September 19, 2023

Agriculture Ministry maintains decision to award emergency food aid contract to Farm Share

After review, the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services stands by its decision to award Farm share a contract for the emergency food aid program (TEFAP).

Feeding South Florida filed a written protest earlier this year contest this decision, arguing that Farm Share distorted its ability to honor the deal during the bidding process. After lobbying the Ministry of Agriculture, the agency – headed by the commissioner Nikki fried, a 2022 Democratic gubernatorial candidate – has agreed to reconsider his decision. That review is now complete, with Fried’s agency sticking to their original decision.

“Farm Share is committed, and always will be, committed to providing free and vital food to Floridians facing food insecurity,” said the CEO of Farm Share. Stephen shelley said in response to the final decision.

“We are grateful that the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services has confirmed its decision to award Farm Share several regional contracts to administer the emergency food aid program, including in Broward County. Following a thorough evaluation process by five impartial and knowledgeable experts, the ministry’s scoring of applications correctly concluded that Farm Share is the best food bank to administer the program in the award-winning areas and correctly determined that Farm Share has the expertise, resources and experience to do this successfully.

The decision could have political fallout in the region. South Florida’s food enjoys significant political support in the region. In April, Broward County Commissioner Nan Rich told Florida Politics that she joined Feeding South Florida to request a review.

“It looks like (Feeding South Florida) answered questions and included information, for which they were not given credit,” Rich said. “My main focus here is to make sure we have a contract with an organization that can best meet the needs of Broward County. And in my opinion, that would be Feed South Florida.

Fried’s agency disagreed. It could ruffle the feathers of some South Florida Democrats as Fried seeks that party’s 2022 nomination in the gubernatorial race.

Shelley says her organization is more than ready to take over the contract.

“With this final resolution, Farm Share can now move forward with preparations to begin serving food insecure people in the assigned areas when our contracts begin in October,” said Shelley.

“Farm Share will continue to focus on our mission that no one goes hungry and no food will be wasted and looks forward to working in conjunction with the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services to feed food insecure Floridians. “

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