After Tester Push, USDA Announces $38 Million in Food Assistance to Tribes

Funds will ensure families across Indian Country have enough to eat

After pressure from U.S. Senator Jon Tester, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) today announced it is disbursing $38 million in Food Distribution Program on Indian Reservations (FDPIR) purchasing funds to help Tribal communities combat food insecurity during the coronavirus crisis.

The funding will be used for food purchases to support increased participation in the program due to the coronavirus outbreak and to provide FPDIR recipients with an additional food package for up to eight months.

“During this unprecedented public health emergency it’s critical we do everything we can to make sure that families can keep food on the table,” Tester said. “I’m encouraged that the Administration listened to our call to disburse these funds, and I’ll keep working to make sure folks in Indian Country have the resources they need as we continue confronting this crisis together.”

Tester fought to ensure this funding – which will provide critical support to Tribes who are continuing to experience food shortages due to supply chain disruptions in the wake of the ongoing pandemic – was included in the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act and wrote to Perdue last month urging him to quickly disburse them.

Tester has led the charge to get pandemic support to Tribes as quickly as possible. Last month, Tester successfully advocated for increased outreach to Tribes and Tribal producers, which resulted in the creation of a new USDA Office of Tribal Relations website with a list of COVID-19 resources for Tribal producers. Additionally, he called on the Trump Administration to engage with Tribal leaders to make sure that the CARES Act resources are directed quickly to where they are most needed, and that the federal government lives up to its trust and treaty responsibilities.