USDA Foods from Farm to Plate: FDPIR Connection, October 2020

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U.S. Department of Agriculture
USDA Foods from Farm to Plate

FDPIR Connection, October 2020

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News & Notes

Additional Food Support for Tribal Communities in Response to COVID-19

Under a Presidential Declaration of a National Emergency, FNS may approve state and/or tribal requests for Disaster Household Distributions (DHD) for targeted areas to meet specific needs when traditional channels of food are unavailable. DHD provides boxed foods to households using existing inventories of USDA-purchased foods.  The intent of DHD is to serve as short-term assistance to address immediate food needs when households are sheltering in place at home and are in need of food, and to bridge the gap to longer-term assistance programs in the aftermath of a disaster or emergency.

In response to food assistance needs resulting from the COVID-19 National Emergency declared by the President of the United States on March 13, 2020, the Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) approved disaster assistance requests for 33 Indian Tribal Organizations (ITOs) to distribute DHD food boxes to impacted Tribal members.  DHD approvals lasted up to thirty days with extension options.  A typical DHD food box included a variety of shelf-stable foods, including canned or dried fruit, canned vegetables, canned or dried beans, peanut butter, pasta or rice options, additional grains and cereals, soups, and nonfat dry milk.

Shell Eggs

New ITOs added to the Shell Egg Pilot

Last month, 28 Indian Tribal Organizations (ITOs) were added to the FDPIR Shell Egg Pilot, increasing participation to 88 ITOs or 87% of FDPIR administering agencies.  These ITOs were selected based on their USDA DoD Fresh produce vendor, on-hand local inventory of powdered egg mix, and the impact on the inventory of powdered egg mix at the National Multifood Warehouses.

Fresh eggs offer a more versatile and desirable product for FDPIR households. For this reason, the pilot assesses the option of transitioning from providing dried egg mix to fresh eggs throughout all distribution models in FDPIR. One dozen shell eggs replace the powdered egg mix participants receive each month. Tribes use the Fresh Fruits and Vegetables Order/Receipt System (FFAVORS) to place orders for shell eggs to be delivered through their DoD Fresh produce vendor.

The 28 ITOs are: Coeur D’Alene Tribe, Nez Perce Tribe, Shoshone-Bannock Tribes, Shoshone Paiute Tribe, Fort Mojave Indian Tribe, Lac du Flambeau Band of Lake Superior Chippewa Indians, Pokagon Band of Potawatomi Indians, Bois Forte Reservation Tribal Government, St. Croix Band of Lake Superior Chippewa Indians, Winnebago Tribe of Nebraska, Gila River Indian Community, White Mountain Apache Tribe, San Carlos Apache Tribe, Colorado River Indian Tribe, Ute Indian Tribe, Cherokee Nation, Choctaw Nation, Osage Nation, Pawnee Nation, Ponca Tribe, Sac and Fox Nation, Seminole Nation, Grand Portage Reservation, Chickasaw Nation, Inter-Tribal Council (ITC), Chippewa-Cree Tribe, Gros Ventre and Assiniboine Tribe, and Arapaho Tribe.

We will continue to evaluate the pilot and work jointly with DoD and participating ITOs to improve the program.  The goal is to expand the shell egg program to include all ITOs participating in FDPIR. 

For concerns regarding product received through the USDA DoD Fresh Program, ITOs should continue to contact their designated Defense Logistics Agency (DLA) service representative for direct customer service, the produce vendor, and the appropriate Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) Regional Office. If issues continue to be unresolved, please contact the USDA DoD Fresh Program team at

FY20 FDPNE Grants Awarded

Since 2008, FNS has been awarding funding for nutrition education projects through the Food Distribution Program Nutrition Education (FDPNE) grants. Indian Tribal Organizations (ITOs) and state agencies that are current FDPIR allowance holders (have a direct agreement with FNS to administer FDPIR) are eligible to apply for funds to conduct projects that provide nutrition information and services to FDPIR participants. 

The desired FDPNE grant program outcomes include:

  • Improve nutrition-related skills and behaviors among FDPIR participants, resulting in healthier food choices and a better understanding of healthy food preparation methods of USDA Foods provided in the FDPIR food package.
  • Strengthen existing partnerships to provide sustainable nutrition education and wellness promotion programs in Tribal communities.
  • Foster Tribal capacity to influence and reinforce nutrition-related skills and behaviors throughout the community.

More information on the FDPNE grant program can be found on the FNS website.

FNS is pleased to announce that we have awarded a total of $988,775 in Fiscal Year 2020 Food Distribution Program on Indian Reservation Nutrition Education (FDPNE) Grants. 

You can view the fifteen 2020 grant recipients and read a brief summary of their projects by clicking here.

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Program Spotlight

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FNS Awards Grants to Tribes During the Pandemic 

On March 27, 2020, the President signed into law the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act (P.L. 116-136, CARES Act).  The CARES Act provides $100M to the Food Distribution Program on Indian Reservations (FDPIR) as authorized by Section 4(b) of the Food and Nutrition Act of 2008 (7 U.S.C. 2013) and Section 4(a) of the Agriculture and Consumer Protection Act of 1973 (7 U.S.C. 1431) to prevent, prepare for, and respond to coronavirus, of which $50M shall be for facility improvements and equipment upgrades and of which $50M shall be for the costs relating to additional food purchases.

