USDA Foods from Farm to Plate: FDPIR Connection, October 2021

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

FDPIR Connection, October 2021

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News & Notes

Meet the Tribes Participating in the FDPIR Self-Determination Demonstration Project

The 2018 Farm Bill directed USDA to establish a demonstration project for one or more Tribal organization(s) that administer the Food Distribution Program on Indian Reservations (FDPIR) to enter into self-determination contracts to purchase USDA Foods for their Tribe. Under this demonstration project, eight Tribal Organizations will purchase local foods to replace USDA-purchased foods normally provided in the FDPIR food package.  The Tribally-purchased foods must be of similar or higher nutritional value than the FDPIR foods being replaced. 

In September 2021, FNS, through a partnership with the Department of the Interior (DOI), Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA), awarded self-determination contracts to eight Tribal Organizations to carry out demonstration project activities. The self-determination contracts were awarded to the following Tribal Organizations:

  • Oneida Nation / Menominee Indian Tribe of Wisconsin (joint proposal) - Wisconsin
  • Red Cliff Band of Lake Superior Chippewa Indians - Wisconsin
  • Little Traverse Bay Bands of Odawa Indians - Michigan
  • Lummi Nation - Washington
  • Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium - Alaska
  • Chickasaw Nation - Oklahoma
  • Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians - Mississippi

The selected Tribal Organizations provide diversity in geography, program size, and food selection with a variety of fresh produce, meat, fish and wild rice among the foods that will be Tribally procured.  Congratulations to all the Tribes participating in the FDPIR demonstration project!

Passamaquoddy Indian Township

FNS Welcomes Two New ITOs to FDPIR: Passamaquoddy Tribe of Indian Township & Pyramid Lake Paiute Tribe

FNS is excited to announce that two new Indian Tribal Organizations (ITOs) have been approved to administer FDPIR: Passamaquoddy Tribe of Indian Township in Maine and Pyramid Lake Paiute Tribe in Nevada.  Over the last few months, FNS has worked closely with both ITOs to develop a Plan of Operation to administer FDPIR.  Both Tribes are providing tribally owned buildings dedicated to administering FDPIR, and FNS is providing funding to both Tribes for renovations to the buildings.  Federal funding is also being provided to purchase equipment, including: freezers, refrigerators, forklifts, shelving, delivery vehicles, computers, and printers.

Passamaquoddy Indian Township

The Passamaquoddy Indian Township FDPIR will serve eligible households who reside within the Indian Township’s FDPIR service area established in their Plan of Operation, which includes Aroostook County, Washington County, and Hancock County in the state of Maine. Passamaquoddy plans to begin delivering benefits in late FY 2022 after they complete renovations on their FDPIR warehouse and purchase warehouse equipment.   

Pyramid Lake Paiute Tribe

The Pyramid Lake Paiute Tribe will serve eligible households who reside within the Pyramid Lake Paiute Tribe’s FDPIR service area established in their Plan of Operation, which includes households living in Nixon, Sutcliffe, and Wadsworth.   Pyramid Lake currently receives FDPIR benefits from the Nevada State Department of Agriculture.  As of the execution of the agreement, and when renovations are made to their warehouse, Pyramid Lake will no longer be served under the state and, instead, become its own administrating agency for FDPIR.   Pyramid Lake plans to begin delivering benefits in early calendar year 2022.  

We welcome Passamaquoddy Indian Township and Pyramid Lake Paiute Tribe to FDPIR!

FDPIR resources in new ITO

Different views of Pyramid Lake Paiute Tribe's FDPIR warehouse (above) and Passamaquoddy's FDPIR building (upper left corner of article)


What’s New with the FDPIR Food Package Review Workgroup?

