US Senator Brown introduces Fresh Produce Procurement Reform Act

US Senator Sherrod Brown (D-OH) introduced the bipartisan Fresh Produce Procurement Reform Act, legislation that would increase and improve the U.S. Department of Agriculture procurement of fresh fruits and vegetables.

The bill would require U.S. Department of Agriculture to partner with growers, distributors, and food hubs to provide fresh, U.S.-grown fruits and vegetables to community organizations like schools, local food pantries, and youth organizations while prioritizing socially disadvantaged farmers and entities, regional food inequities, and local and regional food systems.

“Improving access to local fruits and vegetables is a win-win for Ohio farmers and residents,” said Brown. “Not only does this bill make it easier for Ohio residents to access local produce, but it will also help create shorter American supply chains, ensuring Ohio small family farms and businesses keep more of their money in their community.”

Currently, USDA’s existing model for food procurement makes it difficult for highly perishable fresh fruits and vegetables to be procured and delivered to residents in a timely manner. Additionally, the variety of fresh food options is limited.

Simultaneously, strong demand exists for fresh fruit and vegetables from community-based organizations and food banks that serve those experiencing hunger, including those that do not have access to existing programs.

The Fresh Produce Procurement Reform Act would:

  • Provide USDA with an additional tool to partner with existing growers and fresh produce distributors to procure a greater amount of fresh fruits and vegetables
  • 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.
  • Strengthen access to a wide variety of U.S.-grown fresh fruits and vegetables to recipients in need by including at least seven types of U.S.-grown fresh fruits in vegetables to vulnerable communities living in poverty.

Provide opportunities for a wider variety of high-quality produce sourced, packed, and distributed from growers and distributors of all sizes, including veteran, women-owned, and socially disadvantaged members of the agriculture community.

“As a family produce company with deep roots in Central Ohio, we are invested in realizing the full potential of the fresh produce supply chain to address nutrition insecurity. We've seen firsthand the impact of providing a wide variety of fresh fruits and vegetables to communities that have historically lacked access to these foods. The Fresh Produce Procurement Reform Act enables collaborations between American farms, the fresh produce supply chain, and the USDA to nourish our community and our region. The way that we feed people in this country is changing to a more proactive, forward-thinking approach. We are thrilled to see this proposal moving nutrition assistance in the right direction. We will continue to work to ensure that everyone, regardless of their circumstances, has access to fresh, healthy produce,” said Alex DiNovo, President and COO of DNO Produce, Columbus, Ohio.

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