Caribbean Produce Exchange Inc. confirmed that the alliance to establish a free distribution network of 1.2 million boxes of fresh food to all of Puerto Rico has yielded “very positive results,” now in its fifth week.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture-financed project under the “Farmers to Families Food Box Program” has seen the participation of more than 300 nonprofits, community organizations, volunteers, churches, schools, local farmers, and the food industry, CPE said.
“This islandwide coalition has successfully provided food relief to thousands of families affected by the COVID-19 pandemic and the economic needs citizens face due to lack of resources and financial aid in Puerto Rico,” the CPE said in a release.
According to company data, as of June 15, more than a million people have been able to benefit from more than 554,115 food boxes that include a variety of local and U.S.-mainland products geared toward providing balanced nutrition, complying with USDA requirements.
Deliveries are made seven days a week to the entire island, including Vieques and Culebra. To boost the food alliance locally, the company has created more than 500 direct jobs in several operational phases, split between two work shifts to assemble a daily average of 40,000 food boxes.
“We’re very satisfied with the results achieved so far and with the commitment of all the sectors that have participated in this islandwide initiative,” said Caribbean Produce Exchange President Ángel R. Santiago.
“The island’s 78 municipalities have received boxes of food or applications have been processed and are scheduled to receive their deliveries in the coming days,” he said, noting the company has 402,535 pending applications for the food boxes.
Santiago also confirmed that Caribbean Produce Exchange received visits from the USDA as part of the audits required in this program, with “very positive results regarding the operations and logistics established to implement the program.”
“This important task has allowed us to create an islandwide coalition to feed our people in a responsible and transparent manner, complying with the requirements established by federal agencies,” Santiago said.
“Beyond meeting the project goals, we’ve managed to unite wills to sow hope and deliver relief to our people,” he said.