The Food Bank Council of Michigan today welcomed news of the USDA’s $3 billion in food purchases through the newly created Coronavirus Food Assistance Program (CFAP).
In addition to supplying fresh emergency food, the program supports U.S. farmers by providing $100 million monthly for dairy, produce and meats. The news, although applauded, presents new challenges to Michigan’s food bank network as they navigate a new federal program and timely deliveries to multiple locations.
“Everything inside a pandemic like COVID-19 gets magnified and multiplied,” said Dr. Phil Knight, executive director of the Food Bank Council of Michigan. “Inequities are magnified but the efforts of so many to do so much good gets multiplied.”
Michigan food banks continue to meet the many challenges of feeding an escalating number of hungry families and seniors. Average food distribution pre-COVID 19 was 439,368 pounds per week. That jumped in mid-April to 618,979 pounds, representing a 41% increase in demand for emergency food.
As the Food Bank Council and its seven regional food banks work tirelessly to accommodate the increase, they appreciate the USDA for recognizing the tremendous need for fresh food. CFAP also allows the Council to refocus the state’s Michigan Agricultural Surplus System allocation to provide consumers with locally farmed produce.
“Michigan’s farmers have unselfishly supported the Michigan Ag Surplus System since its inception 30 years ago through Farm Bureau’s Harvest for All program and its partnership with the Food Bank Council of Michigan,” said Carl Bednarski, president, Michigan Farm Bureau Family of Companies. “Now, with so many of our fellow Michigander’s faced with uncertainty, I have no doubt that those of us producing the over 300 commodities in our state will continue to do what we can to help feed those in need.
“Michigan Farm Bureau is collaborating with commodity organizations and the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development to determine how our great agriculture products can be included in the food assistance program. Our tremendous ag diversity will provide a great opportunity to supply healthy and nutritious food.”
The Food Bank Council network is emphasizing the need for its distributors to work with Michigan farmers and processors, bringing in as much Michigan milk, dairy and produce as possible. As the nation’s second most agriculturally diverse state, Michigan is more than able to provide fresh, healthy food during a crisis and beyond.
“Efforts by our farmers and ranchers to come alongside of the Food Bank Council of Michigan inspire us and our teams,” said Knight. “Whether we are in a pandemic or not, solving hunger always starts in the field.”
For more information on the Food Bank Council of Michigan’s response to COVID-19, visit https://www.fbcmich.org/covid-19/.