This past September, the Trump administration set in motion a $1.2 billion program that will send food to our nation’s food banks as part of a broader effort to bail out America’s farmers impacted by the recent trade war with China. Among the regional food banks set to receive additional foods from the USDA is Long Island Cares-The Harry Chapin Regional Food Bank in Hauppauge that expects to receive an additional 1,090,148 pounds of food from December 2018 thru June 2019, with approximately 2.2 million additional pounds by November of 2019.
The administration launched a $12 billion bailout program in October of 2018 for farmers who may be hurt by Chinese tariffs as part of the intensifying trade war between the world’s two largest economies which, might have softened during the recent G20 Summit in Argentina this past November. As part of these efforts, the U.S. Department of Agriculture will spend approximately $1.2 billion purchasing commodities from farmers and distributing them through child nutrition and emergency food assistance programs, which are administered by regional food banks like Long Island Cares. Commodities including fruit such as apples, blueberries, cranberries, pears, in addition to proteins such as beef and pork are expected to be delivered to Long Island Cares in Hauppauge between December 2018 and November 2019, potentially doubling the amount of food the regional food bank typically receives through the Temporary Emergency Food Assistance Program (TEFAP) from 2.5-4.5 million pounds. The food is delivered to the regional food bank’s 380 member agencies consisting of pantries, soup kitchens, day care centers and other eligible programs that feed the 272,000 Long Islanders categorized as being food insecure by the USDA and Feeding America, the nation’s leading hunger relief organization.
The additional 2,180,296 pounds of commodities we expect to receive during the next twelve months will be arriving in four different phases over the next year with the initial phase beginning in December 2018 and running through March 2019. As a member of Feeding America’s Trade Mitigation Task Force convened to develop national policy recommendations, I have a voice in advising the USDA on best methods to distribute the additional foods to the nation’s food banks. Food banks across the country are a diverse network of service providers, and some regions might have challenges distributing this large influx of commodities due to transportation costs, staffing, and storage limitations. Although we don’t foresee many problems in our ability to distribute the additional food on Long Island since, we’re coordinating our efforts with our community-based member agencies and other food banks in the downstate region such as Westchester County. Long Island Cares expects to receive a total of 40 truckloads of commodities during the next six months along with an additional $80,000 in funding to support the storage and distribution of the additional food.
When one thinks about a trade war, you don’t usually foresee a potential benefit that would trickle down to the most vulnerable segment of our population such as people living in poverty or those struggling with hunger and food insecurity. While it’s important to maintain a strong food chain in America, and we support any bailout for America’s farmers and their families, the additional food that will be received by Long Island Cares will go a long way in helping 9.5 percent of the Long Island population who will receive the additional food assistance.