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Ag Secretary Sonny Perdue Visits Food Bank Of The Rockies To See Coronavirus Food Assistance Program In Progress

DENVER (CBS4)- Colorado food banks are seeing a big spike in the need for food assistance during the coronavirus pandemic, pushing their supply to the limits. The United States Department of Agriculture has long supported those organizations through different federal programs, adding to that with the Coronavirus Food Assistance program.

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On Friday, during a visit to Colorado with Sen. Cory Gardner, USDA Secretary Sonny Perdue decided to see the result of those programs firsthand with a visit to the Food Bank of the Rockies.

Food Bank of the Rockies CEO Erin Pulling says since COVID-19 hit Colorado they have doubled the amount of food they distribute every week.

"We have seen an unprecedented need for food assistance, about one-third of people we are serving have never in their whole lives needed help with food," she said.

And approximately half of all the food they distribute now comes from the USDA.

"We are receiving more food from the USDA than we ever have before and the biggest bulk of that is from Farmers to Families' Food Box program or Coronavirus Food Assistance program," she said.

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Its inventory the pantry received just this month is from a program the USDA Secretary and Gardner says is a win-win program.

"We purchase food from the farmers and put the distributors back to work that were serving the restaurant industry and now the charitable organizations like the food banks are helping to distribute this to all over the state," Perdue said.

"It helps those farmers, have an outlet so we are not seeing the dumping or rotting of produce in the fields it actually comes here there are potatoes from the San Luis valley onions from Fort Morgan Colorado," Gardner said.

The $3 billion program is providing crucial support during the time of COVID-19 but will likely be short lived.

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"It's probably a very expensive program to continue on a year-round basis," Purdue said.

And while Pulling welcomes the abundance of food, she says finding a way to distribute has been a hurdle, costing them nearly $100,000 a month. She says continued public support will ensure they continue to make that happen.

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