WASHINGTON, DC Feb. 19, 2010-- Today, USDA Under Secretary Kevin Concannon marked the one year anniversary of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) of 2009, better known as the stimulus or recovery package. USDA received an additional $100 million to provide food to local food banks, food pantries and soup kitchens through The Emergency Food Assistance Program and an additional $50 million to ensure timely administration and distribution. The ARRA funding also provided an additional $100 million in grants to local school systems in an effort to enhance the nutritional quality of school meals.
Improving the nutrition and health of all Americans is a top priority for the Obama Administration. Our Federal nutrition programs have never been a more important safety net than in the past year,” said Concannon. “TEFAP and the National School Lunch Program expand opportunities for those in need by allowing States to provide a wide variety of healthful foods during difficult economic times.”
The following are examples of how ARRA funding is helping across the nation:
- The state of Georgia ordered over $3.2 million worth of food from USDA. This is in addition to what they normally receive in TEFAP commodities. Once received, the State provides the food to local Food Banks and Georgia Community Action Agencies which distributes the food to those in need.
- The St. Louis Area Foodbank in Missouri received new pallet jacks after nearly 20 years of service from their old ones. ARRA funds were used to purchase six new motorized pallet jacks, replacing ones that had fallen into disrepair and were costly to maintain and repair. The new jacks are easier to operate and maneuver – particularly in tighter spaces such as the back of a delivery truck – and much safer to operate.
- The State of South Carolina received USDA foods consisting of fruits and a variety of protein/meat items valued at $1.6 million. South Carolina distributed these commodities to food banks throughout the state, including the Low Country Food Bank. This food bank is one of many that uses these foods to help feed low income persons struggling financially during these challenging economic times. The Low Country Food Bank has fought hunger and poverty in the coastal counties of South Carolina by distributing food and other donated products through its member agencies in South Carolina. Through the network, the partnering charity organizations provide free food to low-income residents by distributing bags of groceries or by providing on-site feeding programs.
- In Greeley, Colorado, the Weld Food Bank purchased four heated cabinets with ARRA funds which allow them to provide hot meals at satellite feeding locations throughout the food bank’s 4,000 square mile service area. Previously, the food bank could only provide hot meals within a 15-minute radius of its facility because they didn’t have the equipment necessary to keep the meals at a safe temperature during transit. In Grand Junction, Colorado, the Mesa County Health Department purchased a new walk-in freezer with the funding.
- ARRA provided Concho Elementary School, a small school in Apache County, Arizona, funds to purchase a new Blodgett DFG-100 gas oven to replace its 25-year-old oven. The new, energy efficient oven makes it easier to produce healthy, more attractive and tasty food for students.
- Apache County is one of the poorest in the country, with the majority of students qualifying for free or reduced price meals. Apache County’s poverty rate is 33.4%, while 84% of Concho’s students qualify for free or reduced priced meals.
- ARRA provided Pana Junior High School in Pana, Illinois and Jefferson Middle School in Tower Hill, Illinois over $10,000 in National School Lunch Program Equipment Assistance Grants to purchase new kitchen appliances. Pana Junior High School purchased a convection oven and a six-burner stove to replace two 1950’s gas stoves. Jefferson Middle School acquired two cold food bars and a 44” steam table with a sneeze guard. The new equipment will help serve healthy, more cost- efficient school meals.
- TEFAP’s goal is to fight hunger and improve nutrition by providing food and administrative resources to States to help support local food banks, food pantries and soup kitchens. All ARRA food and administrative funds were allocated to States based on a legislatively mandated formula that took into account each State’s poverty and unemployment rates. TEFAP operates in all 50 states as well as the Northern Mariana Islands, the District of Columbia, Guam, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands.
The National School Lunch Program is a federally assisted meal program operating in over 101,000 public and non-profit private schools and residential child care institutions. It provides nutritionally balanced, low-cost or free lunches to more than 31 million children each school day.