The Department of Agriculture last week approved $1.2 billion in contracts for the Farmers to Families Food Box Program. 

The program is designed to connect excess meat, dairy and produce on farms with families facing food insecurity. 

The funding far exceeds the $100 million per month the department initially planned for the program, due to high interest and need. 

The program will purchase $461 million in fresh fruits and vegetables, $317 million in dairy, $258 million in meat and $175 million in a combination box of fresh produce, dairy or meat products. 

The American Farm Bureau Federation and Feeding America, the country’s largest hunger relief organization, sent a letter to the USDA requesting a nimble approach to quickly and effectively get food from America’s farms to the nation’s food banks and others addressing food insecurity. 

USDA is authorized to spend up to $3 billion through the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program. 

These initial contracts will distribute food from May 15 through June 30, 2020.