MCPHERSON—First responders of McPherson County are giving away boxes of produce and dairy products to area residents — free of charge.
"We can help several thousand people," said McPherson Fire Chief TJ Wyssman. "We can help anybody that could use produce or dairy. There are a lot of people hurting from COVID. Here in McPherson County we are doing pretty well socio-economically, but we do have a class of people that are getting laid off. ... Our target is low socio-economic, but there is plenty of food."
The fire department and McPherson school district have worked together to bring a program called Farm to Families to McPherson County. The school district procured the food, while the fire department took on the logistics of distribution using their staff and volunteers from the community.
Each Friday from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. through Aug. 14, there will be a food distribution at McPherson High School.
Wysman said the boxes "easily" contain between $30 and $40 of groceries.
As part of the USDA Coronavirus Food Assistance Program, USDA is exercising authority under the Families First Coronavirus Response Act to purchase and distribute agricultural products to those in need.
Through the program, USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) is partnering with national, regional and local suppliers whose workforce has been impacted by the closure of restaurants, hotels and other food service businesses, to purchase up to $3 billion in fresh produce, dairy and meat products. The program will supply boxes packaged with fresh fruits and vegetables, dairy products, meat products and a combination box of fresh produce, dairy or meat products.
Suppliers 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 totaling up to $1.2 billion occurred from May 15 through June 30, 2020. The second round will aim to purchase up to $1.47 billion July 1 through August 31, 2020.
"We share with other municipalities as well," Wyssman said. "We don’t want anyone to go without. If we can get it out to the other municipalities we will."