USDA Announces Plan to Protect SNAP Participants’ Access to SNAP in February

Release #: 
0003.19
Contact: 
USDA Press Email: press@oc.usda.gov
Date: 
01/08/2019

Washington, D.C., January 8, 2019 – At the direction of President Donald J. Trump, U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue today announced a plan to ensure that low-income Americans have access to the nutrition they need, despite the inability of Congress to pass an appropriations bill that safely secures our borders.  The plan provides full benefits for participants in USDA’s Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) for the month of February.

When USDA’s funding expired on December 21, 2018, SNAP benefits for January were fully funded. States have already received that money and have been distributing it to participants. Since the lapse in appropriations, USDA has been reviewing options available to the department for funding February benefits without an additional appropriation from Congress.

“At President Trump’s direction, we have been working with the Administration on this solution.  It works and is legally sound.  And we want to assure states, and SNAP recipients, that the benefits for February will be provided,” Perdue said.  “Our motto here at USDA has been to ‘Do Right and Feed Everyone.’  With this solution, we’ve got the ‘Feed Everyone’ part handled.  And I believe that the plan we’ve constructed takes care of the ‘Do Right’ part as well.”

To protect SNAP participants’ access for February, USDA is working with states to issue February benefits earlier than usual.  USDA will rely on a provision of the just-expired Continuing Resolution (CR), which provides an appropriation for programs like SNAP and child Nutrition to incur obligations for program operations within 30 days of the CR’s expiration.  USDA will be reaching out to states to instruct them to request early issuance of SNAP benefits for February.  States will have until January 20th to request and implement the early issuance.  Once the early issuances are made, the February benefits will be made available to SNAP participants at that time. 

USDA has also ensured the other major nutrition assistance programs have sufficient funding to continue operations into February. The child nutrition programs, including school meals and after-school programs have funding available to continue operations through March. The Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC) has prior year funding which USDA will begin to provide states this week to facilitate February benefits. Other FNS programs, which provide critical assistance to our nation’s food banks, the elderly, and Tribal nations, may continue to utilize grant funding provided prior to the lapse in appropriations. Commodity deliveries to those programs will continue.

 

Nutrition Assistance Programs under a Lapse in Appropriations

 

Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP)

  • USDA will use the authority under the last Continuing Resolution to issue February benefits.  The Continuing Resolution that expired December 21, 2018 provided an appropriation for programs like SNAP and Child Nutrition to incur obligations for program operations during the 30 day-period following the expiration of the Act.
  • States will need to take action to issue February benefits on or before January 20, 2019.  We will be reaching out to States to instruct them to request early issuance of SNAP benefits for February. States will have until January 20 to implement this early issuance. 
  • Once these early issuances are made, the February benefits will be made available to SNAP participants at that time.  SNAP monthly issuance for February is estimated to be approximately $4.8 billion and State administrative expense (SAE) is estimated at about $350 million for a total need of approximately $5.1 billion.
  • This approach requires careful coordination. FNS has noticed States to hold their issuance filesStates would, instead, implement an early issuance strategy, providing February benefits to SNAP participants on or before January 20, 2019.  We will be working with States individually on how this approach is executed, in order to issue benefits to eligible households in the most efficient and equitable manner possible. 

Child Nutrition Programs

  • For these programs, including school meals and the Child and Adult Care Food Program, States already have funding to cover CN program operations for the month of January (approximately $2.1 billion) on the basis of the last continuing resolution.
  • This week, we will provide an additional two months’ worth of funding, consistent with the standard practice of funding these programs on a quarterly basis.

Supplemental Nutrition and Safety Programs

  • For WIC, FNS has identified resources to cover projected State expenditures for February.  The agency will allocate at least $248 million to State agencies this week, and we have identified an additional $350 million in unspent prior year funds to allocate at a later date.  A total of approximately $600 million in funding will be provided to WIC State agencies. We will continue to work with States to make resources available to the extent possible.
  • For the WIC Farmers’ Market (FMNP) and Senior Farmers’ Market Nutrition Programs (SFMNP), FNS does not anticipate significant operational impacts as they are seasonal benefit programs with annual grant funds.
  • For the Commodity Supplemental Food Program (CSFP), food deliveries planned for February will continue.  Due to the lapse, States have not received their 2019 caseload assignments, so CSFP-participating States must operate at 2018’s caseload levels.  Similarly, states have received no additional administrative funds since the lapse, and none can be made available until the lapse ends.
  • For The Emergency Food Assistance Program (TEFAP), food deliveries planned for February (including entitlement, bonus and trade mitigation) will continue.  States have received no additional administrative funds since the lapse, and none can be made available until the lapse ends.
  • For the Food Distribution Program on Indian Reservations (FDPIR), food deliveries planned for February will continue.  FDPIR programs have administrative funding through January 31 and are expected to operate the program.

#

USDA is an equal opportunity provider, employer and lender.

