Washington, D.C., March 17, 2020 – U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue today announced new contacts to encourage communication with USDA to help feed kids and ensure the United States food supply chain remains strong in response to the COVID-19 outbreak:
“Food is essential all year round, but in the face of a pandemic it is critical the shelves remain stocked and supplies remain plentiful. America’s farmers and ranchers, and those on the front lines in the food service industry are doing their part,” said Secretary Perdue. “President Trump is encouraging a whole of America approach to the challenges we currently face. At USDA we know when we work together to solve the problems facing us, we can overcome this time of uncertainty and fear. If you have ideas or solutions for USDA, I urge you to reach out – we want to hear from the experts in the field.”
Today, Secretary Perdue announced a collaboration
with the Baylor Collaborative on Hunger and Poverty, McLane Global, PepsiCo, and others to deliver nearly 1,000,000 meals per week to students in a limited number of rural schools closed due to COVID-19. These boxes will contain five days worth of shelf-stable, nutritious, individually packaged foods that meet USDA’s summer food requirements. The use of this innovative delivery system will ensure rural children receive nutritious food while limiting exposure to COVID-19.
Last week, Secretary Perdue announced proactive flexibilities
to allow meal service during school closures to minimize potential exposure to the coronavirus. During an unexpected school closure, schools can leverage their participation in one of USDA’s meal programs to provide meals to students. Under normal circumstances, those meals must be served in a group setting. However, in a public health emergency, the law allows USDA the authority to waive the group setting meal requirement, which is vital during a social distancing situation.
Food Supply Chain:
President Trump’s whole of government approach is ensuring food and essentials are constantly available. USDA has been in communication with Food and Grocery Stakeholders and Executives and has hosted stakeholder calls with President Trump at the White House to discuss the impact COVID-19 has on America’s food supply chain.
While it is important to have shelf-stable foods on hand, there is no need to hoard items. Our supply chains remain strong, so please do your part to ensure we stay calm and act responsibly.