Federal aid to farmers brings surplus to food banks, no resources to deliver it

Food banks nationwide asking for federal funding to deliver the extra food

SAN ANTONIO – Recent tariffs imposed by the Trump administration hit American farmers hard, so the federal government responded with funding. The funding, in turn, directed extra food to pantries and food banks nationwide, which caused a new problem.

The food banks need money and resources to get food to hungry families.

When tariffs stopped certain foods from being sold and shipped internationally, they were stuck in the United States, causing big problems for farmers nationwide.

"It's things like milk and chicken and pork and fruits and vegetables," said Eric Cooper, president and CEO of the San Antonio Food Bank.

He said the U.S. Department of Agriculture stepped in with $12 billion, paying farmers for the food and using it for government-funded programs.

"Then, they distribute them to the military. They distribute them to prison systems, and some of that food actually makes its way to the San Antonio Food Bank," Cooper said.

Cooper called the extra food a blessing, but said the surplus also raises a logistical issue.

The first shipment from the USDA program got to the San Antonio Food Bank on Tuesday. It was two full semitruck loads of milk. The issue is being able to deliver all that milk to the families in need.

"(We need) to make sure we have enough fuel in our trucks to make sure can get to those places that desperately need it," Cooper said.

The San Antonio Food Bank supports pantries in 16 counties, and it takes a lot of resources to get food to the people who need it.

Cooper and food bank administrators across the country are asking the government to set aside funding so they can take advantage of the extra food.

"Without that, we're going to be relying on San Antonio's residents to help us make up the shortfall," Cooper said.

After a tough summer and heading into the holidays, the food bank needs help now more than ever.

About the Author:

Courtney Friedman

Courtney Friedman joined KSAT 12 News in August 2014 as a general assignments reporter. She graduated as a proud Longhorn from the University of Texas, with a degree in Broadcast Journalism. In 2013, she was nominated for a Barbara Jordan Award for her stories about people with disabilities in the workplace.