Food banks across the nation are having a hard time keeping up with increased demand due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The American Farm Bureau Federation, as well as the group Feeding America, says farmers and ranchers are ready and willing to work with USDA to help bridge the supply gap and get farm products to those in need.
The organizations praised USDA leadership through the crisis and offered recommendations for additional steps to ensure food banks across America are well stocked, which would allow farmers and ranchers to expand on existing partnerships with food banks and respond to shifting demands and pressing needs.
While demand has increased across the supply chain as store shelves have emptied due to panic buying, food banks are seeing as much as a 100 percent increase in demand.
AFBF and Feeding America both say this demand can be met by redirecting supply from farmers and ranchers who’ve lost other markets like restaurants and tourism businesses due to closures and stay-at-home orders, by implementing a USDA-run voucher system.
This would allow farmers and ranchers to work directly with food banks to get farm-fresh products quickly to families in need, while also preventing food waste and helping farmers recoup some of their production costs at a time when they’re fighting to hold on.