Food pantries across the nation benefiting from America’s trade war with China

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INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. — The ongoing trade war with China is bringing unexpected help for Hoosiers who are food insecure.

The food China isn’t buying is ending up in food banks across the nation and right here in Central Indiana.

"This particular situation; using this in a trade issue I think is the first time we’ve seen anything like this through the USDA," Feeding Indiana's Hungry Executive Director Emily Weikertbryant said.

Carrots, milk and meat are some of the items pouring into food banks across the country.

"Between the commodity food that we normally get in trade mitigation it’s expected to double for most food banks throughout the country for fiscal years 2019 and 2020," Weikertbryant said.

The surplus of food is coming from American farmers who can’t sell to Chinese markets because China isn’t purchasing the products. The government is stepping in and buying the surplus to food banks and distributing it.

Currently, 59 million pounds of the food is coming right here to Central Indiana; according to Feeding Indiana's Hungry. The surplus of food can come with challenges.

"A lot of food banks have difficulty; Gleaners included with having enough storage space in our freezer and refrigerators," Weikertbryant said.

Weikertbryant says they don’t mind the surplus if the government provides a solution for storing it and Hoosiers are fed.

"With the food is coming about $2,000 per truckload for them to store and distribute the food," Weikertbryant said.

Midwest Foodbank has seen a surplus of produce coming in too; they’re up 30 percent. Their executive director John Whitaker can’t tell if it’s because of the trade war or new strategies to bring food in.

"We’re getting more product because we are being more intentional about going after that product, some of it may be because of the deficit with the trade," John Whitaker said.

Weikertbryant expects to see the same amount of food from the USDA come in through 2020.

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