Information on Program Operations in Light of Lapse in Fiscal Year 2019 Appropriations for the Food and Nutrition Service

Date: 
12/26/2018

General

 
Child Nutrition Programs

Includes National School Lunch Program (NSLP), School Breakfast Program (SBP), Special Milk Program (SMP), Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP), Summer Food Service Program (SFSP), Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program, and state administrative expenses.

Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP)

Food Distribution Programs

Includes Commodity Supplemental Food Program (CSFP), The Emergency Food Assistance Program (TEFAP), and USDA Foods in the National School Lunch Program (NSLP).

Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC)

USDA Provides School Meal Flexibility, Feeds Disaster Victims and More in 2018

Release #: 
FNS-0009-18
Contact: 
FNS Communications (703) 305-2281
Date: 
12/21/2018

WASHINGTON, Dec. 21, 2018 — Acting Deputy Under Secretary for Food, Nutrition and Consumer Service Brandon Lipps today highlighted the accomplishments of USDA’s Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) in 2018, from common-sense flexibilities for school meal providers to the agency’s vigorous response to provide food to the victims of coast-to-coast natural disasters.  

“During 2018, the Food and Nutrition Service delivered on Secretary Perdue’s charge to ‘Do right and feed everyone.’ We helped get food to those recovering from disasters from Florida and the southeast, all the way to California and the Marshall Islands,” said Lipps. “We took steps to return control of school breakfasts and lunches to the school districts, while keeping in place structure that ensures our kids get wholesome, balanced meals, and we continued to work to ensure that moms in limited-income families have food security and the means to provide infants and young children with the healthy nutrition they need to grow and succeed.”

While facing a wide variety of hurricanes, wildfires and other natural disasters, the agency advanced its priorities to promote self-sufficiency, integrity, and customer service in the delivery of federal nutrition programs and, in so doing, put Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue’s clear directive to ‘do right and feed everyone’ into practice.

Key accomplishments this year include:

  • Expanding flexibility in delivering wholesome, nutritious, tasty school meals.
    • To make school meals more appealing to children, reduce food waste, and ease operational burdens, USDA published a final rule allowing for more flexibilities in the food served through the National School Lunch Program and School Breakfast Program. This action is part of USDA’s Regulatory Reform Agenda, developed in response to President Trump’s Executive Order to eliminate unnecessary regulatory burdens.
    • FNS released an easy-to-use mobile application, the Food Buying Guide, to support food service professionals in planning menus with the latest customer-focused technology.
    • FNS awarded Farm to School Grants to 73 projects across 43 states, the District of Columbia, and Guam, to bring nutritious, local foods into schools and create new economic opportunities for farmers.
  • Increasing self-sufficiency and protecting integrity in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP).
    • With a focus on the Administration’s priority of moving SNAP participants to self-sufficiency through work, FNS trained nearly 40 more state and community organizations through its SNAP E&T Learning Academy, increasing awareness and support throughout the country for increased engagement of SNAP participants in work-related activities. The agency also issued a request for information from all interested stakeholders on how to improve and strengthen our efforts in moving SNAP participants to work.
    • FNS launched a strengthened performance reporting process that will better enable USDA and its state partners to make informed, data-driven decisions to improve program integrity. In June, USDA released new data on SNAP payment accuracy for the first time in three years – a critical management tool to identify and correct problems and help meet taxpayer expectations that every SNAP benefit is paid to the right person, in the right amount.
  • Helping Americans recover from devastating hurricanes and wildfires spanning both coasts.
    • FNS provided almost 13 million pounds of USDA Foods, valued at $18.6 million, and $5 million worth of infant formula and baby food, to ensure that those whose lives were disrupted by disaster had the food they needed as the got back on their feet.  
    • FNS replaced and supplemented SNAP benefits for households in stricken areas and authorized operation of Disaster SNAP, to provide temporary benefits to additional households under expanded eligibility criteria.
    • FNS eased administrative rules to allow schools in badly-damaged parts of states including North Carolina, Florida and California to temporarily serve free meals to children through the National School Lunch Program and School Breakfast Program, while streamlining the meal pattern requirements for schools. States were also allowed to designate schools and other facilities as emergency shelters, which could provide meals through USDA’s Child and Adult Care Food Program.
    • Key flexibilities were provided to those States impacted by hurricanes to support Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC) participants and ensure that mothers and children continued to receive the nutritional support they needed.
  • Leveraging innovative ideas, new technology, and partnerships to improve customer service.
    • Worked to support American farmers impacted by unfair trade practices by launching the trade mitigation, Food Purchase and Distribution Program. Through this program the USDA began purchasing domestic food products from farmers for the FNS nutrition assistance program. The support provided to farmers also served another important purpose as it yielded nutritious, 100 percent domestic foods to those in need.
    • USDA has been unwavering in its commitment to strengthen its customer experience for mothers and their young children in the WIC program. USDA launched an entirely revamped and enhanced breastfeeding promotion campaign based in research to support healthy beginnings for children and build a foundation to self sufficiency. In addition, to further promote and support breastfeeding as an excellent source of nutrition for most infants, USDA’s Secretary Sonny Perdue proclaimed the first week of August National WIC Breastfeeding Week.
  • Creating a more transparent Dietary Guidelines process.
    • FNS’ Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion, partnering with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, marked three major milestones in the 2020-2025 Dietary Guidelines for Americans development process: (1) Posting for public comment the proposed topics and supporting scientific questions in the review of the evidence supporting the development of upcoming Dietary Guidelines; (2) announcing the call for nominations from the public for Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee candidates, along with the updated topics and scientific questions to be examined by the Committee; and (3) soon thereafter and also for the first time, publicly posting the Committee’s Charter far in advance of its appointment.

