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Use of USDA Foods in Disaster Feeding-Revised

FDP MB 01-2023 Use of USDA Foods in a Disaster

Nutrition Services Division Management Bulletin

Purpose: Policy, Beneficial Information

To: Food Distribution Program Recipient Agencies

Attention: Program Operators

Number: FDP–01–2023

Date: October 2023

Supersedes: Management Bulletin 02–401 Use of U.S. Department of Agriculture Foods in Disaster Feeding

Subject: Use of U.S. Department of Agriculture Foods in Disaster Feeding-Revised


This management bulletin provides information based on Title 7 Code of Federal Regulations (7 CFR) sections 250.2, 250.69, and 250.70 and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Foods in Disaster Manual (Guidance Document Memo FNS-GD-2020-0131) released June 2021 on the use of USDA Foods during or following a disaster or a situation of distress. Each of the aforementioned references may be accessed at https://www.fns.usda.gov/usda-foods/program-disaster-manual. Additionally, a USDA webinar on the use of USDA Foods in a Disaster presented on July 21, 2021, is available to be viewed at https://www.fns.usda.gov/usda-foods/use-usda-foods-disasters.

What is a Major Disaster, an Emergency, and a Situation of Distress?

As cited in the USDA Foods Disaster Manual (page 4), the Stafford Act (42 United States Code 5122) defines “major disaster” and “emergency” as follows:

  • Major disaster: any natural catastrophe (including any hurricane, tornado, storm, high water, wind-driven water, tidal wave, tsunami, earthquake, volcanic eruption, landslide, mudslide, snowstorm, or drought), or, regardless of cause, any fire, flood, or explosion, in any part of the United States, which in the determination of the President causes damage of sufficient severity and magnitude to warrant major disaster assistance under the Stafford Act to supplement the efforts and available resources of states, local governments, and disaster relief organizations in alleviating the damage, loss, hardship, or suffering caused thereby.
  • Emergency: any occasion or instance for which, in the determination of the President, Federal assistance is needed to supplement state and local efforts and capabilities to save lives and to protect property and public health and safety, or to lessen or avert the threat of a catastrophe in any part of the United States.

Federal Regulations at 7 CFR Section 250.2, and as cited in the USDA Foods Disaster Manual (page 4), define a “situation of distress” as follows:

  • Situation of Distress: a natural catastrophe or other situation that has not been declared a disaster or emergency by the President, but, in the determination of the Distributing Agency or FNS, warrants the use of USDA Foods to assist survivors of such a catastrophe or other event. Situations of distress may include, for example, a hurricane, tornado, flood, snowstorm, or explosion.
Authorization and Pre-Approval Requirement

In all instances of disaster (major disaster declaration, emergency disaster declaration, and situation of distress) a school food authority (SFA) must submit a request to the California Department of Education (CDE) at FoodDistribution@cde.ca.gov, and obtain approval, prior to using USDA Foods for disaster assistance in congregate feeding.

USDA regulations 7CFR sections 250.69(a) and 250.70(a) authorize the CDE to approve the use and release of USDA Foods to approved non-profit organizations, as defined in 7CFR Section 250.2, who offer services during disaster situations. The USDA Food Disaster Manual and the FNS-292A Report of Commodity Distribution for Disaster Relief names the American Red Cross and the Salvation Army as approved non-profit disaster relief organizations; however, 7 CFR Section 250.2 also authorizes the CDE to approve additional disaster relief organizations. Note that these organizations must be approved prior to the release of USDA Foods.

Further instruction on the information to include in requests is contained in the following section.

Requests to Release and Use USDA Food in Disaster Congregate Feeding

In situations of major disasters and emergencies, the USDA requires the CDE notify the Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) that such assistance is being provided and the period of time that it is expected to be needed. The CDE may extend the period of assistance as needed and must notify FNS of the extension. (7 CFR Section 250.69[a]) For situations of distress resulting from a natural event, the CDE is authorized to approve time periods of 30 days or less without FNS approval; if the situation of distress is not related to a natural event, FNS approval is required for use of USDA Foods in disaster congregate feeding for any period of time. (7 CFR Section 250.70[a]). Note that the CDE will manage all communications with the USDA regarding these requests and will relay the USDA’s decision to the SFA.

As a result of the notification requirements discussed above, the CDE has established the following process to assist SFAs when submitting a request to use USDA foods in disaster congregate feeding:

  • Requests for using or releasing USDA Foods for disaster assistance in congregate feeding must be emailed to FoodDistribution@cde.ca.gov and include, to the extent the information is available:
  • Contact information for the disaster relief organization requesting assistance
    • Organization’s name
    • Representative’s name
    • Complete address
    • Telephone number
  • Description of the disaster
  • Number of individuals requiring meals
  • The period of time for which meals are being requested
  • The quantity and types of food needed
  • The number and location of sites providing meals

The CDE Food Distribution Program (FDP) must be notified with the above information as soon as feasible. Additional food may be requested from the FDP if the school’s USDA Foods supply is not adequate to meet the disaster needs. The above information and food requests should be submitted to the CDE FDP by email to FoodDistribution@cde.ca.gov.

