Food Distribution Program
General Information

Program Overview:

Type of Outlets:

Foods:

 

How the Food Distribution Program Works

The US Department of Agriculture (USDA) purchases donated foods through direct appropriations from Congress, and under surplus-removal and price support activities for the Food Distribution Program.

The USDA Food Distribution Program provides two vital national services. The program provides nutritious foods to our nations children and helps American farmers by supporting domestic agriculture and removing surpluses from the market.

The USDA provides these services through the cooperative efforts of three of its agencies. The Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) distributes donated foods to designated outlets. The Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) buys fruits, vegetables, meat, fish and poultry items when supply exceeds demand, removing them from the regular channels of trade. The Farm Service Agency (FSA) obtains other foods such as grain, dairy, vegetable oil and peanut products. It is the ever-changing marketplace that determines how much of each donated food USDA can purchase and when those foods can be purchased.  

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State Processing of USDA donated foods

DHHS Food Distribution has found that in order to maximize USDA entitlement usage, to offer a variety of end products that can be utilized in USDA child nutrition programs, and to ensure equitable treatment of processors, it is necessary to solicit input from as many recipient agencies as possible. This input will be used in determining which processors are contracted with by evaluating the marketability of the processor within the state. Based on recipient agency input if it is determined by DHHS Food Distribution that a full truck load of a diverted USDA food would not represent more than a 6 month usage by the state, then a processor is considered marketable.  Processing contracts are not exclusive and do not preclude DHHS Food Distribution from contracting for similar services from other processors nor does an approved contract obligate DHHS Food Distribution to deliver donated foods for processing.
 
Recipient agency input will also be used in determining which end products are made available through the state warehouse by evaluating results of acceptability tests. The NSNA (Nebraska School Nutrition Association) sponsors a food show during their Annual Conference that is attended by hundreds of people representing child nutrition recipient agencies across the state.  Processors who are interested in processing for DHHS Food Distribution are encouraged to demonstrate end products at the NSNA food show. The NSNA food show is an opportunity for recipient agencies participating in child nutrition programs to test new and current end products offered by processors. Results of test evaluations and surveys are available to recipient agencies upon request.
 
In addition to the marketability status of a processor, the following selection criteria will apply:

• Do the items offered by the processor nutritionally contribute to school meal patterns? (condiments are exempt)
• Does the processor agree to supply nutritional information (CN label or Formulation Statements) to recipient agencies upon request?
• Does the processor intend to use Fee For Service through the state warehouse as a value pass-through method?
• Is the shelf life of end products 60 days or more from the date of delivery to the state warehouse?
• Is the bid pricing competitive or comparable to bid pricing in other state’s programs?
• Does the processor agree to DHHS Food Distribution boilerplate service contract terms?
• Do a sufficient number of items contain at least $5.00 worth of donated foods per case? (condiments are exempt)
• Is the processor in good standing with the USDA as an NPA processor?
• If currently contracted, does the processor perform to the satisfaction of DHHS Food Distribution?
• Does the processor utilize a distribution model that can deliver to the state warehouse once per month?
 
If these criteria are met, DHHS Food Distribution may enter into a State Participation Agreement with the processor under the USDA National Master Processing Agreement demonstration project as well as a contract for purchasing end products subject to the requirements of 7 CFR part 3016.36 (a) and in accordance with Nebraska Statutes 73-501, 73-502, 73-503, 73-505, 73-506, and 73-507.
 

Eligible Outlets

USDA donated foods are distributed to State Distributing Agencies (SDA) for use by eligible outlets. The Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services acts as the Distributing Agency for USDA donated foods. Eligible outlets include schools and residential child care institutions participating in the National School Lunch Program, child care centers participating in the Child Care Food Program, approved sponsors of a Summer Food Service Program, and food banks, food pantries, soup kitchens, etc. participating in The Emergency Food Assistance Program (TEFAP).