 

USDA’s Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) works to reduce food insecurity and promote nutritious diets among the American people. The agency administers 15 nutrition assistance programs that leverage America’s agricultural abundance to ensure children and low-income individuals and families have nutritious food to eat. FNS also co-develops the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, which provide science-based nutrition recommendations and serve as the cornerstone of federal nutrition policy.

Perdue Applauds USDA’s 2018 Accomplishments

Release #: 
0280.18
Contact: 
Contact: press@oc.usda.gov
Date: 
12/21/2018

Washington, D.C., Dec. 21, 2018 – U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue today applauded the accomplishments made by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) over the past year. USDA has continued enacting President Trump’s goals of regulatory reform, streamlining government, and refocusing USDA to be customer oriented.

“In 2018 we have fought for American farmers, ranchers, and producers by delivering new and improved trade deals like USMCA and a re-negotiated KORUS agreement, provided trade assistance to farmers due to illegal trade retaliation, and helped our fellow citizens through devastating natural disasters,” Perdue said. “I am proud to say that every day at USDA we do our best to live by our motto to “Do Right and Feed Everyone.”

SNAP Reform

USDA made major strides in reigning in dependence on government assistance by beginning the rule making process to move more able-bodied adults without dependents (ABAWDs) who receive Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits to self-sufficiency. With today’s strong economy and more jobs available than there are workers, USDA’s proposal helps ensure the 3.8 million individual ABAWDs receiving SNAP benefits get back to work and on the path to self-sufficiency.

Hurricane Response

USDA has significant roles to play in helping agricultural producers recover from hurricane-related damage and improve agricultural resilience to disasters. USDA provided a broad range of assistance to residents, agricultural producers and impacted communities at large following Hurricanes Florence and Michael in 2018. This assistance has included providing children affected by Hurricane Florence access to free meals, help Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) recipients replace food lost due to power outages and provide disaster food assistance to low-income families affected by storms who would not normally be eligible for the regular program but because of disaster related expenses have need for assistance, assistance to producers suffering damage to working lands and cattle mortality, helped businesses and utilities by considering requests to defer principal and/or interest payments, and provided emergency farm loans to impacted operations. In addition to offering similar assistance following Hurricane Michael, USDA also held workshops in the area where the hurricane made landfall to help connect producers with USDA programs that can help them rebuild their operations. Finally, USDA provided subject matter expertise to the FEMA Emergency Support Functions responding to these and other disasters as part of the whole-of-government effort.

Wildfires

In the past year, the USDA Forest Service treated more than 3.5 million acres to reduce hazardous fuels and improve forest health through timber sales and prescribed fire. The USFS treated an additional 2.5 million acres to improve watershed conditions, ecosystems, infrastructure, and provide clean water for millions of Americans. Additionally, the USFS fought multiple major wildfires in 2018 conjointly with local authorities.

Customer Service

USDA successfully merged the Agricultural Marketing Service, Grain Inspection, Packers and Stockyards Administration, and the Farm Service Agency’s Commodity Operations programs to better meet the needs of farmers, ranchers, producers, and consumers while improving customer service and maximizing efficiencies.

USDA stood up a new Farm Production and Conservation (FPAC) mission area, which encompass the USDA’s domestic-facing agencies: FSA, Natural Resources Conservation Service, and Risk Management Agency. The Department also launched the FPAC Business Center in 2018, which will eliminate redundant administrative support functions, including human resources, information technology, finance, procurement, and property management. USDA strives to be the most customer focused and customer-oriented department in the Federal government.

USDA also made other efforts to improve customer service across the agencies:

  • Created “Tell Sonny” Online Feedback Tool: Through collaboration with the Centers of Excellence, USDA built an online feedback tool, called “Tell Sonny,” which captures citizen feedback on how USDA is doing.
  • Optimized Infrastructure: USDA achieved $21.5 million in cost savings/avoidance by optimizing its Enterprise Data Centers, and by consolidating and closing a total of 23 data centers as part of the Data Center Optimization Initiative.
  • Strengthened Cybersecurity: USDA decreased the number of critical vulnerabilities per endpoint by 62 percent and the number of high vulnerabilities by 73 percent, decreasing USDA’s weaknesses in software or hardware that can be exploited by a hacker.
  • Reduced Fleet Size: After reviewing the motor fleet, USDA reduced its fleet size by over 4200 vehicles, which will potentially avoid an estimated $26 million in costs in fiscal year 2019.

Trade

Through the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA), the United States made major strides towards strengthening its highly productive and integrated trade relationship with its North American neighbors, ensuring preferential access for U.S. agricultural exports and solidifying commitments to fair and science-based trade rules.

