DHHS Food Distribution
Disaster and Bioterrorism



There are 2 Levels of Disasters, 1) Presidential declared disaster, or 2) Situations of distress

What are the key differences and what are your agency's responsibilities.

Helpful links:

Tips for handling food following a disaster: www.fns.usda.gov/disasters/prepare.htm
FNS Disaster Assistance www.fns.usda.gov/disasters/disaster.htm


Bioterrorism   FDA has added a New page to its existing Bioterrorism website to provide information on the agency’s efforts, related to the Public Health Security and Bioterrorism Preparedness and Response Act of 2002 (Bioterrorism Act).

Signed into law by President Bush on June 12, 2002, this semiannual legislation authorizes the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to take specific measures to protect the nation’s food and drug supplies against Bioterrorism threats. FDA, as the primary regulatory arm of HHS for these products, is responsible for implementing those measures.

The New page on the Bioterrorism Act provides easy access to the Act, the provisions of the law related to FDA, and the Agency’s activities to implement these provisions.  Among the website’s features are:

* An overview of the Bioterrorism Act, including those aspects that most involve FDA such as protecting the nation’s food, drug and biologic supplies.

* FDA’s plans for implementing the Act, including four proposed rules for protecting the food supply. These rules include Registration of Food Facilities; Establishment and Maintenance of Records for Food Facilities; Prior Notice of Imported Food Shipments; and Administrative Detention Authority.

* Summaries of the provisions related to FDA as well as links to guidance documents, Federal Register notices, and dockets associated with the respective provisions.

* Links for directly submitting electronic comments to the dockets established for registration of food facilities; establishments and maintenance of records for food facilities; prior notice of imported food shipments; and administrative detention authority.

* Links to other sources of information related to the Bioterrorism Act at website for the White House, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and individual FDA centers.

FDA’s main Bioterrorism site:  www.fda.gov/oc/opacom/hottopics/bioterrorism.html.

Homeland Security: (Department of Homeland Security)  The newly formed federal agency, has developed several initiatives to protect U.S. citizens form the risk of terrorist attacks.  This web site will keep you informed of the latest. www.dhs.gov/dhspublic/

1) Presidential declared disaster: When the Governor of the affected State determines a need for Federal disaster assistance, a request for assistance is addressed to the President.  When the President determines, based on the Federal Emergency Management Agency's (FEMA) evaluation and recommendation, that a State requires Federal assistance, a formal Presidential disaster declaration is made and resources of the entire Federal government becomes available.  To the Top

2) Situations of distress:  When a natural catastrophe or other event has not been declared by the President to be a disaster but which, in the judgment of the State Distributing Agency or Federal Food and Nutrition Service (FNS), warrants the use of USDA-donated foods for congregate feeding or household distribution.  A situation of distress could arise from a hurricane, tornado, storm, flood, high-water, wind-driven water, tidal wave, tsunami, earthquake, volcanic eruption, landslide, mudslide, snowstorm, drought, fire, explosion, or other natural catastrophe.  There are also  situations, other than natural catastrophes, such as strikes, explosions, etc. that, in the judgment of FNS headquarters may warrant the use of donated foods.   To the Top

Your Agency's Responsibilities

1) Contact our office before releasing any USDA donated foods for further instructions.

2) If your agency is mass feeding, you must report daily the number of meals served and donated foods used.

What are the Key Differences


Requires a Presidential declaration that federal assistance is warranted

Guaranteed replacement of USDA donated foods by FNS*

State Distributing Agency has authority to release donated foods for congregate** feeding for as long as they are needed.

Situations of Distress

No Presidential declaration is required

Replacement of USDA donated foods by FNS to the extent that funds for replacement are available*

State Distributing Agency has authority to release USDA donated food for congregate** feeding, but only if the situation is a natural event, and only for up to 30 days.  If not a natural event, FNS Headquarters must approve and determine duration of assistance.

* Replacement may be made through entitlement credit to the applicable program.   FNS is the federal Food and Nutrition Service.

** Congregate feeding is when the disaster organization prepares meals in large quantities and serves them cafeteria style in a central location.

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