WASHINGTON – The US Department of Agriculture announced it will invest an additional $2 billion to support food banks and school meal programs for purchasing foods and beverages produced in the US.

The USDA shared that the money will help organizations handle elevated food costs and supply chain challenges they face while providing nutritious foods to children and families in need.

Close to $1 billion of the funding will help emergency food providers such as food banks purchase food. Approximately $500 million will go toward expanding the Local Food Purchase Assistance cooperative agreement program. About another $500 million goes to schools, so they can buy food for lunch and breakfast programs.

“Funding these initiatives is paramount in the fight against hunger, and further demonstrates the Biden-Harris Administration and USDA’s commitment to strengthen food and nutrition security,” said Tom Vilsack, US secretary of agriculture. “We must ensure Americans have access to safe, healthy, affordable food for longevity and optimal health.”

Per the USDA, school districts can use Supply Chain Assistance funding to purchase items such as milk, cheese, fresh fruit, frozen vegetables and ground meat. With the newly announced $500 million, the total investment in school food programs since December 2021 has now reached $2.5 billion.

The USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service and its Commodity Procurement Program each year buy more than $3 billion worth of dairy, meat, poultry, fruit, vegetables, grains and oilseed produced and processed in the US. Those products are delivered to schools, food banks and households throughout the US.

International Dairy Foods Association president and chief executive officer Michael Dykes said the dairy processing industry applauds the USDA’s support for schools and food banks.

“This funding will help ensure the professionals working to serve our kids breakfast and lunch in schools can continue to serve nutritious dairy foods that contribute to the growth, development, healthy immune function and overall wellness of our children,” Dykes said.

He added: “US dairy remains committed to playing a proactive role in enhancing access to nutritious foods and reducing hunger and food insecurity. We are grateful to USDA for its continued support to schools and food banks amid supply chain disruptions.”