USDA efforts to break down barriers and pursue export opportunities resulted in new or expanded market access for numerous U.S. farm products in 2018. These included dairy and poultry to Canada under the USMCA, as well as lamb and goat meat to Japan, beef and pork to Argentina, poultry to India and Namibia, lamb to El Salvador, beef and poultry to Morocco, eggs to South Africa and dairy to Turkey.

Foreign Agricultural Service staff around the globe assisted U.S. exporters in releasing hundreds of shipments that were detained at foreign ports. This ensured that more than $77 million of perishable U.S. products arrived safely at their final destinations. Among them were beef to Bulgaria, cherries to Taiwan, cranberries to China, lobsters to the United Arab Emirates and squid to Peru.

Trade Assistance to Farmers

In 2018, USDA provided a range of assistance to farmers in response to trade damage from unjustified retaliation by foreign nations. To help ensure this assistance reaches those affected, FSA is facilitating the Market Facilitation Program to provide payments to corn, cotton, dairy, hog, sorghum, soybean, and wheat producers; AMS is managing a Food Purchase and Distribution Program to purchase up to $1.2 billion in commodities that will be distributed through nutrition assistance programs and child nutrition programs; and FAS is making available $200 million to develop foreign markets for U.S. agricultural products.

Farm Bill

USDA provided over 2,000 items of technical assistance to members of Congress during the 2018 Farm Bill legislative process. In order to serve America’s farmers, producers, and ranchers to the best of our ability, USDA worked hand in hand with legislators to give technical assistance for dozens of programs affected by this year’s Farm Bill.

Eradication of Pink Bollworm and Other Invasive Species

In October, the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service announced that U.S. cotton is free — after more than 100 years — of the devastating pink bollworm. This pest cost U.S. producers tens of millions of dollars in yearly control costs and yield losses. Thanks to rigorous control and regulatory activities carried out by USDA, state departments of agriculture, the U.S. cotton industry, and growers, pink bollworm was eliminated from all cotton-producing areas in the continental United States. As a result, USDA lifted the domestic quarantine for pink bollworm, relieving restrictions on the domestic and international movement of U.S. cotton. APHIS and its partners also successfully eliminated feral swine from Maryland and New Jersey, and three additional States (Iowa, Maine, and Oregon) saw significant reductions in feral swine populations. Additionally, in FY18, APHIS declared two Ohio communities free of Asian longhorned beetle, in Monroe Township after a seven-year eradication effort and in Stonelick Township after a six-year effort.

National School Lunch Program

To make school meals more appealing to children, reduce food waste, and ease operational burdens, USDA published a final rule allowing for more flexibilities in the food served through the National School Lunch Program and School Breakfast Program. This action is part of USDA’s Regulatory Reform Agenda, developed in response to President Trump’s Executive Order to eliminate unnecessary regulatory burdens.

Veterans

Secretary Perdue launched a USDA initiative to provide comprehensive and timely support to veterans interested in opportunities in agriculture, agribusiness, and in rural America. USDA wants to ensure veterans looking to return home, or start a new career on a farm or in a rural community have the tools and opportunities they need to succeed. The resources include a veterans website and a USDA-wide AgLearn curriculum to allow all employees to understand the unique opportunities offered to our nation’s veterans.

USDA Agency Accomplishments

USDA is made up of 29 agencies and offices with nearly 100,000 employees who serve the American people at more than 4,500 locations across the country. While each mission area’s accomplishments may be found by using the links below, notable accomplishments are as follows:

  • Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) collaborated across USDA agencies to develop and implement a program to purchase targeted commodities to assist farmers and ranchers affected by unfair trade tariffs.
  • Agricultural Research Service (ARS) scientists at the Cotton Chemistry and Utilization Research Unit in New Orleans, Louisiana, developed TACgauze™ – a domestically-produced, nonwoven, cotton gauze made of greige (raw, unbleached) cotton. In comparison to standard crinkle-type gauzes made of processed cotton, TACgauze was found to be 33 percent lighter and 63 percent more absorbent in trials. It also promoted clotting more quickly. Commercialized in November, military services organizations are evaluating TACgauze for use by our warfighters on the battlefield and civilian organizations are exploring its widespread use in treating wounds.
  • Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) played a vital role to ensure the free flow of agricultural trade by keeping U.S. agricultural industries free from pests and diseases. An example of this critical work is APHIS’ recent efforts to prevent African Swine Fever from entering the United States through a series of interlocking safeguards that includes working with producers, states and industry to ensure they are following biosecurity recommendations, restricting pork and pork imports from affected countries, and working with U.S. Customs and Border Protection to train inspection dogs and increase screening vigilance for passengers and products arriving from affected countries.
  • Economic Research Service (ERS) conducted a study on how agricultural production has shifted to much larger farming operations over the last three decades, even as the number of very small farms grows. Based on detailed farm-level data, Three Decades of Consolidation in U.S. Agriculture measured trends in consolidation and tracked developments in farm-level specialization as well as the organization of farming businesses.
  • Farm Service Agency (FSA) added seed cotton as a covered commodity under the Agriculture Risk Coverage (ARC) or Price Loss Coverage (PLC) programs for the 2018 crop year, which provides cotton producers access to USDA risk management tools that provide other covered commodities much-needed protection from low markets.
  • Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) inspected more than 160 million head of livestock and 9.47 billion poultry carcasses. FSIS Inspectors also conducted 6.9 million food safety and food defense procedures across 6,500 regulated establishments to ensure meat, poultry and processed egg products were safe and wholesome.
  • Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) provided almost 13 million pounds of USDA Foods, valued at $18.6 million, and $5.6 million worth of infant formula and baby food, to ensure those whose lives were disrupted by disaster have the food they need as they got back on their feet.
  • Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS) facilitated $2 billion in exports of U.S. agricultural commodities to Latin America, Africa and the Middle East, and Asia through the GSM-102 Export Credit Guarantee Program. FAS rolled out the Agricultural Trade Promotion Program, which helps to mitigate the effects of other countries’ trade barriers by helping U.S. agricultural exporters develop new markets. A total of 71 organizations have applied for the program, submitting requests totaling more than $600 million, for funding that will be allocated in early 2019.
  • Forest Service (USFS) made improvements in environmental analysis and decision-making to cut costs by $30 million, and reduced analysis time by 10 percent. The USFS worked with sister agencies to update policies and processes for more efficient application and implementation of mineral extraction and energy production projects. The agency also reformed wildland fire systems to prioritize risk-based resource allocation and lower costs while protecting lives, property, and resources.
  • National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) launched a new, improved online survey questionnaire for the 2017 Census of Agriculture. The new system is now in use for nearly 50 percent of NASS surveys with the remainder coming online as they are conducted. The user-friendly questionnaire is accessible on any device, calculates totals automatically, and skips questions that do not apply. In addition to being more convenient for respondents, it streamlines data collection and analysis for USDA.
  • National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) delivered grants to the North Central Regional Center for Rural Development and Purdue Extension to host a quarterly webinar series, Combating Opioids, to make a difference in addressing opioid misuse and abuse, especially in rural communities. There have been over 575 participants from across the country on 5 webinars and over 1,000 views to archived presentations and materials housed on the project’s website.
  • Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) provided technical assistance to more than 900,000 land managers, and comprehensive planning assistance to over 100,000 producers in 2018. This work resulted in conservation plans for nearly 28 million acres. NRCS actions in 2018 also resulted in 33.3 million acres being treated with conservation practices to improve water quality, with estimated reductions of nutrient loss of 47,732 tons of nitrogen and 7,821 tons of phosphorus on cropland.
  • Office of the Chief Economist (OCE) (PDF, 130 KB) in October, USDA, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) signed a joint agency formal agreement (PDF, 578 KB) launching the Winning on Reducing Food Waste initiative. This new agreement will improve coordination across federal agencies to better educate Americans on the impacts and importance of reducing food loss and waste.
  • Risk Management Agency (RMA) provided more than $61 million in coverage following Hurricanes Florence and Michael. RMA paid more than $1.99 billion in claims for causes of loss related to drought for the 2018 reinsurance year. Claims for 2018 coverage totaled more than $3.29 billion.
  • Rural Development (RD) invested in new and improved high-speed e-Connectivity for more than 45,000 rural homes and businesses, modernized rural electric infrastructure for more than 7 million customers, invested in new and improved water and wastewater infrastructure for nearly 3 million rural customers, and invested in new and improved community infrastructure including streets, transportation, aviation, ports, and water and storm water resources for 1.2 million rural Americans.

#

USDA is an equal opportunity provider, employer and lender.
 

USDA Highlights Opportunities for Producers and Vendors

Apples, Grapes, Oranges, Pork, Fluid Milk and more
Release #: 
0272.18
Contact: 
USDA Press Email: press@oc.usda.gov
Date: 
12/14/2018

WASHINGTON, Dec. 14, 2018 — Earlier this week, a new USDA Foods vendor delivered 2,000 gallons of fresh milk to the D.C. Capital Area Food Bank. The delivery was one of many taking place at food banks across the country resulting from purchases made by the USDA to provide market support to the dairy industry.

USDA Foods are a variety of U.S.-produced and processed agricultural products the department regularly purchases to encourage consumption of domestic agricultural products and provide nutritious domestic food to nutrition assistance programs.

Dairy Maid, the milk processing company in Frederick, Maryland, that delivered the milk, is one of 12 new vendors selling fluid milk to USDA. But the agency needs more. By the end of Fiscal Year 2018, USDA had purchased more than $20 million worth of milk and has been approved to purchase additional $10 million in 2019.

“To successfully supply nutrition programs around the country with a perishable product like fluid milk, we need to find more of those local farmers who can make last mile deliveries,” said USDA Under Secretary Greg Ibach.

In addition to these purchases, USDA is buying products under the Food Purchase and Distribution Program, its arm of USDA’s three-pronged trade mitigation program, to help farmers impacted by unfair trade practices. Commodities being purchased include apples, blueberries, cranberry products, dried plums, grapes and pork. USDA began issuing solicitations for the purchases in early October and expect to purchase other products throughout 2019.

