USDA Foods from Farm to Plate: Household Highlights, June 2018

USDA Foods - Household Highlights

Resource Roundup

USDA Foods

New Webinar Recording:

Preparing for Disasters with USDA Foods

When disasters strike a community, food is often one of the most immediate needs of those impacted by disaster. One of the ways that USDA helps meet this need is to provide USDA Foods to disaster feeding organizations who serve those affected through congregate feeding and disaster household distribution. With hurricane season fast approaching, USDA staff recently took the time to discuss the actions our State and Regional partners can take in order to be fully prepared – no matter what happens. If you are interested in learning more about how USDA Foods are used during a disaster, you can view the webinar recording here.

An additional resource is the comprehensive USDA Foods Program Disaster Manual. We are currently in the process of updating the manual, so stay tuned for the revised edition!

Featured Food

Bonus Pinto Beans

Pinto Beans (Public Domain Images - PIXNIO)

The Emergency Food Assistance Program (TEFAP) received more than 29 million pounds of pinto beans as bonus in Fiscal Year 2017, with deliveries extending into August 2018. Beans are excellent sources of plant protein and also provide a variety of other nutrients such as potassium, magnesium, and iron. Due to their unique contribution of nutrients, beans are considered both a vegetable as part of the legume subgroup in the Dietary Guidelines and as a plant-based protein source. Bean Soup is a delicious way to use dry pinto beans. Enjoy this recipe from What's Cooking? USDA Mixing Bowl! 

Bean Soup

Makes: 8 Servings


1 cup dry pinto beans (soaked and drained)

4 cups low sodium chicken broth

4 cups water

2 cups tomato sauce (tomato juice or canned crushed tomatoes)

onion (chopped)

1 teaspoon dried oregano or basil (if you like)

1/4 cup uncooked pasta


1. Place beans, broth, water, tomato sauce, juice, or tomatoes, and onion in a pot. If using oregano or basil, add that too. 

 2. Cover and cook on medium heat for 2 to 3 hours. 

 3. Add pasta. Cook until soft. 

 4. Serve hot. 

Ordering Outlook

Return of Canned Sweet Potato Availability to CSFP

We are happy to announce that after a four-year hiatus, canned sweet potatoes are once again available as part of the Commodity Supplemental Food Program (CSFP) food package. We tested the market, vendor capacity, and product acceptability with purchases for TEFAP from October 2017 – March 2018. Due to its success we were happy to once again offer CSFP participants sweet potatoes out of our National Warehouses starting in April 2018. The catalogs were open for direct shipments from November 2018 – June 2019 deliveries and we hope that everyone is as excited to receive sweet potatoes as we are to be offering them.

Program Spotlight

San Antonio Food Bank Mobile Mercado Farmers Market

Inside the San Antonio Food Bank Mobile Mercado
Inside the San Antonio Food Bank Mobile Mercado

The San Antonio Food Bank (SAFB) Mobile Mercado (MM) is a mobile grocery store equipped to travel to areas where access to healthy food is limited, considered food deserts. The majority of food available on the MM is grown on the San Antonio Food Bank farm. Produce is also purchased from local farmers in Texas.  

The Costa Valencia Apartments are located in the 78227 zip code on the West Side of San Antonio. This area is a food desert where over 20% of residents have an income below the poverty level. Healthy foods aren’t readily accessible in grocery stores which are located over a mile away from the 78227 area. Therefore, in order to overcome transportation barriers, the MM is targeting the residents of this area to help increase their access to healthy foods.

During a visit to the Costa Valencia Apartments, one of the senior residents expressed her appreciation for the mobile grocery because she suffers from diabetes and experiences mobility issues which prevent her from traveling to grocery stores. Consequentially, this hinders her from purchasing the necessary nutritious foods to help her manage her diabetes. Her doctor specifically requested that she switch to a high produce diet but she was unable to comply with this request because she could not get to a grocery store. Fortunately, the MM offers affordable fresh produce that will help her reach her nutritional goals. 

Learn more about the Mobile Mercado and related nutrition education program.

Story and photo courtesy of the San Antonio Food Bank

Out & About

Oregon Food Bank

Oregon Food Bank Provides Access to Healthy Foods and Educational Opportunities

USDA staff recently had the opportunity to visit the Oregon Food Bank (OFB) in Portland, Oregon. Through a network of 21 regional food banks and more than 1,200 food assistance sites, OFB is committed to addressing hunger and its root causes by providing access to healthy foods and by providing educational opportunities that promote self-sufficiency and focus on community food organizing. Classes offered in low-income communities, in collaboration with local and statewide partners, cover topics from cooking skills to budgeting to reading food labels.

OFB is an implementing agency of multiple USDA programs including CSFP, TEFAP, and the Summer Food Service Program (SFSP). In TEFAP alone, OFB distributed more than 11.5 million pounds of USDA Foods last year! During the visit, USDA staff toured the OFB’s main warehouse and community garden (pictured below) and spoke with OFB staff about their unique distribution model and the ways in which USDA Foods play a vital role in their mission to end hunger.

