In an April 9 announcement, the USDA indicated it will offer boxes of prepacked fresh produce as part of The Emergency Food Assistance Program, or TFAP, that is in place through Sept. 30.
United Fresh sent out a follow-up to its members on April 13, saying it was the organization’s understanding that “vendors that have previously received BOAs are automatically included in AMS’ Qualified Bidders’ List.
More information on qualification requirement for selling TEFAP can be accessed at https://www.ams.usda.gov/sites/default/files/media/QualificationRequirementsforTEFAPFreshProduce.pdf?utm_campaign=United%20Fresh%20Membership%202020&utm_medium=email&_hsmi=121155203&_hsenc=p2ANqtz-8SNJa9FJ8_q-qn-jG9nBMTNIzy5X2vTiPELxhTGjcusVmFq67Rn0n3CTarRDKVU4ztSel3lK05amdnIxemia87qU3Ckw&utm_content=121155203&utm_source=hs_email.
The release from the USDA’s AMS said, “Pandemic Assistance funding has been made available to supplement The Emergency Food Assistance Program (TEFAP) program for the remainder of the fiscal year ending Sept. 30, 2021. Pursuant to that directive, to help those most in need receive healthy, fresh foods, USDA will be offering boxes of pre-packed, fresh produce through TEFAP in addition to the single varieties that are already available to order. The fresh produce package will include a variety of fresh fruits and vegetables that meet the following requirements. A 10-12 pound package that includes a minimum of at least four of the following: 3-5 lbs. of vegetables (no more than 3lbs. of root vegetables; i.e. potatoes, yams, carrots, onions, etc.), 3-5 lbs. of fruit; at least 2 locally grown fruit or vegetable items, as available, and if not available, add an additional fruit and vegetable item to meet a minimum package weight range of 10-12 lbs. Packages will be expected to have a shelf life of 7-10 days once delivered to the location listed on the contract.”
It noted that solicitations “will be issued in the near future and will be available electronically through the Web-Based Supply Chain Management (WBSCM) system and beta.sam.gov. A hard copy of the solicitation will not be available. Public WBSCM information is available without an account on the WBSCM Public Procurement Page.”
All product acquired under the contract must be grown, processed and “otherwise prepared for sale or distribution exclusively in the United States,” and the AMS release also said, “Packaging and container components under this acquisition will be the only portion subject to the World Trade Organization Government Procurement Agreement and Free Trade Agreements, as addressed by FAR clause 52.225-5.”
United Fresh said that it “appreciates that USDA is including fresh produce boxes in the TEFAP program, but strongly urges that a new Produce Box program be developed as part of a fundamental realignment of USDA feeding programs. USDA recently concluded its public listening session and comment period in which it was heard loud and clear across the country that this program is an important new way to deliver fresh healthy foods to people in need.”
The United message said an “80-member working group on the Produce Box Program submitted some 30 recommendations to USDA on ways to best implement the program for the future, and we look forward to continuing our dialogue with USDA leaders on implementing a much broader new program.”