Each November, the FDPIR Food Package Review Workgroup hosts their annual strategic planning meeting where workgroup members decide the specific activities they would like to accomplish during the current fiscal year. During this meeting, workgroup members, comprised of FDPIR program directors and nutritionists from ITOs across the nation, identify how they would like to enhance the food package, such as by adding new traditional foods, considering new package sizes for certain foods, or improving the quality and nutrient profile of an item. Each FDPIR Food Package Review Workgroup Regional Vice President, representative, and nutritionist is appointed to speak on behalf of their region. Please inform your representatives of any suggestions or comments you have to enhance the FDPIR food package. A list of voting members in each region is listed below:

NAFDPIR Board Members

  • Mary Greene-Trottier (Spirit Lake) – President
  • Rex Hailey (Seminole Nation) – Parliamentarian
  • Marisa Fuller (Omaha Nation) – Secretary
  • Jaime Prouty (Comanche Tribe of Oklahoma) – Treasurer

Western Region Workgroup Members

  • Thunder Garcia (Nez Perce Tribe) – Regional Vice President
  • AC Sanchez (Coeur d’Alene Tribe) – Regional Representative
  • Carla Patterson (Coeur d’Alene Tribe at Marimn Health) – Regional Nutritionist

Mountain Plains Region Workgroup Members

  • Charles “Red” Gates (Standing Rock Sioux Tribe) – Regional Vice President
  • Blake Garrison (Prairie Band Potawatomi Nation) – Regional Representative
  • Mara Yborra (Consultant for First Nations Development Institute) – Regional Nutritionist

Midwest Region Workgroup Members

  • Joe Van Alstine (Little Traverse Bay Bands of Odawa Indians) – Regional Vice President
  • Gloria Goodwin (White Earth) – Regional Representative
  • Dorothy Bell (Sault Sainte Marie Tribe of Chippewa Indians) – Regional Nutritionist

Southwest Region Workgroup Members

  • Perry Martinez (Eight Northern Indian Pueblos Council) – Regional Vice President
  • Connie Martinez (Pueblo of Acoma) – Regional Representative
  • Connie Black (Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians) – Regional Nutritionist

FDPIR Program Directors can also contact their FNS Regional Office to share feedback.

Tribal Bison Listening Session

The USDA Office of Tribal Relations and Department of Interior, in partnership with the Intertribal Buffalo Council, are facilitating a series of tribal bison listening sessions to allow USDA agencies to hear from and learn from tribal bison producers. On August 25, FNS and AMS staff participated in the second listening session to dialogue with tribal stakeholders about federal contracting opportunities for bison, including the ground bison that is available in FDPIR. USDA staff explained the current process for vendors, including tribal vendors, to seek vendor approval and bid on solicitations. USDA staff also received feedback from tribal representatives on challenges and opportunities for future consideration for bison procurement.

Nutrition education

FDPIR Nutrition Education Grants Awarded for Fiscal Year 2021

The Food Distribution Program on Indian Reservations Nutrition Education (FDPNE) grant program has been providing funding for nutrition education projects since 2008.  Indian Tribal Organizations (ITOs) and state agencies that administer FDPIR are eligible to apply for these grant funds each year.

The overall goal of the FDPNE grant program is to improve the likelihood that persons eligible for FDPIR will make healthy food choices consistent with the Dietary Guidelines for Americans and USDA MyPlate guidance. 

FNS is pleased to announce the 14 grantees awarded in 2021:

  • Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium
  • The Cherokee Nation
  • Cheyenne and Arapaho Tribes
  • The Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians
  • Lac du Flambeau Band of Lake Superior Chippewa Indians
  • Lummi Indian Business Council
  • Menominee Indian Tribe of Wisconsin
  • Montana Public Health and Human Services on behalf of Ft. Belknap
  • Oneida Nation
  • South Puget Intertribal Planning Agency
  • Spirit Lake Tribe
  • Wichita and Affiliated Tribes
  • Winnebago Tribe of Nebraska
  • Yurok Tribe 

A summary of each grantee’s project can be found on the FNS website.  Congratulations FY 2021 grantees!


Update on the Shell Egg Pilot and Dried Eggs

On October 1, 2021, FNS released an update to Exhibit O – FDPIR Monthly Distribution Guide Rates by Household Size which allows all ITOs to distribute up to 1 unit per participant per month of either shell eggs or dried eggs (1 unit = 1 dozen shell eggs OR 2 – 6 oz. packages of dried egg mix). This update means that ITOs can order both shell eggs and dried eggs and make them available for participants to select the option they prefer. 