The USDA offers a wide variety of donated foods for distribution to eligible outlets. The Department strives to buy foods that support the Dietary Guidelines for Americans. These guidelines are a set of Federal recommendations that promote healthful eating. USDA continually improves its donated foods to ensure that they are nutritious and acceptable to children.

USDA donated foods represent about 15 to 20 percent of the market value of the foods schools serve. The foods that the USDA donates varies depending on marketing conditions.

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National School Lunch Program

The National School Lunch Program (NSLP) is a federally assisted meal program operating in more than 99,800 public and nonprofit private schools and residential child care institutions. It provides nutritionally balanced, low-cost or free lunches to more than 26 million children each school day. The program was established under the National School Lunch Act, signed by President Harry Truman in 1946. 

In Nebraska, participating agencies get donated foods from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) for each meal they serve.  In return, they must serve lunches that meet Federal requirements, and they must offer free or reduced price lunches to eligible children.

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Child Care Food Program

CACFP is the Child and Adult Care Food Program, a Federal program that provides healthy meals and snacks to children and adults receiving day care.  It plays a vital role in improving the quality of day care and making it more affordable for many low-income families. 

CACFP reimburses participating centers and day care homes for their meal costs. It is administered at the Federal level by the Food and Nutrition Service (FNS), an agency of the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The State education or health department administers CACFP, in most States. Independent centers and sponsoring organizations enter into agreements with their State agencies to operate the program. 

CACFP is the Child and Adult Care Food Program, a Federal program that provides healthy meals and snacks to children and adults receiving day care.  It plays a vital role in improving the quality of day care and making it more affordable for many low-income families. CACFP reimburses participating centers and day care homes for their meal costs. It is administered at the Federal level by the Food and Nutrition Service (FNS), an agency of the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The State education or health department administers CACFP, in most States. Independent centers and sponsoring organizations enter into agreements with their State agencies to operate the program. 

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Summer Food Service Program

The Summer Food Service Program was created to ensure that children in lower-income areas could continue to receive nutritious meals during long school vacations when they do not have access to school lunch or breakfast. Although millions of children depend on nutritious free and reduced-price meals and snacks at school for 9 months out of the year, just a fraction of that receive the free meals provided by the SFSP during the summer months.

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TEFAP

The Emergency Food Assistance Program (TEFAP) is a Federal program that helps supplement the diets of low-income Americans, including elderly people, by providing them with emergency food and nutrition assistance at no cost.

Under TEFAP, USDA donated foods are made available by the U.S. Department of Agriculture to States. States provide the food to local agencies that they have selected, usually food banks, which in turn, distribute the food to soup kitchens and food pantries that directly serve the public.

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Entitlement Foods

Federal law mandates a national level of donated food assistance for schools based on each data for each state. The national assistance level is referred to as a donated food entitlement. FNS ensures that enough foods are purchased and delivered to states in order to meet the donated food entitlement. The State Distributing Agency is responsible for distributing entitlement allotments to each recipient agency.

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Bonus USDA Donated Foods

When unusually large surpluses occur, the USDA may make those surplus donated foods available to states with no charge against entitlement. These foods are classified as bonus donated foods because they are not charged against entitlement. Bonus foods are offered in addition to entitlement donated foods.

In some instances USDA will make bonus foods available to charitable and correctional institutions when School and/or TEFAP outlets cannot utilize the bonus foods. There are no direct congressional donated food appropriations for charitable and correctional institutions. Each State has authorization to choose whether or not to make bonus foods available to charitable and correctional institutions. Nebraska does make this option available when bonus foods are offered and cannot be used by other eligible outlets.

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USDA Donated Foods Group A & B

Group A – Group A donated foods are purchased by the Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) and include fruits, vegetables, poultry, eggs and meat. The USDA issues food surveys to each state. States determine quantities to be ordered based on what has been offered by USDA. Offerings are calculated based on total State entitlements.

Group B – Group B donated foods are purchased by the Farm Service Agency (FSA) and include grains, cheeses, oil, dry milk and peanut butter. Group B foods are available for ordering from USDA monthly.  

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