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Pantry fears deeper cuts to commodities program

NORTH LIBERTY– According to officials at the North Liberty Community Food Pantry, lawmakers’ discussions of the federal farm bill and potential reductions in direct payments to farmers for corn, soybeans and other crops could have a drastic ripple effect
The North Liberty pantry receives thousands of pounds of food considered “commodities” every month, the items are the healthy staples the pantry likes to have on its shelves all of the time: vegetables, fruit, whole grain pasta, peanut butter, frozen meats and more. The federal government subsidizes the production of these items so the pantry can receive them at a greatly reduced price– between $.00, $.04, and $.14 per pound.
“A reduction of 50 percent in the amount of commodities available will have a dramatic impact on our budget,” said Pantry Coordinator Tina DuBois. “It will cost us 15 times as much money to keep these healthy foods on our shelves. We are already experiencing a 30 percent cut in these items, but we have had a 25 percent increase in visits to the Pantry in 2011.”
Therefore, DuBois said, Pantry organizers are asking agencies and their stakeholders to contact local senators and representatives and tell them that less TEFAP (The Emergency Food Assistance Program) commodities could lead to empty Food Pantry shelves. DuBois encourages people to deliver the following message to their local politicians: Federal commodities provided through the Emergency Food Assistance Program (TEFAP) are an essential resource to my food pantry. These nutritious commodities help us to serve the increasing numbers of people in our community who are in need of emergency food assistance. Unfortunately, federal support for this program could be reduced by as much as 50 percent this year, As a result, my food pantry could see a severe shortage of food supplies this summer and into the holiday season.
“Please call Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack and urge him to use his administrative authorities to increase the availability of TEFAP commodities in FY2011,” DuBois added.
This Friday, Congressman Dave Loebsack plans to visit the North Liberty Food Pantry to discuss the TEFAP commodities budget cuts.

Contact information for U.S. Senators and
Congressional Representatives of Johnson county:

Senator Chuck Grassley (R- IA)
 202-224-3744
 202-224-6020
 http://grassley.senate.gov/contact.cfm

Senator Tom Harkin (D- IA)
 202-224-3254
 202-224-9369
 http://harkin.senate.gov/contact_opinion.cfm

Representative Dave Loebsack (D - 02)
 202-225-6576
 202-226-0757
 http://loebsack.house.gov/contactform/