“Working for peanuts” is a phrase typically used when someone is toiling for little reward. But when describing the activities of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), a far better phrase is “working with peanuts,” especially when referring to the agreement recently reached by USDA to provide this nutritional commodity to a neighboring nation in great need, the Republic of Haiti.
USDA crafted a deal that will result in 500 metric tons of packaged, dry-roasted peanuts grown in the United States to be shipped later this year to school children in Haiti who have little access to food. This effort stems from the “Stocks for Food” program that first started in late 2007, a joint project between the Farm Service Agency (FSA), Foreign Agricultural Services (FAS) and Food and Nutrition Services (FNS) that transfers surplus farm commodities in government inventory to feeding programs and food banks both domestically and overseas.
The school feeding project in Haiti, where the United Nations will distribute the peanuts, is funded by the USDA Foreign Agricultural Service through the McGovern-Dole International Food for Education and Child Nutrition Program, which sends domestic agricultural commodities to school feeding programs at primary schools around the world that are struggling against poverty, malnutrition, and disease. The surplus peanuts will help feed nearly 140,000 malnourished kids for a full school year. Having food available for the kids increases their attendance at school and improves their ability to learn.
The Farm Service Agency joins the Foreign Agricultural Service in prideful use of the nation’s commodities to help nations in need. FSA’s Commodity Operations staff in Washington, D.C., and Kansas City, Missouri, worked diligently to procure the peanuts necessary to fulfill the international food-aid mission led by FAS and the domestic needs addressed by the Food and Nutrition Service. The multi-agency, USDA effort is especially rewarding when all of the puzzle pieces fit and a commodity is used wisely to meet nutrition requirements of people throughout the world.