Prior to October 1, 2021, ITOs that were on the shell egg pilot and ordered eggs through the USDA DoD Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program (USDA DoD Fresh) were only allowed to distribute shell eggs. ITOs that were not on the shell egg pilot were only allowed to distribute dried eggs. Due to the success of the shell egg pilot and the positive impact it has had on FDPIR, USDA is offering the opportunity for all programs to receive shell eggs and allowing both shell eggs and dried eggs to be distributed by all ITOs. Any ITOs that are not currently ordering shell eggs, but are interested in ordering eggs through USDA DoD Fresh, please contact your regional office.  

Featured Food

4 new produce items

FDPIR Adds Four USDA DoD Fresh Produce Items to the Food Package

Lettuce, red peppers, spinach, and jalapeño peppers – these are the four new additions to the FDPIR food package! 

The FDPIR Food Package Review Workgroup voted to add these four USDA DoD Fresh produce items to the FDPIR Food Package. These items are now included in Exhibit O:  FDPIR Guide Rate and are available in both AIS and IFMS.  The four new USDA DoD Fresh produce items include: 

  • Iceberg Lettuce:  one head equals 1 vegetable unit (year round)
  • Red Peppers:  three medium peppers equals 1 vegetable unit (can be mixed with green peppers – both are seasonal produce items and not available year round)
  • Spinach:  1 bag equals 1 vegetable unit (year round)
  • Jalapeño Peppers:  12 peppers equals 1 vegetable unit (year round)

To help ITOs and participants promote and incorporate these new items into the food package, we've created four Product Information Sheets – one for each item.  Each sheet highlights the nutrition/health benefits of the item, tips on storage, how to incorporate the item into meals and snacks, and two recipes. 

All FDPIR Product Information Sheets for vegetables including the four new ones can be accessed here


Pit Ham and Shelf-Stable Peach Cups Are Available for Ordering!

We are pleased to announce that we were able to successfully procure pit ham for the holiday season! As you know, we have experienced many challenges purchasing this product due to food supply chain issues brought on by the pandemic. Pit ham is currently available for order in both national warehouses, and fair share amounts have been distributed.

Shelf-stable peach cups in 100% juice are also available in the national warehouse as a bonus item. Fair share amounts have been distributed, and ITOs can place orders now. The shelf-stable peach cups are 4 oz. each and come with 4 cups per sleeve. This item is perfect for an afternoon snack or can be packed in a lunch.

Policy Corner

Certification Chatter

In our newest section, Certification Chatter, we will periodically highlight common questions that we receive regarding certification.  If you have a question that you’d like us to feature, or if you have any certification questions in general, please reach out to your FNS Regional Office Point of Contact.

Question: What is the longest certification period that I can assign to a household that repeatedly has zero income?  I have households that have been reporting zero income for multiple years.

Answer: The certifier must use their best judgement in assigning certification periods; however, the certification period should not exceed 12 months (unless all household members are elderly and/or disabled – these households may be certified up to 24 months).  Household with zero income and whose circumstances are verified to be stable and not likely to change should be assigned certification periods consistent with their circumstances, but generally no less than three months.  Households with zero income whose circumstances are unstable, should be assigned a one- or two-month certification period.  An example of a zero income household with unstable circumstances might include a household who could receive income soon (i.e. recently became unemployed and stated that they are looking for work).   

This information is covered in FNS Handbook 501Chapter 5 (Certification Procedures) as well as in Policy Memo, FD-135: Revised Policy on Certification Periods for Zero Income Households

As a reminder, as of March 2021, the FDPIR Program must design a zero income form for households to use to document that they have zero income.  This form must be approved by FNS.  Please review Section 3533 of the FNS Handbook 501Chapter 3 (Application Processing Procedures)for more information and reach out to your FNS Regional Office with any questions on the process.

