UPS employee Jocelin Zuniga unloads food boxes at the more than 1 million-square-foot UPS Lone Star distribution center (hub), in Arlington, TX, on August 14, 2020.
These boxes from nearby Pro Pac Quality Packaging were packed and labeled for PepsiCo, who partnered with U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) Meals to You program, in responded to the school closures due to COVID-19. Packages will ride on this extendable conveyor system and join other packages in the automated system of conveyors, chutes, sensors, sorters and staging systems that will transport them to their best outbound trailer to their next hub or delivery center.
UPS and other package delivery services are utilized by PepsiCo and other partners to implemented a logistics solution that get two-week supplemental food boxes to children in rural locations. Today's packages are heading to rural Texas, Puerto Rico, and Alaska. The program includes 41 States and two territories.
USDA first began the Meals to You program in 2019 as a three-year demonstration project designed to test a method to deliver nutritious food to children during the summer months in rural areas where the Summer Food Service Program (SFSP) is not available to difficult to access. USDA entered into an agreement with Baylor University's Texas Hunger Initiative (now called the Baylor Collaborative on Hunger and Poverty) for the original demonstration.
In response to COVID-19, USDA and its partners were able to leverage the summer demonstration project to ensure rural children had access to food during pandemic-related school closures. The Emergency Meals to You demonstration project continues our public-private partnership with the Baylor Collaborative on Hunger and Poverty and McLane Global that began in Summer 2019, and additionally includes Pepsi Co. and Chartwells.
USDA was able to fund this expansion utilizing funding provided by the CARES Act. Overall, we allocated $185 million for the program (from the $8.8 billion that the CARES Act provided for Child Nutrition.)
Meals to You boxes are delivered directly to children's homes via the U.S. Postal Service or another delivery service. Each box contains 20 nutritious, shelf-stable meals, including ten breakfasts and ten lunches/suppers. In participating states, families with students who attend an eligible school or are eligible for free or reduced-price meals may opt-in to receive one box per child every two weeks.
The original goal was to serve 1 million meals per week, which was quickly surpassed. The partnership is now serving around 5 million meals per week. USDA Media by Lance Cheung.
Original public domain image from Flickr