Food insecure Americans would have access to fresh, local produce under Valadao bill

U.S. David G. Valadao (R-CA) on Sept. 20 signed on as a lead original cosponsor of a bipartisan, bicameral bill that would provide fresh produce to Americans facing food and nutrition insecurity.

“This bill not only helps our neighbors in need, but it also helps our domestic agriculture sector by ensuring the produce they grow is being put to good use,” Rep. Valadao said. “I’m proud to join my colleagues to introduce this bipartisan bill that will strengthen our agriculture economy and make fresh produce more widely available to those in need.”

The Fresh Produce Procurement Reform Act, H.R. 5589 / S. 2874, is sponsored by U.S. Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-CT) and U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH).

If enacted, the bill would establish a new mechanism for the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to purchase a wide variety of U.S.-grown fresh fruits and vegetables for distribution to those in need, according to a bill summary provided by the lawmakers. 

Specifically, the bill would provide USDA with another tool to partner with existing growers and fresh produce distributors to procure a greater amount of fresh fruits and vegetables, and would distribute U.S.-grown fresh fruits and vegetables to local food banks, schools, youth-serving organizations, tribal governments, and other nonprofit community members serving nutrition insecure populations, the summary says.

Additionally, the bill would bolster access to U.S.-grown fresh fruits and vegetables to needy recipients by including at least seven types of U.S.-grown fresh fruits in vegetables to vulnerable communities living in poverty, states the summary, and would provide opportunities for more high-quality produce sourced, packed, and distributed from different growers and distributors, including veteran, women-owned, and socially disadvantaged members of the agriculture community.

“Far too many families across the United States do not have readily available access to high-quality fresh fruits and vegetables,” said Rep. DeLauro, adding that the measure would “allow our diverse local and regional supply chains the opportunity to distribute U.S.-grown fresh produce to those in need.”