust us. They know we’ll do everything we can to bring food into the county,” she said.

Despite that temporary suspension of the Farmers to Families program, the Rexburg Food Pantry will continue its third Tuesday of the month distribution from 4 p.m. until 7 p.m. or “until the food runs out” on Jan. 19, at the Wilcox Warehouse in Thornton as it has done in previous months. The food comes via the Idaho Food Bank that has proven a reliable RMFP partner and is not connected to the Farmers to Family Food Boxes program.

“The Idaho Food Bank has been a secure source of food for us the last seven and a half years that we’ve done it. They’re reliable. They go out of their way to try and get us as much good quality food as possible,” she said. “We’re serving more people than ever. We’ve compared it to years previous, and, in some cases, we’re up by 300 families. There are more people needing assistance, most definitely.”

For more information on the RMFB call 208-359-1256 and for more information on the Farms to Family Food Boxes program visit https://www.ams.usda.gov/selling-food-to-usda/farmers-to-families-food-box.