|DATE:||February 26, 2021|
|SUBJECT:||Commodity Supplemental Food Program (CSFP): Guidance on Temporary Food Package Issuance with Modified Quantities of Vegetables|
Temporary Guide Rate Change
The Commodity Supplemental Food Program (CSFP) is currently experiencing a vegetable product shortage due to ongoing issues with vendors’ ability to supply canned vegetables. To address this issue, FNS is temporarily reducing the quantity of vegetables offered in the CSFP Maximum Monthly Distribution Rates, or Guide Rates, from 8 cans to 4 cans effective immediately until inventories can be replenished. Attachment A provides the current Guide Rate for CSFP.
This temporary reduction will assist FNS and state agencies with rebuilding vegetable inventories and will help ensure that CSFP participants receive some vegetables in the monthly food package. FNS will lift this temporary reduction once CSFP vegetable inventories are sufficiently replenished to meet national program demand for the full 8 cans of vegetables per month.
To minimize program burden, any food packages that have already been pre-packed per the previous Guide Rate (effective October 22, 2020), may be distributed to CSFP participants without modification. However, food packages packed after the issuance of this memorandum must be packed according to the Distribution Rates in Attachment A.
Issuing Food Packages with Less Than Full Quantities of Vegetables
In accordance with FNS Instruction 835-1, Revision 2, “Authorized Supplemental Foods and Distribution Rates of Foods for CSFP,” items in the food package can be impacted by changing agricultural market conditions and some of the individual USDA Foods listed may be periodically unavailable. State tailoring of the CSFP food package to issue quantities of USDA Foods that are below the prescribed rates is permitted in very limited circumstances with prior FNS approval.
Even with the temporary reduction in the vegetable Guide Rate, some states may still have insufficient vegetable inventory to provide full food packages. Accordingly, FNS is allowing affected states and local agencies to issue CSFP food packages with less than the prescribed quantity of vegetables in Attachment A. However, state agencies must obtain FNS approval prior to food package issuance to exercise this option. States should closely monitor their vegetable inventories and contact FNS Regional Offices as soon as they foresee an issue with making full food packages with the modified vegetable allotments. FNS Regional Offices must in turn notify the FNS National Office for state approval to issue modified food packages.
States that have already received FNS approval to issue less than the full amount of vegetables may continue to do so until inventories are replenished.
Additional CSFP Vegetable Purchases
To alleviate the vegetable shortage, FNS has been purchasing a variety of vegetable products not currently available in the CSFP package. In addition to the vegetable products normally offered in CSFP, there will temporarily be different vegetable products available and vegetables available in different pack sizes. Attachment B includes guidance on how to distribute these temporary vegetable products.
State agencies may begin seeing some vegetable products available for order from the National Multi-Food Warehouses in March 2021. However, FNS does not guarantee that all of these new options will be available to all states. In order to ensure that state agencies can order fairly, all state requests for vegetables must be submitted to FNS for fulfillment. Detailed instructions on placing orders will be issued prior to the materials becoming available.
We also request that local agencies communicate to clients that this shortage is expected to be short-term and that USDA is working with industry to return vegetables to their food packages as soon as possible. We appreciate your understanding of this issue and your work to ensure CSFP participants continue to receive the needed food assistance during this time. We will be sure to keep you apprised as we receive new information on the availability of vegetables.
Food Distribution Division
The contents of this guidance document do not have the force and effect of law and are not meant to bind the public in any way. This document is intended only to provide clarity to the public regarding existing requirements under the law or agency policies.