Resource Roundup

Webinar slide

USDA DoD Fresh for FDPIR Webinar

The USDA DoD Fresh for FDPIR webinar was held live on Aug. 19, 2021 and discusses best practices for ordering and receiving deliveries of fresh fruits and vegetables through USDA DoD Fresh. The webinar also provides information to help ITOs properly handle and store fresh produce. A copy of the presentation slides are also included.

Program Spotlight

ANTHC logo

Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium

The USDA Food and Nutrition Service Food Distribution Program on Indian Reservations Nutrition Education (FDPNE) grant program awards funding to Indian Tribal Organizations and State Agencies to conduct projects that provide nutrition information and services to FDPIR participants. The Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium (ANTHC) is a non-profit Tribal health organization designed to meet the unique health needs of Alaska Native and American Indian (AN/AI) people living in Alaska.  The ANTHC Division of Community Health Services, Wellness and Prevention Department has been the recipient of multiple FDPNE grants. 

Communities served through the ANTHC FDPIR program are in rural areas of Alaska where eating a traditional Alaska Native diet has been the cultural norm for many generations.  It can be challenging for FDPIR participants to incorporate non-traditional FDPIR whole grain foods into their diets, and in-person nutrition education is logistically challenging in rural AK.  ANTHC has used their FDPNE grant funds to develop computer-based nutrition education modules and videos. 

Whole Grain Adventures, featuring Gordy the Grain and friends, provides an interactive learning experience focusing on whole grains and healthy snacking.  Project Manager Marcia Anderson explains, “By highlighting traditional foods alongside whole grains and other healthful food options available in FDPIR packages, we aim to show that incorporating whole grains is possible without disregarding traditional foods.” 

This is a great example of a successful virtual nutrition education initiative.  Check it out and consider applying for your own FDPNE grant in fiscal year 2022! 

Whole Grains Interactive Game

Technology Synopsis

IFMS logo

IFMS: One Year Anniversary

As of the latest launch in October, there are now 72 ITOs using the Integrated Food Management System (IFMS) with over 330 active users. Since its launch, ITOs have issued over 6.2 million food items to more than 17,800 households.

IFMS launched on October 1, 2020, with the first five Indian Tribal Organizations (ITOs). Like other USDA systems, IFMS is under continuous improvement, following a development cycle that includes thorough testing for a quality solution. To improve system functions, adapt to FDPIR program needs, and respond to feedback from the user community, there have been six releases in addition to smaller support patches. The most recent update was deployed with Release 1.6.0 in October 2021.

During the first year, the Transition Team has adapted the onboarding program and responded to the specific needs of ITOs to help them prepare for the changeover to IFMS. Over about two months, the team walks through system set up, provides training sessions and hands-on practice, identifies unique reporting needs, and loads historic data from the Automated Inventory System (AIS) for a seamless transition at the start of the first month. To learn more about preparing for IFMS, please contact the IFMS Transition Team Manager, Paula Joyce.

IFMS users can access a library of resources to learn more about IFMS. These include manuals, quick reference guides, hot tips, and tutorial videos. To help ITOs, FNS staff, and others who support FDPIR stay up to date on the latest happenings with IFMS, the IFMS NewsWatch provides updates about IFMS features, transition status, and preparation tips. New IFMS users are automatically subscribed to IFMS NewsWatch. To sign up or manage subscriptions, self-service tools are available.

Browser Change for WBSCM Coming in 2022

The Web-based Supply Chain Management (WBSCM) system will be transitioning to the Google Chrome browser for access to the WBSCM Portal in early Spring 2022. Microsoft has announced that they will end support for Internet Explorer 11 for Windows, and Federal security guidelines require agencies to replace system components when support is no longer available.

All users are encouraged to begin using Chrome for activities in WBSCM. Please report any issues or challenges to the WBSCM Service Desk, so they can be recorded and tracked for further analysis and testing to prepare for the official transition to Chrome.

For questions about WBSCM, please contact the WBSCM Service Desk or call (877) 927-2648.

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