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USDA to start produce box program

usda box program

The USDA plans to purchase fresh produce for a produce box program to run through food banks.

It will be paid through pandemic assistance funding that supplements the Emergency Food Assistance Program (TEFAP) for the remainder of the fiscal year ending September 30, 2021, however a USDA spokesperson said the budget for it hasn’t been determined.

The boxes will be 10-12 pounds and contain 3-5 pounds of vegetables, 3-5 pounds of fruit and at least two locally grown items if available.

The pre-solicitation announcement can be found here.

Qualification requirements can be found here.

While produce companies who participated in the USDA’s Farmers to Families Food Box program may have gained new insight into working with the USDA, the spokesperson said they would have no advantage in gaining this new contract.

Interested suppliers are encouraged to become a USDA Foods vendor and place a bid in response to the solicitation.

The Farmers to Families Food Box program is funded through the end of April.

USDA released the following statements April 12 regarding the produce box program.

“Food banks are one of USDA’s most important partners in responding to the rising food insecurity caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. And we’ve been putting our ear to the ground from day one of this administration to learn how we can be more responsive to their needs. Food banks have asked that we support them with more fresh produce, so we are excited to provide a new fresh produce box to states for their network of foodbanks participating in The Emergency Food Assistance Program,” said USDA Deputy Undersecretary for Food, Nutrition, and Consumer Services Stacy Dean.

“We want USDA food purchases to both feed the community and build the local market for growers. AMS has been fortunate to add hundreds of new small businesses to its vendor pool recently and hopes to keep growing that list,” said USDA Deputy Undersecretary for Marketing And Regulatory Programs Mae Wu. “These small businesses have enabled AMS to purchase more American grown and produced products than ever before, and to support more small businesses and socially disadvantaged farmers and ranchers. We look forward to working with new and existing vendors to support the TEFAP Fresh Produce Initiative.”

Here’s the April 9th announcement from USDA regarding the program:

Pre-Solicitation Announcement for TEFAP Fresh Produce

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) today announced plans to purchase Fresh Produce (WBSCM Material Number 111427). Pandemic Assistance funding has been made available to supplement The Emergency Food Assistance Program (TEFAP) program for the remainder of the fiscal year ending September 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.

Solicitations will be issued in the near future, and will be available electronically through the Web-Based Supply Chain Management (WBSCM) system and 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 future information regarding this acquisition, including solicitation amendments and award notices, will be published through WBSCM, the Agricultural Marketing Service’s website at, and Interested parties shall be responsible for ensuring that they have the most up-to-date information about this acquisition.

The contract type is anticipated to be firm-fixed price. Deliveries are expected to be to various locations in the United States on an FOB destination basis.

Pursuant to Agricultural Acquisition Regulation 470.103(b), commodities and the products of agricultural commodities acquired under this contract must be a product of the United States and shall be considered to be such a product if it is grown, processed, and otherwise prepared for sale or distribution exclusively in the United States. 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.

Offerors are urged to review all documents as they pertain to this program, including the latest—

AMS Master Solicitation for Commodity Procurements (MSCP-D), August 13, 2020 (pdf)
Qualification Requirements for Selling TEFAP Fresh Produce to USDA Agricultural Marketing Service, April 7, 2021
These documents are available on the AMS Commodity Procurement website.

To be eligible to submit offers, potential contractors must meet the Qualification Requirements for Selling TEFAP Fresh Produce to the USDA Agricultural Marketing Service. The AMS point of contact for new vendors can be reached by email at Please include the following in the email’s subject line: TEFAP Fresh Produce [insert company name].

Once qualification requirements have been met, access to WBSCM will be provided. Bids, modifications, withdrawals of bids, and price adjustments shall be submitted using this system. Submission of the above by any means other than WBSCM will be determined nonresponsive.

To receive e-mail notification of the issuance of AMS solicitations, contract awards, and other information, subscribe online by visiting: “Stay up to date on USDA Food Purchases” available on the AMS Commodity Procurement webs


Greg Johnson is Director of Media Development for Blue Book Services