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Food Distribution Program for Schools

Children Eating a School LunchFood Distribution Program for Schools

The Food Distribution Program coordinates the distribution of USDA purchased foods (commodities) to the public and private nonprofit schools and institutions participating in the National School Lunch Program. The program supports American agricultural producers while providing nutritious food to schoolchildren. These foods must be of domestic origin, and nearly 60 percent of the foods purchased for the Child Nutrition Programs must be determined by USDA to be in surplus at the time of purchase.

Commodity Processing

Commodity Processing allows participants in the school lunch program to contract with commercial food processors to convert raw USDA bulk commodities into more convenient, ready-to-use end products. In Tennessee, bulk foods for processing are requested by recipient agencies during the annual submission of a commodity planning worksheet. TDA only enters into state agreements with processors who have an approved USDA National Processing Agreement (NPA). A processor isn't required to have a state agreement in place prior to bidding on school business; TDA can quickly initiate an agreement after confirming the processor has been awarded enough business statewide to enable TDA to place USDA orders for them. The current list of processors with USDA National Processing Agreements can be found at:

TDA doesn't solicit bids, endorse any processors, or endorse any processed products. Recipient agencies must properly procure processing activity at the local level and must choose a processor before TDA can order bulk pounds. Requests must be provided to TDA in time to meet the ordering deadlines provided at the time the annual commodity planning worksheet is issued. A statement is included on the processing section of the worksheet indicating a recipient agency's assurance that competitive procurement was completed properly following local, state, and federal requirements. Procurement questions should be directed to the Dept. of Education, but recipient agencies are reminded that "rollovers" or contract renewals are only allowed if the original bid language and conditions specify an option to renew. Per the Dept. of Education, the original contract must spell out how many terms it can be renewed and under what conditions. The solicitation must identify evaluation factors and should result in a clearly documented award to a winning bidder/proposer.

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