USDA will distribute these commodities through the Food and Nutrition Service’s safety net of nutrition assistance programs. The majority of the foods distributed will be provided to states for use in the network of food banks and food pantries that participate in The Emergency Food Assistance Program (TEFAP).

“Through TEFAP, we distributed $567 million worth of 100 percent domestically grown foods in FY18,” said Brandon Lipps, USDA Acting Deputy Under Secretary for Food, Nutrition and Consumer Services. “This nutritious food was delivered to organizations like this one in an effort to help our neighbors when they need it most.”

“While USDA regularly buys food for a number of uses, the extra purchases this fiscal year will be substantial,” said Ibach. “We encourage all interested farmers, ranchers and processors to participate.”

The following table highlights some of the purchases that will occur throughout the fiscal year.

Product

Dollar Amount

Apples

Up to $93,395,000

Grapes

Up to $48,211,000

Oranges

Up to $55,590,000

Pork

Up to $558,815,000

For a complete list of purchase activity, visit the Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) Solicitations and Awards page. Subscribe to CPP’s email list to stay current on information about these and other upcoming bids.

Learn more about becoming an approved vendor:

“USDA staff are ready to help farmers and ranchers understand the procurement process to ensure American farmers have the opportunity to find some relief while the Administration works to level the playing field for American products in international markets,” said Ibach.

Since 1935, USDA has directly purchased farm goods under Section 32 of the Agricultural Adjustment Act Amendment to encourage consumption of domestic agricultural products. AMS and the Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) work closely to determine need and distribute products to state agencies that participate in USDA nutrition assistance programs, as well as exploring other outlets for the distribution of products, as needed.

#

USDA is an equal opportunity provider, employer and lender.

USDA to Restore Original Intent of SNAP: A Second Chance, Not A Way of Life

Release #: 
0277.18
Contact: 
USDA Press Email: press@oc.usda.gov
Date: 
12/20/2018

WASHINGTON, December 20, 2018 – At the direction of President Donald J. Trump, U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue today announced a proposed rule intended to move more able-bodied recipients of Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits to self-sufficiency through the dignity of work. The rule is meant to restore the system to what it was meant to be: assistance through difficult times, not lifelong dependency. Over time, without any changes in the underlying welfare reform legislation of 1996, that ideal has been watered down by out-of-control administrative flexibility in SNAP.

“Long-term reliance on government assistance has never been part of the American dream,” said Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue. “As we make benefits available to those who truly need them, we must also encourage participants to take proactive steps toward self-sufficiency. Moving people to work is common-sense policy, particularly at a time when the unemployment rate is at a generational low.”

The rule proposed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) focuses on work-related program requirements for able-bodied adults without dependents (ABAWDs). The rule would apply to non-disabled people, between the ages of 18 and 49, with no dependents. The rule would not apply to the elderly, the disabled, or pregnant women.

Under current SNAP requirements, ABAWDs must work or participate in an employment program for at least 20 hours a week to continue to receive benefits for more than three months over a 36-month period. States may request to waive the time limit in areas with an unemployment rate above 10 percent or where there are ‘not sufficient jobs,’ which current regulations primarily define as an unemployment rate 20 percent above the national average. With today’s strong economy, that could include areas with unemployment rates of under 5 percent – a rate normally considered to be full employment. In 2016 there were 3.8 million individual ABAWDs on the SNAP rolls, with 2.8 million (or almost 74 percent) of them not working.

“Americans are generous people who believe it is their responsibility to help their fellow citizens when they encounter a difficult stretch,” Perdue said. “That is the commitment behind SNAP. But like other federal welfare programs, it was never intended to be a way of life.”

USDA’s proposal would help to ensure that work provisions are waived only when necessary, encouraging states to renew their focus on helping SNAP participants find a path to self-sufficiency. In a recent letter to the nation’s governors, Secretary Perdue explained, “These waivers weaken states’ ability to move the ABAWD population to long-term self-sufficiency because they do not require ABAWDs to engage in work and work training.”

USDA encourages all interested parties to provide input on the proposed rule, which will be posted to the Federal Register in the coming days. The comment period will be open for 60 days after the proposed rule is published in the Federal Register.

USDA’s FNS works to reduce food insecurity and promote nutritious diets among the American people. The agency administers 15 nutrition assistance programs that leverage American’s agricultural abundance to ensure children and low-income individuals and families have nutritious food to eat. FNS also co-develops the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, which provide science-based nutrition recommendations and serve as the cornerstone of federal nutrition policy.

#

USDA is an equal opportunity provider, employer and lender.

