Murkowski Food Advocacy Effort Builds Momentum, Expands to $20 Million Alaska Salmon Purchase

Department of Agriculture Purchases Canned Pink Salmon for Food Banks Nationwide

WASHINGTON, D.C. – After successfully encouraging the U.S. Department of Agriculture to expand its efforts to provide more produce to food banks and affiliates nationwide last week, Senator Lisa Murkowski was able to help convince Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack to use $20 million in existing funds to also purchase Alaska canned pink salmon for Americans in need.

Murkowski was the lead Republican on a bipartisan August letter (attached) with over 20 of her Senate colleagues recommending more be done by the USDA in light of increased need across the country through The Emergency Food Assistance Program (TEFAP) – leading to last week’s $126 million purchase of fruits and vegetables.

“When I initially encouraged Secretary Vilsack to consider using TEFAP funds to help provide healthy food for Americans in need, my goal was to ensure that food banks and their partners would have greater access to a wide variety of healthy foods,” said Murkowski.  “Every Alaskan knows that our salmon is brain food and full of protein, so I suggested the Department of Agriculture consider our nutritious and delicious salmon for food banks nationwide experiencing high levels of need.”

A recent survey of 250 Fairbanksans served by the Fairbanks Community Food Bank revealed that of those who received food boxes: 25% can’t find work; 20% are disabled; 20% are working poor; 8% are military; 7% were laid off; 6% are students; 5% are sick or had an accident, and 6% had unexpected situations or emergencies.

Senator Lisa Murkowski is a strong supporter of the Food Bank of Alaska and its affiliate network, having visited several branches in recent months to pitch in as well as hearing more about their day-to-day challenges.