Alaska Congressional Delegation Applauds Historic USDA Purchase of Seafood for Food Assistance Programs

U.S. Senators Lisa Murkowski and Dan Sullivan and Congressman Don Young, all R-Alaska, applauded the United States Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) approval of a Section 32 purchase of up to $159.4 million in domestically produced seafood, fruits, legumes, and nuts for distribution to food assistance programs in Alaska and across the country.          

“Whether it is farmers, ranchers, food workers, seafood harvesters or others, the COVID-19 pandemic has been devastating for Alaska’s farm and food economies, both on land and at sea. These impacts have only exacerbated longstanding disparities in food insecurity, with millions of American households struggling to put enough food on the table. Food banks are busier than ever as families across the U.S. worry about where their next meal will come from,” said the Alaska Congressional Delegation. “This historic purchase of foods to assist our food producers and hungry Americans – including the largest single seafood purchase in the USDA’s history – will have a tremendous impact on the struggling seafood sector, and will also ensure food assistance programs can provide nutritious and healthy food for Americans as we continue to navigate the pandemic. We thank Secretary Vilsack and the Administration for their focus on addressing these dual needs and look forward to continuing to work with the USDA to expand seafood support in their programs in the future.”

Background: These foods are being purchased with Section 32 funds, so named because the funds are authorized by Section 32 of the Agricultural Adjustment Act.  The Act authorizes a percentage of customs receipts to be transferred to the Secretary of Agriculture to support the prices of surplus domestic commodities and to distribute those commodities through various USDA programs designed to feed hungry Americans.  Foods purchased with Section 32 funds are distributed to schools, childcare programs, senior citizens, food banks, victims of disasters, and Indian tribes through programs such as the National School Lunch Program, the Summer Food Service Program, the Child and Adult Care Food Program, Food Distribution Program on Indian Reservations, the Commodity Supplemental Food Program, and the Emergency Food Assistance Program.  The Section 32 purchase announced today will include: Alaska pollock, apricots (canned, dried, and frozen), chickpeas, dry peas, Gulf of Mexico and South Atlantic wild-caught shrimp, lentils, navy beans, Pacific pink shrimp, Pacific rockfish fillets, Pacific whiting fillets, pistachios, prepared peaches, and sockeye (red) salmon.