Responding to the Needs of Local Schools, USDA Publishes School Meals Final Rule

More Flexibility on Milk, Whole Grains, and Sodium Provides Options to Schools
Release #: 
0263.18
Contact: 
USDA Press (202) 720-4623 press@oc.usda.gov
Date: 
12/06/2018

WASHINGTON, Dec. 6, 2018 –Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue today empowered local schools with additional options to serve healthy and appealing meals. A final rule on school meal flexibilities, to be published later this month in the Federal Register, increases local flexibility in implementing school nutrition standards for milk, whole grains, and sodium.  Secretary Perdue said the final rule will deliver on the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) promise, made in a May 2017 proclamation, to develop forward-thinking strategies that ensure school nutrition standards are both healthful and practical.

“USDA is committed to serving meals to kids that are both nutritious and satisfying,” said Perdue.  “These common-sense flexibilities provide excellent customer service to our local school nutrition professionals, while giving children the world-class food service they deserve.”

The actions taken today will benefit nearly 99,000 schools and institutions that feed 30 million children annually through USDA’s school meal programs. This rule is part of USDA’s Regulatory Reform Agenda, developed in response to President Trump’s Executive Order to eliminate unnecessary regulatory burdens.

The Child Nutrition Programs: Flexibilities for Milk, Whole Grains, and Sodium Requirements final rule offers schools new options as they serve meals under the National School Lunch Program (NSLP), School Breakfast Program (SBP) and other federal child nutrition programs.  The rule:

  • Provides the option to offer flavored, low-fat milk to children participating in school meal programs, and to participants ages six and older in the Special Milk Program for Children (SMP) and the Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP);
  • Requires half of the weekly grains in the school lunch and breakfast menu be whole grain-rich; and
  • Provides more time to reduce sodium levels in school meals.

Perdue said schools have faced challenges serving meals that both are appetizing to students and meet the nutrition standards.  “If kids are not eating what is being served, they are not benefiting, and food is being wasted,” said Perdue. “We all have the same goals in mind — the health and development of our young people.  USDA trusts our local operators to serve healthy meals that meet local preferences and build bright futures with good nutrition.”

“We will continue to listen to schools, and make common-sense changes as needed, to ensure they can meet the needs of their students based on their real-world experience in local communities,” said Perdue.

USDA’s FNS works to reduce food insecurity and promote nutritious diets among the American people. The agency administers 15 nutrition assistance programs that leverage American’s agricultural abundance to ensure children and low-income individuals and families have nutritious food to eat. FNS also co-develops the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, which provide science-based nutrition recommendations and serve as the cornerstone of federal nutrition policy.

#

 

USDA is an equal opportunity provider, employer, and lender.

 

Growing Healthy Kids One Family at a Time: USDA Seeks Input to Improve Customer Service

Release #: 
FNS-0008-18
Contact: 
FNS Communications (703) 305-2281
Date: 
12/04/2018

WASHINGTON, Dec. 4, 2018— USDA’s Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC) provides vital nutrition support to nearly 7 million women and children in the United States. As part of our commitment to “Do right and feed everyone,” USDA hosted a round table meeting today with state WIC directors, program administrators and participants from Maryland, Virginia and the District of Columbia to discuss program access and client services.

USDA’s Acting Deputy Under Secretary for Food, Nutrition and Consumer Services Brandon Lipps (left) at today’s WIC Roundtable meeting.

USDA’s Acting Deputy Under Secretary for Food, Nutrition and Consumer Services Brandon Lipps (left) at today’s WIC Roundtable meeting.

“We want to work more closely on WIC with state and local agencies,” said USDA’s Acting Deputy Under Secretary for Food, Nutrition and Consumer Services Brandon Lipps. “Our intent is to improve customer service and today’s event allowed us to hear directly from those participating in the program and those serving our clients every day. WIC is a crucial contributor to infant and maternal health, and we want to make sure the program is accessible and relevant to all who need it.”

This was the first in a series of planned events designed to solicit stakeholder feedback on this important program.Other round tables will be held throughout 2019.

“It’s a perfect public health program,” so says Carol Bass, WIC coordinator for the Garrett County, Maryland Health Department and one of the participants in the discussion. She has been with WIC for 35 years, starting when it was a pilot program for far-western Maryland funded by the Appalachian Regional Commission.

“Families trust us,” said Bass.  “They get health screening and education, they value the education and the food we provide which helps fill in the gaps in their monthly food budget. We think that when a child grows up eating good food, quality food, that will carry on through their lives. We provide referral information to other food resources, and promote use of local farmers markets.”

Ms. Bass estimates that 75 percent of all young families in her rural county participate in WIC.

One Washington, D.C. participant at the round table was Crystal Reed, who has been involved in the program through Children’s National Health System since shortly after her now-22-month-old daughter was born.  She says the education she received, along with the nutrition assistance provided by WIC was also appreciated. ; “It was great not having to worry about your next meal.” Her advice to those who have not chosen to participate in WIC is: “Be open minded about the program. The education and support you get from the people you see, the relationships I’ve built, are very important. People in the program went above and beyond for me.  It’s like having a friend in need.”

The WIC target population includes low-income, nutritionally at risk infants and children up to their fifth birthday, as well as pregnant and breast feeding women and those who have recently given birth. Program recipients receive supplemental, high-quality foods, nutrition education and counseling, health screening and referrals.

