- By Pacific island Times News Staff
Guam receives food aid under USDA's Covid relief program
Matson announced a partnership with Pacific Unlimited Inc. to distribute commodity food boxes for the USDA’s national food assistance program, Farmers to Families Food Box Program. From left, Matson Account Executive Phillip Santos; Pacific Unlimited Inc. Vice President Michael Limtiaco; Matson Regional Manager of Sales and Customer Service Tasi Peddicord; and Matson Vice President and General Manager Bernie Valencia.
Shipment that includes 6,500 boxes of fresh fruit boxes weekly along with 4,000 10-lb. boxes of frozen meat products and shredded cheese per month will come to Guam through the U.S. Department of Agriculture's (USDA) Coronavirus Farm Assistance Program (CFAP) Farmers to Families Food Box Program.
The federal program will run through June 30 with options for extensions through the end of the year if USDA funding is available. The program aims to provide support for farmers and ranchers while distributing fresh produce, meat and cheese products to those in need of assistance due to the Covid-19 global pandemic.
Matson has partnered with Pacific Unlimited Inc. to distribute the food items that are boxed and ready for distrbution.
“During this time of national crisis, President Trump and USDA are standing with our farmers, ranchers, and all citizens to make sure they are taken care of,” Secretary Sonny Perdue said during the program's launch on April 17. “The American food supply chain had to adapt, and it remains safe, secure, and strong, and we all know that starts with America’s farmers and ranchers. This program will not only provide immediate relief for our farmers and ranchers, but it will also allow for the purchase and distribution of our agricultural abundance to help our fellow Americans in need.”
Pacific Unlimited Inc. (PUI), the distributor for EKK and Rich Chicks LLC under the USDA program for Guam, selected Matson to be its official refrigeration partner for the program. Pacific Trucking, part of the PUI family of companies, serves as the logistics and transportation partner that will deliver weekly shipments of food items directly to Matson-provided reefer storage containers.
Qualified nonprofit organizations will identify those in need in the community and will manage the final distribution of the food items. The first community distribution took place at the Tamuning and Dededo Mayors’ offices and the Guam Department of Education’s Piti warehouse on May 18 and will continue every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday through June 30.
“When we received the good news that we would become the distributor for Guam, we knew that we had to partner with experts in our community who could help us to quickly and efficiently distribute the food boxes to the nonprofit organizations so they can get it into the hands of those in need. We chose Matson to be the official refrigeration partner, and they have stepped up to provide refrigeration containers for our participating nonprofits,” said Michael Limtiaco, vice president for Pacific Unlimited Inc.
“The distribution channel is the most critical component of the program. By providing the nonprofit organizations with dedicated refrigeration containers, it has greatly expanded their capacity to receive, store, and distribute the perishable and frozen food items to families more efficiently and safely. The refrigeration containers allowed us to mobilize directly from the port so that we can get food items in their freshest state out into the community," he added.
Bernie Valencia, vice president and general manager for Guam and Micronesia said, “When Pacific Unlimited asked Matson to partner with them, we jumped at the opportunity. With the unprecedented effects of the pandemic being felt by our local families, Matson is committed to focusing its resources to address our island's most pressing needs. We support this program because it is helping to nourish those in most need.”
Valencia noted that due to PUI’s ability to demonstrate and guarantee that Guam has an efficient and seamless distribution channel, Guam was included in the pandemic assistance program. “We are grateful to PUI for being instrumental in bringing this program to Guam and for allowing us to work alongside them to serve our community in a meaningful way.”
This USDA program is made possible under the Families First Coronavirus Response Act, in which the USDA has committed to purchase and distribute up to $3 billion of agricultural products to Americans in need. The USDA has partnered with regional and global distributors, whose workforce has been significantly impacted by the closure of many restaurants, hotels, and other foodservice entities, to purchase fresh produce, dairy, and meat. The program is helping to maintain the integrity of the country’s food supply chain and ensuring that every American continues to receive and have access to the food they need.
Limtiaco added, “This program is incredible in how it found an immediate solution to help two specific groups in need – the producers such as the American farmers, ranchers, and food chain suppliers and the people in our community through food banks and nonprofit organizations. So many people have been greatly affected by this pandemic and need help feeding their families.”
Pacific Unlimited confirmed the list of qualified and approved nonprofit organizations that will be receiving the food items, complete with their dedicated refrigeration containers:
· Guam Department of Education
· The Mayors Council of Guam
· The Salvation Army
· Catholic Social Service Guam
· Sanctuary Incorporated of Guam
· Guam Homeless Coalition
Throughout the program, PUI will work with Matson to replenish inventories directly from the port to the nonprofits. The organizations and families in need can count on a consistent weekly schedule.
Truck to Trunk Distribution
The USDA has established the program to follow a “truck to trunk” concept while maintaining proper social distancing measures. This means that the USDA took into account that nonprofit organizations may not have the workforce to sort and package the food. The produce arrives into Guam pre-boxed; the meats are pre-cooked; and the cheeses are pre-packaged. The USDA also kept in mind the portions that were ideal to distribute a box per family. All are ready to go from the container to the family trunk.
Valencia added, “The Matson team knows how important it is to get the food boxes into the homes, which is why we place great importance on reliable on-time delivery. Throughout this pandemic, our service has remained uninterrupted. This is our commitment to our customers and the communities we serve.”
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