7 CFR 251.4 - Availability of commodities.
(a) General. The Department shall make commodities available for distribution and use in accordance with the provisions of this part and also in accordance with the terms and conditions of part 250 of this chapter to the extent that the part 250 terms and conditions are not inconsistent with this part.
(b) Displacement. State agencies shall require that eligible recipient agencies receiving commodities under this part shall not diminish their normal expenditures for food because of receipt of commodities. Additionally, the Secretary shall withhold commodities from distribution if it is determined that the commodities would substitute for the same or a similar product that would otherwise be purchased in the market.
(1) Allocations of commodities shall be made to State agencies on the basis of the formula defined in § 251.3(h).
(2) FNS shall promptly notify State agencies regarding their allocation of commodities to be made available under this part.
(3) State agencies shall notify the appropriate FNSRO of the amount of the commodities they will accept not later than 30 days prior to the beginning of the shipping period.
(d) Quantities requested. State agencies shall:
(1) Request commodities only in quantities which can be utilized without waste in providing food assistance to needy persons under this part;
(2) Ensure that no eligible recipient agency receives commodities in excess of anticipated use, based on inventory records and controls, or in excess of its ability to accept and store such commodities; and
(e) Initial processing and packaging. The Department will furnish commodities to be distributed to institutions and to needy persons in households in forms and units suitable for institutional and home use.
(f) Bulk processing by States. Commodities may be made available to a State agency or, at the direction of the State agency, directly to private companies for processing bulk commodities for use by eligible recipient agencies.
(1) The Department will reimburse the State agency at the current flat rate for such processing.
(2) Minimum yields and product specifications established by the Department shall be met by the processor.
(3) The State shall require the processor to meet State and local health standards.
(4) The external shipping containers of processed products shall be clearly labeled “Donated by the U.S. Department of Agriculture - Not to be Sold or Exchanged”. Internal packaging shall be clearly marked “Donated by the U.S. Department of Agriculture - Processed Under Agreement with the State of ___.” FNS may grant waivers to the internal label requirement if the enforcement of this requirement precludes a State's participation in the program, or in cases where other processors are not available who are able to meet the labeling requirement within the allowed reimbursement.
(5) Processors and State agencies shall also meet the basic minimum requirements of § 250.30.
(g) Availability and control of donated commodities. Donated commodities will be made available to State agencies only for distribution and use in accordance with this part. Except as otherwise provided in paragraph (f) of this section, donated commodities not so distributed or used for any reason may not be sold, exchanged, or otherwise disposed of without the approval of the Department. However, donated commodities made available under section 32 of Pub. L. 74-320 (7 U.S.C. 612c) may be transferred by eligible recipient agencies receiving commodities under this part, or recipient agencies, as defined in § 250.3 of this chapter, to any other eligible recipient agency or recipient agency which agrees to use such donated foods to provide without cost or waste, nutrition assistance to individuals in low-income groups. Such transfers will be effected only with prior authorization by the appropriate State agency and must be documented. Such documentation shall be maintained in accordance with § 251.10(a) of this part and § 250.16 of this chapter by the distributing agency and the State agency responsible for administering TEFAP and made available for review upon request.
(h) Distribution to eligible recipient agencies - priority system and advisory boards.
(1) State agencies must distribute commodities made available under this part to eligible recipient agencies in accordance with the following priorities:
(i) First priority. When a State agency cannot meet all eligible recipient agencies' requests for TEFAP commodities, the State agency must give priority in the distribution of such commodities to emergency feeding organizations as defined under § 251.3(e). A State agency may, at its discretion, concentrate commodity resources upon a certain type or types of such organizations, to the exclusion of others.
(ii) Second priority. After a State agency has distributed TEFAP commodities sufficient to meet the needs of all emergency feeding organizations, the State agency must distribute any remaining program commodities to other eligible recipient agencies which serve needy people, but do not relieve situations of emergency and distress. A State agency may, at its discretion, concentrate commodity resources upon a certain type or types of such organizations, to the exclusion of others.
