The U.S. Department of Agriculture is borrowing $12 billion to aid farmers as part of its trade relief program.
Most of that money will go directly to farmers hurt by the trade war with China and other countries, but $1.2 billion will be used to buy surplus food.
That food will go to places like the Kansas Food Bank, where it’s then distributed to food assistance agencies across the state.
“We are the warehouse, and (our partners) are like the individual arms,” said Kansas Food Bank President Brian Walker.
Those partners include more than 700 temporary emergency food assistance programs in Kansas.
Fresh milk, fruit, pork, beef and chicken are products the Kansas Food Bank and its partners — and, ultimately, those in need — rarely see.
Walker said he won’t get into the politics behind the surplus goods. But he said anytime there’s “bonus product,” especially of high quality, he’s happy about it.
“It’s good food,” Walker said. “You know, liquid dairy or fresh dairy is one of those things food banks don't see a lot of. Having the ability to distribute that and get fresh milk in the hands of folks is something that we struggle to do because it’s perishable and it’s expensive.
“Being able to have chicken, beef, and pork and those kinds of things included in your mix of dry goods — whether that be corn or whatever’s in that program — just helps us provide a better meal, and cost effectively do it.”
The Kansas Food Bank serves more than 215,000 people annually in 85 counties across the state.
“There’s folks that are struggling every day to put food on their table,” Walker said. “This product goes to those folks.”
Andrew Linnabary is an intern in the KMUW News Lab.