The USDA assigns a total dollar entitlement for Oklahoma each year based on available funding. USDA may adjust the state’s dollar amount for Type “A” commodities in October and January when updated meal count data is received and placed into the system.
The Commodity Distribution Unit (CDU) uses a forecast ordering method. Each year a forecast sheet is mailed to recipient agency (RA) that lists the foods USDA had indicated will be available for the upcoming year. The forecast forms also have the combined planned assistance level amounts for Type “A” and “B” foods. The recipient agency (RA) completes the forecast sheet to designate the commodities it would rather receive while remaining within their planned assistance level. Commodity Distribution Unit (CDU) then allocates the products based on the cases ordered and cases capped entered in the forecast order form. There are instances when the items USDA has offered will not be available. Those planned assistance level (PAL) dollars can be used for other products by the allocation of the capped amounts if they are greater than the ordered amounts. USDA will at times substitute products that are similar, such as diced peaches for sliced. When USDA offers bonus items or entitlement items that were not on the forecast survey, Commodity Distribution Unit (CDU) will send an allocation report that provides the recipient agency (RA) the opportunity to refuse the product.
Type “A” and “B” commodities — The Commodity Distribution Unit (CDU) offers the recipient agencies (RAs) these commodities up to the dollar amount of the recipient agencies (RAs) planned assistance level. As noted above, USDA annually provides a list of the items they plan to purchase. Throughout the year they make purchases to support the market prices and to remove surplus inventory. Some items are not purchased if they are too expensive or do not meet the product specifications and quality USDA requires.
Bonus commodities — The recipient agency (RA) is offered a fair share of bonus commodities the state receives from USDA. If the recipient agency (RA) listed the item on the forecast sheet, the Commodity Distribution Unit (CDU) will attempt to deliver the the amounts indicated. Bonus commodities are not counted against the recipient agencies (RAs) planned assistance level (PAL). The recipient agency (RA) can refuse these bonus offerings on the allocation report.
The planned assistance level (PAL) has commonly been referred to as “entitlement” by recipient agencies (RAs), but the Commodity Distribution Unit (CDU) prefers the term planned assistance level. As the State Distributing Agency, the Commodity Distribution Unit (CDU) is awarded the entitlement to order foods for the recipient agencies (RAs). Any remaining entitlement is rolled over to the next year and distributed equally to recipient agencies (RAs) within the appropriate category, with the exception of NSIP. Those funds remaining are issued to the recipient agency (RA) by USDA or HHS.
Conditions affecting USDA purchases of commodities include:
- market conditions
- price support requirements
- amount, types, and costs of foods available
- RA preferences
Note: Type “A” foods are fruits, vegetables and meats. They are highly subject to market forces and are seasonal. USDA cannot predict what will be available, so recipient agencies (RAs) must remain flexible in their menu planning for Type “A” products.
Schools — The Commodity Distribution Unit (CDU) figures each school’s planned assistance level (PAL) by dividing the last fiscal school year’s total number of reimbursable lunches into the dollar amount authorized by USDA for the National School Lunch Program (NSLP). The State Department of Education provides meal count information to the Commodity Distribution Unit (CDU) for public schools and residential child care institutions (RCCIs). The Commodity Distribution Unit (CDU) School Nutrition Section provides the meal count information for private schools and residential child care institutions (RCCIs). This results in a fair share allocation to all participants. When participants are added or removed, Commodity Distribution Unit (CDU) recalculates the allocation to current participants.
Summer Food Service Program — The planned assistance level (PAL) is figured by multiplying USDA’s meal assistance rate by the average number of meals served daily to eligible children.
Nutrition Services Incentive Programs for the Elderly, Title III and Title VI — In the past these programs could choose to receive cash only, commodities only or a combination of both. The choice is made yearly before the start of the fiscal year. The OKDHS Aging Services Division, Special Unit on Aging manages the NSIP Title III program. They make the determination of cash only or cash and commodities for all those participants. Title VI participants are administered by the HHS effective Oct. 1, 2003.
Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP) — The Commodity Distribution Unit (CDU) calculates the fair share allotment for these recipient agencies (RAs) based on the total number of lunches and snacks served in the prior fiscal year. The State Department of Education provides the information on the total number of meals.
Charitable Institutions — Charitable institutions are only eligible to receive bonus commodities. Many of them participate with the food banks. They can receive both the commodities from the food bank and any bonus items offered by USDA. There has been no entitlement provided to fund this program in several years. It is not anticipated that this will change. They must have a current agreement with CDU to receive the bonus items, and a separate agreement for food bank participation.
Soup Kitchens and Food Banks - The Commodity Distribution Unit (CDU) has an agreement with the Regional Food Bank of Oklahoma in Oklahoma City and the Community Food Bank of Eastern Oklahoma in Tulsa to distribute commodity items purchased with the Emergency Food Assistance Program (TEFAP) funds to those statewide eligible participants such as soup kitchens, food closets or pantries and approved congregate meal sites. Penal institutions, jails and juvenile detention centers are not eligible for the Emergency Food Assistance Program (TEFAP) foods.
USDA uses national unemployment and poverty statistics to allocate the funding for the Emergency Food Assistance Program (TEFAP). Many years ago this was commonly referred to as the "cheese and butter" distribution because those were the most common items issued. The food bank does not receive USDA commodities; it only distributes for the Commodity Distribution Unit (CDU) the Emergency Food Assistance Program (TEFAP) foods to eligible participants.
Survey — This is the tool used by USDA for states to order items. USDA places the surveys in the Electronic Commodity Ordering System (ECOS) and the Commodity Distribution Unit (CDU) ordering staff uses information from the forecast order forms to determine amounts of food to order.
Complaints — RAs can file a written product complaint to inform the Commodity Distribution Unit (CDU)of specific problems. The most common occurrence is the discovery of some “foreign object” in a product. The recipient agency (RA) may e-mail Paula.Price@OKDHS.org with information and complaints.