USDA Putting More Money To Food Assistance - ABC FOX MONTANA NEWS, WEATHER, SPORTS - KTMF/KWYB

USDA Putting More Money To Food Assistance

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BOZEMAN -

The U.S. Department of Agriculture is putting more money into emergency food assistance programs across the country.

The USDA announced Monday it plans to buy up to $126.4 million worth of fruits and vegetables under The Emergency Food Assistance Programs, or TEFAP.

The government will look to buy things like tart cherries, processed apples, cranberries, fresh tomatoes, wild blueberries, and raisins. They'll then give the produce to food banks, soup kitchens, and food pantries across the country.

"It supplies some amount of high quality food, commodity food, fruits, vegetables, good whole grains and proteins to those in need," said Tim Trzinski, Gallatin Valley Food Bank director.

He said it's too early to tell how much of that will make it to Gallatin County.

"It's hard to tell. Certainly any announcement that seems to indicate additional food resources will be coming into the state of Montana is always a benefit," Trzinski said.

Food distributed under TEFAP is first given to the states, then state officials decide which local organizations get the goods.

Trzinski said while food from the federal government does reach Gallatin County, it isn't much.

"Typically our federally sourced foods usually account for somewhere in between two and three percent of our agency's total food inventory," said Trzinski

USDA officials said the program also helps farmers across the nation. The surplus removal program allows the agency to purchase foods to help stabilize prices by balancing supply and demand.

The USDA distributes the food to states based on unemployment rates and how many people are living in poverty.

Montana got $1.7 million worth of food during 2013.

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