Oregon Food Bank community garden

Second Harvest Food Bank of Central Florida hosted Food Bank Meeting

The 7th Annual USDA Food and Nutrition Service Southeast Regional Office (FNS SERO) Food Bank and State Agency Conference was held May 15 in Orlando, Florida. USDA leaders met with state agency and food bank leaders to discuss new models and opportunities for Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) Employment and Training and Child Nutrition programs to improve the lives of families in rural, suburban, and urban areas.  

In attendance from FNS SERO were Robin Bailey Jr., Southeast Regional Administrator; Dr. Lillie Bouie, Director, Special Nutrition Programs; and Peggy Fouts, Director, Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program. Innovative ideas were encouraged and discussed to explore how FNS programs can provide better customer service and operate more efficiently. States were asked to re-think how they deliver programs when given more flexibility in program regulations.  

The expectations of food bank partners and state agencies during a disaster were also discussed in preparation for the upcoming hurricane season. Program integrity and customer service were emphasized in USDA-led discussions about public/private partnerships that are designed to help program participants reach and maintain self-sufficiency.

Conference Clips

ACDA Session Synopsis: Household Highlights

At the American Commodity Distribution Association (ACDA) annual conference the first week of May, USDA presented the "Household Highlights" session with program updates for CSFP and TEFAP. Topics included an update on 2018 TEFAP and CSFP funding and CSFP caseload, new products available for TEFAP in 2018 and 2019, and the new foods available lists for TEFAP and CSFP.  

In addition to this session, USDA staff presented in breakout sessions on nearly 20 different topics ranging from disaster preparedness to local purchasing in school meals. The ACDA conference was, once again this year, an excellent venue to interact with USDA Foods stakeholders and provide technical assistance.

National CSFP Association Conference Recap

Last month, USDA staff attended the National CSFP Association Conference in Ft. Myers, Florida. USDA presented a general session to provide program updates and also led breakout sessions on CSFP 101, Caseload Management, and Nutrition Education and Variety in the CSFP Food Package. All sessions were well attended and included great dialogue with program operators and other stakeholders. View the USDA presentations from the conference here.

During the "Nutrition Education and Variety in the CSFP Food Package" session, USDA highlighted strategies to incorporate a variety of food items into the package each month. There are seven different categories in the food package that offer choice and it is up to the program providers to ensure that a variety of choices are provided within each box and from month to month. Sites can use a pre-planned “menu” model or even allow clients to select items within each category when they come to the program site. 

The session also highlighted Virginia’s nutrition education initiative that involves taste testing and recipe demos with program recipients when they come to pick up their food boxes. We are always looking to highlight innovative program activities in the CSFP and TEFAP community. If you have story to share, please contact us at 

Lamont White from the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services
Lamont White from the Virginia Department of Agriculture & Consumer Services prepares for a cooking demo and taste test at a Virginia food distribution site.

Technology Synopsis

A New Look for the WBSCM Help Document Library

A new look is coming to the Web-Based Supply Chain Management (WBSCM) help document library in July 2018! Changes will include user-friendly menus and other improvements. When this upgrade is implemented, WBSCM portal announcements will provide an overview and guidance for navigating the updated help document library. 

As a reminder, materials in the library are regularly updated to correspond to the current best practices, application enhancements, and system requirements to provide convenient solutions to common questions. If you are working with a saved or printed copy, check to see if a newer version is available.

To access the WBSCM document library, navigate to Help -> Training -> and then drill down through the different types of training materials, which include:

  • Work Instructions provide step-by-step guidance for common transactions, organized by role and business function. Work instructions may be viewed as detailed steps with screenshots (Work Instruction), basic steps (Quick Reference), or as an interactive on-screen demo (Simulation).
  • Job Aids are reference documents that are organized into categories for general help, working with reports, and functional area.
  • Release Notes describe any changes, the roles impacted, and links to related training materials that are impacted for quarterly enhancements and monthly maintenance activities in WBSCM.

For additional assistance contact the WBSCM Service Desk or call (877) 927-2648.

How to Sign Up for the USDA Foods E-Letter


1. Click here. Or you can go to the Food Distribution website and click on the red envelope on the row of social media icons on the top right of the page.

2. Enter your email address and click "Submit."

3. Check the boxes to select your topic(s) of interest. For these e-letters, scroll down to the Food Distribution category and click the plus sign to the left of the check box to expand the list and view all the topics. Select any of these topics to receive the general e-letter plus the corresponding program-specific e-letter(s) of your choice:

*USDA Foods --> receive all "USDA Foods from Farm to Plate" e-letters

*Commodity Supplemental Food Program (CSFP) --> receive "Household Highlights"

*The Emergency Food Assistance Program (TEFAP) --> receive "Household Highlights"

*Food Distribution Program on Indian Reservations (FDPIR) --> receive "FDPIR Connection"

*Schools/Child Nutrition Commodity Programs --> receive "Spotlight on Schools"

4. Visit the subscriber preferences page any time you would like to review, add, or delete subscriptions. Questions? Contact

5. Share the e-letter and new subscriber link with interested colleagues and friends!