Caribbean Produce Exchange, LLC and Drouyn & Co. Inc. were among the 50 vendors selected to receive a combined $45.5 million from the third round of funding of the Farmers to Families Food Box program, overseen by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
Caribbean Produce Exchange, LLC, which has been distributing food boxes since mid-May, has been assigned $35.4 million to distribute 357,657 boxes. Drouyn & Co. Inc. will receive a little more than $10 million to distribute 120,000 boxes, according to the contract list the USDA released.
As part of its work plan, Caribbean Produce Exchange Inc., announced the creation of a coalition of multiple food industry sectors that used the first $107 million in assigned grant funding to deliver 1.2 million boxes of food throughout Puerto Rico.
The boxes averaged 40 lbs. and were being distributed through a network of community entities and nonprofit organizations. They contained fresh foods including protein, vegetables, fruits, root vegetables, dairy products and eggs, which were purchased from local and stateside farmers, as well as from other local companies.
The new funding comes after the U.S. government approved an additional $1 billion injection into the program that began May 15th to provide contracts to support producers and communities in need throughout the U.S. mainland and its jurisdictions to fight hunger during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“These contract awards will go to vendors who submitted the strongest proposals in support of American agriculture and the American people,” U.S. Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue said.
“The high level of interest and quality of proposals are a testament that the program is accomplishing what we intended – supporting U.S. farmers and distributors and getting food to those who need it most. It’s a real trifecta, which is why we call it a win-win-win,” he said.
In this third round of purchases, USDA announced plans to buy combination boxes to ensure all recipient organizations have access to fresh produce, dairy products, fluid milk and meat products.
USDA solicited new proposals for the third round. Proposals were required to illustrate how coverage would be provided to areas identified as opportunity zones, detail subcontracting agreements, and address the “last mile” delivery of product into the hands of the food insecure population.
Entities who met the government’s requirements and specifications were issued agreements and submitted pricing through a competitive acquisition process.
Agreements were awarded based on the pricing submitted for the delivery locations proposed, box content, last mile delivery plans, means testing compliance, and support of small and local/regional food systems.
The second round of purchasing and distribution, which began July 1 will end today. The USDA has purchased more than $1.1 billion worth of food through extended contracts of select vendors from the first round of the program as well as new contracts focused on Opportunity Zones to direct food to reach underserved areas, places where either no boxes have yet been delivered, or where boxes are being delivered but where there is additional need.
The first round of purchases occurred from May 15 through June 30, 2020 and saw more than 35.5 million boxes delivered in the first 45 days.