(2) Delegation. When a State agency has delegated to an eligible recipient agency the authority to select other eligible recipient agencies, the eligible recipient agency exercising this authority must ensure that any TEFAP commodities are distributed in accordance with the priority system set forth in paragraphs (h)(1)(i) and (h)(1)(ii) of this section. State agencies and eligible recipient agencies will be deemed to be in compliance with the priority system when eligible recipient agencies distribute TEFAP commodities to meet the needs of all emergency feeding organizations under their jurisdiction prior to making commodities available to eligible recipient agencies which are not emergency feeding organizations.
(3) Existing networks. Subject to the constraints of paragraphs (h)(1)(i) and (h)(1)(ii) of this section, State agencies may give priority in the distribution of TEFAP commodities to existing food bank networks and other organizations whose ongoing primary function is to facilitate the distribution of food to low-income households, including food from sources other than the Department.
(4) State advisory boards. Each State agency receiving TEFAP commodities is encouraged to establish a State advisory board representing all types of entities in the State, both public and private, interested in the distribution of such commodities. Such advisory boards can provide valuable advice on how resources should be allocated among various eligible outlet types, what areas have the greatest need for food assistance, and other important issues that will help States to use their program resources in the most efficient and effective manner possible. A State agency may expend TEFAP administrative funds to support the activities of an advisory board in accordance with § 251.8 of this part.
(i) Distribution of non-USDA foods. Eligible recipient agencies may incorporate the distribution of foods which have been donated by charitable organizations or other entities with the distribution of USDA-donated commodities or distribute them separately.
(j) Interstate cooperation. State agencies may enter into interagency cooperative agreements to provide jointly or to transfer commodities to an eligible recipient agency that has signed an agreement with the respective State agencies when such organization serves needy persons in a contiguous area which crosses States' borders.
(k) Distribution in rural areas. State agencies shall encourage eligible recipient agencies to implement or expand commodity distribution activities to relieve situations of emergency and distress through the provision of commodities to needy households in rural areas of the State.
(l) Commodity losses.
(1) The State agency shall be responsible for the loss of commodities:
(i) When the loss arises from the State agency's improper distribution or use of any commodities or failure to provide proper storage, care, or handling; and
(ii) When the State agency fails to pursue claims arising in its favor, fails to provide for the rights to assert such claims, or fails to require its eligible recipient agencies to provide for such rights.
(2) If the State agency itself causes the loss of commodities and the value exceeds $250, the State agency shall immediately transmit the claim determination to the FNS Regional Office, fully documented as to facts and findings. Except as provided in paragraph (l)(4) of this section, if the State agency itself causes the loss of commodities, and the value does not exceed $250, the State agency shall immediately return funds equal to the claim amount to FNS.
(3) If the State agency determines that a claim exists against an eligible recipient agency, warehouseman, carrier or any other entity and the value of the lost commodities exceeds $2500, the State agency shall immediately transmit the claim determination to the appropriate FNS Regional Office, fully documented as to facts and findings. If FNS determines from its review of the claim determination that a claim exists, the State agency shall make demand for restitution upon the entity liable immediately upon receipt of notice from the FNS Regional Office. Except as provided in paragraph (l)(4) of this section, if the State agency determines that a claim exists in favor of the State agency against an eligible recipient agency, warehouseman, carrier or any other entity and the value of the lost commodities does not exceed $2500, the State agency shall immediately proceed to collect the claim.
(4) No claim determination shall be required where the value of the lost commodities is $100 or less. However, no such claim shall be disregarded where:
(i) There is evidence of fraud or a violation of Federal, State or local criminal law; or
(ii) Program operations would be adversely affected.
(5) The State agency shall maintain records and substantiating documents, on all claims actions and adjustments including documentation of those cases in which no claim was asserted because of the minimal amount involved.
(6) In making final claim determinations for commodity losses incurred by eligible recipient agencies when there is no evidence of fraud or negligence, State agencies and FNS Regional Offices, as applicable, shall consider the special needs and circumstances of the eligible recipient agencies, and adjust the claim and/or conditions for claim collection as appropriate. These special needs and circumstances include but are not limited to the eligible recipient agency's use of volunteers and limited financial resources and the effect of the claim on the organization's ability to meet the food needs of low-income populations.