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USDA allows wide variety of items for produce box contracts

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USDA says produce box contractors have an unlimited list of fresh fruits and vegetables to choose from.

“Fresh produce content is not limited to the five in the USDA foods available list for TEFAP,” said a USDA spokesperson May 25.

The only fresh produce items listed on The Emergency Food Assistance Program (TEFAP) approved produce items are apples, oranges, pears, potatoes and sweet potatoes.

The spokesperson confirmed that the requirements for the TEFAP Fresh Produce Package are:

Boxes must contain, at a minimum, at least four different items, including:
1) 3-5 lbs. of vegetables; no more than 3 lbs. of root vegetables such as potatoes, yams, carrots, onions, etc. and,
2) 3-5 lbs. of fruit and,
3) At least 2 locally grown fruit or vegetable items, as available, and if none are available, add additional fruit and vegetable items of vendors choice to meet a minimum weight range of 10- 12 lbs. Must continue to meet the requirement of no more than 3 lbs. of root vegetables.

On May 18, USDA released the list of contract winners for produce boxes, that will be delivered from June 1 to Sept. 30.

USDA said it allocated $20 million for the program but after reviewing the bids, gave out $9.7 million for 1.3 million boxes in 41 states and territories.

“Prices came in lower than anticipated, resulting in the lower overall cost,” the spokesperson said.

For information about plans for TEFAP funding, USDA says to contact the USDA Food and Nutrition Service.


Greg Johnson is Director of Media Development for Blue Book Services