USDA’s food box program makes its final deliveries this week
The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s controversial Farmers to Families Food Box program is making its final deliveries this week. Launched about a year ago, the initiative was meant to bolster food supplies at food banks, while also serving as a stopgap for producers, who’d watched their biggest purchasers—from restaurants to schools—fall off the grid during the pandemic’s first peak. The program served almost 167 million boxes in its run, CNN reports. However, its record was also marred by allegations of underqualified and self-dealing contractors, overpriced food packages, underdelivery in many regions, and a sprinkling of potential civil rights violations (this week, USDA issued a public health alert about potential Listeria contamination linked to poultry products distributed in some of the boxes). The program isn’t exactly disappearing for good: USDA this month announced that it would create a new produce box program that delivers fresh fruits and vegetables to food banks.