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USDA Foods Distribution


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The Bureau of Nutrition and Health Services is responsible for the distribution of USDA Foods to participants in the National School Lunch Program (NSLP). Participants in NSLP include public and non-public schools as well as residential child care institutions (RCCIs).


Keep up to date on USDA Foods food safety concerns. FNS has made arrangements to allow users to self register for email notifications for potential USDA Foods food safety events. Sign up to receive USDA/FNS USDA Foods Alerts. For general food safety information visit:

School Program participants are notified of USDA Foods Product alerts and recalls through an e-mail system (the School Food Authority is responsible for keeping their emergency contact e-mail address on file with the Bureau current) and posting to the Bureau web site.

For the most current list of unsafe, hazardous or defective products, six federal agencies with vastly different jurisdictions have joined together to create - A "one stop shop" for U.S. Government recalls.

No Alerts on USDA Foods at this time.

USDA Foods Nutritional Information

For nutrition information on the direct distribution products: USDA Foods Product Information Sheets

For nutrition information on the Diverted Foods (DF) processed items, some of which are offered on the 6 yearly DD orders please email to receive a pdf copy. A limited number of printed books are distributed every year at the USDA Foods, Food Show and the SNAI annual conference. If printed copies are available, you may request a copy at the email address above.


Direct Distribution

Direct Distribution (DD) is the traditional option for SFAs to receive their USDA Foods annually. This option includes items obtained directly from USDA vendors such as canned fruit and vegetables, frozen meats, flour, and pasta. These items are ordered through and delivered by the BNHS contracted vendor. 

Diverted Foods 

Diverted Foods (DF) is an additional way to spend your Planned Assistance Level (PAL). The State Agency along with the Advisory Council, have procured the processing and delivery services of USDA Foods for the State of Iowa. Annually SFAs request pounds of USDA Foods such as chicken, turkey, beef, cheese and pork to be diverted to selected processors on their behalf. SFAs can then purchase specified end product from a commercial distributor and receive price discounts (net price, rebates, etc) at the time of purchase.

DoD (Department of Defense) Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program

The DoD Fresh Fruit and Vegetable program is an optional way for SFAs to spend their PAL budget every year. Dollars allocated can be used to purchase, domestically grown fresh fruits and vegetables weekly. Sign up for the DoD program is in the spring of the previous school year.

USDA Food Values

USDA Food values will reflect the actual purchase price of the product by USDA. Consequently, because we receive multiple truckloads per year, the value of some products may change from one delivery to the next.

2019-2020 USDA Food Inventory Values

2018-2019 USDA Food Values and Delivery Costs

Advisory Council

The USDA Foods Advisory Council serves to assist the State Agency in decisions regarding USDA Foods. The main function of the council is to determine what bulk USDA Foods and end products will be procured for the Diverted Foods program. Council members participate in the specification writing, reviewing solicitation documents, and evaluation of proposals and bids. As well council members learn more about the USDA Foods program and provide feedback and guidance for the State Agency.

If you are interested in serving on the USDA Foods Advisory Council, please fill out the interest form to submit to Bureau.

USDA Foods Advisory Council Interest Form

Publications and Reports


USDA Foods Complaint Procedure

When a problem is discovered with a USDA Food, a complaint form must be filled out and submitted as soon as possible. Please isolate and hold onto any affected product until the complaint has been reported. Please use the following form to report your complaint.

USDA Food Complaint Form

DD Receiving Procedure

When you receive one of your six yearly DD orders please make sure to check in your order and verify you have received everything you should have. Have the driver make adjustments on the warehouse release and sign. You should keep a copy. If there are any discrepancies or damages in your delivery please complete the following form to report those to the State Agency.

USDA Foods Shipment Received Over, Short and/or Damaged

Schools that store USDA Foods at a non-SFA owned facility must complete an annual review. Schools will be asked to report the date of review to the state agency. A sample Storage Facility Review Form can be found under download forms on IowaCNP.

USDA Foods Recipes

If your school has a standardized recipe using USDA Foods, please share it with us!

The Bureau is especially interested in helping schools share recipes that utilize whole grains, legumes or help meet nutrient goals for the School Meals Initiative and compliance with the Dietary Guidelines for Americans.

USDA Foods Recipes - Chef Deanna Olson worked with the USDA Foods Advisory Council to develop and standardize ten new recipes for schools utilizing USDA Foods, as part of a Team Nutrition grant.

Disaster Feeding with USDA Foods

In the event of a natural disaster, such as flooding or tornadoes, School Food Authorities (SFA) have a unique opportunity to be part of the disaster response in their community and region. Disaster relief organizations are the primary response agents when a disaster occurs, however SFAs may be asked by disaster relief organizations to act as a congregate meal site, or to assist with disaster feeding at another site. States have the authority to release USDA Foods, from SFA inventories, to these relief organizations for use during disaster feeding.

Disaster Feeding Guidance for School Food Authorities


Printed from the Iowa Department of Education website on September 30, 2020 at 2:00am.