White House Senior Adviser Ivanka Trump volunteered at a Washington D.C. faith-based community center on Monday, distributing food boxes to underserved families as part of a Trump administration program launched amid the coronavirus pandemic.
“Millions of families across this country are benefiting from the Farmers to Families Food Box program, with nearly 40 million boxes of fresh, locally sourced produce, meat, and dairy delivered so far,” Ivanka said in a statement. “I am excited to witness first-hand the good work of faith-based and non-profit organizations in the District to help propel our shared mission of feeding those most in need.”
Pastor Paula White, an adviser to the White House Faith and Opportunity Initiative, joined Ivanka at the DC Dream Center where both ladies took part in a meeting with community leaders before handing out food boxes to D.C. residents outside the center in Southeast D.C.
“This Farmers to Families program has helped distressed farmers, helped suppliers and business owners,” White said in an interview with The Daily Citizen. “Prior to Farmers to Families, the administrator of the D.C. Center shared that most donations of food were close to expiring, but today families received fresh produce, dairy and meat. In the seven weeks since the program started, the D.C. Center has received over 44,000 pounds of food.”
Part of the Farmers to Families program, one thousand food boxes filled with produce, dairy products, and meat were distributed to families, according to a White House official. The distribution was supported by groups like Operation Blessing, Blessings of Hope, City Serve, and White’s own church, City of Destiny.
The Farmers to Families Food Box program was created by the Department of Agriculture (USDA) in April to buy and retrieve surplus of food from struggling farmers amid the pandemic in order to deliver them to local food banks, community organizations, and other nonprofits. In turn, the local food banks would distribute the food boxes to families in need across the country. $3 billion of the $19 billion allocated from the CARES Act was invested in the Farmers to Families program that led to the purchase and distribution of 34.5 million boxes in mid-May until the end of June.
“Over the past few weeks, the Farmers to Families Food Box Program has continued to pick up steam, getting food in the hands of more and more Americans while providing much-needed support to our agricultural sector,” Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue said. “This milestone is 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.”
Ivanka helped led and advocate for the program, working with USDA, the Small Business Administration, and the Treasury Department to connect struggling farmers and ranchers with national, regional, and local distributors. In May, Ivanka visited Coastal Sunbelt Produce, a Maryland distributor that received a federal contract to assemble food boxes and to kick off the Farmers to Families program. The federal government bought about $4 million of fresh produce from Coastal Sunbelt Produce that delivered over 35,000 boxes a week to food banks, religious organizations, and nonprofits through the end of June.
The program was extended last month, with the USDA awarding new contracts totaling $1.47 billion for July through August 31. So far, over 6.9 million food boxes have been distributed over the course of three weeks.
“Great day volunteering at the local @DCDreamCenter and distributing Farmers to Families Food Boxes to the last mile of need,” Ivanka tweeted. “This program is creating a link between hungry families and struggling farmers affected by COVID-19.”
Ivanka shared a video of a community resident expressing gratitude for the food drive.
“I am so grateful, and thankful, for Ivanka Trump coming here with everyone today to partner with D.C. Dream Center, that has been awesome to get food out into the community,” Kiesha, a local resident and community advocate said in the video footage.