We’ve Fed Politics Enough

Nov. 3, 2020

Enough with the food boxes.

As we hunker down into Election week, I can’t help noticing that the federal government is sinking more money into a second round of food boxes as part of Coronavirus Food Assistance Program 2.

Briefly, this entails buying certain commodities, like dairy products or row crops, whose markets have been disrupted by the pandemic, and packing their products into food boxes, to be distributed to food banks, school districts and wherever else they’re needed. The first one came in April, at a cost of about $3 billion; version 2 was announced last month.

This allows the government to get needed assistance to both farmers whose markets were roiled by the pandemic, and hungry people who have lost their jobs. In theory, it was a great way for the Trump administration to do something nice for farmers, an important constituency that has been buffeted by Trump’s trade policy, while earning good will by slipping letters into the food boxes with the president’s distinctive signature.

Of course, not all theories work out. The initial program was plagued with distribution problems, as food banks struggled to set delivery windows and storage. Farmers, while grateful, said it wasn’t enough. And some of the institutions receiving the food boxes began plucking out the letters from Trump, calling them misleading and propagandistic.

Many people, myself included, think it’s more logical to simply give cash to people who have become food-insecure due to the pandemic. It takes advantage of the best food distribution system in the world – one set up to reach consumers in general.

Now that the president, whoever he may be, will soon be unencumbered by an impending election, hopefully this is one of many decisions that will now be made on the basis of logic instead of politics.