Releasing Non-USDA Foods to Disaster Relief Organizations

Please note that while disaster relief organizations may request that a school donate items other than USDA Foods, the CDE may only replace USDA Foods used and only to the extent that funds to provide for such replacement are available. The CDE may also request replacement of foods used from school inventories in which donated foods are commingled with other foods (i.e., at storage facilities of recipient agencies utilizing single inventory management), if the recipient agency received donated foods of the same type as the foods used during the year preceding the onset of the disaster assistance. FNS will replace such foods in the amounts used, or in the amount of like donated foods received during the preceding year, whichever is less. (7 CFR section 250.69[g] and 250.70[g]). The SFA may request repayment of non-USDA Foods provided to a disaster relief organization from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) per the USDA Foods Disaster Manual (page 16); these funds, if received, should be deposited into Fund 13, also known as the Cafeteria fund. (7 CFR Section 210.14[f][2][3])

Documentation and Reporting

As a result of the CDE reporting requirements outlined in 7 CFR sections 250.69(f) and 250.70(f), and SFA authority reporting and recordkeeping requirements outlined in 7 CFR Section 210.15, the CDE has developed the following process:

  • The SFA are instructed to keep accurate records relating to the disaster and use of USDA Foods. Not more than 30 days after the last day of disaster meal service or 30 days after the approval expires, whichever is sooner, the SFA sends an email to the CDE at FoodDistribution@cde.ca.gov with the following information:
    • Type and quantity of USDA Foods used
    • Number of people fed, by date and meal
    • Name and address of the site(s) where USDA Foods were used
Eligibility of Emergency Relief Workers for Congregate Meals

The disaster organization may use USDA Foods to provide meals to any emergency relief workers at a congregate feeding site that are directly engaged in providing relief assistance (7 CFR sections 250.69[e] and 250.70[e]).

Resources

Please visit the CDE Disaster Guidance for Child Nutrition Programs (CNP) web page at https://www.cde.ca.gov/ls/nu/disasterguidance.asp for general information that pertains to all disasters in the CNP.

You may also visit the USDA Disaster Assistance web page at https://www.fns.usda.gov/disaster/usda-foods-disaster-assistance for answers to frequently asked questions about food assistance in disaster situations.

The following table summarizes key directives and considerations when using USDA Foods during a disaster. Note that CDE will manage all communications with USDA regarding these requests and that SFAs are to make requests directly to the CDE.

USDA Foods for disasters Major Disaster or Emergency Declaration
(7 CFR Section 250.69)
Situations of Distress
(7 CFR Section 250.70)

Use of USDA Foods in Congregate Feeding

  • The need for Federal assistance is established by the President.
  • SFAs submit a request to, FoodDistribution@cde.ca.gov and receive approval from the CDE prior to use of USDA Foods for congregate feeding. Approval, if provided will establish a time period for which the approval is granted.
  • The CDE determines if assistance is warranted.
  • SFAs submit a request to FoodDistribution@cde.ca.gov and receive approval from the CDE prior to the use of USDA Foods in congregate feeding. If the situation is a natural event, the CDE may approve the use of USDA Foods for up to 30 days without USDA approval.
  • If the situation of distress is not the result of a natural event, then prior approval from the USDA is also required.

Replacement of

USDA Foods

  • The USDA will replace USDA Foods in the amounts used, or in the amount of like USDA Foods received during the preceding year, whichever is less, from State inventories.
  • The USDA will replace the value of the produce used from the USDA Department of Defense Fresh Program (DoD Fresh) and the bulk USDA Foods contained in processed items.
  • The USDA does not provide reimbursement for any fees, such as administrative or delivery fees, associated with the use of USDA Foods or DoD Fresh products.
  • The replacement of USDA Foods is not guaranteed.
  • The USDA may replace USDA Foods used in a situation of distress only to the extent that funds for replacement are available.
Required Documentation

Not more than five days after the last day of disaster meal service or five days after the approval expires, whichever is sooner, the SFA must send an email to the CDE at FoodDistribution@cde.ca.gov with the following information:

  • Type and quantity of USDA Foods used
  • Number of people fed, by date and meal
  • Name and address of the site(s) where USDA Foods were used
Contact Information

If you have any questions regarding this subject, please contact the Food Distribution Program by email at FoodDistribution@cde.ca.gov. If you are experiencing, or are anticipating, a disaster situation, please reach out to your School Nutrition Program Specialist at https://www.cde.ca.gov/ls/nu/sn/snpcontacts.asp.

Questions:   Nutrition Services Division | 800-952-5609
Last Reviewed: Tuesday, November 07, 2023
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