Texan Food Banks Need Your Help Getting Back Surplus Produce
If you’ve been involved with Tarrant Area Food Bank (TAFB) at any level, whether as a volunteer, donor or client, you know just how important fresh produce is to our daily mission.
We believe that everyone deserves the right to access nutritious food, and fresh fruits and vegetables are cornerstones of a healthy diet. Recently, the Texas Department of Agriculture (TDA) made a momentous decision that will impede our ability to distribute fresh produce into our communities.
On October 1, TDA cut the Surplus Agricultural Product Grant, which allowed TDA to purchase fresh produce from farmers to then distribute it to the 21 food banks across Texas.
The grant cut occurred because the COVID-19 pandemic has taken a toll on everyone, including our local government. At the height of the pandemic, Texas’ number one source of income—sales tax—was severely compromised. Families didn’t shop as they sheltered in place for months, and the only purchases they made were groceries and medications, which cannot be taxed under state law.
As Texas continues to financially recover, the state was left with some difficult decisions on what portions of their budget should be cut. TDA made the unfortunate decision to cut this specific grant, which will inevitably cut access to fresh fruits and vegetables for thousands. According to statistics produced by Feeding Texas, TAFB alone will lose $152,807 that would have come from the grant. This translates to 1.2 million pounds of fresh produce that won’t be distributed into our 13 counties.
Farmers also lose out on the ability to sell their surplus crops, which means that they’re not only losing money, but also their food is also going to waste in the process. The Surplus Agricultural Product Grant helps stimulate the economy via the multiplier effect, since the farmers spend the funds they receive to reinvest in their crops. Without such, our Texas economy would suffer.
So how can you help? We recommend you contact Commissioner Sid Miller from TDA and ask him to reconsider TDA’s decision to cut the Surplus Agricultural Product Grant. As the head of the TDA, Commissioner Miller has the power to make budget changes and allot any necessary cuts to a different program. The Surplus Agricultural Product Grant is absolutely necessary for those who rely on food banks to provide fresh produce for their family. You can help put fresh fruit and vegetables on a family’s table by taking action. Contact Commissioner Miller through any of the following channels:
Mailing Address: P.O. Box 12847
Austin, TX 78711-2847
Phone Number: 512-463-7476
Mailing Address : 6407 S US Hwy 377
Stephenville, TX 76401
Facebook- Sid Miller (@MillerForTexas)
You can also read Feeding Texas’ response to this decision by clicking here.