• 57°

Hyde-Smith announces $10.3M USDA food donation

Senator Cindy Hyde-Smith this week announced a $10.3 million donation of surplus foodstuffs by the United States Department of Agriculture.

A contract of more than $10 million was awarded to Hattiesburg-based Merchants Foodservice to package food for the use of food banks, community and faith-based organizations and other nonprofit groups serving those in need.

“I’m pleased Merchants Foodservice has been selected to participate in this beneficial program,” Hyde-Smith said.

This will benefit the Farmers to Families Food Box Program — part of the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program that USDA is exercising authority under the Families First Coronavirus Response Act to purchase and distribute agricultural products to those in need — but also keep Merchants Foodservice in operation. Food service companies have felt financial strain due to the economic effects of COVID-19.

“Foodservice companies have been hit hard with the closing of restaurants, hotels, and other businesses,” Hyde-Smith said. “This significant contract will relieve some of that pressure for a Mississippi company and its workers, while also benefiting agricultural producers and families who need help during this economic downturn.”

The contract will help Mississippi workers and agricultural producers that have been affected by the pandemic.

“The coronavirus is causing hardships throughout our society, including Southwest Mississippi,” Hyde-Smith said. “The Farmers to Families program works to keep fresh produce, dairy and meat products from going to waste by making it available to families in need.”

The contract with Merchants Foodservice will allow the company to purchase fresh produce, dairy and meat products for family sized boxes.

Hyde-Smith met with members of Macedonia Baptist Church Friday to aid in the distribution of nearly 500 of these boxes. During this time, Hyde-Smith led packing efforts as vehicles came through for pickup.

Boxes were provided for Macedonia Baptist Church, Brookhaven Outreach Ministries, Doll’s House Rehabilitation Center for Women and Dickerson Place Baptist Children’s Village Home.

“It was an honor to participate in the Merchants Foodservice distribution in Brookhaven, and I will continue to work to help our state as we fight through this pandemic,” Hyde-Smith said.


Story by Gracie Byrne