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WASHINGTON — U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue announced the U.S. Department of Agriculture will launch a third round of Farmers to Families Food Box Program purchases with distributions to occur beginning by Sept. 1 with completion by Oct. 31.

The purchases will spend the balance of $3 billion authorized for the program.

So far, more than 46 million Farmers to Families Food Boxes have been invoiced and delivered.

“This third round of Farmers to Families Food Box Program purchases is a testament to the great work done by vendors in support of American agriculture and the American people," Perdue said. "It is also a testament that the program is accomplishing what we intended – supporting U.S. farmers and distributors and getting food to those who need it most. It’s a real trifecta, which is why we call it a win-win-win. The efforts of everyone involved form the backbone of the Farmers to Families Food Box Program and its goal to help fill the hunger gap in all of our communities.”

In this third round of purchases, USDA plans to purchase combination boxes to ensure all recipient organizations have access to fresh produce, dairy products, fluid milk and meat products.

Eligibility in the third round will be open to entities who can meet the government’s requirements and specifications.

Proposals will be expected to illustrate how coverage will be provided to areas identified as opportunity zones, detail subcontracting agreements and address the “last mile” delivery of product into the hands of the food insecure population.

A notice explaining the solicitation process will be issued in the days to come with a webinar and other educational opportunities provided for those interested in participating.

In the ongoing second round of purchasing and distribution, which began July 1 and will conclude Aug. 31, USDA aims to purchase up to $1.47 billion of food for the program.

For the second round, USDA extended contracts of select vendors from the first round of the program worth up to $1.27 billion.

Some contracts were not extended at the vendors’ request or reduced based on information provided by the contractor.

Additionally, in the second round, USDA approved up to $202 million in new contracts, via a new acquisition activity, with select vendors whose offers were not previously accepted due to various issues in their proposals.

These distributors were selected to increase the focus on Opportunity Zones in order to direct food to reach underserved areas, places where either no boxes have yet been delivered or where boxes are being delivered but where there is additional need.

The first round of purchases totaling more than $947 million occurred from May 15 through June 30.

More information about the third round of food box purchasing will be made available on the Farmers to Families Food Box Program website at usda.gov/farmers-to-families

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