USDA will buy another $1.5 billion of food to continue the Farmers to Families Food Box program, the department has announced.

Through funding available in the COVID relief bill passed in December, Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue said USDA will be able to issue solicitations to 240 organizations that have already received Basic Ordering Agreements (BOAs).

So far, the program has resulted in delivery of more than 132 million food boxes nationwide. The latest cash infusion will bring the total spent on the program to more than $5 billion.

“This new round of Farmers to Families Food Boxes will go a long way in helping American families access nutritious and healthy meals as we recover from the COVID-19 pandemic,” Ag Secretary Sonny Perdue said.

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USDA said in this fifth round of purchases will again include combination boxes “to ensure all involved recipient organizations have access to fresh produce, dairy products, fluid milk and meat products.” Seafood products also will be part of the latest round.

USDA said it will issue an amendment to the BOA “to clarify the amount of acceptable processed meat products, to include seafood products and to clarify certain labeling requirements.”

“Solicitations to existing BOA holders are expected to be issued by the end of the week, with contract awards expected to be made by Jan. 19,” USDA said. “Deliveries will begin shortly after awards are issued and continue through the end of April.”

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