Food Distribution

Commodity Improvements

Last Modified: 12/15/2013

This page provides some of the major highlights of the commodity improvements made by USDA in recent years.

Contents

Introduction

USDA is committed to helping all program participants, particularly children and the elderly, receive nutritious, healthful foods that are lower in fat, salt, and sugar as recommended by the "Dietary Guidelines for Americans." In recent years, this commitment has been shown in a number of initiatives, including a comprehensive review of products offered through the Department’s nutrition assistance programs. Following are highlights of these major initiatives spearheaded by USDA's Food and Nutrition Service.

Improved Labeling

In the past few years, USDA has designed new labels for many donated commodity products it provides to household and institutional programs. The labels are more colorful and include new art work. The Nutrition Facts Panel and food guide pyramid have been added in recognition of the importance of nutrition education to food distribution program recipients. The new labels, which are designed to look more like their commercial counterparts, will be extremely effective in conveying the importance of good nutrition, and in sending the message that USDA commodities are of the highest quality.

USDA Foods Fact Sheet Database

As a result of continuing efforts by FNS to provide a greater variety of more healthful commodities to recipients, the agency has been updating and developing new commodity fact sheets for use by schools. Our USDA Foods Fact Sheet Database for Schools and Institutional Programs includes over 150 fact sheets including new products now available to schools and institutions. Some have been revised to reflect: lower fat offerings such as refried beans; lower sodium offerings such as frozen potato wedges; lower sugar offerings such as canned cherries; and increased offerings of bonus items such as deli style turkey breasts and raspberry and blackberry purees. USDA Foods Fact sheets are continually updated and posted on the Internet as the need to update information on such things as nutrition, storage, handling, and preparation arise. Fact sheets are in the process of being developed for the Food Distribution Program on Indian Reservations, and will also be developed for The Emergency Food Assistance Program and the Commodity Supplemental Food Program.

 New Products

The USDA/Food and Nutrition Service's Food Distribution Division continues to evaluate requests made by participating States and recipient agencies for a greater variety of new products in more convenient forms. Below are examples of some of the new products added to our USDA Commodity Selection Menu in response to suggestions received from our customer States and recipient agencies:

(1) new entitlement commodities offered:

  • beef special trim (previously only a bonus item)
  • blend of American cheeses and skim milk cheeses
  • dehydrated soup mix, and
  • IQF (Individually Quick Frozen) Beef Patties (except beef patties with Vegetable Protein Product or VPP)
  • IQF cherries
  • low fat soy oil (offered on a limited basis)
  • orange juice in drums or tank cars
  • pork sausage patties with Soy
  • shredded process American cheese

(2) new bonus products offered included:

  • beef roasts sliced
  • deli sliced turkey
  • frozen apricots
  • frozen breaded chum salmon nuggets