Food And Drinks

Detroit companies selected to distribute Farmers to Families Food Boxes


Several Detroit groups are on the list of companies that will distribute food under the US Department of Agriculture’s Farmers to Families Food Box program.

These organizations are sharing $ 1.2 billion contracts to package, distribute and deliver the grocery boxes to grocery banks, churches and other emergency food providers starting Friday.

Detroit companies and organizations that have won food distribution contracts in the Midwest include:

  • Atlas Wholesale Food Company
  • Del Bene Produce
  • Eastern Market Corp.
  • LaGrasso Bros. Produce

Gordon Food Service, based in Grand Rapids, is also listed among the companies that will be distributing groceries through the short-term program.

Approved suppliers may increase the number of nonprofit or government agencies (e.g., school food authority, Native American tribes) they provide crates to in their service area, but must ensure that the nonprofit is 501 (c) (3 ) (USDA) said in a publication.

The USDA announced on April 17 the program to buy up to $ 3 billion in free produce, dairy products and meat from farmers and ranchers and distribute them to food aid organizations in the US. It enables traders who have lost their business due to the closure of restaurants, schools and hotels between May 15 and June 30 to pack the food boxes and distribute them to local food banks and other hunger organizations.

USDA said it could extend the contract period depending on the program’s success and the remaining funds available.

The Farmers to Families Food Box program is an extension of many of the Eastern Market’s efforts to ensure vulnerable populations have access to nutrient-rich foods, said Dan Carmody, president of the Eastern Market Partnership.

This is also a way to ensure that some of the USDA funding can be used to support local agriculture by purchasing fresh produce. The eastern market has a wholesale market that attracts 30 to 50 producers.

During Michigan’s growing season, June through September, Eastern Market supplies and staffs approximately 25 farm stalls, the neighborhood market in parts of the city that have few grocery stores, a social services agency, and corporate food distribution locations to keep employees healthy Alternatives to offer said Carmody. Boxes are distributed through these websites.

“The COVID-19 crisis highlighted the food access issue we’ve been working on since ’09 with underlying health conditions, type 2 diabetes, and high blood pressure caused by poor diet,” said Carmody.

A portion of the 2,000 federal government-funded boxes of groceries the market hands out each week will also go to senior centers in Detroit, he said.

Eastern Market had previously brought seniors from the locations to the Tuesday markets, but delivered fresh produce to the centers during the pandemic.

The USDA contract for the first phase of grocery box distribution, May 15 through June 30, is a $ 60,000 contract that includes provisions for four more contract renewals that span the program through the start of the new year, Carmody said .

Eastern Market has a budget of $ 6.2 million. However, Carmody anticipates that business will slow down in the market and the loss of event rentals during the pandemic will result in a loss of 20 to 30 percent of that budget.


Dusty Kennedy