Written by Julianne Foster
The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) formed a Coronavirus Farm Assistance Program in response to the pandemic situation. On April 17 under the authority of the Families First Response Act, and as part of the program, Secretary Purdue announced they would purchase and distribute agricultural products to Americans in need.
This Farmers to Families Food Box Program is an effort to deliver produce to people faster, which will provide some relief to grocery stores, food banks, etc. The USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) is partnering with national, regional, and local suppliers for this program since their normal outlets of income, restaurants, hotels, bars, etc. are no longer in high demand for their produce.
The goal is to purchase $461 million in fresh produce, $317 million in dairy products, and $258 million in meat products, with $175 million being put towards turning these products into combination boxes. This totals $1.2 billion to ensure the boxes are made and transported to food banks, community associations, faith-based organizations, and nonprofits that are serving people in need.
This program will be active until June 30, with available funds totaling $3 billion, which allows for assessment at the end if they need to extend the period.
CityServe International has responded to the COVID-19 situation by resourcing churches to reach and aid the public, such as with the USDA’s Food Box Program. Trucks and cars can be found lined up outside CityServe locations as representatives of churches from a variety of communities come to receive the boxes to distribute to people in need.
CityServe is through a collaborative network of churches and community leaders which is partnering with World Vision USA, Convoy of Hope, Operation Blessing, Citygate Network, The Dream Center Network, Teen Challenge, Mercy Chefs, God’s Pit Crew, and Victory Churches to facilitate faith-based affiliation for Farmers to Families. They understand the impact churches can have in support of their communities.
“Local churches are ready to respond and meet the needs of the hopeless with more than just food boxes, but also with long-lasting relationships that lead to radical transformation,” wrote CityServe Public Relations Director Crissy Cochran.
Across the country, CityServe utilizes churches as HUBs, no matter the denomination, to hold and pass on the free food boxes to other churches known as points of distribution (PODs). According to CityServe, California PODs alone will be receiving 15,000 food boxes a month.
Lead Pastor Troy Singleterry of City View Churches in San Diego is expecting the county to receive 1,600-3,200 boxes every week for the next 90 days, if not longer. City View Church will be the distribution center for San Diego in partnership with CityServe. For their community in Mission Valley, Pastor Troy is estimating 400-500 boxes to be passed out through their church each week. The efforts of CityServe are honorable and glorifying to God as they provide churches with the means to reach out and care for their communities in light of the pandemic situation.