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Pingree, Blumenauer, DeLauro, Schrier Lead 26 Members in Urging House Leadership to Allow Food Banks, SNAP Beneficiaries to Access Locally Farmed Food

Members Say Allowing SNAP Beneficiaries, Food Banks Access to Locally Grown Food Will Support Small Farmers Hardest Hit by COVID-19 and Prevent Food Waste

Today US Representatives Chellie Pingree (ME-01) along with Earl Blumenauer (OR-03), Kim Schrier (WA-08), and Rosa DeLauro (CT-03) along with 26 additional members wrote to Democratic House Leadership requesting that future COVID-19 relief packages include immediate, direct assistance for small farmers, better protections for farmworkers, and policy changes to ensure locally grown food is available to food insecure Americans. Specifically, the members said future relief packages should include policy changes to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) to ensure beneficiaries have access to locally grown food and offer food banks greater flexibility and support to procure locally produced food.

“One of the things this pandemic is underscoring is the fragility of relying on a national network to move food around the country rather than being able to locally source and access this food resulting in significant supply chain issues. There is unnecessary food waste during a time when food insecurity is increasing, and food banks have limited supplies to provide to families that need it,” the members wrote in their letter to House Leadership. “We are witness to already beleaguered dairy farmers dumping milk, suffering not only the economic impacts, but also the very real demoralizing effects of watching their hard work go down the drain. Likewise, with the immense pressures they face, small, direct market farmers are losing outlets due to COVID-19 closures and are having to pivot to meet consumer demand for on-farm purchasing…By supporting farmers’ markets, institutional procurement of local food, and other local marketing channels, more money will get into farmers’ pockets and stay in the local economy.”

In their detailed letter to Speaker Pelosi, Majority Leader Hoyer, and Majority Whip Clyburn, the members outlined seven primary objectives to support local food production in the next COVID-19 relief package: 

  1. Provide immediate assistance to farmers;
  2. Help local food producers adapt to COVID-19 social distancing measures;
  3. Ensure farmworkers are protected;
  4. Facilitate food donation;
  5. Ensure SNAP beneficiaries have access to local food;
  6. Preserve farmland; and
  7. Ensure long-term resiliency in agriculture via technical and infrastructure supports

Read the members’ full letter here.


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