Consistent with the CARES Act, the Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) awarded over $40M in FY 2020 grants for facility improvements and equipment upgrades to 97 Indian Tribal Organizations (ITOs) and State agencies (SAs) that administer FDPIR for program costs allowable under the law.  Examples of allowable costs include facility improvement to accommodate distribution methods for social distancing such as drive-up distributions; a sheltered outdoor space that allows for sufficient separation between clients arriving to pick-up food packages at a warehouse; warehouse expansions to accommodate coronavirus related participation increases; and/or physical barriers or additional sinks and sanitation stations to assist in worker safety.  Purchases of equipment to support coronavirus-related participation increases, such as computer software or hardware upgrades to accommodate increased remote work or increased caseload; and additional freezers and/or refrigerators were also funded. FNS will continue to provide financial support, through additional FY 2021 supplemental administrative grants, to ITOs and SAs to continue to  respond to coronavirus-related challenges.

Policy Corner

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FDPIR Final Rule Published on 2018 Farm Bill Provisions

On July 14, 2020, the FDPIR Two-Year Administrative Funding Availability and Substantial Burden Waiver Signatory Requirement Final Rule was published in the Federal Register.  This rule codified a 2018 Farm Bill provision, which made FDPIR administrative funds available to State agencies and Indian Tribal Organizations (ITOs) for two Federal fiscal years.  This exciting change, which initially went into effect in 2019, eases the administrative burden on ITOs by giving them more time to use their FDPIR administrative funds.

This final rule also updated the process for ITOs to qualify for an administrative match waiver in response to public comments on the FDPIR Revisions to the Administrative Match Requirement Final Rule with Request for Comments.  Under the initial rule, which was published in the Federal Register on September 3, 2019, an ITO would submit a signed letter from the Tribal Council to apply for an administrative match waiver based on substantial burden.  This rule changed the level of signatory required, from the Tribal Council to the Tribal agency that oversees FDPIR.  This change became effective on July 14, 2020.

For more details on other 2018 Farm Bill related changes made by the September 3rd rule, please see the article in the November 2019 FDPIR Connections Newsletter.

The New FY 2021 FDPIR Income Guidelines are Here!

Every year, at the beginning of each Federal fiscal year (FY), FNS posts the new eligibility income guidelines for the Food Distribution Program on Indian Reservations (FDPIR).  The income guidelines set the net monthly income limit for each household size and are used to determine eligibility for the program.  These guidelines, commonly referred to as Exhibit M, are part of the FNS Handbook 501, and also include allowable income deductions for earned income, dependent care, child support, medical expenses, home care meals, and shelter and utilities by regional area.  If you are an FDPIR administering agency, please make sure you use the FY 2021 Net Monthly Income Standards beginning October 1, 2020!

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FDPIR Demonstration Project Consultation on October 28

The 2018 Farm Bill directed USDA to establish a demonstration project for one or more Tribal organization(s) that administer FDPIR to enter into self-determination contracts to purchase USDA Foods for their Tribe.  Self-determination contracts are intended to give Tribes maximum involvement in the administration of programs and services provided to them by the Federal government and to allow them to target the programs and services to the needs of their local communities. 

Congress provided FNS with $3 million for the self-demonstration project in FY 2020 annual appropriations.  Since then, FNS has been working to establish the parameters of the project and has consulted with Tribal organizations on the eligibility criteria for participation. FNS plans to further consult with Tribes about eligibility criteria on October 28, 2020, and intends to award contracts to selected Tribal organizations in FY 2021.  Tribal leaders who are interested in participating in this consultation may contact the USDA Office of Tribal Relations at for details. 

Technology Synopsis

IFMS Transition Begins

The Integrated Food Management System (IFMS) is here! IFMS is a cloud-based application that is replacing the legacy Automated Inventory System (AIS) and will provide new features and functionality. Last spring, a preview of IFMS was offered through a series of demonstrations. Recordings are available for those who would like to review the new application’s functionality in the following areas:

Transition is underway, with the first five ITOs successfully transitioned from AIS to IFMS on October 1, 2020. The first five ITOs include: Coeur D'Alene (ID), Crow Creek Sioux Tribe (SD), Pueblo of Acoma (NM), Bay Mills Indian Community (MI), and Little Traverse Bay Bands of Odawa Indians (MI).  For the next two months, the IFMS team will be gathering feedback, refining training and support materials, and assisting with technical and process challenges—including incorporating ideas for future improvements to IFMS. The next set of ITOs will be onboarding to IFMS in December.

To facilitate the transition to IFMS to the FDPIR community-at-large, a special edition e-letter, IFMS NewsWatch is coming soon. Subscribers will receive updates about the deployment schedule, highlights on application features and capabilities, as well as important reminders and planning activities for the transition to IFMS.

ITOs who have any concerns or questions about preparing for IFMS may contact the IFMS Transition Manager, Paula Joyce at Please also direct any requests to be added to the initial mailing list for the IFMS NewsWatch to Paula.

Highlights from the September Release for AIS

The Automated Inventory System (AIS) is updated on a quarterly basis for maintenance and improvement. Some of the highlights from the September Release (09.2020)) include:

  • Three new materials were added to AIS: dried cherries, orange juice singles, and pork patties.
  • Wild rice is now available for monthly issuance for households of one or two individuals.
  • DoD Fresh items are now included in the updated barcode file.
  • AIS will allow ITOs to issue the increased food package in the same month that a household size increases. For households that decrease in size, the decreased food package will not be effective until the following month.

AIS users can also find recent release information and instructions as well as other resources for working with AIS on the system webpage. If you have any questions or need assistance with AIS, please contact the WBSCM Service Desk or call (877) 927-2648.


System Reminders

  • 10/29/2020 – WBSCM Monthly Release
  • 11/19/2020 – WBSCM Monthly Release
  • 11/24/2020 – AIS Quarterly Release
  • 12/1/2020 – IFMS Transition Group 2
  • 12/17/2020 – WBSCM Monthly Release

Planned dates for system activities are subject to change.

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