USDA’s Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) works to reduce food insecurity and promote nutritious diets among the American people.
The agency administers 15 nutrition assistance programs that leverage American’s agricultural abundance to ensure children and
low-income individuals and families have nutritious food to eat. FNS also co-develops the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, which
provide science-based nutrition recommendations and serve as the cornerstone of federal nutrition policy.

USDA Provides Additional Food Disaster Assistance in Three California Counties Hit by Wildfires

Release #: 
0256.18
Contact: 
USDA Press Email: press@oc.usda.gov
Date: 
11/30/2018

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) today announced that households in three California counties have been approved to receive Disaster Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (D-SNAP) benefits. D-SNAP will be offered in parts of Los Angeles and Ventura counties due to the impact of the Woolsey and Hill wildfires, and Butte County in northern California due to the Camp Fire. Households in the affected areas may be eligible if they have qualifying disaster-related expenses and meet D-SNAP income limits.

USDA continues to work closely with state and local officials to help victims deal with the widespread damage caused by these fires,” said USDA’s Acting Deputy Under Secretary for Food, Nutrition and Consumer Services Brandon Lipps. “We want to do everything we can to make the recovery easier. Helping people put food on the table is one vital way we can do that.”

If a household in the affected area qualifies for D-SNAP, they could receive one month of benefits to meet their food needs as they settle back home following the disaster. Households in certain zip codes that already receive SNAP benefits will automatically receive disaster supplements, up to the maximum allotment for their household size, and are not eligible to apply for D-SNAP.

The timing and conditions of D-SNAP vary with the circumstances of each disaster, but the program always begins after access to retailers has been restored and families are able to purchase food to prepare at home. Before operating D-SNAP in an approved county, the state must ensure that conditions related to safety and readiness are in place.

Affected households should look for public information notices from the state regarding the application process, location of application sites, and dates of application in each county.

This is one of many tools that USDA has available to aid states as they recover from disasters. Today’s announcement is the latest of multiple actions taken to help California residents cope with the effects of recent wildfires:

  • USDA provided assistance to an estimated 8,000 residents of Butte County and the surrounding area through the Disaster Household Food Distribution Program.

  • The department recently approved California’s request to issue mass replacement of SNAP benefits to affected beneficiaries in parts of Ventura, Los Angeles, Butte and Plumas Counties.

  • Butte County schools will be allowed flexibility in providing lunch and breakfast meals due to food shortages caused by road closures and hazardous conditions.

  • Butte County schools are also authorized to provide breakfast and lunch to students at no cost to them due to the large number of students left homeless by the wildfire.

  • On Nov. 21, USDA announced a waiver allowing residents of 14 fire-affected counties to purchase hot foods with SNAP benefits.

USDA’s Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) works to reduce food insecurity and promote nutritious diets among the American people. The agency administers 15 nutrition assistance programs that leverage America’s agricultural abundance to ensure children and low-income individuals and families have nutritious food to eat. FNS also co-develops the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, which provide science-based nutrition recommendations and serve as the cornerstone of federal nutrition policy.

#

USDA is an equal opportunity provider, employer and lender.

 

 

USDA Approves SNAP Hot Foods Purchases In 14 California Counties Hit By Wildfires

Release #: 
0251.18
Contact: 
USDA Press Email: press@oc.usda.gov
Date: 
11/21/2018

WASHINGTON, Nov. 21, 2018 – In response to devastating wildfires in California, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) will allow participants in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) in 14 counties to buy hot foods with their benefits through Dec. 17, 2018.

“Thousands of California residents are trying to piece their lives back together even as these wildfires continue blazing,” said Acting Deputy Under Secretary for Food, Nutrition and Consumer Services Brandon Lipps.  “This waiver will allow residents more flexibility to use in feeding their families as they get back on their feet.”

Under this temporary policy, hot food purchases are allowed in the following California counties: Butte, Colusa, Glenn, Kern, Los Angeles, Orange, Plumas, San Bernardino, San Luis Obispo, Santa Barbara, Sutter, Tehama, Ventura, and Yuba.

Under normal circumstances participants are not allowed to use their benefits to buy foods that are sold hot at authorized SNAP retailers.  The waiver addresses the needs of SNAP households affected by the disaster that are unable to prepare food at home. SNAP authorized retailers may need 24-36 hours to be ready to accept SNAP benefits for hot foods due to programming changes that may be required at their stores.

USDA has also approved a request from the state to provide mass replacement of SNAP benefits for residents who experienced food losses in certain portions of Butte and Plumas counties. These residents suffered food losses resulting from power outages in the area.

This is one of many tools that USDA has available to aid states as they recover from disasters. Today’s announcement is the latest of multiple actions taken to help California residents cope with the effects of recent wildfires. 

USDA’s Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) works to reduce food insecurity and promote nutritious diets among the American people.  The agency administers 15 nutrition assistance programs that leverage American’s agricultural abundance to ensure children and low-income individuals and families have nutritious food to eat. FNS also co-develops the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, which provide science-based nutrition recommendations and serve as the cornerstone of federal nutrition policy.

#

USDA is an equal opportunity provider, employer and lender.