Continuation of the Department of Agriculture (USDA) Food Assistance During a Human Pandemic (Revised)
As a result of activities undertaken to plan a government-wide response to a potential human pandemic, the Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) has been asked to address the operation of its USDA food programs during a major pandemic event.
During a human pandemic outbreak, public health officials anticipate the need for "social distancing" as a means of minimizing the spread of illness by limiting person-to-person contact. As a result, feeding involving USDA food that takes place in congregate settings, such as schools, soup kitchens participating in TEFAP, and sites set up [or mass feeding of those in need during times of disaster will be discouraged. In such instances, feeding is more likely to occur, with appropriate safeguards, through programs that have the capability of distributing USDA food to individual households for consumption at home.
It is possible that, for large-scale human pandemic outbreaks, the President would issue a disaster or emergency declaration for an area. In such instances, the Robert T. Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act affords Federal agencies authority to waive Federal administrative requirements to ensure the continued operation of Federal programs. In such instances, FNS may, depending on the nature and scope of the outbreak, explore options for waiving Federal administrative program requirements to ensure the continuation of benefits to eligible program participants to the extent possible.
A large-scale human pandemic outbreak could also adversely affect the ability of state and local agencies, and other entities, such as warehouses and carriers, to perform the functions necessary to deliver USDA food to state and local agencies. We strongly encourage state and local agencies to work together to identify viable alternatives to existing distribution networks that could be implemented should the need arise. In such an environment, FNS intends to work closely with state agencies and other partners and stakeholders to ensure the continued distribution of USDA food to the extent possible.
For more information on how to respond to a human pandemic and other disasters, local agencies should contact their state agency.