A new investment of nearly $2 billion from the Commodity Credit Corp. will help fund school meals and food banks, and promote the purchase of U.S.-grown foods.

The Department of Agriculture plans to allocate the money in three ways: About $1 billion for food purchases to help food banks; roughly $500 million for purchases of local foods from historically underserved producers and other local and regional producers; and another $500 million in supply chain assistance funds to help schools buy American-grown foods for their lunch and breakfast programs.

In a statement, Ag Secretary Tom Vilsack called the initiatives “paramount in the fight against hunger.” The $500 million school meal investment brings total CCC investment into school meals to $2.5 billion since December 2021, USDA noted.

“These programs directly connect American producers with food banks and schools, strengthening our rural economies while helping those most in need,” said Jenny Lester Moffitt, USDA’s undersecretary of marketing and regulatory programs. “Working together, farmers, food banks, and schools can improve our nation’s food and nutrition security.”

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To distribute the $1 billion in assistance to the nation’s food banks, USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service and Food and Nutrition Service plan to work “to identify products most likely to be available for purchase, and offer those products based on a formula to The Emergency Food Assistance Program. USDA plans to open orders for the program in the new fiscal year — which begins Oct. 1 — and deliver the food “on an ongoing basis” throughout the 2023 and 2024 fiscal years.

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