Weekly column from Congressman Dusty Johnson (August 14)
August 14, 2020
At the beginning of the pandemic, Congress passed the Families First Coronavirus Response Act – this bill authorized a critical pandemic program for American families – the Farmers to Families Food Box. Since March, more than 62 million families across the country have received food boxes.
Millions of Americans are still out of a job, and for some, these boxes are what’s keeping food on the table. As the lead Republican on the Agriculture Committee’s Nutrition and Oversight Subcommittee, it’s important I see where the rubber meets the road – that’s why I volunteered with Feeding South Dakota during their distribution of the boxes.
Feeding South Dakota is doing amazing work. They’ve successfully partnered with the Farmers to Families federal program and distributed 160,332 boxes of food to families across our state. When families drive up to the food bank to receive their boxes, they are greeted by a welcoming volunteer and given a produce and a dairy box. Milk, cheese, yogurt, apples, berries, onions, and carrots are just a few of the items the family will receive on any given distribution day.
It was amazing to see how many people are being helped, but even more so, I was impressed by the teamwork aspect of the program. The Farmers to Families Food Box is a solid example of good government. The federal government managed to develop a program in weeks, while working with private companies and local food banks to ensure the food gets from the farm to the family table. It’s not a perfect program, but it’s been largely successful – I credit the partnership with the private sector for that.
Not only does this program help families in need, it provides farmers facing lost demand with a place to sell their food. When things first shut down, some producers were forced to dump their milk, this program continues to help fill some of the void being felt throughout our agriculture communities.
The Farmers to Families food box program is largely serving families who have never needed assistance before. I was proud to see it work firsthand and serve alongside so many dedicated volunteers in my town of Mitchell. If you or a family member are in need of food during these hard times, please don’t hesitate and reach out to your local food bank today to see if they are a partner with the Farmers to Families Food Box.