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National Grange laments end of food box program

Funding for the food box program ended on Dec. 31 at midnight but had run out in many regions weeks earlier.

Food donations in box in kitchen background, copy space

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Farmers to Families Food Box Program was not renewed in the latest COVID relief bill. The Food Box Program was funded through CARES Act dollars. Since May, 132 million food boxes have been delivered to struggling Americans through the USDA’s Food Box Program. Funding for that program ended on Dec. 31 at midnight. Funding in many regions had already run out weeks earlier because the need was so great.

National Grange President Betsy Huber said she hopes Congress will act and restore the program. Huber urged President-elect Joe Biden and Secretary of Agriculture nominee Tom Vilsack “to prioritize and restore the Farmers to Families Food Box Program with funds Congress just authorized in the coronavirus relief package and omnibus spending bill.”

Huber said measures must be taken to ensure the citizens of one of the most food-rich countries in the world don’t needlessly go hungry.

“American farmers are extraordinarily productive, and it’s important that farmers are able to fulfill their calling – to provide sustenance to their families, their neighbors and the world,” Huber said. “Hunger is unnecessary in America. As the personal economics for millions of Americans have changed, the ability to feed themselves should not. Government intervention through programs like the Farmers to Families Food Box Program are critical to personal health, and civil stability and we urge its immediate restoration.”

Congress is still debating additional aid to Americans facing food insecurity. It is possible that the outgoing administration could reauthorize the program to the end of January from funding for the COVID relief bill signed by President Donald Trump on Dec. 27. Biden has said that he will prioritize a third COVID relief package as part of his early legislative agenda. Biden will be inaugurated on Jan. 20.

National Grange is the nation’s oldest agriculture and rural advocacy organization. The Grange is calling on legislators and the incoming administration to prioritize the Farmers to Families Food Box Program which Grange calls a “crucial program.”

Grange has a 154-year history of advocacy and service the Grange has provided to and on behalf of agriculture and rural America. Grange is a fraternal organization of farm families founded in 1867, after the Civil War when about 75 U.S. population lived on farms.

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Today, the Grange is a fraternal, nonpartisan organization with about 150,000 members across the nation in about 1,700 local chapters. Open to anyone age 14 and older interested in agriculture, rural concerns or bettering their community, the Grange never endorses candidates but works on issues made policy of the organization through a grassroots vetting process.

Brandon Moseley is a former reporter at the Alabama Political Reporter.

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