With a third distribution date set for Nov. 20, the Morris County Collaborative, in partnership with area churches and service organization, will be responsible for putting more than 3,000 boxes of food into the hands of local residents in need.
As part of the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program which began in April 2020, the USDA is exercising authority under the Families First Coronavirus Response Act to purchase and distribute agricultural products to those in need. Through this program, USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) is partnering with national, regional and local distributors, whose workforces have been significantly impacted by the closure of restaurants, hotels and other food service businesses, to purchase up to $4.5 billion in fresh produce, dairy and meat products from American producers of all sizes. The program will supply boxes of fresh fruits and vegetables, dairy products and meat products. Distributors package these products into family-sized boxes, then transport them to food banks, community and faith-based organizations, and other non-profits serving Americans in need.
The first round of purchases occurred nationally from May 15 through June 30, 2020 and saw more than 35.5 million boxes delivered in the first 45 days. In the second round of purchasing and distribution, which began July 1 and concluded Sep. 18, 2020, USDA purchased more than $1.781 billion of food through extended contracts of select vendors from the first round of the program as well as new contracts focused on Opportunity Zones in order to direct food to reach underserved areas, places where either no boxes have yet been delivered, or where boxes are being delivered but where there is additional need. The ongoing third round of the program was announced July 24, 2020. On Aug. 24, 2020, up to an additional $1 billion was made available for deliveries through Oct. 31, 2020. USDA announced contracts for the third round on Sept. 17, 2020, and has purchased more than $3.634 billion worth of food to date. The upcoming fourth round, announced on Oct. 23, 2020, will aim to purchase up to $500 million worth of food and will begin Nov. 1 with deliveries through Dec. 31, 2020.
Pastor Randy Seybert, minister of the Church on the Rock in Daingerfield, former president and member of the Morris County Collaborative, coordinated the distribution with the USDA and area ministers. Pastor Seybert generously offered use of the church location and parking lot for the distribution.
Churches assisting with the distribution included First Baptist Church of Daingerfield; Our Lady of Fatima Catholic Church; Wallick Chapel Christian Church; Shady Grove Christian Church; Church on the Rock; Fellowship Baptist Church; First Baptist Church of Omaha; South Union Baptist Church; Concord Missionary Baptist Church; Spring Hill Missionary Baptist Church; Mt. Mitchell Church of Christ and Faith Temple Church of God in Christ.
Volunteers were treated with a hamburger lunch after the food distribution. Luncheon sponsors include: Kindred at Home, Heart to Heart Hospice, The Springs Nursing Center, Grace Hill Nursing Center and Windsor Place Nursing Center.
Organizers anticipate another distribution of boxes in December.