MISSOULA — The COVID-19 pandemic has had major negative impacts for farmers, food distributors, and families alike.
The USDA has developed a new program through the Families First Coronavirus Response Act to combat issues of food insecurity and loss of business due to coronavirus.
The program aims to purchase and distribute agricultural products to those in need.
USDA Under Secretary Bill Northey and US Representative Greg Gianforte (R-MT) made a special visit on Monday to the Missoula Food Bank, where the program has already taken off.
Known as the Farmers to Families Food Boxes Program, the USDA collects food from farmers and distributes it to needy families with the help of national, regional, and local distributors.
About 800 of those boxes are distributed every week at the Missoula Food Bank as a supplement to the food already available to patrons of the food bank.
"Part of that is food that works in this model right now and also supporting local ag and our regional ag suppliers," said Missoula Food Bank executive director Aaron Brock.
"Being a part of that system that keeps those farmers operational and profitable, and keeps high-quality food for the folks who need it in this community, that’s just a total win-win," he added.
The state of Montana will receive nearly 36,000 boxes of food through the Farmers to Families Food Box program in the next three weeks.