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Biden to scrap Trump's troubled food aid program

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President Joe Biden will end a food box program launched by the Trump administration, after problems of spilled and spoiled food, high costs and uneven distribution nationwide.

Created in May last year, The Farmers to Families Food Box program aimed to feed out-of-work Americans with food rescued from farmers who would otherwise throw it away as the coronavirus pandemic upended supply chains.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture spent $4 billion on the program in 2020 – six times its normal emergency food budget.

The government hired hundreds of private companies last spring to buy food no longer needed by restaurants, schools and cruise ships and haul it to overwhelmed food banks.

But according to interviews with food banks and distributors and the USDA invoices, the Trump administration overpaid, and the contractors under-delivered.

Some of the companies charged the government more than double the program average.

Others said delivery to food banks was sometimes late and food was left to spoil because contractors delivered to establishments that lacked adequate refrigeration.

Now, after reviewing the program, President Joe Biden's administration has decided not to continue it after May, the USDA Communications Director told Reuters.

Instead the USDA is focused on different hunger initiatives, including expanding food stamp benefits.

The need is stark: Demand at Feeding America, a national network of food banks, rose by 60% during the pandemic.

Video Transcript

- President Joe Biden will attend a food box program launched by the Trump administration after problems of spilled and spoiled food, high costs, and uneven distribution nationwide. Created in May last year, the Farmers to Families Food Box Program, aimed to feed out-of-work Americans with food rescue from farmers who would otherwise throw it away as the coronavirus pandemic upended supply chains. The US Department of Agriculture spent $4 billion on the program in 2020-- six times its normal emergency food budget.

The government hired hundreds of private companies last spring to buy food no longer needed by restaurants, schools, and cruise ships, and haul it to overwhelmed food banks. But according to interviews with food banks and distributors and USDA invoices, the Trump administration overpaid, and the contractors underdelivered. Some of the companies charged the government more than double the program average. Others said delivery to food banks was sometimes late, and food was left to spoil because contractors delivered to establishments that lacked adequate refrigeration.

Now, after reviewing the program, President Joe Biden's administration has decided not to continue it after May. The USDA communications director told Reuters, instead, the USDA is focused on different hunger initiatives, including expanding food stamp benefits. And the need is stark. Demand at Feeding America, a national network of food banks, rose by 60% during the pandemic.